Russia-Ukraine live news: Donbas fully destroyed, says Zelenskyy | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says country’s eastern Donbas region has been “completely destroyed” by Russian forces.
  • US President Joe Biden applauds Congress for approving a $40bn aid package for Ukraine.
  • The Biden administration announces an additional $100m in security assistance to Kyiv, including artillery, radars and other equipment.
  • Ex-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declares the West should not expect Russia to continue food supplies if it slaps Moscow with devastating sanctions.
INTERACTIVE - Russia Ukraine War Who controls what in Donbas region Day 85

Here are all the latest updates:

Azov commander says mission still ‘underway’ at Azovstal plant

The deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, which led the defense of the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, has said that he and other fighters are still inside plant.

“An operation is underway, the details of which I will not announce,” Svyatoslav Palamar said in a brief video message.

It is unclear how many Ukrainian fighters remain in the warren of bunkers and tunnels in the sprawling plant. Russia says more than 1,700 have now surrendered.

Videos show Russian soldiers executing Ukrainian men in Bucha: NYT

An investigation by the New York Times, including previously unreleased videos, confirms eyewitness accounts that Russian forces in Bucha took captive and executed several men.

In one of the videos, some of the Ukrainian captives are hunched over, holding the belts of those in front of them. Others have their hands over their heads. “Walk to the right, bitch,” one of the soldiers orders them. The men are then forced to the ground, with one wearing a bright blue shirt.

Eyewitnesses then report soldiers took the men behind a nearby office building that the Russians had taken over and turned into a makeshift base. There were gunshots. The captives didn’t return.

A drone video taken later that day shows the dead bodies lying on the ground by the side of the office building at 144 Yablunska Street as two Russian soldiers stood guard beside them. A flash of bright blue is visible among the dead bodies.

Who are the US senators who voted against Ukraine aid bill?

Eleven out of 100 United States Senators voted against the $40bn aid package to Ukraine. All the “no” votes came from Republican senators.

The senators are: Rand Paul, Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn, John Boozman, Mike Braun, Mike Crapo, Bill Hagerty, Mike Lee, Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall and Tommy Tuberville.

Russian rock singer faces charges for anti-war remarks

A veteran Russian rock musician is facing charges over anti-war remarks made at a concert.

Yuri Shevchuk, singer for the band DDT, could face a fine of up to 50,000 rubles ($800).

After the war began, Russia passed a more severe law making the spread of so-called “fake news” about the conflict punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“Old people, women and children are dying,” Shevchuk said during a concert. “The motherland, my friends, is not the ass of a president that you have to lick and kiss all the time. The motherland is a poor grandmother selling potatoes at the train station.”

Dozens of countries ‘knocking on famine’s door’: UN food chief

The UN food chief has warned that the war in Ukraine has created “an unprecedented crisis” of escalating food prices that has sparked protests.

World Food Program Executive Director David Beasley said growing hunger will add at least 47 million people to the 276 million “marching to starvation” before Russia’s invasion of its smaller neighbour.

Beasley told a UN Security Council meeting that 49 million people in 43 countries are already “knocking on famine’s door”.

Donbas region has been completely destroyed: Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Russian forces had “completely destroyed” the eastern Donbas region and accused Moscow of carrying out senseless bombardments as it intensified its offensive.

“In the Donbas, the occupiers are trying to exert even more pressure. It is hell there – and that is not an exaggeration,” he said in a late-night video address.

“This is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible, to destroy as many houses, social facilities and enterprises as possible.”

A Russian soldier walks past a destroyed part of the steel mill in Mariupol, Ukraine.
A Russian soldier patrols a destroyed part of the steel mill in Mariupol in the Donbas region, May 18 [AP Photo]

Alexey Navalny’s team urges more US sanctions

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s team has urged a new round of US sanctions over the war in Ukraine that moves beyond wealthy oligarchs to spread the financial pain to Russian government officials, mid-level politicians and public figures.

The group, which visited Capitol Hill, is discussing with senators a list of 6,000 people for possible sanctions, including Russian defense and security officials, administrative employees, governors, members of parliament, and even editors and managers at state-aligned media operations.

Vladimir Ashurkov, the executive director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said the “avalanche of sanctions” so far from the West is having an effect in Russia.

“Let’s bring on, or at least announce, the next wave,” Ashurkov said.

Russia’s former president denounces ‘insane’ sanctions

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said the West should not expect Russia to continue food supplies if it slaps Moscow with devastating sanctions over the war.

“Our country is ready to fulfill its obligations in full. But it also expects assistance from trading partners, including on international platforms,” Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said on messaging app Telegram.

“Otherwise, there’s no logic: on the one hand, insane sanctions are being imposed against us, on the other hand, they are demanding food supplies. Things don’t work like that, we’re not idiots,” he said.

His comments come as world leaders, including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, have raised serious concerns about global food supplies, warning that curbs on grain exports from Ukraine ports could lead to shortages and even famine.

Washington announces additional $100m in military assistance to Kyiv

The Biden administration has announced an additional $100m in weapons and other military equipment for Ukraine.

Biden said in a statement that the aid includes additional artillery, radars, and other equipment.

“This brings total US military assistance to Ukraine to approximately $3.9 billion in arms and equipment since Russia launched its brutal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said.

NATO membership for Sweden, Finland will ‘strengthen collective security’: Biden

NATO’s collective security will be strengthened by the membership of Sweden and Finland, Biden has said, after meeting with the leaders of the two Nordic nations at the White House.

In a statement after the discussions, the White House said the US president “warmly welcomed [Sweden and Finland’s] applications for NATO membership, which will strengthen our collective security”.

“At this historic moment for both Finland and Sweden, the President underscored his commitment to support both countries as they seek formal NATO accession, including by working with NATO Allies and Congress to welcome them into the Alliance as quickly as possible,” the statement read .

Biden says US aid package will help Ukraine ‘defend their democracy’

US President Joe Biden has applauded Congress for passing a nearly $40bn military and humanitarian assistance package for Kyiv, saying it sends “a clear bipartisan message to the world that the US stands with Ukraine”.

The bill, previously passed by the House of Representatives, passed in the Senate by an overwhelming 86-to-11 vote.

“This package will allow us to send even more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine as they defend their democracy and freedom.”

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Thursday, May 19 here.

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