Russia is apparently starting a new ground offensive near Kharkiv and is conquering the first villages. Russian Defense Minister Shoigu had to resign – he is responsible for hundreds of thousands of war victims. All news about the war against Ukraine in the news ticker.

Monday, May 13, 2024, 7:22 a.m.: British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps has described the deposed Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries in the Ukraine War. “Sergei Shoigu is responsible for over 355,000 casualties among his own soldiers and mass suffering among the civilian population with an illegal campaign in Ukraine,” Shapps wrote on Sunday evening in the online service X after Shoigu’s change of position in the new Russian government became known.

“Russia needs a defense minister who will overcome this disastrous legacy and end the invasion,” wrote Shapps, adding, referring to Russian leader Vladimir Putin: “But all they will get is another Putin puppet.”

Putin surprisingly removed Shoigu, who has been in office since 2012, from his previous office on Sunday and instead appointed him secretary of the National Security Council, according to a government reshuffle decree published by the Kremlin on Sunday evening.

According to Russian news agencies, the new defense minister will be economist Andrei Belusov. He apparently has no experience in the military sector; in fact, he has served as one of Putin’s most important economic advisors in recent years.

5:01 p.m.: After Russian troops advanced into the Ukrainian border area around Kharkiv, a commander of a Ukrainian special reconnaissance unit appears stunned. He himself fought in the Ukrainian surprise offensive in Kharkiv in autumn 2022.

“There was no first line of defense. We saw it. The Russians just walked in. They just went in, no minefields,” he told the BBC. He then showed a drone video supposedly showing Russian troops marching across the border without resistance.

The Ukrainian authorities claimed that expensive defense systems were being built. But these are simply not available, said the commander. “Either it was an act of negligence or corruption. It wasn’t a failure. It was a betrayal.” He fears that Kharkiv could soon be back in Russian hands. The commander spoke to the BBC from a park in the city, just five kilometers from the Russian border, and said that he himself would be back at the front in an hour.

3:33 p.m.: In the Russian border region of Belgorod, a multi-story residential building was severely damaged in an attack. Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that the house was hit by falling debris from a Ukrainian Tochka-U missile. This could not initially be verified independently. The region’s governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said at least 19 people were injured. However, initial reports that there were deaths were not confirmed. Russia’s top investigative agency said it had opened criminal proceedings for a “terrorist attack.”

There was initially no official reaction from the Ukrainian side. However, the Russian representation was sometimes questioned in the Ukrainian media. The Ukrinform agency, citing an expert, wrote that the destruction visible in the photos suggested that part of the building could have been deliberately blown up in order to provoke and justify its own attacks.

2:40 p.m.: After Russian troops advanced into the Ukrainian border region of Kharkiv, Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Olexander Syrskyj described the situation there as difficult. “This week the situation in the Kharkiv region has worsened significantly,” Syrskyj wrote on Telegram on Sunday. “Currently, fighting continues in the border areas along the state border with the Russian Federation.” He then added: “The situation is difficult, but the Defense Forces of Ukraine are doing everything they can to hold defensive lines and positions.” At the same time, he admitted that that the Russian attackers had achieved “partial successes” in some areas.

According to consistent reports, Russian troops launched an offensive in the border area to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Friday night. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, several Ukrainian border villages near the city of Vovchansk were occupied. On Sunday, Moscow reported the capture of four more towns.

12.44 p.m.: The Russian army has begun the major offensive expected by the Ukrainian defenders: Strong Russian forces are attacking across the country’s border – with the operational goal of moving closer to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. The offensive did not come as a surprise, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj in his video address. “We know the strength of the occupier’s troops and see their plan,” he said. In an initial attack, the Russian units were able to capture four smaller villages directly behind the border.

More than 4,000 people have been evacuated from parts of Kharkiv and have left the region. This figure was given by the region’s governor, Oleh Syniehubovan.

12.12 p.m.: British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has described Russia’s surprise offensive in Kharkiv as an “extremely dangerous” moment. He further said in an interview with Sky News that this underlines “that this is an unjustified, illegal invasion by Putin into an independent, sovereign country.” Cameron urgently demands that everything must now be done to help the Ukrainians.

Cameron renewed support for Ukraine during his visit to Kiev a few days ago. According to the British news agency PA, he emphasized during his trip that it was up to Kiev to decide how the Ukrainians would use weapons supplied. Russia attacked Ukraine and Ukraine has the right to strike back. When asked whether this included targets in Russia, he said: “This is a decision for Ukraine and Ukraine has this right.”

Sunday, May 12, 2024, 9:45 a.m.: According to official information, a fire broke out in an oil refinery in southern Russia after a drone attack. The nighttime attack in the Volgograd region was repelled by our own air defense, Governor Andrei Bocharov announced on Sunday morning. Nevertheless, the falling drone detonated and caused a fire on the refinery site. This has now been deleted. There were therefore no victims.

Russia has been waging a war of aggression against neighboring Ukraine for more than two years. In order to disrupt the Russian infrastructure and reduce the enemy’s war revenues, the Ukrainians have recently repeatedly attacked Russian oil refineries.

7:38 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has declared crushing the latest Russian offensive in the east of the country as “task number one”. “Completing this task depends on every soldier, every non-commissioned officer and every officer,” Zelensky said in his evening video address on Saturday. On Friday, Russian troops launched a broad offensive across the country’s border towards the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. “Our troops have been carrying out counterattacks there for two days to defend Ukrainian territory,” said Zelensky, describing the situation. The Ukrainian military leadership has already sent reinforcements towards Kharkiv.

6:00 p.m.: The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed an offensive by its troops in the border area with the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Russian troops have occupied five Ukrainian border villages, the ministry announced in Moscow on Saturday. Striletsche, Krasne, Pylne and Borysivka, which are about 30 kilometers north of Kharkiv near the town of Lipzy, were mentioned, as well as Ohirtseve near the city of Vovchansk. According to the Russian interpretation, the residents of these “liberated” towns were taken to safe assembly points.

According to a report in the Kyiv Independent, a unit of a Russian motorized rifle battalion refused to carry out the attack near Kharkiv. A man from the underground resistance movement Atesh, who apparently serves in one of the rifle battalions of the 44th Army Corps of the Russian Armed Forces, made the information about the division’s refusal to obey orders public via Telegram. As Ukrainska Pravda reported, the Atesh movement claimed that some Russian soldiers were aware of the high quality of the fortifications on the border between Ukraine and Russia. Therefore, “part of the unit refused to comply with the criminal will of the command,” the agent said in a Telegram post. In the past, the Russian soldiers of the 44th Army Corps also had to witness unsuccessful sabotage and reconnaissance operations by the Russian troops.

5:34 p.m.: According to the British Ministry of Defense, the country will deliver the largest package of military aid to Ukraine to date. In addition to 580 million euros in financial aid, 400 vehicles, 1,600 rockets and 4 million rounds of ammunition are to be made available to Ukraine.

1:23 p.m.: The Russian Defense Ministry has reported that Russian forces have taken control of six villages in eastern Ukraine. The soldiers “liberated” the villages of Borisivka, Ohirtseve, Pletenivka, Pylna and Striletscha in the Kharkiv region near the border, as well as the village of Keramik in the Donetsk region, the ministry said on Saturday in the Telegram online service.

Moscow has made a series of advances on the front lines in recent months, increasing its edge on the battlefield as Kiev awaited key Western arms shipments.

More about the Ukraine conflict on the next page.