Today, May 19, is the 85th day of Ukraine's defense against a full-scale Russian invasion.
8.25 p.m: US senate passed a $40 billion economic and military aid package to Ukraine.
Now US President Joe Biden has to sign the law. 86 US Senators supported the bill, while 11 voted against it.
6.54 p.m: Ukrainian prosecutors ask for life in prison for Vadim Shishmarin, a 21-year-old Russian soldier who pled guilty to murdering a civilian in Sumy Oblast.
"I ask the court to find Shishimarin guilty of a criminal offense and sentence him to life imprisonment," the prosecutor said at a court hearing on May 19.
Earlier the wife of the murdered 62-year-old civilian from Sumy Oblast said she agreed also for Shishmarin to be swapped for Azovstal fighters, currently held in Russian captivity.
5.14 p.m: More and more military recruitment offices have been set on fire in Russia, Oleksiy Hromov, chief of the Main Operational Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has reported.
According to him, in total 12 military commissariats were set on fire since the start of the invasion in February.
"Five cases happened only last week: in Rostov, Ryazan regions, as well as in Volgograd and Omsk," Hromov said.
2.23 p.m: Two Russian soldiers pled guilty to shelling civilian targets from Grad missile launchers during a trial in Poltava Oblast.
Those are Alexander Ivanov and Alexander Babikin.
Babikin is a soldier, the driver of the Hail fighting vehicle, and Ivanov is a corporal, a driver of the Grad missile system.
According to the investigation, the occupiers were involved in the artillery shelling of the villages of Kozacha Lopan and Veterinary of the Kharkiv Oblast from Grad.
They opened fire on objects of civil and critical infrastructure. They fired from the village of Malynivka in the Belgorod region of Russia, as well as from the territory of Ukraine.
Both Ivanov and Babikin pleaded guilty during interrogations. They face up to 12 years in prison for their actions.
12.25 p.m. Several high-profile Russian generals have been fired for failures in the war against Ukraine, the UK Defense Ministry has reported.
- Lieutenant General Serhiy Kysil, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army was fired for failing to capture Kharkiv;
- Commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Vice-Admiral Igor Osipov has been dismissed for the loss of the missile cruiser Moskva;
The Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Valeriy Gerasimov is likely to remain in office, but it is unclear whether he retains the confidence of Vladimir Putin, the UK Defense Ministry said.
12.20 p.m. Bridget Brink, the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, is planning to arrive in Kyiv in June.
Earlier, the U.S. Senate unanimously appointed Brink as ambassador to Ukraine. She was nominated by U.S. President Joe Biden.
Overnight Russian invading forces shelled Sumy Oblast, a northeastern Ukraine region that was liberated from Russian occupiers in April, the region's governor, Dmytro Zhyvytskiy, said in a statement. After several failed attempts to break through the border, the Russian started shelling the region from Russian territory "like crazy", the governor said.
The shelling of Sumy Oblast started at the same time Ukrainian forces launched a massive counteroffensive operation in the nearby Kharkiv Oblast, where Ukrainian have already liberated several settlements and even taken parts of the border with Russia under control.
After months of massive shelling it has become relatively quiet in Kharkiv and residents have started coming back, Kharkiv Obkast Governor Oleh Synehubov said. "Kharkiv is returning to life. We see more and more cars on the streets," he said. "Every day some 2,000 people return to the city by rail from western Ukraine and from abroad."
At the same time, authorities still cannot guarantee residents' safety, as the danger of Russian missile attacks remains high, Synehubov said.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is abuzz, worrying over the fate of more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers taken to Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine from Azovstal, a steel mill that used to be the last Ukrainian stronghold in Mariupol, a city almost destroyed and occupied by Russia.
Although the Ukrainian authorities have expressed hopes to exchange those soldiers during a prisoner swap, Russia has backtracked and is now planning to put the Ukrainian defenders on trial.
Ukrainian society now fears that Russia might kill the defenders of Azovstal. But Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar has urged the public to refrain from reacting too emotionally.
"I understand that everyone wants to know at least some information, but the rescue operation is underway. Negotiations are ongoing. This process is very sensitive. Any information we announce in public could harm both the process itself and our defenders," she said.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has addressed Ukrainians living in the Russian-occupied territories.
"Kherson, Melitopol, Berdyansk, Energodar, Mariupol, and all our cities and communities that are under occupation - under temporary occupation - must know that Ukraine will return," Zelensky said.
For several days in a row Ukrainian partisans have been very active in Melitopol. Yesterday, they attacked a rail line. And a couple of days ago they allegedly killed a high-ranking Russian military official in Melitopol.
Overnight, a grenade exploded near the Russian military command office in Melitopol.