Russia’s war in Ukraine is not going as Putin had hoped. That’s why there are always internal crunches. Now the Kremlin boss is deposing two top generals. All news about the attack on Ukraine can be found here in the ticker.

5:15 a.m .: According to their own statements, the commanders of the last military resistance in Ukraine in Mariupol are still in the Azovstal steel plant. Ukrainian media on Thursday circulated a video with the deputy commander of the Azov regiment Svyatoslav Palamar. “Me and the command are at the Azovstal factory site. There is some operation going on, the details of which I won’t say,” Palamar said. The authenticity of the video could not be verified immediately.

According to Russian information, since the beginning of the week 1,730 Ukrainian armed men who had holed up in the bunkers under the steelworks have surrendered. They were taken prisoner of war.

4:55 a.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the situation in Donbass as “hell” in view of the Russian war of aggression. The army continues to work on the liberation of the Kharkiv region, said Zelenskyj in his evening video address on Thursday. “But in Donbass the occupiers are trying to increase the pressure. Hell is there, and that’s no exaggeration.”

Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops continued, especially in eastern Ukraine in the Donbass. The command of Ukrainian forces in the region reported Thursday that 14 enemy attacks had been repelled. The information could not be verified. As a sign of the intensity of the fighting, numerous civilian deaths were once again recorded. According to the authorities, five people were killed in the Donetsk region alone.

3:22 a.m .: After a long and desperate resistance, a total of 1,730 Ukrainian soldiers from the besieged Azov steelworks in Mariupol gave up this week, according to Russian information. In the past 24 hours alone, a further 771 fighters from the nationalist Azov Brigade had surrendered, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday. However, Azov deputy commander Svyatoslav Palamar explained in a video that he is still at the factory with the rest of the officers.

In April, after weeks of siege, the Kremlin announced that it had taken control of Mariupol. However, Ukrainian soldiers had entrenched themselves in the tunnel system under the huge industrial complex of the Azov steelworks, where they were besieged by Russian troops.

The Ministry of Defense in Moscow has now released a video showing Ukrainian soldiers who have apparently surrendered leaving the industrial complex. Some of them are visibly injured, some are on crutches. Kyiv hopes for a prisoner exchange. However, Russian authorities have repeatedly emphasized that at least some of the prisoners are not seen as soldiers but as neo-Nazi fighters.

The US said it was closely monitoring Russia’s treatment of the soldiers. “We expect all prisoners of war to be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

Friday, May 20, 3:10 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the situation in Donbass as “hell” in view of the Russian war of aggression. The army continues to work on the liberation of the Kharkiv region, said Zelenskyj in his evening video address on Thursday. “But in Donbass, the occupiers are trying to increase the pressure. Hell is there, and that’s no exaggeration.”

Fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops continued, especially in eastern Ukraine in the Donbass. The command of Ukrainian forces in the region reported Thursday that 14 enemy attacks had been repelled. The information could not be verified. As a sign of the intensity of the fighting, numerous civilian deaths were once again recorded. According to the authorities, five people were killed in the Donetsk region alone.

8:03 p.m .: According to the authorities, at least twelve people were killed in Russian artillery fire in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievjerodonetsk. More than 40 other people were injured, as the military governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Hajdaj, announced on Thursday in the news service Telegram. The information could not initially be independently verified. According to Hajdaj, residential buildings have been targeted. Troops of the Russian army and Luhansk separatists are attacking the city with the seat of the regional administration from several sides.

4:11 p.m .: Russia has linked a possible opening of Ukrainian ports for the export of grain to a partial lifting of Western sanctions against Moscow. “If our partners want to reach a solution, then the problems associated with lifting the sanctions imposed on Russian exports must also be solved,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko said on Thursday, according to the Interfax agency.

There are complex reasons for the current food crisis and the high prices, said Rudenko. The cause of the crisis is primarily the sanctions of the US and the EU, “which prevent normal free trade, including food, including wheat, fertilizer and other things”. Russia had repeatedly criticized the Western sanctions in the wake of the war of aggression against Ukraine as “illegal”.

2:51 p.m .: According to the Kremlin, the people in the areas occupied by Russian troops in Ukraine should determine their own future. The will of the people there is crucial, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday, according to the Interfax agency. “Nothing can be done without them deciding how and with whom they should live.” Peskov said with reference to Moscow politicians who had said about the occupied Cherson region that Russia came there to stay .

The Ukrainian government has long reckoned that there could be a referendum in the southern Ukrainian region on the proclamation of a People’s Republic of Cherson based on the model of the pro-Russian separatist areas of Luhansk and Donetsk. Russian President Vladimir Putin has recognized the self-proclaimed People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine as independent states. In his speech at the start of the aggressive war on February 24, Putin said that Russia does not want to occupy the Ukrainian territories, but will see how people react.

On the other hand, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Marat Chusnullin said during a visit to Cherson on Tuesday that the region around the port city will have a “worthy place in our Russian family”. In 2014, Russia used a controversial referendum on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea to incorporate Ukrainian territory.

On May 1, Russia introduced the Russian ruble as official currency in the Cherson region. The deputy head of the pro-Russian administration in Kherson, Kirill Stremusov, recently brought up a formal application to Putin for membership.

The Ukrainian government, on the other hand, is convinced that a Russification of the Cherson region will fail. She demands the withdrawal of Russian troops from all areas of the country, including Crimea.

10:06 a.m .: In the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, according to Russian information, 1,730 fighters from the besieged Azovstal steelworks have surrendered since the beginning of the week. In the past 24 hours alone, more than 770 Ukrainians have been captured, the Defense Ministry in Moscow said on Thursday. There was initially no confirmation from the Ukrainian side.

How the soldiers will continue is uncertain. Kyiv hopes for a prisoner exchange. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, the capture offers a good opportunity to use it for propaganda purposes – if it weren’t for his officer problem. You can read more about this in our analysis.

Thursday, May 19, 8:50 a.m.: Vladimir Putin has apparently deposed two generals in recent weeks because of failures in the Ukraine war. This is reported by the British secret service in its daily update.

Serhiy Kisel, General of the First Guards Tank Army, was deposed because he failed to capture Kharkiv. Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, commander of the Black Sea Fleet, was doomed by the sinking of the flagship “Moskva”. British intelligence suspects that this will make Russian generals more concerned with saving their own skins in the future.

8:58 p.m .: According to information from Kiev, Russian troops fired on Wednesday from Russian territory at the north-eastern Ukrainian regions of Sumy and Chernihiv. The Ukrainian border guard reported seven attacks using heavy machine guns, automatic grenade launchers, and tube and rocket artillery. The village of Shostka near the border in the Sumy region was shelled with mortars for more than an hour. But there were no victims. The reports were initially not independently verifiable.

After the Russian attack on February 24, northern Ukraine was initially occupied by Moscow troops. After heavy losses, however, they withdrew to their own territory or to Belarus. The fighting shifted further south to the Donbass. The Russian Ministry of Defense has also reported rocket attacks on northern Ukraine in the past few days.

8:42 p.m .: According to its own statements, the Ukrainian army has made another gain in territory in the eastern Ukrainian metropolis of Kharkiv. Due to an advance, the village of Dementijivka was liberated north of the megacity, the general staff announced on Facebook on Wednesday. The village is about eight kilometers from the Russian border. In recent weeks, the Ukrainian army has pushed back Russian troops in northern and north-eastern Kharkiv. However, the Russian military is said to be attempting a counterattack near Ternowa, north-east of Kharkiv.

On the border with the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, there was also fighting for the village of Dowhenke, about 25 kilometers from Sloviansk. Heavy fighting continued at Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and at Sievjerodonetsk in the neighboring Luhansk region. The Russian troops would be supported by heavy Luftwaffe bombardments at various sectors. However, they would not have achieved territorial gains.

7:41 p.m .: The war against Ukraine is costing Russia a lot of money. According to preliminary data from the Treasury Department, spending on the military increased by almost 40 percent in the first four months of the year. Accordingly, the government in Moscow spent 1.7 trillion rubles (a good 25 billion euros) on the military from January to April. This corresponds to almost half of the funds earmarked for the whole of 2022.

5:38 p.m .: According to pro-Russian separatists, a good thousand Ukrainian soldiers, including their commanders, are still in the besieged steelworks in the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. Initially, more than 2,000 fighters were on the site of the Azov steelworks, said separatist leader Denis Puschilin from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Wednesday in Mariupol. Since more than 900 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered since Monday, “just over half” are still at the plant.

“Commanders and senior fighters of the Azov regiment have not come out so far,” said the separatist leader, speaking to journalists during a press trip to Mariupol organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Pushilin said the Ukrainian soldiers ran out of supplies and had no choice but to surrender. “The first option is to raise the white flag and lay down your arms. The second option is to die there, just die. You chose the first option,” he said.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, 80 people were injured. They were taken to a hospital in the city of Novoazovsk in Russian-controlled territory. Pushilin said some of the wounded were also being treated in the city of Donetsk. The others were taken to a prison camp.

You can read more reports on the Ukraine conflict on the following pages.