Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 19)
As Thursday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:
Russia said another 771 Ukrainian fighters surrendered at a bombed-out steel plant in Mariupol in the past day, bringing the total to 1,730. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it has registered hundreds of soldiers emerging from the Azovstal steel plant as prisoners of war. Ukraine's government didn't comment on the latest numbers, but has said its troops were evacuated from the last holdout in Mariupol into Russian-controlled territory and that Ukrainian officials hoped they would come home in a prisoner exchange.
In Ukraine's first war crimes trial, the accused Russian soldier asked a Ukrainian widow to forgive him for killing her husband. The widow, Kateryna Shelipova, broke down in tears on the witness stand and later confronted the 21-year-old Russian army sergeant, asking him what he felt when he shot her husband, Oleksandr Shelipov. "Fear," said the soldier, Vadim Shishimarin, who's pleaded guilty and could face life in prison. "I understand you probably won't be able to forgive me. But I ask for your forgiveness."
Finland and Sweden have the "full, total, complete backing" of the U.S. for their application to join NATO, President Biden said at the White House after meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. But Turkey has warned it will veto the two countries' applications. Biden said he was sending paperwork to Congress for U.S. ratification of their bids. The Senate meanwhile approved $40 billion in new aid to Ukraine, bringing U.S. spending on the war to more than $100 million per day, according to defense experts.
McDonald's has found a buyer for its Russian operations as it prepares to exit the country after 32 years. The fast-food chain plans to hand over more than 800 restaurants in Russia to licensee Alexander Govor, who has operated 25 of them in Siberia since 2015. McDonald's wants them to get new branding, logos and menus, but promised that current tens of thousands of staff can keep their jobs for at least two years.
Ukrainians marked a holiday in honor of their traditional embroidered clothing. In wartime, though, Vyshyvanka Day struck a more somber note for some than the usually festive parades. But officials hoped to raise the national spirit, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calling Ukraine's traditional dress "our sacred amulet in this war." And the prosecutor general tweeted: "The evil will not manage to break the thinnest threads of our national strong plexus of patterns which symbolize kindness, love and memory of kin."
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