Russia-Ukraine live news: Zelenskyy would meet Putin to end war

  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia is waging “total war” and wants to “take away everything we have. Including the right to life for Ukrainians”.
  • The leader says that Vladimir Putin is the only Russian official he is willing to meet, with the sole aim of ending the war.
  • United States Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin reveals some 20 countries had announced new security assistance packages for Ukraine during a virtual meeting with allies.
  • Denmark will send a harpoon launcher and anti-ship missiles to defend Ukraine’s coast.
  • A Kyiv court sentences a 21-year-old Russian soldier to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian.
  • A Russian diplomat to the United Nations in Geneva resigns over the war in Ukraine, in a rare sign of criticism against the Kremlin.

INTERACTIVE Russia Ukraine War Who controls what Day 89

Here are all the latest updates:

Kherson’s schools and universities will be run in Russian: Moscow-backed official

Russian will become the state language of Kherson, alongside Ukrainian, the Moscow-backed self-proclaimed leader of the regional military administration has said, RIA reports.

Kirill Stremousov said schools and universities will be run in Russian but Ukrainian classes could also be formed at the request of parents.

“We will not infringe on anyone’s rights. Plus, we have a large community of Crimean Tatars living in our region. The expediency of giving the status of the state language to the Crimean Tatar language, as is done in Crimea, we will discuss in detail at a meeting with the community,” he said.

Ukraine says 580 foreign companies still doing business in Russia

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said that 580 foreign companies remain in Russia, continuing to do business “as usual”.

“That is, they pretend that nothing happened,” Dmytro Kuleba said on Instagram on Monday.

He said Ukraine’s foreign affairs ministry sent a request to eight of the largest international corporations to stop working in Russia but had not received a response.

“We cannot order them to come out. But we need to work from different angles,” Kuleba added.

Russian-backed officials plan to instal military base in Kherson: RIA

Kherson’s Moscow-backed, self-proclaimed authorities plan to instal a Russian military base in the region to “guarantee security”, Russia’s state news agency RIA has reported.

“The Russian army has become the guarantor of peace and security in our region,” said the self proclaimed leader of the Kherson military administration, Kirill Stremousov.

Russia claims that Ukrainian troops are shelling the region from the direction of the port city of Mykolaiv and that Ukraine’s government has stopped paying pensions to Kherson’s residents.

Russian occupants have previously said they plan to incorporate the region into Russia.

Putin trying to ‘erase Ukrainian identity’: Blinken

“Part of Putin’s war is an attempt to erase Ukrainian identity,” the US Secretary of State has said.

Antony Blinken told the Ukrainian Institute for America that Ukraine’s identity is “powerfully manifested through its culture”.

“And the vibrancy of that culture, the strength of that identity, makes it crystal clear that there again, President Putin’s war will not succeed,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

Part of Putin’s war is an attempt to erase Ukrainian identity. I visited the @UkrInstitute, an organization that is preserving and promoting Ukraine’s vibrant & living culture, to underscore the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine cannot erase what makes the country & its people so unique.

— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 23, 2022

US troops could return to Ukraine for embassy security

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley has said said that “low-level” discussion is underway on how the US may need to adjust its training of Ukrainian forces and on whether some US troops should be based in Ukraine.

The US withdrew its few troops before the war and has no plans to send in combat forces. Milley’s comments left open the possibility troops could return for embassy security or another non-combat role.

There have been questions about whether Washington will send a Marine security force back in to help protect the reopened embassy in Kyiv, or if other options should be considered.

Asked if US special operations forces may go into Ukraine, which officials have insisted they are not doing yet, Milley said that “any reintroduction of US forces into Ukraine would require a presidential decision. So we’re a ways away from anything like that.”

US weighing how to wean India off Russian supplies

A key question for US President Joe Biden going into the Quad meetings this week is how to wean India off Russian-supplied military equipment and whether to provide defence aid and other support to India to accelerate that transition.

“The president is very aware that countries have their own histories, they have their own interests, they have their own outlooks, and the idea is to build on commonalities,” said a US official who briefed reporters and declined to be named, Reuters reports.

India frustrated the US with what Washington regarded as a lack of support for sanctions and condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. India abstained in US Security Council votes on the issue, though it did raise concerns about some killings of civilians in Ukraine.

India it has a long-standing relationship with Moscow, which remains a major supplier of its defence equipment and oil supplies.

Daily evacuations from Luhansk continue: Governor

The governor of Luhansk says police are continuing daily evacuations and the number of those willing to leave is increasing.

Serhiy Haidai posted a video on Facebook on Monday taken from a vehicle that he said was traveling along a highway near Severodonetsk. The vehicle is racing down the road, dodging debris, mounds of earth, barricades and destroyed vehicles as shells explode in the fields just yards away.

A photo in the post shows about a dozen civilians, with luggage, packed tightly inside what appears to be the back of a vehicle.

Haidai wrote that people “are agreeing to the risk because what is happening in the cities is much worse.”

No country wanted to be first to send Ukraine Harpoons: US official

US officials and congressional sources have told Reuters that only a handful of countries were willing to send Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Ukraine.

But a US official said no nation had wanted to be the first or only nation to send Harpoons, fearing reprisals from Russia if a ship is sunk with a Harpoon from their stockpile.

Copenhagen’s pledge of Harpoon missiles and a launcher to Ukraine on Monday is the first sign since the Russian invasion that Kyiv will receive US-made weapons that significantly extend its striking range.

The Harpoons could be used to push the Russian navy away from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, allowing exports of grain and other agricultural products to resume.

TheUS Navy Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur launches a Harpoon surface-to-surface missile during Pacific Vanguard (PACVAN) quadrilateral exercises between Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, and US Naval forces in the Philippine Sea May 26, 2019.
TheUS Navy Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur launches a Harpoon surface-to-surface missile during Pacific Vanguard (PACVAN) quadrilateral exercises between Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, and US Naval forces in the Philippine Sea May 26, 2019. [US Navy/Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Toni Burton/Handout via Reuters]

Weapons would have prevented deaths: Zelenskyy

Zelenskyy has said that if Ukraine had all the weapons it needed, many people would not have died.

“Every time we tell our partners that we need modern anti-missile weapons, modern combat aircraft, we are not just making a formal request. We say that our request is the real lives of many people who would not have died if we had received all the weapons we are asking for,” he said in his nighttime address.

“All our partners agree that Ukraine’s struggle in the war against Russia is the protection of the common values of all countries in the free world… And if so, then we have the right to count on full and urgent assistance, especially weapons,” he added.

A nurse tends to a patient after he underwent surgery for injuries to his leg and abdomen caused by a mine explosion in Severodonetsk, at Kostyantynivka hospital in eastern Ukraine
A nurse tends to a patient after he underwent surgery for injuries to his leg and abdomen caused by a mine explosion in Severodonetsk, at Kostyantynivka hospital in eastern Ukraine, Monday, May 23, 2022 [Francisco Seco/AP]

US, UK trade accusations with Russia on disinformation

The US and the United Kingdom have accused Russia of spreading disinformation online and manipulating public opinion about the war in Ukraine, vehemently rejecting Russian claims that the West is aiming to control all information flows and define what is true or not true.

UK Deputy Ambassador James Roscoe told a UN Security Council meeting that Russia has conducted cyberattacks and used “an online troll factory to spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion about their war”.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Moscow “continues to shut down, restrict and degrade internet connectivity, censor content, spread disinformation online, and intimidate and arrest journalists for reporting the truth about its invasion”.

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused countries that call themselves a “community of democracies” of building “a cyber-totalitarianism” and – along with technology giants like Meta – of shutting down Russian TV channels, expelling Russian journalists and blocking access to Russian websites.

Russia waging ‘total war’, Zelenskyy says

Zelenskyy has said Russia is waging “total war” on Ukraine that includes inflicting as many casualties and as much infrastructure destruction as possible.

Zelenskyy made the comments in his nightly address on the eve of the three-month anniversary of the Russian invasion. He noted that since February 24, the Russian army has launched 1,474 missile attacks on Ukraine, using 2,275 different missiles. He said the vast majority hit civilian targets.

“Indeed, there has not been such a war on the European continent for 77 years,” he said.

“The occupiers want to take away from us not just something, but everything we have. Including the right to life for Ukrainians,” he added.

Wimbledon’s ban on Russians was ‘wrong’, says Djokovic

Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s tennis tournament following the invasion of Ukraine was wrong, world number one Novak Djokovic has said.

Wimbledon was stripped of its ranking points by the ATP and WTA Tours over its decision to exclude players from the two countries.

“I think it (Wimbledon’s ban) was a wrong decision. I don’t support that at all. But at these times it is a sensitive subject and whatever you decide will create a lot of conflict,” said Djokovic, who is Serbian.

“There was never unfortunately a strong communication coming from Wimbledon. That’s why I think it’s wrong.”

More war crime cases to be prosecuted by Ukraine: AJE correspondent

After the sentencing of a Russian soldier to life in prison for allegedly shooting a Ukrainian civilian, more war crime cases are expected to be tried in Ukraine, Al Jazeera correspondent Zein Basravi has said.

“What we are likely to see is many more such cases as this conflict continues,” Basravi said from Kyiv. “We’ve got two pilots possibly being seen in court in the coming days. That’s the next case on the horizon. And Ukrainian prosecutors are investigating more and more cases of what they’re calling alleged war crimes on a near-daily basis.”

Russian army sergeant Vadim Shishimarin sits during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine
Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, during a court hearing in Kyiv, May 18 [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Moscow not sure it needs resumed ties with West, says Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said Moscow will consider offers of re-establishing ties with the West and think whether that is needed, but will focus on developing ties with China.

“If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not,” Lavrov said in a speech, according to a transcript on the foreign ministry’s website.

“Now that the West has taken a ‘dictator’s position’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster,” he added.

Three civilians dead in Donetsk region: Governor

Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko has said three civilians in the region have died in Russian attacks. He did not give further details.

Earlier, Kyrylenko told The Associated Press news agency in Kramatorsk that heavy fighting was continuing near the region of Luhansk and that the front line was under continuous bombardment.

Kyrylenko said the “situation is difficult. The front line is under shelling at all times”.

‘Never have I been so ashamed of my country’: Russian diplomat resigns

A veteran Russian diplomat to the United Nations office in Geneva has handed in his resignation and sent a statement to foreign colleagues criticising the “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Boris Bondarev, who worked as a counsellor at Russia’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva, told the Reuters news agency: “I went to the mission like any other Monday morning and I forwarded my resignation letter and I walked out.”

Read the full story here.

Nearly 90 killed in Desna attack

Speaking to global leaders who were gathered for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy also revealed Ukraine’s worst military losses from a single attack of the war, saying 87 people had been killed last week when Russian forces struck a barracks housing troops at a training base in the north.

Previously, Kyiv had said eight people died in the May 17 strike on the barracks in the town of Desna.

EU embargo on Russian oil ‘within days’: German minister

The European Union will likely agree on an embargo on Russian oil imports “within days”, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has told broadcaster ZDF.

Habeck warned, however, that an embargo would not automatically weaken the Kremlin as rising prices were enabling it to rake in more income while selling lower volumes of oil.

Therefore, one consideration was to no longer pay “any price” for oil, but to agree on upper limits, he said. For that to work, however, many countries would have to get on board.

Some 20 countries commit new security aid for Ukraine: Pentagon chief

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that some 20 countries had announced new security assistance packages for Ukraine during a virtual meeting with allies on Monday that was aimed at coordinating arms for Kyiv.

The countries that announced new packages included Italy, Denmark, Greece, Norway and Poland, Austin told reporters following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. Denmark would provide a harpoon launcher and missiles to defend Ukraine’s coast, Austin said.

“Everyone here understands the stakes of this war,” Austin said.

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - MAY 23: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin participates in a news briefing at the Pentagon May 23, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley spoke on various topics including Russia’s invasion to Ukraine and whether the U.S. would react militarily if China attacks Taiwan. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by ALEX WONG / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin participates in a news briefing at the Pentagon [Alex Wong/Getty Images/via AFP]

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy would meet Putin to end to war

Addressing by video link an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Ukrainian president has said that Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin was the only Russian official he was willing to meet with the sole scope of ending the war.

But Zelenskyy said that arranging any sort of talks with Russia was becoming more difficult in the light of what he said was evidence of Russian actions against civilians under occupation.

He also told the global business community that the world must increase sanctions against Russia to deter other countries from using “brute force” to achieve their aims.

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

Read all the updates from Saturday, May 23 here.

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