Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Ukraine’s Kharkiv hit by drones during longest air raid alert of the war; Putin praises Russia-China cooperation

The administrative building is on fire after a Shahed-136 unmanned kamikaze drone attack on the railway infrastructure on May 17, 2024 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The air alert in Kharkiv on May 16-17 became the longest since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. According to the Alerts system, the threat to the city lasted 16 hours and 33 minutes.

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Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv was hit by several drone strikes overnight, according to its regional governor, during the country’s longest air raid alert since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov said late Thursday in a Google-translated post via Telegram that Russian forces attacked the country’s northeastern city with at least five drone strikes. It wasn’t clear whether there had been any casualties.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the ground.

An air raid alert in the city lasted more than 16-and-a-half hours, Reuters reported, citing Ukraine’s public broadcaster Suspilne. It marked the country’s longest recorded air alert since Russia launched its war with Ukraine in February 2022.

Syniehubov said on Friday that Ukrainian forces repelled eight attacks from Russian forces in the Liptsy, Staritsa and Vovchansk areas of the Kharkiv region.

— Sam Meredith

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during the opening ceremony of the 8th Russian-Chinese Expo on May 17, 2024 in Harbin, China. Russian President Vladimir Putin is in China for a two-day state visit.

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Russia and China can be proud of their economic cooperation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, adding that Moscow stood ready to supply Beijing with clean energy.

Speaking at a Russia-China Expo in the Chinese city of Harbin during a state visit, Putin said Russia was building a tight strategic cooperation with China.

He added that Russia was in the process of diversifying its supplies to China, including through agriculture exports such as fish, crops and pork.

Xi welcomes Putin to China as both leaders seek to bolster strategic ties

Putin on Thursday heaped praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping at the start of his two-day state visit and thanked Beijing for its efforts in trying to solve what he described as the Ukraine “crisis.”

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine entered its third year in late February.

— Sam Meredith

In this pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping attend a concert marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and China and opening of China-Russia Years of Culture at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing on May 16, 2024. 

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday described Russian and Chinese people as “brothers forever,” in a speech before a concert in Beijing marking 75 years of diplomatic relations between the countries.

Putin said Russia-China relations were at their “highest level in history” with the “character of genuine comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction,” according to an English transcript published by the Russian presidential office.

“A well-known song of that time, 75 years ago, is often performed today. It has a sentence that has become a catch phrase – “Russian and Chinese are brothers forever.” I am confident that we will continue strengthening harmonious Russia-China partnership in this fraternal spirit,” Putin said.

The countries have repeatedly emphasized their friendly relations and so-called “no limits partnership,” with Beijing embroiled in trade disputes and Moscow largely alienated by the west.

— Jenni Reid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has travelled to Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine, where he was briefed on the battlefield situation as Russia’s new offensive makes progress.

Zelenskyy said on Telegram that he had met with Ukraine’s army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi and with other military officials to discuss the “operational situation, tasks and needs of each involved brigade, each unit, in particular in the Kharkiv Region, in the Vovchansk and Lyptsi districts,” according to a NBC News translation.

Both areas are seen as hotspots in the war, with Russian forces occupying parts of Vovchansk and on the brink of seizing Lyptsi, according to Russian officials.

Ukraine’s military said earlier on Thursday that it was slowing Russia’s advance and that its units “continue to carry out combat missions within the Vovchansk urban development in the northern part of the city, keeping the enemy under fire control.”

CNBC was unable to verify the battlefield assessments.

Ukrainian FPV drone pilots, of the ACHILLES battalion of the 92nd brigade, prepare and equip night kamikaze drones for patrolling and defeating enemy forces in the early hours of May 14, 2024 in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, near the border of Russia. 

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In his latest update, Zelenskyy conceded that the situation in the Kharkiv region “remains extremely difficult,” but that it was “generally under control.” He added that Ukraine was “strengthening our units.”

Ukraine’s current combat situation, forthcoming threats and “Ukrainian opportunities to counter Russian offensive plans” were also discussed, Zelenskyy said.

In a subsequent post, the Ukrainian leader said he had also visited soldiers who were wounded fighting in Kharkiv.

— Holly Ellyatt

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