Russian ex-oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky paints a bleak picture of the future for Ukraine. President Zelenskyj sharply criticizes the West for restrictions on Ukrainian warfare. All news about the war against Ukraine in the news ticker.

8:29 a.m.: Former Russian oligarch and Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky has painted a bleak future scenario for Ukraine. At the “Russia and the West” conference organized by the Center for Liberal Modernity, Khodorkovsky said, according to “Welt”: “Ukraine will lose Kharkiv by the end of the year, Odessa by mid-2025 and it will wage a guerrilla war by mid-2026.”

For him, the reasoning is “simple arithmetic”: Russia is putting significantly more resources into the war than the West is providing Ukraine.

Zelensky described the situation in the Kharkiv region, where Russia has seized several border towns, as “controlled” but “not stabilized.” The Russian troops advanced five to ten kilometers along the northeastern border before they were stopped by Ukrainian troops.

The Ukrainian president also warned that Russia could intensify its offensive. “They have launched their operation, it could consist of several waves. And this is their first wave”.

8:17 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj complained about a lack of equipment in the defense against Russia and criticized restrictions on the use of Western weapons. His country only has a quarter of the air defense systems it needs and needs 120 to 130 F-16 fighter jets, he said in an exclusive interview with the AFP news agency on Friday. He described the restriction not to use Western weapons to attack Russian territory as the “biggest advantage” that Russia has.

Regarding air defense, Zelensky said Ukraine has “around 25 percent of what we need.” In addition, “120 to 130” F-16 fighter jets or other modern aircraft would be needed to end Russian dominance in the air.

In the AFP interview, Zelenskyj was very critical of the restrictions on the use of Western weapons and not using them for attacks on Russian territory. Russia could fire all weapons from its territory into Ukraine. “That is the biggest advantage that Russia has.” Ukraine, on the other hand, cannot use Western weapons to harm Russian weapons that are on Russian territory.

Britain and the US have indicated in recent days that these bans could be relaxed. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a visit to Ukraine this week that the country would ultimately have to decide for itself how it wanted to wage its war.

5:44 a.m.: SPD leader Lars Klingbeil continues to hope that China will agree to take part in the Swiss Ukraine peace conference. “It would of course be crucial for this peace conference that China sits at the table,” he said in an interview with the German Press Agency. This also applies to India, Brazil and South Africa, three other “decisive players” who could use their influence on Russia. “Of course it would be a setback if these states were not there.” Even then, one cannot speak of a failure of the conference. “It’s never a failure if you sit down at a table and talk about ways to achieve peace.”

Switzerland has invited around 160 countries to talk about possible paths to lasting peace in Ukraine on June 15th and 16th. Russia, which attacked Ukraine over two years ago, did not receive an invitation. Ukraine, on the other hand, is there.

Saturday, May 18, 1:40 a.m.: According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine has only a quarter of the air defense systems needed to defend itself against Russia. His country also needs 120 to 130 F16 fighter jets to be able to end Russian air superiority, Zelensky said on Friday in an exclusive interview with the AFP news agency. He also said that the lack of soldiers is affecting the morale of the troops.

In the AFP interview, Zelensky also criticized the West for prohibiting Ukraine from using weapons supplied by European countries and the United States to attack Russian territory. Ukraine cannot use Western weapons to attack Russian weapons that are on Russian territory. Russia, on the other hand, can fire all weapons from its territory at Ukraine. “That is the biggest advantage that Russia has.”

7.17 p.m.: According to authorities, at least two people were killed in a Russian air raid on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which has a population of one million. In addition, 25 people were injured, the city administration announced. Russian planes dropped two glide bombs on the city on Friday, regional governor Oleh Synjehubow wrote on Telegram. Ukraine’s second-largest city, which lies close to the border with Russia, has been bombed by the Russian Air Force for weeks.

The southern Ukrainian port city of Odessa on the Black Sea was attacked by Russia with rockets on Friday. One person was killed and eight others were injured, said Governor Oleh Kiper.

At the same time, Russian ground troops continued their offensive in the border area near Kharkiv that began a week ago, as Ukrainian commander-in-chief Olexander Syrskyj wrote on Telegram. The Russian army has now widened this new front to around 70 kilometers. This should force the Ukrainians to deploy more brigades from the reserve. However, the enemy did not manage to break through the Ukrainian lines. Russia used air force, rockets, artillery and tanks in the attacks. Syrskyj saw an advantage for the Ukrainians in drones and more precise artillery fire.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his trip to China that his army is currently not planning to conquer Kharkiv. However, a buffer zone should be created to prevent Ukraine from shelling the Russian border area of ​​Belgorod. Ukraine has been fending off a Russian invasion for more than two years.

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. This is why medium- and long-range weapons systems are also necessary. As part of the international initiative she launched with Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (both SPD) for more air support for Ukraine, Germany has provided another Patriot system, said Baerbock. Other countries have supplied important components, for example for radar surveillance. In addition, countries that do not have these air defense systems have provided over a million euros.

“But it is clear that we need more large systems” such as Patriot batteries, demanded Baerbock. A number of European partners examined whether they could relocate systems. “Others don’t do it publicly, but do it behind closed doors. That’s why the initiative was so important,” said the Foreign Minister, adding: “What has come together is still not enough. We see that every day.”

The situation in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine is also highly dramatic because the Russians could attack the city, which is around 40 kilometers from the border, from their territory, said Baerbock. When she visited the city, she experienced that parts of the air defense were unable to work. 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 in the city who have not gone to school for almost two years. An underground school was built so that the children could go to school again.

More about the Ukraine conflict on the next page.