As the war enters its 447th day, we take a look at the main developments.
Here is the situation as it stands on Tuesday, May 16, 2023.
- Ukraine’s top military commander has hailed an advance in Bakhmut as “the first success” of offensive actions in defending the front-line city.
- At least four people have been killed in a Russian missile attack in the Donetsk city of Avdiivka, according to Ukraine, which said a hospital was hit.
- Russia’s defence ministry has claimed it intercepted a British-made Storm Shadow long-range cruise missile for the “first time”. During a briefing, the ministry also said Russian air defence forces had shot down 10 HIMARS MLRS shells.
- Russia’s defence ministry has said it scrambled a fighter jet on Monday after it detected French and German patrol aircraft flying towards Russian airspace. France and Germany have said their planes were conducting flights as part of a NATO exercise and behaved in accordance with international law.
- The Wagner Group offered up Russian positions to Ukraine in exchange for a withdrawal around Bakhmut, according to United States intelligence reports cited by The Washington Post. The leader of the Russian mercenary group and Russia have dismissed the report.
- Igor Kornet, the acting Moscow-appointed interior minister of the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine’s Luhansk province, has been injured in an explosion in the city of Luhansk, according to Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti.
Diplomacy and economy
China’s top envoy on Eurasian Affairs has begun a trip to Europe aimed at discussing a “political settlement” to the Ukraine crisis. Li Hui will start his multi-country tour in Ukraine and end it in Russia.
- The Group of Seven (G7) countries are preparing to impose tougher sanctions against Russia’s energy sector and restrict trade that supports the Kremlin’s military, according to the Reuters news agency. The measures are expected to be approved at the G7 summit in Japan this week.
- The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has confirmed its army chief, Lawrence Mbatha, is in Moscow where he will visit Russian military academies and hold talks with officials. The visit comes days after Washington accused South Africa of secretly providing arms to Russia.
- UN aid chief Martin Griffiths has said talks to extend the Black Sea grain export deal will continue in the coming days. Russia has threatened to quit the pact, due to expire on May 18, over obstacles to its grain and fertiliser exports.
- The US claims it is seeing more indications that Russia and Iran are expanding their defence partnership, which could help Moscow prolong its war in Ukraine and also pose a threat to Iran’s neighbours.
- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has disclosed he expects the military alliance to agree on a “multiyear programme” to help Ukraine reach NATO military standards at a summit in Lithuania in July.
The World Health Organization’s European office has decided to close a specialised WHO office in Moscow and move its functions to Denmark.
- Ukraine’s security agency has said it suspects tycoon Dmytro Firtash of embezzlement.
- The United Kingdom has promised more military aid for Ukraine, including hundreds of air defence missiles and drones, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
- French President Emmanuel Macron, who met Zelenskyy earlier in Paris, has said his country had “opened the door” to training Ukrainian fighter pilots.
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) May 15, 2023