Ukraine has again attacked a Russian military air base in Crimea. Xi Jinping assured Putin of cooperation during his visit to China. All news about the war against Ukraine in the news ticker.

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 firing of five US ATACMS missiles over Crimea. In addition, four Ukrainian drones were shot down and two others were intercepted by radio interference. 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 address 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 eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, 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 Wednesday night on Facebook. The message also said: “The fighting continues.”

9:41 p.m.: According to official information, at least 21 people were injured in new Russian attacks on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. There were three children among the victims, the public prosecutor’s office in the region bordering Russia said on Telegram on Tuesday evening. Ukrainian authorities reported several airstrikes that rocked the city throughout the day and were also said to have 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 to the overall situation in the war,” emphasized Zelensky, who met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who traveled to Ukraine, earlier in the day.

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 serve to strain the already scarce soldier reserves. Attempts are being made to withdraw troops from other frontline areas to strengthen defenses 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.

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

11.20 a.m.: According to media reports, a freight train was derailed by a drone attack in the Volgograd region of Russia. The drone crashed into a fuel cistern, the Baza news channel reported on Tuesday. Officially, the only reason given for the train accident was external influence. “According to preliminary information, there are no injuries,” the Russian Railways press service said. The derailed train caused 300 meters of rail damage in the town of Kotluban. The fire in the cistern and a wagon loaded with wood was extinguished. The region is more than 300 kilometers from the border with Ukraine.

Videos showed the derailed wagons scattered far along the tracks. Some of them were badly damaged. The route was only reopened to a single lane after several hours.

8:56 a.m.: Shortly after a corruption scandal and the dismissal of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, another high-ranking general was arrested in Russia. The person affected is the head of the cadre administration at the ministry, Lieutenant General Yuri Kuznetzov, who is accused of a crime, the state news agency Tass reported on Tuesday. The agency did not provide any further information. Meanwhile, the military blog Rybar, which is well connected to the ministry, reported that investigators were interested in Kuznetzov’s activities in his previous post, when he was head of the service for the protection of state secrets. The police searched the officer’s office and home.

It was only at the end of April that a high-ranking general, Timur Ivanov, came into the investigators’ sights. The deputy defense minister responsible for construction projects was arrested over a bribery scandal. Ivanov was considered a close confidant of Minister Shoigu. President Vladimir Putin replaced Shoigu as defense minister as part of a government reshuffle. However, the 68-year-old got an honorable exit when he was appointed secretary of the National Security Council.

Experts also see the revelation of the scandals at the ministry against the background of the war of aggression against Ukraine. After more than two years, the results of the Russian invasion are still poor from the Kremlin’s perspective.

7:37 a.m.: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the Ukrainian capital Kiev for an unannounced visit. He arrived on a night train from Poland on Tuesday morning, as a journalist accompanying him reported to the AFP news agency. It is Blinken’s fourth visit to Kiev since the Russian war of aggression began in February 2022. Among other things, a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is planned.

Above all, the trip was intended to send a strong signal of support for the Ukrainians, who are clearly in “a very difficult” situation, a senior US government official told reporters during the train ride to Kiev. He referred to the fighting on the front in the east and the attacks on the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine.

“However, we are very confident that the Ukrainians will be able to push back the Russians more and more effectively as our help arrives from the United States and other allies and partners,” the US official added.

The Ukrainian army is currently coming under increasing pressure from a Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region. On Monday, the Ukrainian General Staff acknowledged “tactical successes” by Russian troops in the region in northeastern Ukraine. According to Ukrainian information, the Russian army launched a ground offensive in the Kharkiv region from Russia on Friday.

The USA has announced several aid commitments to Ukraine in recent weeks. They came after the US Congress approved military aid worth $61 billion (around €56 billion) for Kiev in April after months of blockage.

In addition to the conversation with Zelensky, Blinken plans to meet with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and representatives of civil society in Kyiv. He also wants to give a speech on the topic of “Ukraine’s strategic success.” Another topic of the visit is a bilateral defense agreement that the US wants to conclude with Kyiv before the NATO summit in Washington in July. Negotiations on the agreement are in the “final phase,” said the US government representative.

3:20 a.m.: The new Russian attack will cause major problems for Ukraine in the coming months, the US Institute for War Studies (ISW) wrote in an analysis. In the analysis, the expert George Barros criticized Washington’s ban on Ukraine not being allowed to use weapons supplied by the USA against Russian territory. This limits Ukraine’s defense capability. For the Russian army, however, it creates a kind of reserve in which it can prepare its attacks unhindered. The Russian Air Force could launch glide bombs from its own airspace unhindered on the city of Kharkiv. The USA and Germany have imposed restrictions because they hope that this will avoid an escalation with Russia.

More about the Ukraine conflict on the next page.