Here's a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week.

What to watch

Reports of heavy fighting in Ukraine fueled speculation of whether it could be part of an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive, but there's no confirmation from Kyiv. Russia said it thwarted a major Ukrainian offensive and killed hundreds of troops in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, although Ukraine dismissed the claims.

President Biden has a busy week hosting the Danish prime minister on Monday and the British prime minister on Thursday. The war in Ukraine will feature on the agenda for both visits.

Countries on NATO's eastern flank, known as the Bucharest Nine, will hold a summit in Slovakia on Tuesday. The group has strongly condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and called Russia "the most significant and direct" security threat.

NATO's chief hopes to bring Sweden into the military alliance this month, but has yet to persuade Turkey and Hungary to approve the Nordic country's bid.

The European Commission looks set to extend a ban on some farm imports from Ukraine within five countries in central and Eastern Europe.

What happened last week

Russia kept up its assault on Kyiv. Ukraine's air defenses shot down many of the drone and missile strikes over its capital, but some caused damage and casualties. Ukrainian officials said the last weekend in May saw the largest drone attack in Kyiv since the invasion began in 2022, lasting more than five hours and killing one person. A missile attack in Kyiv on Thursday left two women and a child dead.

Fighters backed by Ukraine have been waging a guerrilla-style campaign in southern Russia's Belgorod region.

Drone strikes targeted Moscow, lightly damaging several apartment buildings. Ukrainian authorities rejoiced but avoided claiming responsibility for the attack.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly argued Ukraine "has a right" to strike outside its borders. The remark conveyed a harder stance than what the U.S. has said: The Biden administration publicly opposes Ukrainian attacks inside Russia. Dmitry Medvedev, a senior Russian official and former president, reacted to Cleverly by warning any British "officials could be considered as a legitimate military target."

Europe has mixed views on Ukraine's bid to join NATO. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Ukraine's "rightful place" is in NATO, and France is pushing for a clear path for Ukraine to join the alliance. But Germany put a damper on things, saying this is not the time to talk about it in the midst of war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who has lobbied for his country to become part of NATO, also acknowledged it would be "impossible" to join during the war.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry issued a video showing troops putting a finger to their lips to keep silent. Accompanying text said, "There will be no announcement of the start." The messaging built suspense about a major counteroffensive Ukraine has planned for months. Earlier in the week, Zelenskyy told The Wall Street Journal, "we are ready."


Ukrainian workers describe fleeing the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant.

What Secretary of State Antony Blinken sees as Russia's strategic failings in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy accepts Ukraine cannot become a NATO member until the war ends.

Russia reports several drone strikes on Moscow buildings as Kyiv is attacked again.

She had a dream job. Now, she's part of a massive brain drain hammering Russia.

An alleged Russian spy whale is in Sweden — and danger. Here's why his tale matters.

On the State of Ukraine podcast: The Ukrainian fighters preparing to retake key land from Russia. And, are international sanctions finally affecting Russia's resilient economy?

Special report

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

Earlier developments

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

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