Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Zelenskyy claims northeast gains; House passes $40 billion aid package – NBC News

Ukrainian soldiers train on howitzers in Germany

The first Ukrainian soldiers to be trained on the howitzer 2000 have arrived in Germany, the German Defense Ministry confirmed to NBC News on Wednesday.

Up to 18 Ukrainian soldiers will be trained on the artillery in the southwestern city of Idar-Oberstein in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Howitzers are midrange surface-to-surface cannons used to support ground forces in either defensive or attacking maneuvers. 

“It is the first time that soldiers from the Ukrainian armed forces receive training on the howitzer 2000 in Germany,” a spokesperson for the defense ministry said.

Since the start of the war, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with scores of howitzers, as well as with ammunition and drones, in addition to humanitarian and economic assistance. On Tuesday, the House approved a fresh $40 billion Ukraine aid package.

The highwway to Kyiv

Ukraine recaptures villages from Russian troops around Kharkiv

May 11, 202200:57

Shelling in Kharkiv

Views from Ukraine's Kharkiv as Russian attacks continue
A local man surveys the damage to his destroyed house in Vilkkhivka, near Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 9, 2022.Diego Herrera / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

E.U.’s proposed Russian oil ban would devastate Hungary’s economy, foreign minister says

The European Union’s proposed ban on Russian oil would devastate Hungary’s economy, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Wednesday.

An agreement between Budapest and the E.U. on the proposed ban looked unlikely, he said, according to Reuters. “Brussels has no proposal for a solution… which could handle the atomic bomb-like impacts of this potential oil embargo against Russia on Hungary’s economy,” Szijjarto said in a video posted on his Facebook page, according to Reuters.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban also described the proposal as an economic “atomic bomb” on state-run radio earlier this month. Hungary is one of the main critics of the E.U.’s proposed ban and each of the 27 members of the bloc must back the plan for it to pass.

Southern Kherson region to ask Putin to join Russia, pro-Russian official says

A Moscow-installed official in Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson said the Russia-occupied region will appeal directly to President Vladimir Putin about accepting it into Russia, the state news agency Tass reported.

The intended move was announced Wednesday by Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the so-called military-civilian administration of the region, according to Tass. The administration was installed in late April after the Russian forces deposed Ukrainian officials in the region.

The strategic region with access to the Black Sea has been under Russian control since the early days of the war.

There has been much speculation about Russia’s intentions for its future, with observers suggesting it could be turned into a “people’s republic” akin to those controlled by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s east or annexed altogether like the Crimean Peninsula was in 2014.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday that residents of the region should decide for themselves whether or not to appeal for the region to join Russia, and that such a possibility should have a clear legal justification, according to Tass.

Russian forces placed land mines around Kharkiv, Ukraine says

Russian forces placed land mines in the Kharkiv areas they occupied, the head of the region’s military warned.

“The enemy completely mined everything,” Oleh Sinegubiv said in a post on Telegram. He warned residents to beware of returning to areas where the Russian military had recently been forced out, and that schools, kindergartens and private homes had been mined. Teams were demining the area, while critical infrastructure such as gas and electricity was also being restored, he said.

Ukraine’s forces have in recent days pushed Russian troops out of areas they had occupied earlier in the war, taking back several towns in the Kharkiv region.

More than 100 hospitals destroyed in Ukraine, health ministry says

Russian forces have destroyed 101 hospitals and shot or captured 200 ambulances since the invasion began Feb. 24, Ukraine’s ministry of health said in a post on Facebook on Wednesday.

The claims came as the head of the Luhansk region said Tuesday that Russian forces took equipment from local hospitals and schools in the town of Kreminna, located in the east between Kharkiv and Luhansk, and sent it to Russia.

“The Russians were shocked by the equipment of our hospitals, so they did not delay and in the first days of the occupation began to dismantle the equipment and transport it to Luhansk or Russia,” the regional governor, Serhiy Haidai, said in a post on his Telegram channel.

Gas shortages hit Ukraine

ON THE ROAD TO KYIV, Ukraine — Driving anywhere in Ukraine these days takes a lot of planning due to the country’s fuel shortage.

On the roughly 340-mile drive from Lviv to the capital city, Kyiv, many gas stations are closed because they have run out of fuel. 

Some gas stations that are still open only service trucks, agricultural vehicles, ambulances, police cars and other essential vehicles. Even then, most gas stations have put a limit on the amount of gas allowed per vehicle.

For everyday Ukrainians, it can be hard to find gas stations that will service them. And the lines can be brutally long.

Christmas socks for refugees in Odesa

Irena Bazina, a volunteer, gives Christmas socks to Masha Severin, 6, at a distribution center for refugees in Odesa on May 3, 2022.Erin Trieb for NBC News

Mariupol mayor warns more than 10,000 people could die by the end of the year

More than 10,000 people could die by the end of the year in the southern port city of Mariupol, now mostly occupied by Russia forces, the mayor said Wednesday.

“The humanitarian situation in Mariupol is catastrophic now,” Mayor Vadim Boichenko said in a post on Telegram. “There are no medicines and doctors, normal water supply, sewage does not work, etc.”

He warned that without the operation of clean water and sewage, epidemics could break out in the city, especially with a population made up mainly of the sick and elderly.  Around 100,000 civilians are still present in the southern port city and awaiting evacuation, the mayor said Tuesday.

Zelenskyy thanks Pelosi, House for approving Ukrainian aid

Ukraine halts Russian gas flows in areas Moscow occupies

Ukraine’s gas pipeline operator said Wednesday that it will stop the flow of Russian natural gas at a key hub in the east of the country currently occupied by Russian forces.

The operator, GTSOU, said in a statement that it “cannot carry out operational and technological control” over the Novopskov compressor station, located in Luhansk, which handles around a third of Russian gas that passes through Ukraine to Europe, as well as in other assets in the area.

The operator said it would redirect the flow of gas to a facility in the south under Ukraine’s control.

The European Union is working to secure a ban on Russian oil imports to its 27 member states, designed to hit Russia’s national finances.

Faces of Azovstal

A wounded Ukrainian soldier sits below the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on May 10, 2022.
A wounded Ukrainian soldier sits below the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on May 10, 2022. Courtesy of Orest Kozatskyi

Ukraine makes gains in northeast counteroffensive against Russian forces

Ukraine’s military has recovered territory in the northeast of the country, making gains against Russian forces and pushing them back toward the border.

“The occupiers are gradually being pushed back from Kharkiv oblast,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said late Tuesday, adding that invading troops had been pushed out of four villages in the region.

Ukraine’s forces may be within six miles of the Russian border, according to the Institute for the Study of War. Russian forces from the Izyum area, located around 75 miles southeast of Kharkiv, are reportedly redeploying north to attempt to halt Ukraine’s advance, its daily update said Tuesday afternoon.

The Kharkiv region, including the major city itself, came under heavy attack early in the war with many of its buildings destroyed by Russian strikes.

Ukraine strikes Russian resupply ships with drones, U.K. says

Ukraine’s military has successfully attacked Russian resupply vessels with drones, the United Kingdom’s defense ministry said Wednesday.

Ukraine launched successful attacks against air defenses and resupply vessels with Bayraktar drones, the defense ministry said in a daily intelligence update.

“Russia’s resupply vessels have minimum protection in the western Black Sea, following the Russian Navy’s retreat to Crimea after the loss of the Moskva,” the ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, fighting continues on Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island, the U.K. said. If Russia consolidates its position in the island, “they could dominate the north-western Black Sea,” the ministry said. The island is off of Ukraine’s southwestern coast, south of Odesa.

House passes $40 billion package to provide military, humanitarian aid

The House passed legislation Tuesday night that would provide $40 billion in new aid to Ukraine as the Biden administration looks to step up U.S. support for Kyiv in its war against Russia.

The House voted 368-57 after President Joe Biden urged quick congressional action and Republicans balked at passing an additional $10 billion in Covid relief funds alongside the military and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine. All 57 no votes came from Republicans.

The supplemental funding measure now heads to the Senate. GOP leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he asked Biden last week to separate the coronavirus aid from the Ukraine funding.

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