The latest on the Russia–Ukraine crisis, May 10. Click here for updates from May 9.
House Approves $40 Billion in Ukraine Aid
The U.S. House emphatically approved a fresh $40 billion Ukraine aid package Tuesday as lawmakers beefed up President Joe Biden’s initial request, signaling a magnified, bipartisan commitment to thwart Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody three-month-old invasion.
The measure sailed to passage by a lopsided 368-57 margin, providing $7 billion more than Biden’s request from April and dividing the increase evenly between defense and humanitarian programs.
The bill would give Ukraine military and economic assistance, help regional allies, replenish weapons the Pentagon has shipped overseas and provide $5 billion to address global food shortages caused by the war’s crippling of Ukraine’s normally robust production of many crops.
The new legislation would bring American support for the effort to nearly $54 billion, including the $13.6 billion in support Congress enacted in March.
That’s about $6 billion more than the U.S. spent on all its foreign and military aid in 2019, according to a January report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which studies issues for lawmakers.
Belarus to Deploy Special Forces to Southern Border Near Ukraine
Belarus will deploy special operations troops in three areas near its southern border with Ukraine, the armed forces said on Tuesday as President Alexander Lukashenko talked up the role of Russian-made missiles in boosting the country’s defenses.
A close ally of Russia, Belarus said in March that its armed forces were not taking part in what Moscow calls its “special operation” in Ukraine, but it did serve as a launchpad for Russia to send thousands of troops across the border on Feb. 24.
Minsk has complained for months about NATO countries amassing soldiers near its borders—Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are all members of the alliance—and is increasing the amount and intensity of its own military exercises in response.
“The United States and its allies continue to build up their military presence on the state borders of the Republic of Belarus,” Chief of General Staff Viktor Gulevich said. “The established grouping has more than doubled in the past six months in quantity and quality.”
Belarus is also deploying air defense, artillery, and missile units for drills in the west, Gulevich said.
Maryland Sending Supplies and Armor to Odesa
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced the shipment of a multimillion-dollar aid package to Odesa, Ukraine, on Tuesday, including medical supplies and body armor.
The Maryland Department of Health is donating more than 485,000 bandages and wound care supplies, 95 Eternity mechanical ventilators for intensive care units, and 50 Astral portable ventilators, the governor’s office said.
The package also includes nearly 200 pieces of body armor, including tactical vests and shields, which have been donated by the Maryland State Police.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Accepts Invitation to Join G7 Top Diplomats: German Baerbock
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says her Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, has accepted an invitation to join top diplomats from the Group of Seven nations later this week.
Baerbock spoke during a visit Tuesday to Kyiv, where she met Kuleba and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The G-7 foreign ministers will meet at Schloss Weissenhaus, a luxury resort on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, from May 12–14. Russia’s attack on Ukraine is expected to be a major topic at the meeting.
Ukraine’s Gas Transmission Operator Says It Will Shut Off Almost a Third of Russian Gas to Europe
Ukraine’s gas transmission operator says it will shut off almost a third of Russian gas that passes through the country onward to Europe over Moscow’s war on the country.
The Ukrainian GTS made the announcement Tuesday in a statement posted to its website. It said that the war made it impossible to reach areas of its system to ensure its safety, particularly in Russian-held areas of the Luhansk region.
The company said it would halt some 32.6 million cubic meters of gas per day with the decision. It described the situation as “force majeure,” a legal term used for so-called “acts of God” that prevent contracts from being carried out.
It said the shutoff would begin at 7 a.m. Wednesday and that it would offer Russia the chance to try to reroute gas through another crossing held by the Ukrainian government.
Top US Intelligence Official: Eight to 10 Russian Generals Have Been Killed
A top U.S. intelligence official says 8 to 10 Russian generals have been killed during the war in Ukraine.
Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency, disclosed the estimate Tuesday while testifying before a Senate committee.
Berrier told senators that because Russia lacks a non-commissioned officer corps, its generals have to go forward into combat zones and end up in dangerous positions.
Finnish Parliament Supports Country in Seeking NATO Membership
The Finnish Parliament’s defense committee is supporting the Nordic country seeking membership in NATO, saying it would be the best solution to guarantee the country’s security and would be a way to raise the bar on being the target of aggression by neighboring Russia.
The committee chairman Petteri Orpo, leader of the main opposition National Coalition Party, said in a statement that Finland’s security situation has drastically changed as a result of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Orpo stressed possible NATO membership would be purely a defense-related solution for Finland, a nation of 5.5 million that shares the longest border with Russia out of all European Union members.
“Finland would join NATO to maximize its own security and defend the country. This would not be directed against anyone,” Orpo told reporters on Tuesday.
Finland is expected to announce later this month whether it will seek to join the military alliance.
Czech Republic to Replace Russia on UN Body
The U.N. General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly for the Czech Republic to replace Russia on the world organization’s leading human rights body following its suspension over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.
The Czech Republic was the only candidate for the seat on the 47-member Human Rights Council. Seats on the Geneva-based council are divided among regional groups and a replacement for Russia had to come from an East European country.
In Tuesday’s secret ballot vote, 180 of the General Assembly’s 193 members deposited ballots. The result was 157 countries in favor of the Czech Republic and 23 abstentions.
Germany FM Baerbock Reopens Embassy in Kyiv
Germany’s foreign minister has reopened her country’s embassy in Kyiv, which was closed more than two months ago following the Russian invasion.
Annalena Baerbock said Tuesday that the diplomatic mission would work with a skeleton staff, headed by Ambassador Anka Feldhusen.
Baerbock, the first German Cabinet member to visit Ukraine since the start of the war, pledged further support to Kyiv, including when it comes to investigating and prosecuting war crimes.
Russia Downed Satellite Internet in Ukraine: Western Officials
Russia was behind a massive cyberattack against a satellite internet network which took tens of thousands of modems offline at the onset of the Russia–Ukraine war, the United States, Britain, Canada, and the European Union said on Tuesday.
The digital assault against Viasat’s KA-SAT network in late February took place just as Russian armor pushed into Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the cyberattack was intended “to disrupt Ukrainian command and control during the invasion, and those actions had spillover impacts into other European countries.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the satellite internet hack “deliberate and malicious” and the Council of the EU said it caused “indiscriminate communication outages” in Ukraine and several EU member states.
The Viasat outage remains the most publicly visible cyberattack carried out since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in part because the hack had immediate knock-on consequences for satellite internet users across Europe and because the crippled modems often had to be replaced manually.
Luhansk Region Governor Rejected Russia’s Claims Its Forces Have Breached Ukrainian Defenses Near the City of Popasna
The governor of the eastern Luhansk region on Tuesday rejected Russia’s claims its forces have breached Ukrainian defenses near the city of Popasna and moved the region’s administrative borders.
In a Telegram post, Serhiy Haidai described the claim as “fantasies.” He insists that “the defense is strong. There are no breakthroughs.”
Moscow considers the eastern Ukrainian region a sovereign state.
Zelenskyy Welcomed the Latest Package of European Union Sanctions Against Russia
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the latest package of European Union sanctions against Russia, particularly highlighting a proposed ban on imports of Russian oil.
Zelenskyy told lawmakers in Slovakia’s Parliament on Tuesday that he understands Slovakia is not able to immediately replace Russian oil but stressed it is important to do so, calling it a price to be paid for freedom.
Slovakia, which is fully dependent on Russian oil, supports the sanctions but has asked for a three-year exemption from the ban until its key refinery Slovnaft makes technological changes needed to process other than Russia’s heavy oil.
On Possible Nuclear Strike, Russia Says: It’s All in Our Military Doctrine
Asked if Russia would rule out a preemptive tactical nuclear strike on Ukraine, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday that a decision on the possible use of nuclear weapons was clearly set out in Russia’s military doctrine, RIA reported.
“We have a military doctrine—everything is written there,” Alexander Grushko was quoted by state news agency RIA as saying.
Russia’s official military deployment principles allow for the use of nuclear weapons if they—or other types of weapons of mass destruction—are used against it, or if the Russian state faces an existential threat from conventional weapons.
The decision to use Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal, the biggest in the world, rests with the Russian president, currently Vladimir Putin.
Ukraine Says Its Forces Recaptured Villages From Russian Troops
Ukraine said on Tuesday its forces had recaptured villages from Russian troops, pressing a major counter-offensive in the northeast of the country.
Tetiana Apatchenko, press officer for the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade, the main Ukrainian force near Kharkiv, confirmed that Ukrainian troops had recaptured the settlements of Cherkaski Tyshky, Ruski Tyshki, Borshchova, and Slobozhanske, in a pocket north of Kharkiv in recent days.
Yuriy Saks, an adviser to Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, said the successes were pushing Russian artillery out of range of parts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which has been under bombardment since the war’s earliest days.
“The military operations of the Ukrainian armed forces around Kharkiv, especially north and northeast of Kharkiv, are sort of a success story,” Saks told Reuters.
“The Ukrainian army was able to push these war criminals to a line beyond the reach of their artillery.”
Ukraine Says 100 Civilians Still in Azovstal
Ukrainian officials say around 100 civilians still remain trapped at the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol despite earlier reports that all have been evacuated.
Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in televised remarks on Tuesday those left behind are the civilians that “the Russians have not selected.”
“How and based on what criteria they take people out [of the plant] is something only the occupiers know,” Kyrylenko said. He explained that everyone in Mariupol “de-facto is held hostage by the Russians, and the occupiers take advantage of it, constantly changing the conditions of the evacuation.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the Mariupol mayor, also said civilians are still trapped at the Azovstal mill that is the last pocket of resistance in the embattled port city.
EU Talk on Potential Russian Oil Ban Postponed as Hungary Continues to Block the Proposal
A video conference focusing on a potential European Union ban on oil imports from Russia that was set to take place Tuesday has been postponed to a later date as Hungary continues to block the proposal.
EU commission officials did not give any reason for the postponement. The meeting was set to involve EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban, French President Emmanuel Macron, and other leaders from countries neighboring Hungary.
To further sanction Russia for its war in Ukraine, Von der Leyen has proposed having the 27 EU member nations phase out imports of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year. But Hungary says it won’t vote for the proposed sanctions, saying they would have the effect of an “atomic bomb” on its economy and destroy its “stable energy supply.”
Russian Military Reported Breaching Ukrainian Defenses Near the City of Popasna in the Luhansk Region
The Russian military on Tuesday reported breaching Ukrainian defenses near the city of Popasna in the Luhansk region and moved to the administrative border of the region, which Moscow considers a sovereign state.
Spokesman of Russia’s Defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov said Tuesday that the breakthrough happened after “clearing Popasna from the nationalists was completed.”
Officials of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic claimed that their forces and the Russian troops seized most of Popasna on Sunday. That same day, the Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region Serhiy Haidai admitted that Ukrainian troops had withdrawn from the city.
Ukraine Says Russian Warplanes Continue Targeting the Azovstal Steel Plant
The Azov Regiment of Ukraine’s National Guard, one of several Ukrainian units holed up at a Mariupol steel plant, says Russian warplanes targeted the sprawling plant 34 times over the past 24 hours.
The regiment said in an online statement Tuesday that the Russians continue pounding the besieged Azovstal steel mill with naval and barrel artillery while using tanks and other weapons in “attempts to seize the Ukrainian fortress.”
Attempts to storm the plant with the support of the infantry continue daily, the statement added.
Missiles Pound Ukraine’s Odesa After Russia Marks WWII Victory
Buildings in Odesa lay in ruins on Tuesday, a day after Kremlin forces pounded the southern Ukrainian port with missiles and Russian President Vladimir Putin led defiant celebrations marking the Soviet’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
In Odesa, the major Black Sea port for exporting agricultural products, one person was killed and five people were injured when seven missiles hit a shopping center and a depot, Ukraine‘s armed forces said on Facebook.
Video footage from the scene showed fire and rescue workers combing through piles of rubble dousing still smoking wreckage.
Ukraine—a major maize and wheat producer—and its allies have intensified efforts on how to unblock ports or provide alternate routes for exporting grain, wheat, and corn.
US Congress Plans Nearly $40 Billion More for Ukraine, COVID Aid to Wait
U.S. congressional Democrats agreed to rush $39.8 billion in additional aid for Ukraine, two sources familiar with the proposal said on Monday, easing fears a delayed vote could interrupt the flow of U.S. weapons to the Kyiv government.
The House of Representatives could pass the plan, which exceeds President Joe Biden’s request last month for $33 billion, as soon as Tuesday, and Senate leaders said they were also prepared to move quickly.
A proposal for additional COVID-19-related funding, which some Democrats had wanted to combine with the emergency Ukraine funding, will now be considered separately.
Biden on April 28 asked Congress for $33 billion to support Ukraine, including more than $20 billion in military assistance. That proposal was a dramatic escalation of U.S. funding for the war with Russia.
The new proposal includes an additional $3.4 billion for military aid and $3.4 billion in humanitarian aid, the sources said.
Biden’s fellow Democrats and Republicans both said they supported more aid for Ukraine and would approve emergency funding quickly, but it was delayed by disputes between the parties over whether additional funding for COVID-19 relief or stiffer immigration controls should be included.
Biden Signs Ukraine ‘Lend-Lease’ Program Bill
Washington sought to portray a united front against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Monday as President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan measure to reboot the World War II-era “lend-lease” program that helped defeat Nazi Germany to bolster Kyiv and Eastern European allies.
The new legislation is largely symbolic, but comes as Congress is poised to unleash more resources of $33 billion or more to fight the war. It all serves as a rejoinder to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has seized on V-E Day, the anniversary of Germany’s unconditional surrender and Russia’s biggest patriotic holiday, to rally his people behind the invasion.
Before signing the bill, Biden said that “Putin’s war” was “once more bringing wanton destruction of Europe,” drawing reference to the significance of the day.
US Suspending Import Taxes on Ukrainian Steel
The United States is suspending 25 percent import taxes on Ukraine’s steel in a show of support for the country’s beleaguered economy during the Russian invasion.
The Commerce Department said Monday that it would withdraw the tariffs for a year. Ukraine accounts for only about 1 percent of U.S. steel exports.
Some of the country’s largest steel communities have been among those hardest hit during the war, including the Mariupol mill that’s the only part of the strategically important port city not under Russian control.
“We can’t just admire the fortitude and spirit of the Ukrainian people—we need to have their backs and support one of the most important industries to Ukraine’s economic well-being,’’ Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo said. “For steel mills to continue as an economic lifeline for the people of Ukraine, they must be able to export their steel.’’
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.