Ukraine news – live: More than 260 Azovstal defenders evacuated from Mariupol plant

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The evacuation of Ukrainian defenders from Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks has been confirmed by Kyiv’s defence ministry and president Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to deputy defence minister Hannah Maylar, 53 seriously injured personnel have been taken to the town of Novoazovsk which is under the control of Russia-backed separatists.

Ms Maylar said a further 211 people were evacuated from the sprawling plant via a humanitarian corridor to Olenivka.

She later tweeted that the Ukrainian defenders were exchanged for captured Russian soldiers, referring to the latter as “captured racists”.

Ms Maylar’s reports have since been backed up by president Zelensky, who in his nightly address added: “We hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys.”

It followed witness accounts that five buses and an armoured personnel carrier carrying Ukraine’s servicemen from the vast plant arrived late on Monday in Novoazovsk.

A witness claimed a number of the evacuees were carried out of the buses on stretchers and transported into a hospital.

Key points

  • Kyiv confirms evacuation of Azovstal defenders

  • Erdogan tells Sweden and Finland not to bother sending delegations to Turkey...

  • ...After Swedish PM says her country will apply to join Nato...

  • ...And Putin issues softened warning over military expansion

  • Ukrainian troops succeed in Kharkiv counter-attack, claims governor

  • Vladimir Putin likely to have lost third of his invasion force, says MoD

Ukrainian troops evacuate from Mariupol, ceding control to Russia

07:49 , Charlene Rodrigues

Ukraine‘s military said on Tuesday it was working to evacuate all remaining troops from their last stronghold in the besieged port of Mariupol, ceding control of the city to Russia after months of bombardment.

The evacuation of hundreds of fighters likely marked the end of the longest and bloodiest battle of the Ukraine war and a significant defeat for Ukraine. Mariupol is now in ruins after a Russian siege that Ukraine says killed tens of thousands of people in the city.

“The ‘Mariupol’ garrison has fulfilled its combat mission,” the General Staff of Ukraine‘s Armed Forces said in a statement.

“The supreme military command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel ... Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time,” it added.

Republican resistance mounting over $40bn aid to Ukraine

07:06 , Namita Singh

Signs of Republican resistance are mounting over a $40bn aid package to Ukraine, as more conservatives in Congress raised vocal objections on Monday as the Senate voted to advance the bill 81-11.

All 11 votes came from Republican senators, after months of unusually united congressional support for the Biden administration’s Ukraine measures, as the European country desperately battled Russian aggression.

The pushback comes days after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell led a delegation of GOP senators to visit the war-torn region over the weekend in a show of support, vowing to push past detractors and vote on expanding Nato to include Sweden and Finland.

“There’s always been isolationist voices in the Republican Party,” Mr McConnell told reporters on a conference call over the weekend from Stockholm. “It won’t create a problem, we’ll get the job done.”

However, the most vocal lawmakers insisted that Congress will not provide a blank cheque for overseas action amid domestic needs.

“We have got to take care of things here at home first,” said Republican senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, the former Trump administration’s ambassador to Japan, on Fox News.

Republican senator Josh Hawley of Missouri tweeted of his no vote: “That’s not isolationism. That’s nationalism.”

Russia accused of intentionally targeting schools

06:51 , Namita Singh

Russia has shelled more than 1,000 schools, destroying 95, the Ukrainian government claimed.

On 8 May, it bombed a school in Zaporizhzhia, which like another school in Chernihiv was used as a shelter. As many as 60 people are feared dead.

In Chernihiv, so far only seven of the city’s 35 schools remain unscathed, claims the city council, adding that three were reduced to rubble.

A view of a school destroyed by Russian shelling in the village of Druzhkivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, 16 May 2022 (AP)
A view of a school destroyed by Russian shelling in the village of Druzhkivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, 16 May 2022 (AP)

The intentional targeting of schools and other civilian infrastructure is a war crime, with experts saying that the wide scale of the wreckage reveals Russia’s intent to do this, rather than the destruction of schools being mere collateral damage.

The International Criminal Court, prosecutors from across the globe and Ukraine’s prosecutor general are probing more than 8,000 reports of potential war crimes in Ukraine involving 500 suspects.

Mariupol mission ‘fully accomplished’, claim Ukrainian officials

06:42 , Namita Singh

The Ukrainian fighters who defended the steel mill in the devastated port city of Mariupol have “full accomplished” their mission, said Ukraine’s deputy defence minister.

Ukraine says it is now discussing plans to evacuate the last of its soldiers still holding out at the steel mill, at which point it will fully cede control of the strategic port city to Russia.

“Mariupol’s defenders have fully accomplished all missions assigned by the command,” said Hanna Maliar, adding that it was impossible to “unblock Azovstal by military means.”

A wounded service member of Ukrainian forces from the besieged Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol is transported on a stretcher out of a bus, which arrived under escort of the pro-Russian military in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Novoazovsk, Ukraine 16 May 2022 (Reuters)
A wounded service member of Ukrainian forces from the besieged Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol is transported on a stretcher out of a bus, which arrived under escort of the pro-Russian military in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Novoazovsk, Ukraine 16 May 2022 (Reuters)
Wounded service members of Ukrainian forces from the besieged Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol lie on stretchers in a bus, which arrived under escort of the pro-Russian military in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Novoazovsk, Ukraine 16 May 2022 (Reuters)
Wounded service members of Ukrainian forces from the besieged Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol lie on stretchers in a bus, which arrived under escort of the pro-Russian military in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in Novoazovsk, Ukraine 16 May 2022 (Reuters)

More than 260 injured fighters, including some badly wounded, were evacuated from the steel plant on Monday and taken to areas under Russia’s control.

About 53 seriously wounded fighters were taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk in the east of Mariupol, while additional 211 fighters were evacuated to Olenivka through a humanitarian corridor, while an unknown number of fighters stayed behind.

The Ukrainian military also said on the Facebook page of its General Staff of the Armed Forces that the “‘Mariupol’ garrison has fulfilled its combat mission”.

“The supreme military command ordered the commanders of the units stationed at Azovstal to save the lives of the personnel ... Defenders of Mariupol are the heroes of our time,” it said.

The commander of the Azov Regiment, which led the defence of the plant, said in a prerecorded video message released on Monday that the regiment’s mission had concluded, with as many lives saved as possible.

“Absolutely safe plans and operations don’t exist during war,” Lt Col Denis Prokopenko said.

‘Russian village under fire from Ukraine’

05:54 , Namita Singh

A village in Russia’s western province of Kursk bordering Ukraine came under fire from Ukraine on Tuesday, claimed regional governor Roman Starovoit.

While there were no reported injuries, he added that at least three houses and a school were hit.

Russian border guards returned fire to quell the shooting from large-calibre weapons on the border village of Alekseyevka, Mr Starovoit wrote on messaging app Telegram.

Ukrainian singer appeals to Erdogan for support

05:54 , Namita Singh

A Ukrainian singer and former Eurovision song contest winner appealed to Turkey’s president for support.

Ruslana, whose song ‘Wild Dances’ catapulted her to number one in the music contest in 2004, spoke in Istanbul as she sought president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s help in saving Ukrainian fighters from the besieged city of Mariupol.

“Stand with Ukraine. Unite for Ukraine. Help Mariupol. Help Azovstal. Help our brave Ukrainian soldiers,” she said.

I truly believe that today Turkey’s leader President Erdogan, who has an international role and presence, will help our citizens in need.

Ruslana

Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters are estimated to be holed up at the sprawling Azovstal steelworks plant, the last pocket of resistance in the port city.

05:33 , Namita Singh

The chief of the Red Cross on Monday said that Europe’s speedy acceptance of millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russian aggression demonstrates its “double standard” in dealing with those fleeing violence in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere who cross the Mediterranean Sea.

“Those who are feeling violence, those who are seeking protection, should be treated equally,” said Francesco Rocca, the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

He told a news conference that he does not think there is any difference between someone fleeing eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and someone escaping from the Boko Haram extremist group in Nigeria.

Refugees fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine walk after crossing the border by ferry at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing in Romania, Friday, 25 March 2022 (AP)
Refugees fleeing the war from neighboring Ukraine walk after crossing the border by ferry at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing in Romania, Friday, 25 March 2022 (AP)
An Iraqi displaced man and little girls collect water from a donated tank at Al-Amiriya camp for refugees, 95 km western Baghdad, Iraq, 15 May 2022 (EPA)
An Iraqi displaced man and little girls collect water from a donated tank at Al-Amiriya camp for refugees, 95 km western Baghdad, Iraq, 15 May 2022 (EPA)

Mr Rocca added that he “hoped that the Ukrainian crisis would have been a turning point in the European migration policies. But unfortunately, this was not the case.”

Ethnicity and nationality should not be a deciding factor to saving life

Francesco Rocca

Lviv rocked by loud explosions

05:07 , Namita Singh

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv has been rocked by number of loud explosions after midnight on Tuesday.

Witnesses counted at least eight explosions accompanied by distant booms, with the smell of burning apparent some time later. The city is under curfew from 11pm to 6am.

Makysym Kozytskyy, chairman of the Lviv Regional Military Administration confirmed the firing by Russian troops on the military infrastructure in the Yavoriv district, located about 15km from the Polish border.

Relatives and comrades of Ukrainian servicemen who were killed in action attend their funeral in Lviv, Ukraine, 14 May 2022 (EPA)
Relatives and comrades of Ukrainian servicemen who were killed in action attend their funeral in Lviv, Ukraine, 14 May 2022 (EPA)

The city’s mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, said on Facebook that there was no confirmed information about the missiles hitting the city.

“Let’s thank those who protect our sky for this!” the mayor said. “In the morning we will give more accurate information. Take care of yourself and do not ignore air alarms!”

‘Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes to be alive’

04:51 , Namita Singh

Ukrainian forces have completed their “combat mission” in the besieged city of Mariupol, leading to the evacuation of 260 fighters under Russia.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said that the evacuation to separatist-controlled territory was done to save the lives of the fighters who endured weeks of Russian assaults in the maze of underground passages below the hulking Azovstal steelworks.

“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes to be alive. It’s our principle” said Mr Zelensky adding that the “heavily wounded” were getting medical help.

This photo released on 10 May 2022 by the Azov regiment shows an injured Ukrainian serviceman inside the Azovstal iron and steel works factory in eastern Mariupol, Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion (AFP via Getty Images)
This photo released on 10 May 2022 by the Azov regiment shows an injured Ukrainian serviceman inside the Azovstal iron and steel works factory in eastern Mariupol, Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion (AFP via Getty Images)

According to military experts, the number of fighters at the plant are anywhere from few hundred to a thousand.

The work to bring the guys home continues and it requires delicacy and time

Volodymyr Zelensky

Before Monday’s evacuations began, the Russian defence ministry announced an agreement for the wounded to leave the mill for treatment in a town held by pro-Moscow separatists.

03:00 , Emily Atkinson

Images capture buses carrying service members of Ukrainian forces from the besieged Azovstal steel mill as they drive away under escort of the pro-Russian military.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
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(REUTERS)

Torture and terror in Ukraine's occupied towns - On The Ground

02:00 , Emily Atkinson

‘We hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys,’ Zelensky says

01:00 , Emily Atkinson

In his nightly address to the nation, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky put the spotlight on the evacuation of the Azovstal steelworks defenders.

“Thanks to the actions of the Ukrainian military - the Armed Forces of Ukraine, intelligence, the negotiating team, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations, we hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys,” he said.

“Among them are the seriously wounded. They are being provided with medical aid.

“I want to emphasise: Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle. I think that every adequate person will understand these words.”

Work “to bring the boys home” is continuing in Mariupol, he added.

Azovstal defenders dubbed ‘heroes of our time'

Tuesday 17 May 2022 00:00 , Emily Atkinson

The Azovstal defenders who were earlier evacuated from the beseiged Mairupol steelworks have been described as “heroes of our time” by the Ukrainian army’s general staff.

Posting on Facebook, top military offficials said the troops had “hindered the implementation of the plan for the rapid capture of Zaporizhzhia”.

“Forging the enemy’s core forces around Mariupol has given us the opportunity to prepare and create the defensive frontiers on which our troops are still present today and give a decent counterpoint to the aggressor.

“We got the critically needed time to build reserves, regroup forces, and get help from partners,” military chiefs went on.

The post added that some fighters remain trapped at the plant and said measures to “rescue defenders who remain in the territory of Azovstal are ongoing”

Lviv ‘under heavy attack’, says Ukraine MP

Monday 16 May 2022 23:26 , Emily Atkinson

A Ukrainian MP has said that the city of Lviv in the west of the country is currently under “heavy attack.”

Tweeting 25 minutes ago, Lesia Vasylenko MP said: “Lviv is under heavy attack right now. Friends say it has never been this loud. This is WEST Ukraine. Very close to Poland.”

Zelensky confirms Azovstal evacuations

Monday 16 May 2022 23:08 , Emily Atkinson

Azovstal fighters were ‘exchanged’ for captured Russian troops

Monday 16 May 2022 23:04 , Emily Atkinson

The 264 defenders rescued from Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks were exchanged for captured Russian soldiers, according to a tweet from Ukraine’s deputy defence minister.

In the same post, Hannah Maylar described the Russian troops as “captured racists”.

Turkey won’t approve Sweden and Finland’s Nato bids, Erdogan says

Monday 16 May 2022 22:51 , Emily Atkinson

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has poured cold water on Sweden and Finland’s “historic” announcements that they will to apply to join Nato in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, as he insisted that Ankara would not approve their bids.

Sweden’s premier Magdalena Andersson followed Finland on Monday in saying that Stockholm would bring 200 years of neutrality to an end in seeking to join the western military alliance, with all but two of the Nordic nation’s eight parliamentary parties now backing the move.

Despite Vladimir Putin appearing to back down significantly on the issue by insisting Russia had “no problem” with the countries’ Nato bids, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and France all joined the UK in pledging to defend the two nations in the event of an attack prior to their accession – a “vulnerable” period which Ms Andersson suggested could last up to a year.

Andy Gregory reports:

Turkey won’t approve Sweden and Finland’s Nato bids, Erdogan says

Kyiv confirms evacuation of Azovstal defenders

Monday 16 May 2022 22:35 , Emily Atkinson

The evacuation of Ukrainian defenders from Maiurpol’s Azovstal steelworks has been confirmed by Kyiv’s defence ministry, the BBC reports.

According to deputy defence minister Hannah Maylar, 53 seriously injured personnel have been taken to the town of Novoazovsk which is under the control of Russia-backed separatists.

The broadcaster also cites Ms Maylar as saying another 211 people were evacuated from the sprawling plant via a humanitarian corridor to Olenivka.

Five buses of evacuated Azovstal servicemen arrive in Novoazovsk, witness says

Monday 16 May 2022 22:21 , Emily Atkinson

More witness reports have been rolling in from Mariupol’s beseiged Azovstal steel plant, where Ukrainain defenders have been holed up for weeks in a last ditch attempt to protect the stragetic city from a Russian takeover.

According to Reuters sources, five buses and an armoured personnel carrier carrying Ukraine’s servicemen from the vast plant arrived late on Monday in Novoazovsk.

A witness claimed a number of the evacuees were carried out of the buses on stretchers and carried into a hospital.

Novoazovsk is under the control of Russia-backed separatists who have held parts of eastern Ukraine since 2014.

Our post from 9.07pm detailed a seperate witness report that claimed about a dozen buses left the steel plant.

Russian media have since alleged that some of the buses went to a location other than Novoazovsk.

US supports UN push to get Ukraine grain back to global market

Monday 16 May 2022 22:03 , Emily Atkinson

The US has said it will back efforts by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres to get Ukrainian grain back into the international marketplace amid the war.

Without giving further detail, the US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “He has spoken to us about his plans and his discussions with the Ukrainians and the Russians on this issue.”

After visiting Russia and Ukraine in April, Mr Guterres said he was determined to help bring back to world markets the agriculture production of Ukraine and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus despite the war.

McDonald’s to close in Russia, marking it as first country to be ‘de-arched’

Monday 16 May 2022 21:48 , Emily Atkinson

Fast food giant McDonald’s is pulling the plug on its 850 restaurants in Russia in the wake of president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

The company confirmed on Monday that it will be the first time it has ever “de-arched” or exited a major market.

 (EPA)
(EPA)

Its president said McDonald’s will seek a buyer who will employ its 62,000 workers in Russia, and will continue to pay those workers until the deal closes.

“Some might argue that providing access to food and continuing to employ tens of thousands of ordinary citizens, is surely the right thing to do,” president and CEO Chris Kempczinski said in a letter to employees.

“But it is impossible to ignore the humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.”

G7 attempts to isolate Russia making global food crisis worse, says Moscow

Monday 16 May 2022 21:36 , Emily Atkinson

Moscow has said that attempts by G7 members to isolate Russia from the West have exacterbated global food shortages.

In a statement shared on its wesbite, Russia’s foreign ministry said: “Attempts to divert Russia economically, financially and logistically from long-standing channels of international cooperation are only exacerbating economic and food crises.

“It should be noted that it was the unilateral actions of Western countries, primarily from the Group of Seven, that exacerbated the problem of breaking the logistics and financial chains of food supplies to world markets.”

20 civilians killed in shelling in Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Ukraine says

Monday 16 May 2022 21:21 , Emily Atkinson

Some 20 civilians, including one child, have been killed in Russian shelling in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Ukrainian military officials have claimed.

In a statement shared to its Facebook page, Ukraine’s Joint Forces Task Force said that 25 communities in the regions were fired at, with 42 residential buildings and a school among locations hit.

It was not possible to independently verify the report.

About a dozen buses carrying Ukrainian Azovstal servicemen leave plant, say witnesses

Monday 16 May 2022 21:07 , Emily Atkinson

Witnesses claim about a dozen buses carrying Ukrainian servicemen who were defending the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol left the plant on Monday.

Reuters adds:

It was not possible to determine how many servicemen were aboard the buses. It was also unclear whether those on board were all among the 40 wounded fighters Ukrainian officers said to have been beneath the plant.

Some 600 servicemen were said to have been inside.

Nine civilians killed by Russian attacks in Donetsk, governor claims

Monday 16 May 2022 20:31 , Andy Gregory

Nine civilians were killed by Russian attacks on Monday in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region, the region’s governor has claimed.

In a Telegram post, Pavlo Kyrylenko said nine residents were killed and six injured. It was not possible to immediately verify his claims.

Mariupol fighters appear to signal possible end in sight to steelworks siege

Monday 16 May 2022 20:09 , Andy Gregory

A Ukrainian unit holed up beneath the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol has announced that its garrison was fulfilling orders to save the lives of troops, in an apparent indication that the long siege there was coming to an end.

Hours after Russia claimed it had agreed upon a “humanitarian corridor” to take wounded soldiers for medical treatment in a Russian-held town in Donetsk, the Azov Battalion said in a social media post: “In order to save lives, the entire Mariupol garrison is implementing the approved decision of the Supreme Military Command and hopes for the support of the Ukrainian people.”

In an accompanying video, one of the unit's senior commanders, Denys Prokopenko, said: “The main thing is to realise all the risks, is there a plan B, are you fully committed to that plan which must allow for fulfilling the assigned tasks and preserve the lives and health of personnel?”

“This is the highest level of overseeing troops. All the more so when your decision is endorsed by the highest military command.”

France offers to defend Finland and Sweden if necessary

Monday 16 May 2022 19:42 , Andy Gregory

France stands ready to support Finland and Sweden politically and through “enhanced military interactions”, and protect the country against any threats or aggressions, Emmanuel Macron’s office has said.

“Whomever [sic] would seek to test European solidarity by threatening or attacking their sovereignty ... must be certain that France will stand shoulder to shoulder with Finland and Sweden,” the Elysee said on Monday, after both nations declared they were applying to join Nato.

Iceland, Norway and Denmark also issued a joint statement on Monday declaring that they stand ready to defend their Nordic neighbours in the event of an attack.

While Russian officials had previously issued threats over the two countries’ moves to join the military alliance, Vladimir Putin appeared to back down significantly on Monday, insisting that Moscow had “no problem” with their ascension to Nato.

The Russian president instead warned that Moscow would take action if Nato were to move more troops or military hardware onto the territory of its new members – steps Finland and Sweden have both already ruled out.

‘I have died every day’: Ukraine wives of Mariupol fighters plead for help from Turkey

Monday 16 May 2022 19:27 , Andy Gregory

Our international correspondent Borzou Daragahi is reporting from Istanbul, where the wives of Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks have come to urge Turkey to persuade Russia to permit their partners’ to leave the Mariupol bunker complex:

Natalia Zarytska, a 36-year-old agriculture specialist who is married to one of the soldiers inside Azovstal, spent a long stretch of the war in a basement in Kyiv.

She told The Independent she last saw her husband on Valentine’s Day, when she briefly visited him in Mariupol just days before the Russian invasion began. During the war, they have traded messages on the Telegram app popular in eastern Europe, though she has not heard back from him for more than a week.

“I have died every day for the last 70 days,” said Ms Zarytska.

She said her 8-year-old son Olexander and the children of other fighters assemble Lego models of Mariupol to try to come up with ideas to get their fathers out of the city.

“I hope Erdogan with his humane actions can help us hug our husbands and children again,” she said. “Or at least bury them and say goodbye properly.”

You can read the full report, to which Aleksandra Zhirova also contributed, here:

Ukraine wives of Mariupol fighters plead for help from Turkey

Russia cannot enforce a ‘diktat peace’ upon Ukraine, Germany’s Scholz says

Monday 16 May 2022 19:04 , Andy Gregory

There “is only one way out of this for Russia”, Germany’s chancellor has said, warning that the West would not stand for a “diktat peace” forced upon Ukraine.

The French government was forced to deny Volodymyr Zelensky’s claim last week that he had been asked by Emmanuel Macron to consider trading territory for peace with Russia.

Speaking on Monday to the broadcaster RTL, Germany’s Olaf Scholz said that such stealth border changes would not be accepted by the West if Ukraine objected to them.

“There is only one way out of this for Russia and that is reaching an agreement with Ukraine,” Mr Scholz said. “And that doesn't mean a diktat peace, taking a bit of territory and then saying ‘sign here’.

“And it also won't work as in the case of Crimea, where the war is over in the sense that there is no more shooting, but a new border has been drawn, and then they wait until everything goes back to normal,” he added.

Erdogan tells Sweden and Finland not to bother sending delegations to Turkey

Monday 16 May 2022 18:46 , Andy Gregory

Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan has told Swedish and Finnish delegations that they should not bother coming to Ankara to convince it to approve their Nato bid.

In a news conference, Mr Erdogan said Turkey would not approve their bids to join Nato, calling Sweden a “hatchery” for terrorist organisations, and claiming they had terrorists in their parliament.

Ankara says Sweden and Finland harbour people it says are linked to groups it deems terrorists, namely the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt.

Orban says Russia’s war in Ukraine will ‘pose permanent security threat to Hungary’

Monday 16 May 2022 18:31 , Andy Gregory

Viktor Orban has raised the spectre of an “era of recession” in Europe as he predicted that Russia’s war in Ukraine would “last for a long time ... and will pose a permanent security threat to Hungary”.

Taking his oath of office in Budapest after being elected in April for a fourth consecutive term, Mr Orban said Hungary’s place was in the EU for the next decade – despite accusing Brussels of “abusing its power day by day” by pushing back member states’ sovereignty.

The most important task of his new government would be to steer Hungary’s economy through a European economic crisis, defending the tax breaks and benefits granted to families and defending households’ capped energy bills, Mr Orban said, adding: “The war and the European policy of sanctions given in response, has created an energy crisis.

“The energy crisis, and the interest rate hikes in the United States have jointly brought about the era of high inflation. All this will bring about the era of recession, when a decline in economic output, stagnation and years of slight increases in output will follow each other in Europe.”

But – speaking after the EU predicted that Hungary’s GDP growth would slow to to 3.6 per cent this year from 7.1 per cent in 2021 – Mr Orban said Hungary would not block EU sanctions against Russia as long as they posed no risk to Hungary's energy security. Budapest has so far rejected the EU's proposed sanctions on Russian oil, and is demanding hundreds of millions of euros from the bloc to mitigate the cost of ditching Russian crude.

Mr Orban said the National Bank of Hungary and the government would have to coordinate steps to curb inflation, taking “cautious but firm measures to regulate prices”. His government has already capped fuel prices, basic foodstuffs and mortgage rates, as well as households' energy bills.

Viktor Orban takes the oath during the investiture ceremony at the Parliament in Budapest (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images)
Viktor Orban takes the oath during the investiture ceremony at the Parliament in Budapest (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images)

Canada ‘favours quick accession’ to Nato for Sweden and Finland

Monday 16 May 2022 18:16 , Andy Gregory

Canada is in favour of a “quick” accession to Nato for Sweden and Finland, according to the country’s foreign minister Melanie Joly.

“Canada not only favours their accession, I would say we favour a quick accession of these two countries,” Ms Joly told reporters.

It echoes comments by the US Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who told a press conference in Stockholm that Washington will also move quickly to approve Sweden's application.

“We anticipate moving this in a more rapid fashion than past applications for Nato,” Mr McConnell said, adding that while other countries in the alliance may be able to approve Sweden’s application sooner, “we hope to approve it before August”.

Nato exercises in Baltics under way

Monday 16 May 2022 17:55 , Emily Atkinson

Nato has launched major military exercises in Estonia today involving 15,000 troops from 10 different countries, including Finland and Sweden who are expected to join the alliance within days.

Named “Hedgehog”, the drills will last until 3 June and were arranged before Russia launched its brutal invasion of Ukraine

The exercises in Estonia will be one of the largest military drills held in the country since 1991 and will take place just 64km (40 miles) from Russia’s nearest military base.

US will release report into food security plans to G7, says top official

Monday 16 May 2022 17:39 , Emily Atkinson

A top US official has said she will publish a fresh report on the work being done by international financial institutions to tackle soaring food insecurity in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking from a World Central Kitchen facility in Warsaw feeding Ukrainian refugees, US treasury secretary Janet Yellen said: “Clearly Russia‘s war against Ukraine has exacerbated across the entire world the problem of food insecurity.

“The war’s having an impact beyond Ukraine and it’s something that we are very concerned about.”

She said the report would be released at the start of a meeting of finance leaders from the G7 in Germany.

Yellen said the report would outline how institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development “are stepping up to provide surge support” to help countries increase food output, boost supplies and deal with surging costs.

At least 10 killed in Sievierodonetsk shelling

Monday 16 May 2022 17:15 , Emily Atkinson

At least 10 civilians were killed on Monday after Russian forces shelled the city of Sievierodonetsk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai claimed

Gaidai said earlier today that that heavy shelling had caused fires in residential areas.

Russian billionaire has assets seized in Ukraine

Monday 16 May 2022 17:05 , Emily Atkinson

Kyiv has seized assets worth 12.4 billion hryvnia ($420 million) from Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, Ukraine’s prosecutor general has announced.

Posting on Facebook today, Iryna Venediktova said the assets were securities in Cypriot companies that were held in Ukraine.

 (AP)
(AP)

Bank of England boss says UK faces ‘apocalyptic risk’ of soaring food prices

Monday 16 May 2022 16:55 , Emily Atkinson

The cost of living has been driven up by a host of global factors which could not have been foreseen by rate setters at the bank, he added.

These include not only the war in Ukraine, and the latest response to a wave of Covid-19 infections in China which has included economically damaging, stringent lockdowns. The result had been a sharp and sudden uptick in energy global prices, forcing up the cost of living in the UK.

“I do not feel at all happy about this, this is a bad situation to be in,” Mr Bailey said, noting that inflation is expected to top 10 per cent later this year.

The central banker was responding to questions over whether he had been “asleep at the wheel” when it came to rising interest rate pressures, by Treasury select committee chair Mel Stride MP.

Our economics editor Anna Isaac has the details:

Bank of England boss says UK faces ‘apocalyptic risk’ of soaring food prices

US-backed broadcaster fined by Moscow court

Monday 16 May 2022 16:45 , Andy Gregory

A Moscow court has fined US-backed broadcaster Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe 18 million roubles (£227,000) for not deleting what Russia calls “fake” content about its operation in Ukraine, the Interfax news agency has reported.

Roskomnadzor, Russia's communications watchdog, blocked websites of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and some other foreign media in early March as the Kremlin sought to tighten its grip on portrayals of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, which it instead terms a “special military operation”.

Russian troops pushed to within 4km from border near Kharkiv, US official says

Monday 16 May 2022 16:28 , Andy Gregory

Ukrainian forces have pushed back Russian troops near Kharkiv to within three to four kilometres of the Russian border, a senior US defence official has said.

It comes after claims from the regional governor Oleh Sinegubov that soldiers from the 227th Battalion of the 127th Brigade had re-erected a post at the border there – a claim echoed by Ukraine’s defence ministry, which released a photograph of a dozen servicemen standing beside a blue and yellow pole.

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