(NEW YORK) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” into neighboring Ukraine began on Feb. 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus, to the north, and Russia, to the east. Ukrainian troops have offered “stiff resistance,” according to U.S. officials.
The Russian military has since launched a full-scale ground offensive in eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region, capturing the strategic port city of Mariupol and securing a coastal corridor to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:
May 21, 11:42 am
Biden signs $40 billion Ukraine aid bill into law
President Biden signed the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill into law Saturday, the White House announced in a press release.
The bill provides supplemental emergency funds to Federal agencies to respond and provide assistance to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Biden on Twitter for the aid.
“The leadership of US, President Biden & the American people in supporting Ukrainians fight against the Russian aggressor is crucial. Look forward to new, powerful defense assistance. Today it is needed more than ever,” Zelenskyy said.
-ABC News’ Molly Nagle and Max Uzol
May 21, 10:44 am
Russian Foreign Ministry publishes list of Americans banned from entering Russia
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday published a list of American citizens who are barred from entering the Russian Federation on a permanent basis.
Russia said the move was in retaliation for anti-Russian sanctions currently imposed by the U.S.
The list published on the ministry’s website comprises 963 U.S. citizens, including President Joe Biden.
May 20, 5:00 pm
More than 40 countries to take part in next Ukraine Contact Group meeting
More than 40 countries will be represented at the second meeting of the Ukraine Contact Group, formed last month to coordinate international support for Ukraine, according to Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
Monday’s meeting “will allow us to continue to dip into a process to get Ukraine, or at least to make other nations available and knowledgeable about what Ukraine needs as the fight is ongoing,” Kirby told reporters during a briefing Friday.
More than 40 nations attended the first meeting both virtually and in-person at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. New countries will attend the second, which will be strictly virtual, Kirby said.
“There are some countries that have shown an interest in participating that weren’t in the first meeting,” said Kirby, who called the first iteration “a true global community” of countries in NATO and beyond.
May 20, 3:41 pm
Russian Ministry of Defense claims it has taken complete control over Azovstal steel plant, Mariupol
Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed Friday it has taken complete control of the Azovstal plant and Mariupol from the Ukrainian forces, expelling them from the port city.
The underground facilities of the plant, in which the Azov National Regiment militia were hiding, came under the complete control of Russian forces, the ministry claimed.
The commander of the Azov Regiment was reportedly taken out of the territory of the plant in an armored car, the ministry said.
Russia claims 2,439 Ukrainian servicemen have laid down their arms and surrendered since May 16.
May 20, 1:10 pm
Russia to cut off Finland’s natural gas Saturday morning
Gasum, Finland’s natural gas company, announced Friday that it was informed its imports from Russia’s Gazprom Export will be cut off on Saturday at 7 a.m. local time.
The move by Russia comes days after Finland submitted its application to join NATO.
“It is highly regrettable that natural gas supplies under our supply contract will now be halted. However, we have been carefully preparing for this situation and provided that there will be no disruptions in the gas transmission network, we will be able to supply all our customers with gas in the coming months,” Gasum CEO Mika Wiljanen said in a statement.
Gasum will supply natural gas to its customers from other sources though the Balticconnector pipeline, which connects Finland with Estonia, the company said in a statement.
Gasum said its gas-filling stations in the network area will continue in normal operation.
May 20, 8:57 am
US-supplied howitzers to Ukraine lack accuracy-aiding computers
Dozens of artillery systems supplied by the United States to Ukraine were not fitted with advanced computer systems, which improve the efficiency and accuracy of the weapons, ABC News has learned.
The M777 155mm howitzers are now being used by the Ukrainian military in its war with Russia.
The Pentagon did not deny that the artillery pieces were supplied without the computers but said it had received “positive feedback” from the Ukrainians about the “precise and highly effective” weapons.
That positive sentiment was echoed by a Ukrainian politician, who spoke to ABC News on condition of anonymity. However, the politician also expressed frustration that the artillery pieces had not been the fitted with the digital computer systems.
Artillery is currently playing a crucial role in the fighting across eastern Ukraine, as Russia continues its offensive in that part of the country. U.S. officials recently confirmed that all but one of the 90 howitzers promised to Ukraine had now been delivered, along with tactical vehicles used to tow them.
If fitted to a howitzer, the digital computer system enables the crew operating the weapon to quickly and accurately pinpoint a target. Howitzers without a computer system can still be fired accurately, using traditional methods to calculate the angle needed to hit a target.
Modern computer systems, however, rule out the possibility of human error. Why the artillery pieces supplied to Ukraine did not have the digital targeting technology installed is unclear. The Pentagon said it would not discuss individual components “for operational security reasons.”
-ABC News’ Tom Burridge and Luis Martinez
May 20, 6:58 am
1,700 Ukrainian soldiers likely surrendered from Mariupol plant, UK says
As many as 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers have likely surrendered from the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant in war-ravaged Mariupol this week, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defense.
“An unknown number of Ukrainian forces remain inside the factory,” the ministry said Friday in an intelligence update. “Once Russia has secured Mariupol, it is likely they will move their forces to reinforce operations in the Donbas.”
For weeks, Ukrainian fighters and civilians were holed up inside the sprawling industrial site as the remaining pocket of resistance to Russia’s relentless bombardment of Mariupol, a southeastern Ukrainian port city strategically located on the Sea of Azov between eastern Ukraine’s disputed Donbas region and the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula. Russia claimed Thursday that 1,730 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered in Mariupol over the previous three days, while Ukraine confirmed Tuesday that more than 250 had yielded in the initial hours after it ordered them to do so.
Mariupol is the largest city that Russian forces have seized since launching an invasion of neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24. Its complete capture gives Russia total control of the coast of the Sea of Azov as well as a continuous stretch of territory along eastern and southern Ukraine.
“Staunch Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol since the start of the war means Russian forces in the area must be re-equipped and refurbished before they can be redeployed effectively,” the U.K. defense ministry said. “This can be a lengthy process when done thoroughly.”
“Russian commanders, however, are under pressure to demonstrably achieve operational objectives,” the ministry added. “This means that Russia will probably redistribute their forces swiftly without adequate preparation, which risks further force attrition.”
May 20, 6:42 am
Belarus says nearly 28,000 Ukrainians have arrived since Russian invasion
Nearly 28,000 Ukrainian citizens have arrived in Belarus since Russia invaded neighboring Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to the Belarusian State Border Committee.
“Between 6 a.m. on February 24 and 6 a.m. on May 20, a total of 27,868 Ukrainian citizens arrived in Belarus, including 15,793 who crossed the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, 10,563 by transit through Poland, 1,305 through Lithuania, and 207 through Latvia,” the committee said in a statement Friday.
In the past 24 hours alone, 154 Ukrainian citizens arrived in Belarus, including 120 via Poland, according to the committee.
Belarus shares a land border with both Ukraine and Russia, and is Moscow’s main ally.
May 19, 8:07 pm
Biden to sign Ukraine aid bill while abroad
President Joe Biden will sign the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill while he’s in Asia, a White House official said.
“The president does intend to sign the bill while he’s on the road so that he can sign it expeditiously,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One while en route to the region Thursday evening. “The modalities of that are being worked right now so that he can get it and sign it.”
The bill, which passed the Senate earlier Thursday with bipartisan support, will need to be flown to the region so that Biden can sign it. The practice of flying bills to presidents for signature dates back to the Truman administration, but this is a first for Biden.
Biden departed for South Korea Thursday and will visit Japan later in the week during his first trip to Asia as president.
-ABC News’ Sarah Kolinovsky
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