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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 29

By VOA News May 29, 2022

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

9:20 p.m.: Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra, which won the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month, raised $900,000 for the country's military battling the Russian invasion by selling the contest's trophy, The Associated Press reported. The group won Eurovision with their entry "Stefania." On Sunday, they sold the crystal microphone they were awarded in a Facebook auction led by Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula, AP reported.

The funds raised will be used to purchase for the armed forces the PD-2 unmanned aerial system, which includes three aircraft and a ground control station, Prytula said at the auction, according to AP.

8:15 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of visiting the eastern part of the country. "Returning from the east to Kyiv, at this time, leaves a rather ambiguous impression. After Saltivka's silence, there is Khreshchatyk, full of people and smiles. After the roar of artillery on the frontline - the relaxation of Kyiv residents who today walked the city," he said. "But it is for such happiness to live, live your normal life and just quietly walk the streets of your own city that this war is going on now. That's what we are fighting for in it. For everyone in Ukraine. Freedom and peace is what could really be felt in Kyiv today. Even in spite of the air-raid siren that sounded today as well."

7:37 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he has fired Kharkiv's top security services officer for not working hard enough on the city's defense since the beginning of Russia's February 24 invasion. RFE/RL has the story.

6:18 p.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin's heavy-handed crackdown on dissent at home means that effective opposition to his rule can only exist outside the country, activist and former chess champion Garry Kasparov has told Current Time, a co-production of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and VOA. Members of the opposition who have stayed in Russia "have no opportunity to express their views," Kasparov said in an interview on May 23 from Riga, where he participated in a meeting organized by the Free Russia Forum to discuss the consequences of Putin's decision to invade Ukraine.

"Political life ended long ago in Russia," Kasparov said.

5:07 p.m.:

The illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is continuing. The map below is the latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 29 May 2022 Find out more about the UK government's response: https://t.co/8UuyYR7nPg πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ #StandWithUkraine πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ pic.twitter.com/GPxuQZUKDo

β€” Ministry of Defence πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ (@DefenceHQ) May 29, 2022

4:15 p.m.: Ukraine's capital on Sunday celebrated the 1,540th anniversary of its official founding, with residents taking to public parks and squares, where special events were held, The Associated Press reported. The Kyiv Day celebration took on a special meaning this year, given that the city was surrounded by Russian forces just months ago.

3:24 p.m.: European Union negotiators failed to reach a deal on an embargo on Russian oil but say they will continue attempts to reach an accord before the beginning of an EU summit starting on Monday, an EU official said. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to address the summit via video link to press for efforts to intensify sanctions against Moscow. EU countries are discussing a proposal in which member nations would accept a ban on Russian oil delivered to the EU by sea by the end of the year. Exemptions would be given to Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic which get oil through the Russian Druzhba pipeline.

2:58 p.m.: The Czech Republic and Poland are sending additional weaponry to Ukraine as it struggles against the Russian offensive in the eastern part of the country, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports. Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochova said Prague intends to send Kyiv additional weapons worth up to $30 million. "It's crucial that the aid is steady," she said. The Czech Republic has already provided more than $150 million in military aid since the Russian invasion began.

Poland said it is providing Ukraine with 18 self-propelled howitzers. Poland is the second-largest donor of military equipment to Ukraine after the U.S.

1:01 p.m: Europe's search for alternatives to Russian energy has dramatically increased the demand and price for Norway's oil and gas. Europe's second largest natural gas supplier is fending off accusations that it is profiting from the war in Ukraine. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Norway's "gigantic" oil and gas profits are "indirectly preying on the war." He urged Norway to use the windfall to support the hardest-hit countries, mainly Ukraine.

12:26 p.m.: As the war rages in Ukraine, Serbia's president announced he has secured an "extremely favorable" natural gas deal with Russia during a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Associated Press reports. Serbian President Aleksander Vucic has refused to explicitly condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine and his country has not joined Western sanctions against Moscow. Serbia is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas.

11:50 a.m.: More than 682 children have been injured or killed in Ukraine, the country's Prosecutor General's Office said on Telegram. The statement said 242 have died, and 440 have been wounded, adding that the figures were not final as it was difficult to confirm reports in places of active fighting.

10:55 a.m.: Russia claims to have surrounded the urban center of Sievierodonetsk as it wages war for eastern Donbas -- Ukraine's industrial heartland, Agence France-Presse reports. However, a Ukrainian official denies the city has been encircled, saying government troops had repelled Russian forces from the outskirts. With an estimated 15,000 civilians remaining in Sievierodonetsk, a local official says "constant shelling" has made it difficult for anyone to get in or out.

10:01 a.m.: Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Ukrainian troops on the front lines in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region on Sunday, the president's office announced. Reuters reports the visit marks his first official appearance outside the Kyiv region since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

"You risk your lives for us all and for our country," the president's office website cited him as saying to the soldiers, adding that he handed out commendations and gifts.

9:34 a.m.: A branch of Ukraine's Orthodox Church that remained loyal to Moscow after a 2019 schism has said it will break with the Russian church over the country's invasion of Ukraine, according to Agence France Presse. "It should be one united Ukrainian church," said an Orthodox worshipper.

Ukraine was given permission by the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians worldwide to form a church independent of Moscow in 2019, largely ending centuries of religious ties between the two countries. However, many parishes, especially in Ukraine's east, elected to remain loyal under the umbrella of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate.

8:54 a.m.: Local officials say Russian and Ukrainian troops are engaging in close-quarter combat in an eastern Ukraine city. Associated Press reports the officials say Russian forces were "storming" the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk on Sunday and that the fighting has knocked out power and cellphone service and terrorized civilians. Sievierodonetsk has emerged as an epicenter of Russia's quest to conquer Ukraine's industrial Donbas region.

8:16 a.m.: The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin told the leaders of France and Germany in a phone call on Saturday that Russia was willing to discuss ways to make it possible for Ukraine to resume shipments of grain from Black Sea ports, Reuters reported. "For its part, Russia is ready to help find options for the unhindered export of grain, including the export of Ukrainian grain from Black Sea ports," the Kremlin said. Ukraine and Western countries have accused Russia of weaponizing the food crisis created by its invasion of Ukraine, which has sent the prices of grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertilizer soaring.

5:44 a.m.: The Washington Post reports that Russia's ambassador in Britain said Russia would not use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Andrei Kelin told the BBC that Russia allows the use of such weapons mainly when "the existence of the state is endangered."

5:23 a.m.: Al Jazeera reports that Russia has abandoned the upper age limit for people to join the military. The army had had a limit of 18-40 for Russians and 18-30 for foreigners.

4:30 a.m.: The New York Times reports that the Ukrainian army is launching a counterattack in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine. The Ukrainian military says it's broken through a Russian line of defense.

3:04 a.m.: The latest intelligence update from the U.K. defense ministry focuses on what it terms "modern Russian messaging strategy: introducing alternative narratives, however unconvincing, to complicate audiences' understanding."

It says Russia offered to provide a humanitarian corridor on the sea for vessels carrying food β€” in return for having sanctions lifted.

Russia, it says, is "prepared to leverage global food security for its own political aim and then present itself as the reasonable actor and blame the West for any failure."

"Russia's attempt to achieve a reduction in the severity of international sanctions also highlights the stresses sanctions are placing on the regime," the update concludes.

2:03 a.m.: Ukrainian news site Ukrinform reports that more than 50 Ukrainian athletes have been killed in the conflict with Russia.

The site quotes Minister of Youth and Sports Vadym Huttsait as saying, ""More than 50 Ukrainian athletes died in the war while defending our land. These are all our guys who played different sports. There are still many athletes who currently serve with the Armed Forces of Ukraine, some of them - in the territorial defense units. We thank all fighters defending our country."

He also noted that the Russian invasion had all but ended training in Ukraine for athletes preparing for world and European championships, and the Olympics.

1:02 a.m.: The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, says that Russian President Vladimir Putin is " inflicting unspeakable suffering on Ukrainians and demanding horrible sacrifices of his own people in an effort to seize a city that does not merit the cost."

Its latest update characterizes the invasion of Ukraine as "a desperate and bloody offensive" that has the Russians "paying a price for their current tactical success that is out of proportion to any real operational or strategic benefit they can hope to receive."

It also notes that Ukrainian forces suffered heavy casualties in Severodonetsk, and the fighting also took a toll on civilians and infrastructure.

12:02 a.m.: Al Jazeera reports that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he'll address the European Council during its meeting Monday and Tuesday.

Al Jazeera quotes him as saying, "In particular, I will talk about the following: terror, which has become in fact the only form of action of the Russian state against Europe. Terror on the land of Ukraine. Terror in the energy market of Europe, not just our country. Terror in the food market, and on a global scale. And what type of terror will be next?"

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

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