Blinken discusses military aid as Finland confirms NATO bid
McConnell: Finland and Sweden “important additions” to NATO
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that Finland and Sweden would be “significant additions” to NATO as he led a delegation of GOP senators to the region to show support against Russia’s aggression.
McConnell also called on President Joe Biden to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism following his invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking to reporters in Stockholm, McConnell said that Finland and Swedenunlike some members of the Western alliance, would likely be able to pay their NATO obligations and offer significant military capabilities.
“They will be important additions to NATO, if they choose to join,” he said, adding: “I think the United States should be the first to ratify the treaty so that these two countries join them”.
Azovstal resistance continues in Mariupol, says Ukrainian border guard
Ukrainian fighters continue to defend the sprawling Azovstal steel plant “despite the extremely difficult conditions” in the southern city of Mariupol, Ukraine’s border guard said on Sunday.
Shortly after the Russian invasion, groups of Ukrainian fighters and civilians took over the site – a sprawling Soviet-era factory founded under Josef Stalin and designed with a maze of bunkers and tunnels to withstand attack .
Civilians have been evacuated from the bunkers but the fighters remain locked in them, despite the almost constant punches from the Russian forces.
During breaks, Ukrainian border guards said the fighter distracted himself by playing chess and reading, the border guard said in a message on his Telegram channel which was translated by NBC News.
Ukraine ‘can win’, but needs more support, says NATO Secretary General
Ukraine “can win this war,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told senior diplomats from the 30 member states of the transatlantic military alliance at a meeting in Berlin.
“Russia’s war in Ukraine is not going the way Moscow planned,” Stoltenberg said, speaking via video as he recovers from a Covid-19 infection. “They failed to take kyiv. They withdraw from the surroundings of Kharkiv. Their big offensive in the Donbass has stalled. Russia is not achieving its strategic goals.
“Ukraine can win this war,” he said, adding that NATO must continue to strengthen its military support to the country.
Stoltenberg said he was convinced that the accession process for Finland and Sweden could be accelerated in the existing member states. In the meantime, the alliance will increase its presence in the Baltic region to deter Russian threats, he said.
“All allies realize the historic magnitude of the moment,” Stoltenberg added.
Norway welcomes Finland’s decision to apply for NATO membership
Norway, a Nordic member of NATO, said it warmly welcomed Finland’s decision to apply for membership. Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt described the Helsinki decision as “a turning point” for defense and security policies in the Nordic region.
“Finland’s NATO membership will be good for Finland, good for the Nordic region and good for NATO. Finland has Norway’s full support,” Huitfeldt said in comments emailed to The Associated Press.
Huitfeldt said the Norwegian government would facilitate “prompt consent to ratification by the Norwegian Parliament” for Finland’s NATO membership.
“We are now witnessing an unprecedented unity within NATO. With Finnish membership, we will further strengthen the northern flank of the military alliance,” she added.
US embassy in Kyiv will reopen ‘very soon’, says Blinken
The American embassy which will reopen in kyiv will resume its operations “very soon”, declared Sunday the secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“American diplomats have returned to Ukraine after several weeks of work outside Poland,” Blinken told senior diplomats from the 30 member states of the transatlantic military alliance at a meeting in Berlin.
“We are taking all necessary precautions but this work is ongoing and we will resume operations,” he said.
Blinken added that there was support “at almost all levels” from existing NATO members for Finland and Sweden to join the organization.
Couple recover property after their home was destroyed
On Saturday, a couple pulls out luggage from their destroyed home in the village of Vilkhivka, near the eastern city of Kharkiv.
Water shortage is ‘problem number one’ in Mariupol, says mayor’s adviser
Water shortages have become the “number one problem” in the beleaguered port city of Mariupol, an adviser to the city’s mayor has said.
“The Russians are trying to create the illusion that ‘everything is fine’ in the city. But water supply and water shortages are still the number one problem in the city,” Petro Andriushchenko said in an article on Sunday. Telegram translated by NBC News.
“The restoration of centralized water supply has, as expected, turned into a farce,” he said. “The supply of drinking water is insufficient. There are huge queues at the bottling points, but even here there is not enough water for everyone.”
Andriushchenko further warned that “people with low mobility and the elderly” in the city face difficulties in accessing water.
Russia has probably lost a third of its Ukrainian ground forces, according to the British Ministry of Defense
Russia has now probably lost a third of the ground combat forces it committed in February and is “increasingly constrained by degraded enabling capabilities, low morale and reduced combat effectiveness”, the ministry said on Sunday. British Defense during an intelligence briefing.
The briefing, posted on Twitter, added that Russia had failed to make substantial territorial gains over the past month and continued to experience “consistently high levels of attrition”.
“Under current conditions, Russia is unlikely to significantly accelerate its pace of progress over the next 30 days,” he said.
Finland, neighbor of Russia, says it wants to join NATO
Finland announced on Sunday that it intends to apply for NATO membership, paving the way for the expansion of the 30-member Western military alliance amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin made the announcement during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.
Finland’s parliament is expected to approve the decision in the coming days and the outcome is considered a formality. A formal membership application will likely be submitted to NATO headquarters in Brussels next week.
Russia, which shares an 800-mile border with Finland, said it would be a mistake for its neighbor to join the transatlantic alliance and would damage bilateral relations.
Sweden is also expected to follow suit as public support for membership has grown.
More weapons on the way to Ukraine, says foreign minister after Blinken meeting
More weapons and other aid are on their way to Ukraine, the country’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted after a meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Attacks by pro-Russian hackers foiled during Eurovision, Italian police say
Hacker attacks by pro-Russian groups were foiled during the May 10 semi-final and Saturday final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italian police said on Sunday.
During voting operations and candidate performances, police said they mitigated several cyberattacks on network infrastructure by hacker group “Killnet” and its affiliate “Legion”.
On May 11, “Killnet” claimed responsibility for an attack on the websites of several Italian institutions, including the Senate, the upper house of the Italian parliament and the National Institute of Health (ISS), the ANSA news agency reported. .
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, many Western governments have raised alert levels in anticipation of possible cyberattacks on IT systems and infrastructure.
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with their song “Stefania”, riding a wave of public support to claim an emotional victory that was hailed by the country’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Missiles hit military infrastructure in western Ukraine near Polish border, regional governor says
Four missile strikes hit military infrastructure in the Yavoriv region of western Ukraine near the Polish border early Sunday, said Maxim Kozitsky, the Lviv regional governor.
“The object is completely destroyed,” Kozitsky said in a message on his Telegram channel which was translated by NBC News.
His message came after Ukraine’s regional air command said several missiles had been fired at the Lviv region from the Black Sea in the early hours of the morning.
Ukraine crowned winner of Eurovision Song Contest 2022
Ukraine were crowned winners on Saturday of Eurovision Song Contest.
The competition tweeted the winner.
The Ukrainian group benefited from a last-minute wave of 439 votes from viewers who put it in the lead.
“Stefania” by Ukrainian band winner Kalush Orchestra was written as a tribute to the singer’s mother, but became an anthem for the war-torn country.
“Indeed, some things here were written long before the war, and they were dedicated to my mother,” leader Oleh Psiuk told The Associated Press.
Read the full story here.
Ukraine: the Russians withdraw from the vicinity of Kharkiv, beat towards the east
KYIV, Ukraine — Russian troops are withdrawing from Ukraine’s second-largest city after shelling it for weeks, the Ukrainian military announced on Saturday, as forces from Kyiv and Moscow engaged in a fierce battle for the industrial heart of the east of the country.
The Ukrainian General Staff said Russian forces were withdrawing from the northeastern city of Kharkiv and concentrating on protecting supply routes, while launching mortars, artillery and airstrikes in the eastern province of Donetsk in order “to exhaust the Ukrainian forces and destroy the fortifications”.
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine was “entering a new – long-term – phase of the war”.