Annalena Baerbock calls for more support for Ukrainian air defense. The NATO commander does not expect a Russian breakthrough in Kharkiv. All news about the war against Ukraine in the news ticker.

Friday, May 17th, 10:16 a.m.: In view of the serious Russian attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock urgently called for further international support for Ukraine in air defense. “The situation is highly dramatic, not only with regard to Kharkiv, but also in many other places in Ukraine,” said the Green politician on Friday before a meeting of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. “We clearly see how much Ukraine needs further support, especially in air defense.”

The situation in Kharkiv also shows how important it is that Russian supply routes can be cut off, said the Foreign Minister. That’s why medium- and long-range weapon systems are also necessary. In the international initiative she launched with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (both SPD) for more air support for Ukraine, Germany made another Patriot system available, said Baerbock. Other countries have supplied important components for radar surveillance, for example. In addition, states that did not have these air defense systems made over one million euros available.

“But it is clear that we need more large systems” such as Patriot batteries, demanded Baerbock. Several European partners are examining whether they could deploy systems. “Others are not doing this publicly, but are doing it behind closed doors. That is why the initiative was so important,” said the Foreign Minister, adding: “What has been put together is not enough. We see that every day.”

The situation in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine is also extremely dramatic because the Russians could attack the city, which is about 40 kilometers from the border, from their territory, said Baerbock. When she visited the city, she saw that parts of the air defense were not effective. She was told: “Count to 60. And if you can still count then, everything is fine. But reaching a shelter in 60 seconds is hardly possible.” For this reason, there are children living in the city who have not been to school for almost two years. An underground school has been built so that the children can go back to school.

8:20 p.m.: NATO’s top commander in Europe, Christopher Cavoli, has expressed confidence that the Russian army will not achieve a strategic breakthrough in Kharkiv, Ukraine. “They are capable of making local inroads and they have done so. But they also suffered some local losses,” he said on Thursday after a meeting of the NATO military committee in Brussels. The Russians would not have enough forces to achieve a strategic breakthrough. “I am in very close contact with our Ukrainian colleagues and I am confident that they will hold the line.”

In its war of aggression that has been going on for more than two years, Russia has recently increased its attacks on the Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine. The Russian military managed to occupy several border villages in the Kharkiv region. Ukraine then began evacuating civilians from the region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj canceled all trips abroad due to the difficult situation – but according to him, the situation has recently stabilized to some extent.

10:00 a.m.: For the second night in a row, Ukraine fired missiles at the Belbek military airfield on the Crimean peninsula, which has been annexed by Moscow since 2014. A fuel system was hit and a fire broke out, the independent internet portal Astra reported on Thursday.

The Russian Defense Ministry, for its part, only reported the launch of five US ATACMS missiles over Crimea. In addition, four Ukrainian drones were shot down and two others were intercepted by radio jamming. Russian military bloggers, however, confirmed the fires.

The airport had already been the target of Ukrainian attacks the day before. While the Russian Defense Ministry also claimed in the case that it had shot down all enemy missiles, videos circulating on the Internet showed serious fires. The impacts were later confirmed by the military blog Rybar, which is close to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Belbek, near the port city of Sevastopol, is considered an important base for the Russian Air Force. Since the war of aggression began more than two years ago, Moscow has used the airfield for regular air strikes on its neighboring country. Ukraine has repeatedly announced that it wants to liberate Crimea from Russian occupation.

Thursday, May 16, 7:36 a.m.: China’s state and party leader Xi Jinping has assured Russian President Vladimir Putin of close cooperation during his visit to Beijing. A steady development of China-Russia relations is not only of fundamental interest to both countries and peoples, but also contributes to peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world, Xi said in a conversation with Putin on Thursday, state media reported. China wants to work with Russia to ensure that the countries remain good neighbors that pursue their national development and maintain fairness and justice in the world.

China is the most important ally of Russia, which is largely isolated internationally. Beijing provides Moscow with support in its war of aggression against Ukraine and serves as an important trading partner for the country affected by Western sanctions.

Xi congratulated his “old friend,” as he greeted Putin, on his fifth term in office and expressed confidence that Russia’s development would make “great progress” under him. According to state media reports, the Chinese did not mention Moscow’s war against Ukraine in his welcoming speech. Xi said China-Russia ties have grown stronger and have weathered the “test of a changing international landscape.”

2:24 p.m.: The US government is providing Ukraine with two billion US dollars for military purposes. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced this on Wednesday during his visit to Kiev.

1:55 p.m.: The Russian military claims to have once again taken control of the town of Robotyne in southeastern Ukraine. “Units of Army Group ‘Dnepr’ have completely liberated the town of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region,” the Defense Ministry in Moscow said in its situation report on Wednesday. Kiev has not yet commented on Robotyne’s alleged loss. The information from Moscow cannot be independently confirmed either.

There are now only ruins left of Robotyne, but the town has great symbolic significance. During Kiev’s ultimately failed summer offensive in 2023, Robotyne was the only town in the front that the Ukrainians were able to liberate.

Robotyne was occupied by troops loyal to Moscow on March 6, 2022, shortly after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was only more than a year later that Ukrainian soldiers were able to liberate the village after heavy fighting. However, the planned further advance stalled and Robotyne was once again heavily contested.

Wednesday, May 15, 9:39 a.m.: In view of the latest Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian army says it has had to withdraw soldiers from individual positions there. Because of the worsening situation on the front, President Zelensky also canceled a planned trip abroad to Spain and Portugal.

“As a result of combat and offensive actions of the enemy, our units carried out maneuvers in certain areas in the Lukyantsi and Vovchansk regions and moved to more advantageous positions in order to save the lives of our soldiers and avoid casualties,” the Ukrainian General Staff said in on Wednesday night on Facebook. The message also said: “The fighting continues.”

9.41 p.m.: According to official reports, at least 21 people were injured in new Russian attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Three children were among the victims, the prosecutor’s office of the region bordering Russia announced on Telegram on Tuesday evening. The Ukrainian authorities reported several air strikes that shook the city during the day and also hit a multi-story residential building.

In his evening video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky once again insisted on more international help with air defense, especially from Kharkiv. “If we had already gotten two Patriot systems for this region, then that would have made a difference for the overall situation in the war,” emphasized Zelensky, who met earlier in the day with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who traveled to Ukraine.

11:31 a.m.: Kyryl Budanov, head of Ukrainian military intelligence, commented on the situation at the front. In a video interview from a bunker in Kharkiv, he painted a terrible picture. “The situation is in jeopardy,” he told the New York Times. “Every hour the situation is moving towards critical.”

He assumes that Russia’s attacks in northeastern Ukraine are intended to strain the already scarce military reserves. Attempts are being made to withdraw troops from other front areas in order to strengthen the defense in the northeast, but this is a difficult undertaking.

“All our troops are either here or in Chasiv Yar,” says Budanov. “I used everything we have. Unfortunately, we no longer have anyone in reserve.” Ukraine’s task is still clear. “Right now our job is to stabilize the line and then start pushing it back across the border.

This has already been achieved. Some Ukrainian reservists have managed to “partially thwart their plans,” says Budanov. He also expects Russia to launch a new attack in Sumy, north of Kharkiv.

More about the Ukraine conflict on the next page.