Russian-Ukrainian War: What Happened Today (May 18)

As Wednesday draws to a close in Kyiv and Moscow, here are the main developments of the day:

A 21-year-old Russian soldier has pleaded guilty to the murder of a Ukrainian civilian in the first war crimes trial of the conflict. Vadim Shishimarin, a captured sergeant from a Russian tank unit, faces life in prison for shooting a 62-year-old unarmed Ukrainian in northeastern Ukraine on February 28, four days after the start of the war. In a crowded courtroom in kyiv, Shishimarin was asked if he was guilty of the murder. “Yes. Definitely yes,” he replied from inside a glass box. Ukrainian officials say they anticipate many more such trials.

Russia said 959 Ukrainian soldiersincluding 80 wounded, surrendered from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol since Monday. Ukraine said evacuations of fighters from the factory were brokered by international aid groups, but did not provide updated figures. Ukrainian soldiers were transported to territory under Russian control and the Russian Ministry of Defense posted a video claiming to show some of them in a hospital, praising their treatment. Ukraine has said it hopes to bring its troops back in a prisoner swap, although Russian officials have threatened to put some on trial for war crimes.

Finland and Sweden have formally applied for NATO membership. All 30 member countries must agree to expand the world’s largest military alliance, and Turkey opposes this. The accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO is a historic break with the past neutrality of the Nordic nations, provoked by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss issues such as Turkey’s security concerns.

The US embassy has reopened in Kyiv, three months after suspending operations there before the Russian invasion. The State Department said operations resumed, with the American flag hoisted and diplomats returning from western Ukraine and Poland, where they had been temporarily stationed. Other countries have also reopened embassies in Kyiv in recent weeks.

The Russian subsidiary of Google plans to file for bankruptcy following the seizure of the company’s assets by the Kremlin. Google, Gmail and YouTube search will remain available and free for Russiansbut the the wall street journal reports that Google moved its staff out of Russia. Tensions between Google and Russian authorities have escalated as Google has refused to remove content the Kremlin has declared illegal and has blocked access to some Russian media on YouTube.

Russia has decided to close the operations of CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster. He canceled journalists’ visas and accreditation for its staff in Russia. It appeared to be retaliation against Canada’s telecommunications regulator, which pulled Russian state broadcasters RT and RT France off the Canadian airwaves in mid-March.

In depth

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Previous developments

You can read more daily recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find Full NPR coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR Ukrainian state Podcast for updates throughout the day.

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