Russo-Ukrainian War: What Happened This Weekend (May 21-22)

As Sunday draws to a close in Kyiv and Moscow, here are the main developments from the weekend:

Concerns are growing about the Ukrainian fighters evacuated from Mariupol. Russia claims to have taken more than 2,400 Ukrainian soldiers prisoner from the Azovstal steel plant, the site of Ukraine’s last dam in the besieged city. Ukrainian officials originally hoped the soldiers would be part of a prisoner swap, but some Russian politicians and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine have argued for criminal courts instead.

President Biden signed a bill provide an additional $40 billion in aid to Ukraine. The bill, which aims to provide funding through the end of the fiscal year in September, passed the Senate on Thursday by an 86-11 vote. But President Biden had already left for a trip to Asia. The bill was flown to South Korea and Biden signed it on Saturday while overseas.

Polish President Andrzej Duda visited Kyiv and became the first foreign leader to address Ukraine’s parliament since the war began in February. “I want to say clearly: only Ukraine has the right to decide its future. Only Ukraine has the right to decide for itself,” Duda said. During the same session, the Ukrainian parliament also voted to extend martial law until the end of August.

Russia suspended natural gas exports to Finland after Finland announced it would seek to join NATO, the Western military alliance that has its roots in the Cold War. The cut is mostly symbolic, as natural gas consumption in Finland is low and the country’s state-owned gas company says it can source energy elsewhere.

Amid speculation that Russia will try to annex parts of southern Ukraine, Residents of the southern city of Kherson say the new Russian-backed government has dissolved many public services and that Russian roadblocks have worsened food and medicine shortages. “The Russians are giving people what they call Russian humanitarian aid, which is things they’ve already looted from our supermarket,” a resident told NPR.

In depth

How a Ukrainian teacher helped students escape the Russian invasion and graduate.

Liev Schreiber’s family ties to Ukraine drive him to help his people.

How a possible NATO expansion shows that Russia’s plans are backfiring.

Roma refugees who fled from Ukraine to Moldova are now in limbo.

To combat food insecurity, Ukrainians are turning to their own backyards.

Special report

Russia’s war in Ukraine is changing the world: see its ripple effects around the globe.

Previous developments

You can read more daily recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find NPR’s full coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR Ukrainian state podcast for updates throughout the day.

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