The war that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has passed a grim one-year milestone, with mounting military and civilian deaths.
As fighting rages in and around Bakhmut, Western nations have raised their military support for Ukraine to the highest level yet.
Read our in-depth coverage. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.
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Note: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.
Here are the latest developments:
Friday, May 26 (Tokyo time)
4:00 a.m. An agreement on storing tactical nuclear weapons from Russia in Belarus is signed by defense ministers from both countries, setting the rules for their management.
Russia’s Sergei Shoigu and Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin sign the documents in Minsk. The weapons, intended for battlefield use, will remain under Russian control, and Moscow reserves the right to decide on using them, Russian media report Shoigu as saying.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that transport of the weapons has begun, Interfax reports.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller says deploying tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus is the latest example of Russia’s “irresponsible behavior,” but adds the U.S. has seen no reason to adjust its strategic nuclear posture.
Thursday, May 25
7:50 p.m. Under looming risks of military conflicts, Asia must unite and work collectively to promote peace, Thailand’s deputy prime minister said on Thursday.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “represented the most consequential modification of long-held positions in politics and society since World War II,” says Don Pramudwinai, speaking at Nikkei’s annual Future of Asia conference. Initiatives after that war to maintain peace have not done so.
Don says countries have responded by increasing defense spending, as well as weaponizing currencies and trade. “The eye for an eye, tit for tat approach is turning everyone blind,” he says. “The ongoing re-shoring and friend-shoring of the [supply] chains reflect the insecurity of major powers that put more emphasis on national security.” Read more.
5:00 a.m. The head of the Russian private army Wagner Group has again broken with the Kremlin line on Ukraine, saying its goal of demilitarizing the country has backfired, acknowledging Russian troops have killed civilians and agreeing with Western estimates that he has lost more than 20,000 men in the battle for Bakhmut. Yevgeny Prigozhin said about half of those who died in the eastern Ukrainian city were Russian convicts recruited for the war. His figures stood in stark contrast to Moscow’s widely disputed claim that just over 6,000 of its troops had been killed as of January. By comparison, official Soviet troop losses in the 1979-89 Afghanistan war were 15,000. Ukraine hasn’t said how many of its soldiers have died since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022.
1:50 a.m. Ukraine will not be able to join NATO as long as the war against Russia rages on, the alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says. “To become a member in the midst of a war is not on the agenda,” he said at an event organized by the German Marshall Fund of The United States in Brussels. “The issue is what happens when the war ends.”
12:50 a.m. Russia’s Defense Ministry says the Russian warship Ivan Hurs was attacked unsuccessfully in the early morning by three Ukrainian uncrewed speedboats in the Black Sea. In a statement posted on Telegram, the ministry says the warship had been protecting the TurkStream and Blue Stream gas pipelines — which carry gas from Russia to Turkey — and “continues to fulfil its tasks.” The statement appeared likely to raise tensions in the Black Sea, where Russia agreed only last week to extend a deal allowing Ukraine to export grain safely from its seaports.
Wednesday, May 24
3:00 p.m. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Wednesday that ties with China are at an “unprecedented” high, characterized by mutual respect of each other’s interests and the desire to jointly respond to challenges. “As our Chinese friends say, unity makes it possible to move mountains,” Mishustin told Chinese Premier Li Qiang during a meeting in Beijing. Mishustin was the highest ranking Russian official to visit the Chinese capital since Moscow sent thousands of its troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
8:00 a.m. The Ukrainian port of Pivdennyi has halted operations because Russia is not letting ships enter, in effect cutting it out of a deal allowing grain exports, a Ukrainian official says. The Black Sea Grain Initiative, signed by Russia and Ukraine last July and extended last week for two months, is intended to guarantee the safe export of grains and foodstuffs from the Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi. The United Nations, which together with Turkey brokered the deal, expressed concern on Monday that Pivdennyi had not received any ships since May 2. Russia has “found an effective way to significantly reduce grain exports by excluding the port of Pivdennyi,” Ukrainian Deputy Renovation Minister Yuriy Vaskov said.
4:20 a.m. The White House has called for the immediate release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich after his detention in Russia was extended for three months.
Gershkovich was arrested in March on espionage charges. U.S. officials say the Russians have denied his requests for consular access.
Tuesday, May 23
10:40 p.m. Russia says it defeated fighters who crossed over from Ukraine after two days of combat in the Belgorod region. Russian forces struck the fighters with “airstrikes, artillery fire and active action by border units,” the Defense Ministry says.
There was no immediate independent confirmation that the fighting had ended. Russia has blamed Ukraine for the attack, which Kyiv denied. The two groups that claimed responsibility call themselves Russian armed dissidents.
“One day we will return to stay,” one of the two group says in a social media post.
9:40 p.m. Belarus has taken part in the illegal deportation of children from Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, political opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko allege.
A preliminary report from their group claims 2,150 Ukrainian children, including orphans aged 6-15, were taken to so-called recreation camps and sanitariums on Belarusian territory.
Ukraine has alleged that 20,000 children have been illegally transferred to Russia since the invasion began. Yulia Ioffe, an assistant professor at University College London and a specialist in children’s rights law, says that Belarus, if the claim is substantiated, would “highly likely” be violating the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
7:00 p.m. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has lead a delegation subject to U.S. sanctions on a two-day trip to China, highlighting the growing trade and investment ties between the two countries as the West seeks to curb their economic influence.
Mishustin spoke at a Russia-China business forum in Shanghai that was attended by officials from both countries, as well as top executives from more than 15 Russian companies, according to Russian state news agency Tass.
The prime minister has been on the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions list of Russian people and entities since April 2022, which largely cuts them off from the international financial system and freezes any assets they hold in the U.S. Read more.
3:20 a.m. A benchmark for natural gas prices in Asia has dropped to levels last seen before Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine as China, one of the world’s biggest consumers of the fuel, changes its buying patterns. Read more.
Monday, May 22
10:35 p.m. Russia says it is battling an incursion in its Belgorod region by saboteurs who burst through the frontier from Ukraine. Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the region adjacent to northeastern Ukraine, says Russian forces are working to repel the raid.
But Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denies involvement by Kyiv.
A group calling itself the Liberty of Russia Legion, which claims to consist of Russians cooperating with Ukraine’s forces, says on Twitter it had “completely liberated” the border town of Kozinka and reached district center Graivoron.
It has released a video showing five heavily armed fighters: “We are Russians, like you. We are people like you,” one said, facing the camera. “It is time to put an end to the dictatorship of the Kremlin.”
7:00 p.m. Ukrainian national grid operator Ukrenergo says that external power has been restored to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant after a brief outage following a reported fire at an electricity facility in the city of Zaporizhzhia. “Ukrenergo restored the power transmission line that supplies the Zaporizhzhia NPP. The station is switching to power supply from the Ukrainian power system,” the company said in a statement.
6:55 p.m. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy swooped into the Group of Seven weekend in Hiroshima, one question was how he would engage with two invited leaders who remain on the fence between Russia and the West — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Zelenskyy and Modi sat down for what appeared to be a cordial discussion on the impact of Russia’s invasion and potential paths forward. On the other hand, no meeting with Lula happened, and when asked if he was disappointed, Zelenskyy shot back that maybe the Brazilians are.
Afterward Lula told his side of the story: Zelenskyy, he said, did not show up. Read more.
6:00 p.m. Ukrainian troops are still advancing on the flanks of the devastated city of Bakhmut, although the “intensity” of their movement has decreased and Russia is bringing in more forces, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar says. In televised comments, she said Ukraine had a small foothold inside the city itself, again denying Russia’s assertion that it has established full control over Bakhmut. “We are still advancing, but the intensity is somewhat reduced. If we talk about the north, there is much less active action there. If we talk about the south, we are advancing and the defense of Bakhmut as a city has completely fulfilled its military objective,” Maliar said.
3:00 p.m. Ukraine’s state-owned power generating company Energoatom says there is a power outage at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant after a Russia-installed official said the plant was switched to standby and emergency power supply. “Yes, we have the seventh blackout since the start of the [Russian] occupation,” Energoatom told Reuters. Yuriy Malashko, governor of the Zaporizhzhia region in Ukraine, says that there is a fire at one of the facilities in Zaporizhzhia city due to an overload in the power system.
9:20 a.m. Russia’s Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov says in the embassy’s Telegram channel that the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine would raise the question of NATO’s involvement in the conflict. According to Reuters, Antonov also said in the remarks that any Ukrainian strike on Crimea would be considered a strike on Russia. “It is important that the United States be fully aware of the Russian response [to such strikes],” Antonov said.
Sunday, May 21
6:20 p.m. Ukrainian forces have partly encircled the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut along the flanks and still maintain control of a private sector in the city, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar says in a post on the Telegram messaging app. “Our forces have taken the city in a semi-encirclement, which gives us the opportunity to destroy the enemy,” she claims.
3:08 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appeared to confirm the loss of the city of Bakhmut to Russia on Sunday, saying “I think no” when asked if it remained in Kyiv’s control. “For today, it is only in our hearts,” he added.
7:42 a.m. Russia claimed on Saturday to have fully captured the smashed eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which would mark an end to the longest and bloodiest battle of the 15-month war. The assault on the largely leveled city was led by troops from the Wagner Group of mercenaries, whose leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said earlier in the day that his troops had finally pushed the Ukrainians out of the last built-up area inside the city.
Saturday, May 20
3:07 a.m. Russia bans the Greenpeace environmental group as an “undesirable” security threat.
Greenpeace activists have spread “anti-Russian propaganda, and have called for the further economic isolation of our country and the toughening of sanctions,” the Prosecutor General’s Office says, according to Tass. Greenpeace Russia’s executive director, Sergey Tsyplenkov, tells Reuters that he will take legal advice before deciding whether to appeal.
Netherlands-based coordinating organization Greenpeace International condemns the decision as effectively indicating “that it is ‘undesirable’ to protect nature in Russia” against commercial interests. Its statement mentions various past campaigns and does not call for economic isolation or tougher sanctions.
2:00 a.m. Russia’s foreign ministry announces sanctions against 500 Americans, including former President Barack Obama, in what appears to be a tit-for-tat response to the latest round of U.S. sanctions.
Other Americans banned from entering Russia include such elected officials as Sen. J.D. Vance and New York state Attorney General Letitia James; professors; nongovernmental organization chiefs, such as Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz; and television personalities, such as comedian Jimmy Kimmel and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.
“It is high time for Washington to learn that not a single hostile attack against Russia will be left without a strong reaction,” the ministry says in a statement.
1:55 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden informs G-7 leaders that Washington supports a joint effort with allies to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, reports Reuters, citing a senior administration official.
Training on the U.S.-made jets will take place in Europe and will require months to complete, the official said. U.S. officials have estimated the most expeditious time needed for training and delivery of F-16s at 18 months.
For earlier updates, click here.