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Kyiv Says Russia Counterattacking Near Kharkiv, While Commanders Reportedly Dismissed.

Ukrainian forces blow up a bridge connecting Severodonetsk and Lysychansk to Rubizhne in the Luhansk region in video released on May 18.

Ukrainian forces blow up a bridge connecting Severodonetsk and Lysychansk to Rubizhne in the Luhansk region in video released on May 18.

The Ukrainian military says Russian forces have launched counterattacks around Kharkiv in an attempt to regain lost ground after being pushed back to the border, as the Russian commander of an elite tank unit was reportedly suspended for his failure to capture the second-largest Ukrainian city.

In the area of the Velyka Komyshuvakha settlement, Russian forces suffered significant losses and were forced to withdraw to previously occupied positions, Ukraine's General Staff said on May 19.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the major developments on Russia's invasion, how Kyiv is fighting back, the plight of civilians, and Western reaction . For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war, click here .

The governor of the Russian region of Kursk said on May 19 that one person was killed and several wounded after what he said was a Ukrainian attack on a village near the border.

The British Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence bulletin on May 19 that Lieutenant General Sergei Kisel, who commanded the elite 1st Guards Tank Army, has been suspended for his failure to capture Kharkiv.

The British intelligence report said that Kisel was just one of the senior Russian officers who have been fired in recent weeks for their poor performance during the early stages of the invasion of Ukraine.

Among other Russian commanders who have likely been dismissed is Vice Admiral Igor Osipov, who commanded Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, following the sinking of the cruiser Moskva in April, British intelligence reported.

Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian military, likely remains in his post, the bulletin said, adding that it was unclear whether he retains President Vladimir Putin's confidence.

A culture of cover-ups and scapegoating is probably prevalent within the Russian military and security system, the British bulletin said, concluding that this could place further strain on Russia's centralized model of command and control and make it more difficult for Moscow to regain the initiative in the conflict.

Meanwhile, an unnamed NATO military official with knowledge of the intelligence told CNN that the momentum in the conflict had shifted significantly in favor of Ukraine, although the alliance doesn't expect significant gains for either side in the coming weeks.

Ukrainian officials said on May 18 that they were trying to negotiate the release of the remaining soldiers holed up at Mariupol's Azovstal steelworks, but the ultimate outcome of the bloodiest battle of the war remains unresolved.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said that a total of nearly 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers at the plant -- Ukraine's last stronghold in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol -- had "surrendered" by early on May 18.

All of them were reportedly transferred to territory in eastern Ukraine that is controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists.

Ukrainian authorities have not commented on the numbers, and Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said negotiations for the troops' release were ongoing, as were plans to extract those who are still inside the sprawling steel plant.

Denis Pushilin, the leader of a Moscow-backed separatist region in eastern Ukraine, said that top commanders of the troops who had made their last stand at the Azovstal steelworks in the port city were still inside the plant.

On the diplomatic front, U.S. President Joe Biden will host the leaders of Finland and Sweden on May 19 to discuss their NATO membership bids.

On May 18, the United States said it was reopening its embassy in Kyiv, and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved President Joe Biden's nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

"The Ukrainian people...have defended their homeland in the face of Russia's unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the Embassy once again," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement announcing the reopening of the embassy.

The nomination of veteran diplomat Bridget Brink is expected to easily win a vote in the full Senate after clearing the committee.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa, BBC, and TASS

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