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Russia-Ukraine war: What happened this weekend (May 21-22)

Smoke rises after an attack on an oil refinery in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine on Sunday.
Smoke rises after an attack on an oil refinery in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine on Sunday.

As Sunday draws to a close in Kyiv and Moscow, here are the key developments of the weekend:

Concerns grow about the Ukrainian fighters evacuated from Mariupol. Russia claims to have taken prisoner more than 2,400 Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant, the site of Ukraine's final holdout in the besieged city. Ukrainian officials originally hoped the soldiers would be part of a prisoner swap, but some Russian politicians and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine have advocated for criminal tribunals instead.

President Biden signed a bill granting an additional $40 billion in aid to Ukraine. The bill, which is meant to provide funding through the end of the fiscal year in September, passed the Senate Thursday on an 86-11 vote. But President Biden had already departed for a trip to Asia. The bill was flown to South Korea, and Biden signed it Saturday while overseas.

Polish President Andrzej Duda visited Kyiv and became the first foreign leader to address Ukraine's parliament since the war began in February. "I want to say clearly: Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future. Only Ukraine has the right to decide for itself," Duda said. In the same session, Ukraine's parliament also voted to extend the country's martial law until late August.

Russia halted natural gas exports to Finland after Finland announced it would seek to join NATO, the Western military alliance that has its roots in the Cold War. The cutoff is essentially symbolic, as natural gas usage in Finland is low and the country's state-owned gas company says it can source energy from elsewhere.

Amid speculation that Russia will try to annex parts of southern Ukraine, residents of the southern city of Kherson say the new Russian-backed government has disbanded many public services, and that Russian roadblocks have worsened shortages of food and medicine. "The Russians give people what they call Russian humanitarian aid, which is really things they've previously looted from our supermarket," one resident told NPR.


How a Ukrainian teacher helped students escape Russia's invasion, and still graduate.

Liev Schreiber's family ties to Ukraine push him to help its people.

How a possible NATO expansion shows that Russia's plans are backfiring.

Roma refugees who fled from Ukraine to Moldova are now in limbo.

To fend off food insecurity, Ukrainians look to their own backyards.

Special report

Russia's war in Ukraine is changing the world: See its ripple effects in all corners of the globe.

Earlier developments

You can read more daily recaps here. For context and more in-depth stories, you can find NPR's full coverage here. Also, listen and subscribe to NPR's State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR Staff