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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C-R) and Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (C-L) leave Red Square after the military parade in central Moscow on May 9, 2024. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)
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Key developments on May 11,12:

  • Putin proposes firing Shoigu, appointing new defense minister
  • Zelensky says Russian troops try to "gain a foothold" in Kharkiv Oblast; heavy fighting ongoing
  • Russia's breakthrough attempt halted, situation in several sectors' changing rapidly,' Syrskyi says
  • Russia attacks 106 infrastructure facilities in Ukraine in one day
  • Media: Ukrainian drones attack military targets in 3 Russian oblasts overnight
  • Russia seeking to blame Ukraine after apartment building collapses in Belgorod, reportedly killing at least 7

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on May 12 proposed firing Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and nominated Andrei Belousov to replace him, according to the Telegram channel of the Federation Council, the Russian parliament's upper house.

Putin appointed Shoigu as the secretary of Russia's security council, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Shoigu is replacing Nikolai Patrushev, who has been the council's secretary since 2008.

Shoigu has faced criticism from Russia's pro-war hawks for mishandling the war effort in Ukraine. However, it is not clear if his dismissal is a demotion since the position of the security council's secretary is considered to be among the most powerful in the country.

Meanwhile, Belousov is known as a supporter of boosting military spending and mobilizing Russia's economy for the war effort. Peskov said that Belousov's task is "to integrate the military-industrial complex into the country's economy."

Peskov also said that Putin had decided to appoint a civilian as defense minister since the "ministry should be open to innovation and progressive ideas."

Belousov was Russia's economy minister in 2012-2013, an aide to Putin in 2013-2020, and first deputy prime minister in 2020-2024.

Ukrainian drones hit one Russian oil refinery after another
Ukraine faces a challenging problem: how to stop a resurgent Moscow in its tracks long enough to rotate the troops, resupply, and fortify. Part of the answer is playing out right now in the skies over Russia. Over the past two weeks, at least dozens of Ukrainian drones reportedly struck

Heavy fighting ongoing in Kharkiv, Donetsk oblasts

Russian troops are trying to "gain a foothold" in some villages in Kharkiv Oblast, and heavy fighting is ongoing in the region, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address on May 12.

His statement comes as Russia launched a new offensive operation targeting Kharkiv Oblast on May 10.

Zelensky said the situation is "extremely difficult" on the outskirts of Vovchansk, a city in Kharkiv Oblast close to the Russian border.

"The city is under constant Russian fire, and our military is carrying out counterattacks, helping local residents," Zelensky said.

Earlier in the day, Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi said that Russian attempts to break through Ukraine's defenses have been halted, even though Russian troops continue their attacks in several sectors.

According to him, the situation "is changing rapidly" in the directions of Kupiansk, Siversk, Lyman, and Pokrovsk amid ongoing fighting.

"The enemy has partial success in some areas, and in others, (Ukraine's) Defense Forces are pushing the enemy out and improving their tactical position," the general said.

The general also described the situation in Kharkiv Oblast as "difficult," saying that Ukrainian troops are fighting in the border areas and "are doing everything to hold their defensive lines and positions."

Ukraine's military said earlier that Russian troops had been contained in the "gray zone" border villages, while Russia alleged the capture of five settlements in Kharkiv Oblast: Pletenivka, Ohirtseve, Borysivka, Pylne, and Strilecha.

"The units of the Defense Forces are engaged in fierce defensive battles, and the attempts of the Russian occupiers to break through our defense have been halted. Our intelligence, artillery, and unmanned aerial systems units are working," Syrskyi said.

"All necessary measures are being taken to strengthen the defense, and decisions are being made promptly, including personnel."

Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov reported on May 12 that civilians continue to be evacuated from northern Kharkiv Oblast as massive artillery and air strikes increase in the region.

According to the State Emergency Service, over 4,500 people had been evacuated from the border settlements of Kharkiv Oblast as of 5 p.m. on May 12. Around 500 people remain in the city of Vovchansk, said Syniehubov.

Apart from Kharkiv Oblast, Russia is also continuing its assault east of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk Oblast and has failed to regain lost positions near the village of Klishchiivka, located some five kilometers south of Russian-occupied Bakhmut, according to Syrskyi.

Zelensky also reported that the situation in Donetsk Oblast is "no less intense" than in Kharkiv Oblast, adding that "the idea behind the attacks in Kharkiv Oblast is to spread our forces thin and undermine the Ukrainians' morale."

"Our warriors are adequately retaliating against the occupiers and doing everything possible, and often impossible, to deter Russian assaults," Zelensky said.

Russia intensifies attacks on Kharkiv, draining Ukraine’s air defense and civilian morale
This was the first time since 2022 that Russian troops used a glide air bomb, reportedly a new-type UMPB D-30 munition, to kill residents of Ukraine’s second-largest city.

Russia attacks 106 infrastructure facilities in Ukraine in one day

Russia attacked 106 infrastructure facilities in nine regions in Ukraine over the last day, the Defense Ministry's Military Media Center reported on May 12.

Various weapons were used in the attacks, and 107 settlements were targeted. Thousands of households in seven oblasts are suffering power outages due to Russian attacks, the Energy Ministry reported.

In the last 24 hours, 1,146 customers in Kharkiv Oblast lost power, alongside 4,600 households in Donetsk Oblast, 2,418 households in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, 450 in Mykolaiv Oblast, 510 in Sumy Oblast, 25,800 in Kherson Oblast, and 1,500 customers in Chernihiv Oblast.

While some settlements have been reconnected as of May 12, thousands still face blackouts. The situation is worse in Donetsk Oblast, where 47,700 customers are disconnected from the power grid.

Russia also launched a mass attack on energy infrastructure on May 8 in central and western regions of Ukraine, the fifth attack against Ukraine's power network since the start of the year.

At least two hydroelectric power plants were forcibly decommissioned as a result of the attack.

The road from death to life: Medics evacuate wounded Ukrainian soldiers amid intensified fighting (Photo)
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Media: Ukrainian drones attack military targets in 3 Russian oblasts overnight

Drones operated by Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR) attacked military targets in Russia's Volgograd, Lipetsk, and Kaluga oblasts overnight on May 12, Ukrainska Pravda reported, citing its unnamed source in HUR.

One target was an oil refinery in Volgograd, where a fire was reported by local Russian authorities, according to the media outlet.

The Kaluganefteprodukt oil depot and the Novolipetsk metallurgical plant were also reportedly struck by drones.

"These military targets were hit by Ukrainian-made drones. The work will be continued," the source told Ukrainska Pravda. The Kyiv Independent could not verify these claims.

Drone attacks targeting energy facilities within Russia's borders have increased in frequency in recent months.

Ukraine pins hopes on international pressure to conduct all-for-all prisoner exchange
As Ukraine prepares for a major peace summit in June, President Volodymyr Zelensky sees an opportunity to free all Ukrainian prisoners from Russia before the end of the war. After the start of the full-scale invasion, Russia has seized thousands of Ukrainians, from soldiers to children, adding them…

Apartment building collapses in Belgorod, reportedly killing 12. Russia seeks to blame Ukraine

A part of a 10-story apartment building collapsed in Russia's Belgorod on May 12, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov reported. He claimed without evidence that a Ukrainian projectile hit the building during an air raid alert in the oblast.

Later in the day, the Russian state-controlled RIA Novosti news site reported that 12 people were killed there.

Russian air defenses allegedly shot down six Tochka-U missiles and six rockets over Belgorod Oblast, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The ministry claimed that the residential building was "damaged" by a Tochka-U missile fragment.

Local officials did not report on casualties, while Russian state-run media claimed at least 20 were injured, citing response services.

There is a risk of further collapse of the building, the Kremlin-controlled news agency TASS wrote. Footage shared on Russian Telegram channels soon after showed a section of the roof collapsed.

Ukrainian officials did not comment on the claims. The Kyiv Independent could not independently verify the reports.

One night with Ukrainian drone hunters near Russia
Editor’s note: Due to the security protocols of the Ukrainian military, soldiers featured in this story are identified solely by first names and call signs. SUMY OBLAST – Soldiers from one of Ukraine’s 117th Territorial Defense Brigade mobile air defense squads call themselves fowlers. The unit’s…
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