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Live Reporting

Edited by Jude Sheerin

All times stated are UK

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  1. We're pausing our live coverage

    Back on Friday. Here's a recap of the day's key developments:

    • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says in a late-night video address that the Donbas region in the east of his country has been completely destroyed
    • The US Senate approves nearly $40bn in aid for Ukraine - the largest aid package since Russia invaded
    • Sweden and Finland have moved closer in their bid to join Nato after their application was welcomed by US President Joe Biden, who met the leaders of both countries at the White House earlier
    • The prosecutor in the first trial of a Russian soldier for war crimes in the conflict has asked for a life sentence for the accused. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, says he hadn’t wanted to fire at a civilian he admits to killing, but was threatened by another soldier
  2. In pictures: Embroidered shirts day

    As we reported earlier, Ukrainians are marking Vyshyvanka Day - a celebration of Ukrainian folk culture, particularly the wearing of traditional embroidered shirts.

    Here are some images taken as people came out to celebrate, despite the continuing war in the country.

    Close up of woman wearing vyshyvanka, Lviv
    Image caption: The designs on some vyshyvankas have meanings such as hope, fertility and protection
    Children celebrate Vyshyvanka Day in Lviv
    Image caption: Children were among those who gathered in Lviv
    Women in Lviv
    Image caption: Once traditionally white, vyshyankas are now made in a wide range of colours
    Women perform in Lviv
    Image caption: This performance took place in the western city of Lviv
    People learn to make embroidered patterns in Odesa
    Image caption: Sewing lessons were on offer in Odesa
    Women celebrate Vyshyvanka Day in Cambridge, UK
    Image caption: Three refugee sisters, together with friends and their host, marked the occasion with a giant shirt in Cambridge in the UK
  3. Ukrainian cat wins influencer award

    A famous cat from Kharkiv who raised thousands for Ukrainian animal shelters through his Instagram account has been given a prestigious award for his efforts.

    Stepan, who has 1.3 million followers, was given the World Influencers and Bloggers Award during a ceremony at Cannes Film Festival in France on 18 May.

    Money raised during the event will be spent on helping those who suffered during the war in Ukraine, its organisers said.

    Stepan's owner, Anna, said the pair escaped from the north-eastern Ukrainian city in March and crossed the border into Poland before being evacuated to France, where their fundraising efforts continue.

    View more on instagram
  4. 'It is hell there - that is not an exaggeration' - Zelensky

    Russian forces have "completely destroyed" the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said, in a late night video address.

    He also accused Moscow of carrying out "senseless bombardments" as it intensified its offensive in the region.

    Russia has shifted most of the focus of its war to eastern Ukraine, after pulling back its forces from near the capital Kyiv.

    "In the Donbas, the occupiers are trying to exert even more pressure," Zelensky says.

    "It is hell there - and that is not an exaggeration," he adds.

    Read more on why Russia is trying to encircle Ukraine's east.

    Donbas region map
  5. What's been happening?

    If you're just joining us, here are the latest developments:

    International support:

    • President Biden has strongly backed Finland and Sweden's requests to join Nato, saying they will strengthen the alliance, which is needed "now more than ever"
    • The US Senate has approved nearly $40bn in military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine - the biggest aid package yet
    • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of using food as a weapon by blocking ports and destroying Ukrainian roads and railways

    War crimes trial:

    • The prosecutor has asked for a life sentence for the accused in the first trial of a Russian soldier for war crimes in the conflict
    • Vadim Shishimarin, aged 21, says he hadn’t wanted to fire at a civilian he admits killing, but was threatened by another soldier
    • The widow of the man killed asked if he repented, he asked for forgiveness

    Steelworks evacuation:

    • A deputy commander says he and other senior officers are still at the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol and that "an operation" is taking place - but gives no further details
    • Russia says more than 1,700 fighters from the plant have now surrendered and been taken to Russian-controlled areas

    You can read our round-up of all the day's developments here.

  6. Rare moment of agreement as Senate backs Ukraine aid

    Nomia Iqbal

    BBC News

    In a country where US lawmakers don't usually agree on much, helping Ukraine has become a rare area of bipartisan agreement.

    Most Democrats and Republicans have come together to help the embattled country and this latest package, worth nearly $40bn, was backed by 86 out of 100 senators in both parties.

    This round of aid is a mixture of military, economic and humanitarian assistance. It includes more weapons, a fund to help Ukraine's government function and cash to stop the disruption to the global food chain as a result of the war.

    It's the biggest aid package so far and brings the total American investment in the war to roughly $54 billion in just over two months.

    This bipartisan moment may not last though. The Republicans who did oppose the package said they are concerned about continuously sending huge amounts of money abroad for an ongoing conflict, especially whilst Americans are struggling with economic challenges at home.

    President Biden is expected quickly to sign it into law - he and Ukrainian leaders pushed hard for its approval over fears aid would run out by the end of the week.

  7. 'We will keep aid flowing' - Biden

    US President Joe Biden

    More now on the $40bn aid package that the US Senate has approved to send to Ukraine - the largest aid package since Russia began its war.

    US President Joe Biden applauded members for sending "a clear bipartisan message to the world" that the people of the United States "stand together with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their democracy and freedom".

    Biden said the resources he requested will allow the US to send more weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, replenish its own stockpile, and support US troops stationed on Nato territory.

    "Together with the contributions of our allies and partners, we will keep security, economic, food, and humanitarian assistance flowing to Ukraine, across the region, and around the world, and further strengthen Ukraine - both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table."

    Biden also signed off on $100 million of military aid to Ukraine, including additional artillery munitions and counter artillery battery radars, the latest in a series of transfers to help Kyiv repel Russia's invasion.

  8. War could push 90% of Ukrainians into poverty, UN warns

    Ukrainian volunteers prepare to deliver food inside a complex set up as a shelter in Zaporizhzhya
    Image caption: Ukrainian volunteers prepare to deliver food inside a complex set up as a shelter in Zaporizhzhya

    We've been reporting on the growing food crisis in Ukraine and accusations that Russia is using food as a weapon of war, including by blocking ports in Ukraine's Black Sea.

    Now, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has warned that 90% of people within Ukraine could be pushed into poverty if Russia continues its assault.

    "We're talking about nine out of 10 Ukrainians falling into poverty if this war continues until the end of the year," UNDP deputy representative in Ukraine, Manal Fouani, says.

    She says this is a "shocking number", given the poverty rate in the country was just 2.5% just before the war started.

    Fouani said that 18 years of development gains could be lost by the end of the year - the "investments of the European Union and of all of the donors and the development partners in this country over the past 20 years".

  9. Russians continue to attack in Donetsk - Ukraine armed forces

    The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has published its evening update on Facebook.

    It says:

    • Russian forces' main focus was on the Donetsk direction, where they used aircraft, artillery and mortars. It intensified offensive and assault operations in some areas.
    • In the area of ​​Severodonetsk in Luhansk, Russian forces carried out assaults, suffered losses and retreated to previously occupied positions
    • Fighting continues in areas northeast of Kharkiv, where Russian troops are trying to hold on to previously occupied positions and sometimes try to launch counterattacks in order to regain control of those settlements that were recaptured by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in recent days.
    • Russian forces are demoralised, suffering significant losses and with some personnel not receiving payments they have been promised

    The BBC is not able to independently verify this information.

  10. WATCH: Ukraine troops blow up Luhansk bridge

    Video content

    Video caption: Ukrainian soldiers blow up a bridge connecting cities in the Luhansk region

    Earlier on Thursday, Ukraine's National Guard released a video it said shows the destruction of a bridge connecting Sievierodonetsk to Rubizhne in the Luhansk region.

    The special operation between Ukraine's security forces aims to slow down the advance of Russian troops in the Luhansk region.

    The BBC has not been able to independently verify the images.

    Map showing areas of Russian control in eastern Ukraine
  11. Operation at Azovstal - deputy commander

    We'll turn now to the besieged Azovstal steelworks in the city of Mariupol, where some Ukrainian fighters are still believed to be holed up - although it's unclear how many.

    The Deputy Commander of the Azov unit, Sviatoslav Palamar has posted a video message on Telegram, in which he says: “Glory to Ukraine! It is day 85 of the war. The leadership and I are on the premises of the Azovstal plant. There is a certain operation happening, details of which I am not going to share. I thank the whole world and Ukraine for the support. I will be seeing you.”

    It is not clear what the operation he refers to is. We will bring you more information if it becomes available.

    Russia says more than 1,700 fighters from the plant have been taken to Russian-controlled areas since Monday.

    You can read about what has been happening to them here.

  12. Zelensky welcomes 'significant contribution' from US

    For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the US funding package.

    In a tweet, he called the Senate's approval of the $40m boost "a significant contribution to the restoration of peace and security in Ukraine, Europe and the world" and looked ahead to US President Joe Biden signing off the funds.

    His chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said the package would help ensure Russia's defeat by Ukraine, adding: "We are moving towards victory confidently and strategically. We thank our allies."

    View more on twitter
  13. US Senate approves $40bn aid for Ukraine

    The US Senate has approved nearly $40bn in aid for Ukraine - the largest aid package since Russia invaded.

    It includes military, economic and humanitarian assistance, and was voted through with 86 in favour and 11 against.

    The bill aims to release an urgently-needed injection of funds. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had previously warned that authorised funds for sending weapons to Ukraine would run out today, and the bill had been delayed in the Senate.

    The package includes:

    • $6bn for security assistance, including training, equipment, weapons and support
    • $8.7bn to replenish stocks of US equipment sent to Ukraine
    • $3.9bn for European Command operations
    • $9 billion for an economic support fund for Ukraine.
    • $5bn to address global food insecurity

    It goes next to President Biden to be signed into law.

  14. Russian McDonald's buyer to rebrand restaurants

    A view of a closed McDonald"s restaurant in St. Petersburg

    McDonald's has found a local buyer for its Russian business, following its decision to end operating in the country over the war.

    Alexander Govor - who currently operates 25 McDonald's restaurants in Siberia - is set to take on the firm's 62,000 staff and operate its 850 businesses under a new brand.

    McDonald's did not disclose the sale price, but warns investors it expects to lose more than $1bn (£800m) from the exit.

    Under the terms of the deal, the fast food giant's workers in Russia will be kept on their existing pay for at least two years, while Govor will pay the salaries of corporate staff until the deal is completed.

    McDonald's says it will retain its trademark in the country, but the restaurants will be stripped of their menu, logo and other branding.

    Read more about the deal here.

  15. UN countries must pressure Russia to stop weaponizing food - Blinken

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Russia is using food as a weapon to break the spirit of the Ukrainian people, adding the blame for the food crisis clearly lies with Moscow.

    "The Russian Federation claims falsely that the international community's sanctions are to blame for worsening the global food crisis. Sanctions aren't blocking Black Sea ports, trapping ships filled with food, and destroying Ukrainian roads and railways - Russia is," Blinken told a UN Security Council meeting.

    It comes as the Russian foreign ministry says it will only consider allowing access to Ukraine's Black Sea ports if the lifting of international sanctions against Russia is also considered.

    Blinken says the UN Security Council has a "unique responsibility to address the current crisis" and called on UN countries to put pressure on Russia to stop weaponizing food.

    "Stop blockading the ports in the Black Sea and the sea of Azov, allow for the free flow of ships and trains and trucks carrying food out of Ukraine; stop preventing food and other life-saving supplies from reaching civilians in besieged Ukrainian towns and cities; stop threatening to withhold food and fertiliser exports from countries that criticise your war of aggression," Blinken said.

    The head of the UN World Food Programme, David Beasley, earlier appealed to President Putin to end Moscow's blockade of the ports to allow the export of wheat and other vital food products.

    Russian deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, says US and EU sanctions have helped to cause the current food crisis, Russia's Interfax news agency reports.

  16. Ukraine needs food aid while they feed the world, UN says

    It is hard to believe Ukraine needs help with a growing food crisis, given the country's role in feeding the world before the war, the United Nations says.

    Manal Fouani, a representative to Ukraine from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), tells the BBC that 90% of Ukrainians will fall into poverty by the end of the year if the conflict continues.

    Manal Fouani

    Ukraine has a population of nearly 45 million, with 15 million people currently refugees or internally displaced within the country.

    Fouani says: "It sounds difficult to believe that we need to feed Ukrainians, while Ukrainians feed the world."

    She adds it is "heartbreaking" that grain silos in Ukraine are full because it is too difficult to export, so if farmers cultivate and harvest more crops there is no space to store them.

    Read more about UN warnings of a possible global food crisis here.

  17. UK and Ukraine PMs discuss global food shortage fix

    The two leaders held talks in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, in April
    Image caption: The two leaders held talks in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, in April

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today to discuss opening "critical" sea and land supply routes for grain exports, after Russia's invasion caused supplies to be cut off, reducing the global supply and causing the price of alternatives to soar.

    It comes as the UN warned that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could soon cause a global food crisis that may last for years.

    In a tweet, Johnson said he blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin's "reckless blockade of Black Sea ports" for causing global economic damage.

    Zelensky said the pair also discussed "the operation to rescue military from Azovstal" and "ways to export agricultural products" and import fuel to Ukraine.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, also said he spoke with his British counterpart, Liz Truss, about how to “hold Russia accountable for its aggression and unblock Ukraine’s food exports”.

    "Russia bears full responsibility not only for killing, torturing, and raping Ukrainians, but also for starving people across the world, including in Africa," Kuleba said in a tweet.

  18. Russia's laser weapon claim derided as propaganda

    A Ukrainian soldier displays an anti-drone rifle in Kyiv
    Image caption: A Ukrainian soldier displays an anti-drone rifle in Kyiv. Russia claims to have destroyed a drone using a laser

    Russia claims to have used laser weapons on the battlefield in Ukraine, although the US says it has seen no evidence of this and Ukraine has derided it as propaganda.

    Yury Borisov, the deputy prime minister in charge of military development, told Russian TV that a laser prototype called Zadira was being deployed in Ukraine and had burned up a Ukrainian drone within five seconds at a distance of 5km (three miles).

    However, an official with the US Department of Defense said he had not seen "anything to corroborate reports of lasers being used" in Ukraine.

    Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has mocked the Russian claim, comparing it to the so-called "wonder weapons" that Nazi Germany claimed to be developing during World War Two.

    Read more on this story here.

  19. Russian state media quiet on war crimes trial

    Vitaly Shevchenko

    BBC Monitoring

    Vadim Shishimarin in court in Kyiv
    Image caption: Vadim Shishimarin, aged 21, has admitted killing 62-year-old civilian Oleksandr Shelipov

    One court case has been the focus of much of our coverage today - and there's been a near-total blackout in state-controlled Russian media on the war crimes trial of Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin in Kyiv.

    BBC Monitoring has not observed any mentions of him on key TV channels, while there has been prominent reporting of the trial by independent Russian media, which is now operating from abroad.

    In a rare online report about Shishimarin, Kremlin-run broadcaster RT (also known as Russia Today) quoted his father as doubting that he will get a fair hearing in Ukraine. "What's that trial for? To prove him guilty," Yevgeny Shishimarin told RT.

    Asked about Shishimarin at a news briefing on 18 May, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not have enough information about the soldier captured by Ukraine.

    You can read our correspondent Sarah Rainsford's story on the trial here.

  20. Shelling kills 12 in Severodonetsk - governor

    Returning now to the situation on the ground in Ukraine, 12 people have been killed in Ukrainian-controlled Severodonetsk after Russian shelling, the head of the eastern Luhansk Regional Military Administration has said on Telegram.

    Serhiy Hayday says more than 40 people who were injured in the attacks are receiving medical treatment - and there has been significant destruction leading to power cuts.

    Among the victims are two women found dead in a flat hit by a missile, he says in his post.

    At least eight houses have been damaged and rescuers were unable to reach places on fire for two hours because of the shelling, he adds.

    A map showing Severodonetsk's location in eastern Ukraine