The move paves the way for the alliance’s expansion as Russia’s devastating war in Ukraine rages on
The Finnish President and Prime Minister have said they support an application for NATO membership.
The move paves the way for the alliance’s expansion as Russia’s devastating war in Ukraine rages on.
The announcement by President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday (12 May) means Finland will almost certainly be aiming for membership.
However, there are still a few steps to be completed before the application process can start.
Neighboring Sweden is due to decide whether to join NATO in the coming days.
The Finnish leadership’s announcement came after Boris Johnson signed agreements on Wednesday (May 11) that would allow British troops to be deployed to the two northern European nations in the event of a Russian invasion.
The prime minister said the parallel deals would help defend each country should it come under threat.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has offered to release Russian prisoners of war in exchange for the safe evacuation of seriously injured militants trapped at a steel plant in the devastated city of Mariupol.
As fighting raged in eastern and southern Ukraine, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Wednesday negotiations were underway to release the injured militants holed up in the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol.
She said there are various options, but “none of them is ideal”.
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Here are the latest updates on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Last update: Monday 09 May 2022 08:57
Putin: Russia’s military action in Ukraine a ‘necessary response to Western policies’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Moscow’s military action in Ukraine as a forced response to Western policy.
Speaking about the Nazis at a military parade marking the former Soviet Union’s victory in World War II, Putin drew parallels between the Red Army’s fight against Nazi troops and the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine.
He said the campaign in Ukraine is a timely and necessary step to ward off potential aggression.
The Russian leader added that troops are fighting for the country’s security in Ukraine and observed a minute’s silence to honor those who fell in battle.
The Russian President addressed a Victory Day Parade in Moscow celebrating their victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
US First Lady on surprise trip to Ukraine
US First Lady Jill Biden has met with her Ukrainian counterpart during a surprise visit to western Ukraine.
She later wrote on Twitter: “This Mother’s Day I wanted to be with Ukrainian mothers and their children. Far too many Ukrainians have had to flee their homes in recent months – forcing them to leave their loved ones behind.
“As a mother, I can only imagine the sorrow and fear they must feel every day at the unprovoked attack by Russia. I have seen firsthand how people in Slovakia and Romania have opened their homes, their schools, their hospitals and their hearts.
“Together we are united for Ukraine.
“I hope that by being here I can convey how much their strength and resilience inspires the world and remind them that they are not alone.”
Russia’s Victory Day explained
Victory Day is Russia’s central national holiday and has an enduring meaning for ordinary Russians, many of whom carry portraits of their relatives who fought in the war.
While the annual event is always a mix of pride and patriotism for the Kremlin, this year there are also concerns about what President Vladimir Putin might say given his desire to make military advances as his brutal invasion of Ukraine falters .
Victory Day, May 9, was set as a priority for Russia early in the conflict, although Moscow has realized that a quick victory was impossible given Ukraine’s tight defenses.
Battle rages at the Mariupol Steel Plant
The Ukrainian military said it has retaken territory in the south and repelled Russian attacks in the east, amid a battle raging at a steel mill in Mariupol – where Ukrainian troops have holed up in tunnels and bunkers to repel a Russian attack.
Ukrainian militants have been holding out at the sprawling Azovstal Steel Plant — the last pocket of resistance in a city otherwise controlled by Moscow’s forces.
“The enemy, with the support of aircraft, has resumed the offensive to take control of the plant,” Ukraine’s military general staff said on Thursday.
The video published on social media on Wednesday evening showed Russian airstrikes on the steel mill.
Ursula von der Leyen: “We ensure an orderly exit from Russian oil”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that ending the EU’s dependence on Russian oil “will not be easy, but we simply have to do it”.
This will be a total import ban on all Russian oil, sea and pipeline, crude and refinery.
We will ensure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly manner so that we and our partners can secure alternative supply routes and minimize the impact on global markets.Advertisement
Mariupol evacuees ‘spoke of the hell they experienced’
Osnat Lubrani, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, said evacuees from the besieged city of Mariupol spoke of the “hell” they experienced in the city.
For the past few days, traveling with the evacuees, I have heard mothers, children and frail grandparents speak about the trauma of living under relentless heavy shelling and fear of death day after day, and with extreme shortages of water, food and sanitation.
They spoke of the hell they have experienced since the beginning of this war, when they took refuge in the Azovstal plant, many were separated from family members whose fate they do not yet know.Advertisement
PM: Threatening or attacking British diplomats in Ukraine is ‘completely unfathomable’
Boris Johnson said any threat or attack on British diplomats in Ukraine was “completely unacceptable”.
Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain about the British ambassador, the Prime Minister said: “I am proud of our diplomats in Ukraine and of Melinda Simmons who is returning to open the embassy and she has done a great job.”
Mr Johnson added that threats against British diplomats were “completely unfathomable” and that there was “no justification for it”.
He said Britain “led the world in helping Ukrainians protect themselves against wanton aggression and barbaric aggression,” later adding that Britain also “made the world impose a very tough package of economic sanctions.” say goodbye”.
“We’re not saying we’re doing this to drive geopolitical change or to get a result in Moscow,” he said.
“We are concerned with the Ukrainian people and their suffering. It is totally unjustified that a free country like Ukraine should be overwhelmed and wiped out as it has been until now.”
PM: “This is Ukraine’s finest hour, an epic chapter in your national history”
Boris Johnson is set to address Kyiv’s parliament today, where he is expected to say:
“When my country faced the threat of invasion during the Second World War, our Parliament, like yours, continued to meet throughout the conflict and the British people showed such unity and determination that we remember our time of greatest danger as our finest hour .Advertisement
“This is Ukraine’s finest hour, an epic chapter in your national history that will be remembered and told for generations to come.
“Their children and grandchildren will say that Ukrainians taught the world that the brute force of an attacker counts for nothing against the moral might of a people determined to be free.”Advertisement
Russian football teams further banned from UEFA competitions
Russian football clubs and the national team have been hit by further sanctions from the football association UEFA.
The country will be banned from participating in the 2022 European Women’s Championship this summer as the Ukrainian invasion continues.
Club-level teams will continue to be banned from UEFA competitions next season after being removed from this year’s ongoing competitions “until further notice”.
UEFA has also confirmed that Russia’s bids to host either the 2028 or 2032 men’s Euro tournaments are now ineligible.
Lavrov’s Hitler comments were branded “unforgivable” by Israel
Israel has attacked Russia over “unforgivable” remarks by its foreign minister about Nazism and anti-Semitism – including claims that Adolf Hitler was Jewish.
Israel, which summoned the Russian ambassador in response, said the comments blamed Jews for their own murder in the Holocaust.
It marks a sharp decline in ties between the two countries at a time when Israel has sought to remain neutral between Russia and Ukraine due to its security needs in the Middle East.
What did Sergey Lavrov say?
Asked in an interview with an Italian news channel about Russian claims that it invaded Ukraine to “denazify” the country, Sergei Lavrov said Ukraine could still have Nazi elements, even if some figures, including the president of the country are Jews.
“So when they say, ‘How can there be Nazification if we’re Jews?’ Hitler was also Jewish in my opinion, so that means absolutely nothing. For some time now, we’ve been hearing from the Jewish people that the biggest anti-Semites were Jewish,” he told the station in Russian, dubbed from an Italian translation.
The Israeli Answer
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called Mr Lavrov’s testimony “unforgivable and scandalous and a terrible historical error”.
“The Jews did not kill themselves in the Holocaust,” said Mr. Lapid. “The lowest level of racism against Jews is blaming Jews themselves for anti-Semitism.”