Ukraine news – live: Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra wins Eurovision as Russia threatens UK

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US Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell made a surprise visit to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

President Zelensky said the visit “is a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people,” according to a post on his Instagram account.

“Thank you for your leadership in helping us in our struggle not only for our country, but also for democratic values and freedoms. We really appreciate it,” Mr Zelensky said. Mr McConnell was joined by three Republican senators.

Earlier, a Russian defence chief warned Britain and the US again of Moscow’s new arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The RS-28 Sarmat, or Satan-2, hypersonic nuclear missile could strike Britain in just “200 seconds”, said Russia’s defence committee deputy chair Aleksey Zhurvlyov.

Mr Zhurvlyov blamed the US and UK for provoking Finland to join Nato – a move considered in Moscow to be a risk to Russian security.

Key Points

  • Mitch McConnell makes surprise visit to meet Zelensky in Kyiv

  • Oligarch said Putin ‘very ill with blood cancer’ – report

  • New Satan-2 threat to UK

  • Russian forces driven from Kharkiv – Reuters

  • Ukraine’s Kherson faces rigged vote to join Russia, claims UK

Footage appears to show ongoing assault on Mariupol steelworks

10:39 , Thomas Kingsley

Footage released by an advisor to Mariupol’s mayor appears to show phosphorous bombs dropping on the Azovstal steel plant.

Nato must maintain ‘open door’ policy, Liz Truss said

10:17 , Thomas Kingsley

Nato must maintain its “open door” policy towards admitting new members, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss has said.

PA Media reports that following a meeting of alliance foreign ministers in Berline, Truss said security in Europe will be strengthened if - as expected - Finland and Sweden apply to join.

Nato’s open door policy is essential and if Finland and Sweden decide to apply to join, it is clear that they would strengthen the alliance and European security as a whole.

Ms Truss said the meeting had agreed that they must continue to support Ukraine to help it to “push Russia out”.

Putin must face a sustained defeat in Ukraine, Russia must be contained and such aggression must never happen again. Ukraine’s security must come from it being able to defend itself. Allies must support Ukraine’s move to Nato-standard equipment, immediately providing artillery, training and the required expertise.

Ukraine’s top diplomat meets US Secretary of State, touts more weapon supplies

09:46 , Thomas Kingsley

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Sunday he had met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin and that "more weapons and other aid is on the way to Ukraine".

"We agreed to work closely together to ensure that Ukrainian food exports reach consumers in Africa and Asia. Grateful to Secretary Blinken and the U.S. for their leadership and unwavering support," Mr Kuleba tweeted.

Mr Kuleba was due to brief Nato foreign ministers meeting in Berlin on Sunday on the situation on the ground in Ukraine and on how the alliance can further help the country as it battles invading Russian forces for a 12th week.

Ukraine’s Eurovision presenter reacts to win from bomb shelter

09:30 , Thomas Kingsley

Here is Ukraine’s Eurovision presenter and commentator, Timur Miroshnychenko’s ecstatic reaction to the news that his country had won.

He was broadcasting his Eurovision commentary from a bomb shelter.

NEW: Missiles destroy military infrastructure in western Ukraine near Polish border - governor

09:15 , Thomas Kingsley

Four missile strikes hit military infrastructure in the Yavoriv area of western Ukraine, near to the Polish border, early on Sunday, Lviv region's Governor Maxim Kozitsky said.

"The object is completely destroyed," Kozitsky said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

Earlier, a regional air command of Ukraine said several missiles had been fired at the Lviv region from the Black Sea in the early hours of Sunday morning.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

President Zelensky defiant as Russia retreats from Kharkiv

09:00 , Thomas Kingsley

Fresh off his country's Eurovision win, a defiant Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky vowed early Sunday to one day host the song contest in the embattled city of Mariupol, which is almost entirely in Russian hands aside from a stalwart group of a few hundred Ukrainian fighters who continue to hold out in a steel factory.

Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra won the popular contest with its song “Stefania,” which has become a popular anthem among Ukrainians during the war, and its victory was a morale booster.

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe,” Zelensky said on Facebook. “Next year, Ukraine will host Eurovision!”

Read the full story here

UK will support Ukraine in hosting next year's Eurovision, business secretary says

08:53 , Thomas Kingsley

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the UK would support Ukraine in hosting next year’s Eurovision.

Discussing Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky's speech about hosting next year's competition, Mr Kwarteng told Sky News he "looks forward to seeing it" held there.

Asked if the UK would support Ukraine in putting the event on, he replied: "Absolutely... what we've done is really support Ukraine right through from the beginning of this crisis and we will continue to do so."

He added that the situation in the Ukraine war has been "encouraging" and clearly Russia's war aims have been "completely frustrated".

However, he warned: "We will just have to see how the situation evolves."

Germany says all ready for quick ratification of Finnish, Swedish Nato membership

08:40 , Thomas Kingsley

Germany has taken all preparations for a quick ratification process should Finland and Sweden decide to apply for Nato membership, foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday, while underlining both countries' need for security guarantees.

"Germany has prepared everything to do a quick ratification process," she told reporters on a second day of talks with her Nato counterparts in Berlin, adding that ministers had agreed at a dinner on Saturday that there should not be grey zone between the time they apply and the time they join.

"If they decide to join they can join quickly...We must make sure that we will give them security guarantees, there must not be a transition period, a grey zone, where their status is unclear," she said.

She was referring to the ratification period that can take as long as a year, during which the Nordic countries will not yet be protected by Nato's article 5 which guarantees that an attack on one ally is an attack on all

Italian police prevents pro-Russian hacker attacks during Eurovision contest

08:20 , Thomas Kingsley

The Italian police thwarted hacker attacks by pro-Russian groups during the 10 May semi-final and Saturday final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, it said on Sunday.

During voting operations and contestants' performances, police said it had mitigated several cyber attacks on network infrastructure by the hacker group "Killnet" and its affiliate "Legion".

On 11 May, "Killnet" claimed an attack to the websites of several Italian institutions, including the Senate, Italy's upper house of parliament, and the National Health Institute (ISS), ANSA news agency reported.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

‘Things are still not safe’: Locals fear returning to scarred villages of Kharkiv despite Russian retreat

08:05 , Thomas Kingsley

Denis Kozmenko decided to flee his home with his young family after he saw a young mother, who had taken shelter in a school during airstrikes, being dragged off to be raped by a Russian soldier.

He was among the many Ukrainian men who decided to move their wives and daughters out of the village of Mala Rohan, which was under Russian occupation, after the horrific sexual assault on the 27-year-old woman.

“I saw what happened that night. This poor woman was taken away in front of her family, dozens of people, by this soldier. I realised then that there was no safety, no safety at all,” says Mr Kozmenko, who has returned to the village after it was recaptured by Ukrainian forces.

More on this from our defence and security editor in Ukraine, Kim Sengupta:

In Kharkiv: Locals fear returning to scarred villages despite Russian retreat

Russian village bordering Ukraine shelled wounding one person, local official claims

07:47 , Thomas Kingsley

One person was wounded when forces in Ukraine fired at a Russian village close to the border, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, claimed in a post on the Telegram messaging app early on Sunday.

The governor of the Belgorod region Vyacheslav Gladkov made the claim on Telegram.

"The village of Sereda, Shebekinsky urban district, was fired from the territory of Ukraine," he wrote.

"The civilian was injured, received a shrapnel wound. He will receive all the necessary medical care."

Exclusive: Ukrainian refugees may be housed in B&Bs indefinitely under new laws quietly passed by government

07:32 , Thomas Kingsley

Ukrainian and Afghan refugees in the UK could be housed in B&Bs indefinitely under new laws quietly pushed through by the government, prompting accusations of a “two-tier system” of housing support.

An amendment to homelessness laws on Wednesday states the six-week limit homeless families can spend in B&B accommodation will no longer apply to refugees who have fled from Ukraine and Afghanistan.

The changes also set out that councils can place these groups out of area – potentially hundreds of miles away – without taking into account the usual factors such as the disruption to employment and education and access to medical facilities or other support.

Our social affairs correspondent, May Bulman, has the full story below:

Ukrainian refugees may be housed in B&Bs indefinitely under new laws quietly passed

Britain says Russia's Donbas offensive 'has lost momentum'

07:14 , Thomas Kingsley

Russia's offensive in Ukraine's Donbas region "has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule", British military intelligence said early on Sunday.

"Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days," the British military said in a regular Twitter bulletin.

On Friday, Ukrainian forces prevented an attempted Russian river crossing in the Donbas, an eastern area comprising the Luhansk and Donetsk regions that has been a focus of the war.

Russia missile hits military infrastructure in Lviv

06:51 , Arpan Rai

Military structure in western Ukraine’s Lviv came under attack from a Russia missile strike on early Sunday, officials said.

The attack was confirmed by Lviv governor Maxim Kozitsky.

He added that there is no information about the dead or injured people in the attack.

"The extent of the destruction is being clarified,” the governor said.

Locals fear returning to scarred villages of Kharkiv despite Russian retreat

06:51 , Arpan Rai

Even as Russian forces have been forced out of Kharkiv, families who left the villages in the key Ukrainian city are finding it difficult to return amid threats of rape and death.

Like Denis Kozmenko who had leave within hours with his young family after he witnessed a young mother being dragged off to be raped by a Russian soldier. She had taken shelted in a school as airstrikes pounded the region.

Mr Kozmenko realised the worst could come for his family. So he decided to move his wife and daughter out of the village.

The Independent’s defence and security editor Kim Sengupta has the full report here:

In Kharkiv: Locals fear returning to scarred villages despite Russian retreat

A Ukraine photographer’s battle against Russian propaganda

06:09 , Arpan Rai

For photographers like Alina Smutko, the tough choice to flee homeland Ukraine or to stay back was not the scenario that they imagined would come to reality. But when it came to making a decision, it was not that difficult.

She decided she had to stay back and fight with what she had.

Alina is now documenting the crisis, herself in great danger but she hopes that photographing the war will tell the world what is happening in Ukraine and she said she wants her work to “win against Russian propaganda”.

Her world was different before Russia sent its troops on the night of 24 February. Earlier, her work focused on politics, sport and social justice. Her work has taken her to many areas of Ukraine including the disputed Russian-occupied territories of Crimea, Luhansk and the Donetsk.

Now, in the shoes of a war photographer, she spends her days recording stories of innocent people who have been hit by bombardments, refugees fleeing and charity workers attempting to provide aid.

Read the full story here:

A Ukraine photographer’s battle against Russian propaganda

Eurovision: Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra wins song contest

05:37 , Arpan Rai

Ukrainian band Kaulsh Orchestra won the Eurovision song championship for their song “Stefania” on Sunday in a popular vote for the country reeling under Russia-led invasion.

The band members, in their speech, urged millions of audience to help the country’s battle-hit regions.

“Help Azovstal, right now,? the band’s front man, Oleg Psiuk said as he implored people to free hundreds of Ukrainian fighters trapped in the the steel mill.

He also thanked the Ukrainian diaspora and “and everyone around the world who voted for Ukraine. ... The victory is very important to Ukraine. Especially this year.”

Lauding the band’s victory, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said the country “we will do our best” to host next year’s contest in a battle-hit Mariupol.

“Ukrainian Mariupol,” he said, adding: “free, peaceful, rebuilt!”

“I am sure our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

Indian embassy to resume in Kyiv after two months

05:17 , Arpan Rai

Officials from the Indian ministry of external affairs said they are resuming the country’s embassy operations in Kyiv after more than two months.

“The Indian Embassy in Ukraine, which was temporarily operating out of Warsaw (Poland), would be resuming its operation in Kyiv w.e.f. 17 May 202,” the ministry said in a statement. India shut down its embassy in Kyiv as the Russian assault on Kyiv increased after invasion. India had temporarily relocated to Warsaw on 13 March.

Russian troops leave from around Kharkiv, pound Donetsk in east

05:04 , Arpan Rai

Russian troops are exiting from around Kharkiv after bombarding the key and second-largest Ukrainian city for weeks, officials from the Ukraine military said on Saturday.

However, the assault has intensified in the eastern part of the country as Russia rearranges its military in the besieged country.

The forces are pulling back from the northeastern Kharkiv and instead are guarding supply routes, officials said.

Alongside, mortar, artillery and airstrikes continued in the eastern province of Donetsk in order to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications”.

Ukraine was “entering a new, long-term phase of the war”, warned defence minister Oleksii Reznikov.

Antony Blinken reaches Berlin to meet Nato partners

04:42 , Arpan Rai

US secretary of state Antony Blinken reached Berlin on early Sunday ahead of his meeting with Nato partners over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“I have arrived in Berlin where I will informally meet with @NATO foreign ministers to discuss our alliance and sustained action to address Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine,” the top US official said on Twitter.

Zelensky calls for Russia’s recognition as ‘terrorist state’ with Mitchell McConnell

04:33 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky said he has asked for the official recognition of Russia as a terrorist state, as Ukraine crossed 80th day of invasion by the Kremlin, in a meeting with US senators on Saturday.

“We discussed various areas of support for our state, including defensive and financial. As well as tightening sanctions on Russia. I expressed gratitude for the historic decision to renew the Lend Lease program. I called for the official recognition of Russia as a terrorist state,” Mr Zelensky said.

He added that the Ukraine-US talks led by Republican minority leader Mitchell McConnell in Kyiv demonstrated “the strength of bipartisan support for our state, the strength of ties between the Ukrainian and American nations.”

Among the topics in the talks was food security as wheat supply from Europe remains jeopardized due to the conflict.

“More and more countries around the world are realizing that Russia, by blocking the Black Sea for us and continuing this war, puts dozens of other countries at risk of a price crisis in the food market and even famine. This is another incentive for our anti-war coalition to act more decisively together,” the Ukrainian leader said.

He also sought more support for the besieged country “especially with weapons - means working to prevent global famine.”

The sooner we liberate our land and guarantee Ukraine’s security, the sooner the normal state of the food market can be restored, he said.

Marjorie Taylor Greene mocked for saying GOP visit to Kyiv proves Ukraine isn’t dangerous

04:00 , Joe Middleton

Marjorie Taylor Greene is being slammed online for claiming that a video showing US lawmakers visiting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky proves the country is safe, because a Republican delegation wasn’t wearing bulletproof vests as they toured Kyiv.

“Notice U.S. elected politicians like [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] and [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell] can go visit Zelensky in Ukraine without bullet proof vests/helmets or any fear from dangers of war, while they eagerly give billions to fund their proxy war w/ Russia,” the Georgia Republican wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

“If the conditions in Ukraine were so grave to warrant the U.S. sending $54 billion, then our highest ranking leaders would not be able to go,” she added.

The comments quickly came in for scrutiny and jokes on social media.

Marjorie Taylor Greene mocked for saying visit to Kyiv shows Ukraine not dangerous

‘Things are still not safe’: Locals fear returning to scarred villages of Kharkiv despite Russian retreat

03:30 , Joe Middleton

Though Russian forces have been pushed back from Kharkiv, families who fled their villages under threat of rape and death are yet to return, finds Kim Sengupta.

In Kharkiv: Locals fear returning to scarred villages despite Russian retreat

Senate GOP delegation meets Zelensky in Ukraine

03:00 , Joe Middleton

ICYMI: Russian military leaders ‘sacked and arrested’ amid heavy battlefield losses

02:30 , Joe Middleton

Chief of the Russian general staff, Valery Gerasimov, has been suspended amid the Kremlin’s faltering invasion, a senior Ukrainian official has claimed.

Oleksiy Arestovych, a military adviser to Ukraine‘s president, said “preliminary information” suggested Gen Gerasimov had been removed from his post while Vladimir Putin and his inner circle assessed whether he should be allowed to continue to lead the country’s armed forces.

There has been no official confirmation of the reported sacking, although speculation about a purge of senior military commanders increased after Gen Gerasimov was absent from Russia’s annual Victory Day parade on Monday.

Tom Batchelor reports.

Russian military leaders ‘sacked and arrested’ amid heavy battlefield losses

ICYMI: Relatives of Mariupol steel mill fighters plead for help: ‘They’re abandoning our soldiers’

02:00 , Joe Middleton

Relatives of Ukrainian fighters at the Azovstal steel plant held demonstrations on Thursday seeking renewed efforts to save those trapped inside the plant.

Demonstrators marched across central Kyiv holding banners and shouting slogans such as “save defenders of Mariupol, save Azovstal”, “glory to the heroes of Mariupol”, and “save the military of Azovstal”.

Mariupol, a port on the Sea of Azov, has endured the most destructive fighting of the war in Ukraine. Kyiv says it is likely that tens of thousands of people have been killed there since Russia’s invasion began and the Azovstal steel plant is the last part of the city still held by Ukrainian fighters.

Sravasti Dasgupta reports.

Relatives of Mariupol steel mill fighters plead for help

How likely is it that Russia will launch a nuclear attack?

01:30 , Joe Middleton

Vladimir Putin placed Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons forces on high alert during the first weekend of his war with Ukraine, prompting fears around the world over what could happen next.

The Russian president blamed “unfriendly actions in the economic sphere”, a reference to the punitive economic sanctions imposed on his country by the Western allies, and claimed leading Nato members had made “aggressive statements”, forcing his hand.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov duly blamed the increase in tensions on remarks made by UK foreign secretary Liz Truss, an ally of whom in turn hit back and denied that anything she had said across a series of Sunday morning interviews “warrants that sort of escalation”.

How likely is it that Russia will launch a nuclear attack?

‘Look for wires at your feet’: In Ukraine, investigators seek evidence of war crimes

01:00 , Joe Middleton

Two women were found dead in the wood, and just as in pre-war times, forensic investigators head to the scene of the crime, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

‘Look for wires at your feet’: In Ukraine, investigators seek evidence of war crimes

Russia makes new threats over use of Satan-2 hypersonic nuclear missile on Britain

Sunday 15 May 2022 00:30 , Joe Middleton

Russia has made new threats to use its deadly RS-28 Sarmat – known in the west as “Satan-2” – hypersonic nuclear missile to strike Britain in just “200 seconds”.

The warning from Russia’s defence committee deputy chairman, Aleksey Zhuravlyov, comes as Finland is poised to join Nato, and Sweden is set to follow suit.

“If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our goal is absolutely legitimate – to question the existence of this state. This is logical,” Mr Zhuravlyov said in an interview with state TV Russia 1.

Thomas Kingsley reports.

Russia makes new threats over use of Satan-2 hypersonic nuclear missile on Britain

Ukraine military spy chief says war will be over by the end of 2022

Saturday 14 May 2022 23:59 , Joe Middleton

ICYMI: Russia defends arrest of WNBA star Brittney Griner: ‘She was caught red-handed

Saturday 14 May 2022 23:30 , Joe Middleton

Russia has defend the arrest of US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner, pushing back on claims by the Biden administration that her detention in the country is “illegal”.

In a statement on Thursday, Russian authorities said 31-year-old Ms Griner was detained by Moscow police in February based on “objective facts and evidence”.

“She was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle hash oil,” the statement, issued by Rusia’s foreign ministry to CNN, said. “In Russia, this is a crime.”

Gino Spocchia has the details.

Russia defends arrest of WNBA star Brittney Griner: ‘She was caught red-handed’

Ukraine starts its first war crimes trial since beginning of Russia’s invasion

Saturday 14 May 2022 23:00 , Joe Middleton

Ukraine has begun its first war trial against a captured Russian soldier who has been accused of killing a 62-year-old civilian within the first few days of Moscow’s invasion.

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, was present in a small courtroom donning a grey and blue tracksuit and was seen handcuffed as security officials escorted him inside the room for trial proceedings.

He was held for killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian who was riding a bicycle on 28 February.

Arpan Rai reports.

Ukraine starts its first war crimes trial since beginning of Russia’s invasion

Russian soldiers captured on CCTV shooting at unarmed civilians

Saturday 14 May 2022 22:30 , Joe Middleton

ICYMI: Nato member Turkey hits out at Finland and Sweden membership bids

Saturday 14 May 2022 22:00 , Joe Middleton

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised Finland’s decision to apply for Nato membership, claiming it and neighbouring Sweden are “home to many terrorist organisations”.

The opposition from Erdogan has the potential to thwart the potential bids from the two nations, since membership of the alliance hinges on unanimous agreement from all 30 member states. Turkey is a Nato member.

“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don’t hold positive views,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding it was a mistake for Nato to accept Greece as a member in the past.

Nato member Turkey hits out at Finland and Sweden membership bids

‘Things are still not safe’: Locals fear returning to scarred villages of Kharkiv despite Russian retreat

Saturday 14 May 2022 21:30 , Joe Middleton

Though Russian forces have been pushed back from Kharkiv, families who fled their villages under threat of rape and death are yet to return, finds Kim Sengupta.

In Kharkiv: Locals fear returning to scarred villages despite Russian retreat

Nato may soon welcome Finland and Sweden – another blow for President Putin

Saturday 14 May 2022 21:00 , Joe Middleton

Editorial: The invasion of Ukraine demonstrated to the Finns and the Swedes that they could no longer persevere with their historical policies of neutrality in the hope that Russia would leave them alone

Editorial: Nato may soon welcome Finland and Sweden – another blow for Putin

Situation in Donbas remains difficult, says Zelenksy

Saturday 14 May 2022 20:26 , Joe Middleton

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday said the situation in the Donbas region remained very difficult, adding that Russian forces were still trying to demonstrate some kind of victory.

“On the 80th day of a full-scale invasion this seems especially crazy, but they are not stopping their efforts,” he said in a late night video address.

After failing to capture Kyiv, Vladimir Putin has shifted his focus eastward to the Donbas, an industrial region where Ukraine has battled Moscow-backed separatists since 2014.

Russia’s offensive aims to encircle Ukraine’s most experienced and best-equipped troops, who are deployed in the east, and to seize parts of the Donbas that remain in Ukraine’s control.

21-year-old Russian soldier appears in court as Ukraine war crimes trial begins

Saturday 14 May 2022 20:01 , Joe Middleton

Greece fully supports Sweden and Finland plans to join Nato

Saturday 14 May 2022 19:35 , Joe Middleton

Greece fully supports Sweden’s and Finland’s plans to join Nato, its foreign minister said on Saturday.

“Greece has excellent relations with these two countries, which are also members of the European Union,” Nikos Dendias said in Berlin where he will attend an informal NATO ministers meeting.

“The Greek side has a very clear stance (on the matter), we are ready to welcome Sweden and Finland to the NATO family, we believe they have much to offer,” he said.

A day after Finland committed to applying to join Nato, Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde said membership for her country would have a stabilising effect and benefit countries around the Baltic Sea.

ICYMI: Putin ‘very ill with blood cancer’, Russian oligarch recorded saying

Saturday 14 May 2022 19:13 , Joe Middleton

Vladimir Putin is “very ill with blood cancer” an oligarch with close ties to the Russian leader has reportedly been recorded as saying.

The unnamed oligarch was recorded discussing Putin’s health with a Western venture capitalist in mid-March in a recording obtained by New Lines, a US magazine.

The new claims come amid mounting health concerns about the Kremlin leader who has appeared frail at public events including the Victory Day celebrations last week while videos have circulated showing president Putin “shaking uncontrollably.” Publicly the Kremlin has stated that Mr Putin is fit and well but his strict precautions during the pandemic and use of a long table to meet other political leaders have strengthened rumours.

Thomas Kingsley reports.

Putin ‘very ill with blood cancer’, Russian oligarch recorded saying

Portugal blocks sale of mansion after suspicion it belongs to Roman Abramovich

Saturday 14 May 2022 18:56 , Joe Middleton

Portugal blocked the sale of a £8.4 million (10 million euro) luxury house over a “strong conviction” it belonged to sanctions-hit Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, foreign minister Joao Cravinho said on Saturday.

The property registry of the mansion in the luxury Quinta do Lago resort in the Algarve was frozen - meaning it cannot be sold, rented or mortgaged - on March 25 at the request of the foreign ministry, a month after Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine.

“We have a strong conviction, which hasn’t been fully confirmed, the house belongs to Roman Abramovich,” Mr Cravinho said on the sidelines of a Nato meeting in Berlin. “The challenge here is that many of those sanctioned do not have their properties and assets in their names.”

According to Publico newspaper, which initially reported the story, the former Chelsea owner tried to sell the property 15 days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started through the Delaware-based Millhouse Views LLC, owned by Millhouse LLC, which manages his assets.

However, a spokesperson for Mr Abramovich told Reuters he did own “any property in Portugal” and “Millhouse Views LCC is not connected” to him.

“In fact we have never heard of this company,” the spokesperson added.

Portugal’s largest bank, Caixa Geral de Depositos, noticed the move to sell the property and alerted authorities, Publico said. The bank declined to comment.

Marjorie Taylor Greene mocked for saying GOP visit to Kyiv proves Ukraine isn’t dangerous

Saturday 14 May 2022 18:37 , Joe Middleton

Marjorie Taylor Greene is being slammed online for claiming that a video showing US lawmakers visiting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky proves the country is safe, because a Republican delegation wasn’t wearing bulletproof vests as they toured Kyiv.

“Notice U.S. elected politicians like [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] and [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell] can go visit Zelensky in Ukraine without bullet proof vests/helmets or any fear from dangers of war, while they eagerly give billions to fund their proxy war w/ Russia,” the Georgia Republican wrote on Twitter on Saturday.

“If the conditions in Ukraine were so grave to warrant the U.S. sending $54 billion, then our highest ranking leaders would not be able to go,” she added.

The comments quickly came in for scrutiny and jokes on social media.

Josh Marcus reports.

Marjorie Taylor Greene mocked for saying visit to Kyiv shows Ukraine not dangerous

Slovakia confident Nato will back Finland and Sweden membership bids

Saturday 14 May 2022 18:22 , Joe Middleton

Slovakia is confident that all 30 Nato allies will back plans by Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok said on Saturday.

“Slovakia is absolutely ready to look at this request and support membership of these two countries,” he told reporters as he arrived in Berlin for a meeting with his NATO counterparts.

He also advocated further military aid for Ukraine in the war against Russia.

Responding to a question how long NATO allies could support Ukraine, he said: “Until they win. Russia has lost this war politically, it has achieved the contrary which Russia wanted to achieve.”

Senate GOP delegation meets Zelensky in Ukraine

Saturday 14 May 2022 18:01 , Joe Middleton

Foreign ministers of Finland, Turkey, to meet over Nato tensions

Saturday 14 May 2022 17:28 , Joe Middleton

The foreign ministers of Finland and Turkey will meet in Berlin later on Saturday to try and solve disagreements over Finland’s and Sweden’s plan to join Nato, Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavesto said.

“I am sure we will find a solution,” he told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, adding he had spoken to his “good colleague” Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone on Friday.

ICYMI: Russia makes new threats over use of Satan-2 hypersonic nuclear missile on Britain

Saturday 14 May 2022 17:10 , Joe Middleton

Russia has made new threats to use its deadly Satan-2 hypersonic nuclear missile to strike Britain in just ‘200 seconds’.

The warning from Russia’s defence committee deputy chairman, Aleksey Zhuravlyov, comes as Finland is poised to join Nato, and Sweden is set to follow suit.

“If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our goal is absolutely legitimate - to question the existence of this state. This is logical,” Mr Zhuravlyov said in an interview with state TV Russia 1.

“If the United States threatens our state, it’s good: here is the Sarmat [known Satan-2] for you, and there will be nuclear ashes from you if you think that Russia should not exist. And Finland says that it is at one with the USA. Well, get in line.”

Thomas Kingsley has the details.

Russia makes new threats over use of Satan-2 hypersonic nuclear missile on Britain

Ukraine military spy chief says war will be over by the end of 2022

Saturday 14 May 2022 16:48 , Joe Middleton

Hungary’s new president condemns Russian invasion

Saturday 14 May 2022 16:35 , Liam James

Hungary’s president Katalin Novak at her inauguration ceremony today condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said her first trip would take her to Poland, in an apparent gesture to mend relations with Warsaw.

Hungary’s rejection of sending weapons shipments to neighbouring Ukraine and its opposition to a planned European Union embargo on Russian oil imports has weighed on relations between Budapest and Warsaw, whose two nationalist governments have been long-time allies in the EU.

Ms Novak, a former Fidesz party minister and ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was elected to the largely ceremonial post of president in March, shortly before Mr Orban won another landslide victory in elections on 3 April.

She said in her inauguration speech: “We condemn Putin’s aggression, the armed invasion of a sovereign state. We say eternally no to every effort aiming at the restoration of the Soviet Union,” she added.

Mr Orban has also condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine but has avoided personal criticism of Vladimir Putin and has been strongly opposed to any sanctions on Russian energy.

Novak at her inauguration ceremony in Budapest (EPA)
Novak at her inauguration ceremony in Budapest (EPA)

Turkey offers to evacuate wounded Ukrainian fighters from Mariupol

Saturday 14 May 2022 16:09 , Liam James

Turkey has proposed carrying out a sea evacuation of wounded fighters holed up in a steel works in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said today.

Ibrahim Kalin told Reuters in an interview he personally discussed the proposal with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv two weeks ago and that it remains “on the table” although Moscow had not agreed to it.

Under the plan, people evacuated from the vast Azovstal steel plant would be taken by land to the port of Berdyansk, which like Mariupol is on the Sea of Azov, and a Turkish vessel would take them across the Black Sea to Istanbul, he said.

“If it can be done that way, we are happy to do it. We are ready. In fact our ship is ready to go and bring the injured soldiers and other civilians to Turkey,” said Kalin, who is also Erdogan’s top foreign policy adviser.

Ukraine and Russia did not immediately comment on the possibility of an evacuation by sea. It was unclear how Russia would respond to a Nato member state effectively entering a conflict zone.

After weeks of Russian siege and bombardment, Mariupol is in Russian hands but hundreds of Ukrainian fighters are holding out under heavy fire at the steel works.

Watch: 21-year-old Russian soldier in court as Ukraine war crimes trial begins

Saturday 14 May 2022 15:45 , Liam James

The first trial for war crimes in the Russian invasion of Ukraine has commenced in Kyiv.

Sergeant Vadim Shyshimarin, 21, was captured and accused of killing a Ukrainian civilian in the early days of the war – the first of dozens of war crimes cases that Ukraine’s top prosecutor said her office is pursuing.

A separate war crimes investigation backed by dozens of countries is being conducted by the International Criminal Court and the UN yesterday voted to open its own investigation into potential war crimes.

Mitch McConnell makes surprise visit to meet Zelensky in Kyiv

Saturday 14 May 2022 15:21 , Liam James

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and a group of Republican Senators met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in a previously unannounced trip to Kyiv (Alex Woodward writes).

President Zelensky said the visit “is a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people,” according to a post on his Instagram account.

The meeting included Republican Senators John Barrasso, Susan Collins and John Cornyn, according to images of the meeting; it is unclear whether the meeting took place on 14 May or if the delegation is still in Ukraine.

“Thank you for your leadership in helping us in our struggle not only for our country, but also for democratic values and freedoms. We really appreciate it,” Mr Zelensky said.

Mitch McConnell makes surprise visit to meet Zelensky in Kyiv

Lavrov says west has declared ‘hybrid war’ on Russia

Saturday 14 May 2022 14:47 , Liam James

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the West had announced a “total hybrid war” against Russia and it was hard to predict how long it would last.

In a speech on the 80th day after Russia launched its invasion Ukraine, Mr Lavrov pointed to the barrage of sanctions imposed by the west against Moscow and attempted to portray Russia as the target, not the perpetrator, of aggression.

“The collective west has declared total hybrid war on us and it is hard to predict how long all this will last but it is clear the consequences will be felt by everyone, without exception,” he said.

“We did everything to avoid a direct clash – but now that the challenge has been thrown down, we of course accept it. We are no strangers to sanctions: they were almost always there in one form or another.”

Efforts by the West to isolate Russia were doomed to fail, Mr Lavrov said, while pointing to the importance of Russia’s relations with China, India, Algeria and Gulf countries.

Mr Lavrov recently accused the west of fighting a proxy war in Ukraine after western countries began sending heavier weaponry such as artillery and military vehicles to aid Ukraine in the battle for the Donbas.

Putin ‘very ill with blood cancer’, Russian oligarch recorded saying

Saturday 14 May 2022 14:25 , Liam James

Vladimir Putin is “very ill with blood cancer” an oligarch with close ties to the Russian leader has reportedly been recorded as saying (Thomas Kingsley writes).

The unnamed oligarch was recorded discussing Putin’s health with a Western venture capitalist in mid-March in a recording obtained by New Lines, a US magazine.

The new claims come amid mounting health concerns about the Kremlin leader who has appeared frail at public events including the Victory Day celebrations last week while videos have circulated showing president Putin “shaking uncontrollably.” Publicly the Kremlin has stated that Mr Putin is fit and well but his strict precautions during the pandemic and use of a long table to meet other political leaders have strengthened rumours.

The Russian oligarch says in the recording that Mr Putin had surgery on his back linked to his blood cancer shortly before ordering the invasion of Ukraine - which he has called a “special military operation”. He adds that the president has gone “crazy”.

Putin ‘very ill with blood cancer’, Russian oligarch recorded saying

Ukraine tipped to win Eurovision

Saturday 14 May 2022 14:00 , Liam James

Ukraine is the strong favourite to win the Eurovision song contest this evening against the backdrop of a war of aggression waged on its territory by Russia.The Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra is heavily tipped to win by bookmakers, which are giving the group that mixes traditional Ukrainian rhythms, costumes and dance moves with contemporary hip hop a 60 per cent chance of winning.Their song, “Stefania,” was written as a tribute to the frontman’s mother, but has transformed since Russia’s invasion into an anthem to the war-ravaged nation, as lyrics take on new meaning.

“I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed,” Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleh Psiuk wrote.The six-member, all-male band received special permission to leave the country to represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture at the music contest. One of the original members stayed to fight, and the others plan to return as soon as the contest is over.

Putin says Finland not under threat

Saturday 14 May 2022 13:30 , Liam James

Vladimir Putin said Finland faces no security threats from Russia, according to a report in Russian state-owned RIA news.

RIA also cites the Kremlin as saying Mr Putin warned the Finnish president that joining Nato was a mistake.

Russia opposes the expansion of Nato due to concerns for its security and Moscow officials have threatened retaliatory action against Finland if it applies as expected.

Earlier today a Russian state-owned power company cut off electricity to Finland, the Finnish grid confirmed to The Independent.

Russia cuts off Finland’s electricity as threatened

Saturday 14 May 2022 13:00 , Liam James

Russia has cut off its electricity supply to Finland as threatened, a spokesperson for the Finnish power grid confirmed to The Independent.

RAO Nordic, the Russian state-owned power company responsible for supplying electric to Scandinavian countries, said it would cut off Finland’s electricity at 1am today due to missed payments.

Reima Paivinen, a spokesperson for FinGrid, said: “RAO Nordic has stopped imports today at 01.00 Finnish time. The electricity system runs as normal and there is no threat on not having enough electricity in Finland.”

FinGrid said only around 10 per cent of Finland’s electricity comes from Russia.

Finland is expected to formally announce tomorrow that it will apply to join Nato – a move which Russia fears will threaten its security. Moscow said an application would damage relations between the two countries and threatened retaliatory action.

Russia makes new threats over use of Satan-2 hypersonic nuclear missile on Britain

Saturday 14 May 2022 12:29 , Liam James

Russia has made new threats to use its deadly Satan-2 hypersonic nuclear missile to strike Britain in just “200 seconds” (Thomas Kingsley writes).

The warning from Russia’s defence committee deputy chairman, Aleksey Zhuravlyov, comes as Finland is poised to join Nato, and Sweden is set to follow suit.

“If Finland wants to join this bloc, then our goal is absolutely legitimate - to question the existence of this state. This is logical,” Mr Zhuravlyov said in an interview with state TV Russia 1.

“If the United States threatens our state, it’s good: here is the Sarmat [known Satan-2] for you, and there will be nuclear ashes from you if you think that Russia should not exist. And Finland says that it is at one with the USA. Well, get in line.”

Asked if Russia would now rebase nuclear weapons onto its border with Finland, he said: “What for? We don’t need to.

“We can hit with a Sarmat from Siberia, and even reach the UK. And if we strike from Kaliningrad... the hypersonic’s reaching time is 200 seconds - so go ahead, guys.”

Russia makes new threats over use of Satan-2 hypersonic nuclear missile on Britain

G7 foreign ministers vow to keep pressure on Russia

Saturday 14 May 2022 12:15 , Liam James

G7 foreign ministers vowed on Saturday to reinforce Russia’s economic and political isolation, continue supplying weapons to Ukraine and tackle what Germany’s foreign minister described as a “wheat war” being waged by Moscow.

“We reaffirm our determination to further increase economic and political pressure on Russia, continuing to act in unity,” the foreign ministers said in a statement after meeting in northern Germany.

The G7 ministers were joined for the three day meeting at the Baltic Sea resort of Weissenhaus by their counterparts from Ukraine and neighbouring Moldova, which is feared to be the next target of Russian aggression.

Attention now turns to Berlin where ministers will meet later today as Sweden and Finland prepare to apply for membership of the transatlantic alliance, drawing threats of retaliation from Moscow and objection from Nato member Turkey.

Russia defends arrest of WNBA star Brittney Griner

Saturday 14 May 2022 11:50 , Liam James

Russia has defended the arrest of US women’s basketball star Brittney Griner, pushing back on claims by the Biden administration that her detention in the country is “illegal”.

In a statement on Thursday, Russian authorities said 31-year-old Ms Griner was detained by Moscow police in February based on “objective facts and evidence”.

“She was caught red-handed while trying to smuggle hash oil,” the statement, issued by Rusia’s foreign ministry to CNN, said. “In Russia, this is a crime.”

The remarks were an apparent pushback against a US State Department statement earlier this month which described the basketball player’s arrest as “illegal” and wrongful.

Russia defends arrest of WNBA star Brittney Griner: ‘She was caught red-handed’

Russian site sells art to fund war effort, suspected fakes

Saturday 14 May 2022 11:25 , Liam James

A Russian website claims to be selling paintings by famous artists to fund the war in Ukraine – only they appear to be fakes.

The site Art for Victory, by the Terrikon Project, offers a painting attributed to Kandinsky, a Russian abstract painter from the late 19th century, that does not appear in records of his works, according to reports in the German press.

The work, Murnau House on the Hill, allegedly dates to 1909 and is estimated at €8m to €10m (£6.7-£8.5m). It appears similar to Kandinsky’s famous landscapes from the time and the site claims the painting was certified by the Tretyakov Gallery.

However, the Tretyakov has a poor track record for spotting fakes. The gallery was forced to disband its certification unit in 2016 after 96 certified works in its collection were found to have been fakes, according to The Art Newspaper.

The Terrikon Project describes itself as a cryptocurrency fund for Russian-backed separatist fighters in the Donbas.

Below you can see the listed painting followed by Kandinsky’s Houses at Murnau – released in 1909 and certified by the Chicago Institute of Art – for comparison.

‘Murnau House on the Hill’ listed on Art for Victory
‘Murnau House on the Hill’ listed on Art for Victory
‘Houses at Murnau’ by Kandinsky (Chicago Institute of Art)
‘Houses at Murnau’ by Kandinsky (Chicago Institute of Art)

UK sanctions Putin’s ‘shady’ friends and family including alleged mistress

Saturday 14 May 2022 11:00 , Liam James

Britain announced more Russian sanctions on Friday, with President Vladimir Putin’s ex-wife, family members and inner circle hit in the latest tranche of measures designed to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We are exposing and targeting the shady network propping up Putin’s luxury lifestyle and tightening the vice on his inner circle.

“We will keep going with sanctions on all those aiding and abetting Putin’s aggression until Ukraine prevails.”

Mr Putin’s official assets are modest, according to the Foreign Office, with his lifestyle “funded by a cabal of family, friends and elites”.

Those newly placed on the sanctions list, which has grown to more than 1,000 individuals and 100 entities, include former first lady of the Russian Federation and ex-wife of Mr Putin, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya.

‘Look for wires at your feet’: Searching for evidence of war crimes in Ukraine

Saturday 14 May 2022 10:35 , Liam James

Isabelle Khurshudyan reports on the forensic investigators sweeping in to search for evidence of Russian war crimes after the fighting stops:

‘Look for wires at your feet’: In Ukraine, investigators seek evidence of war crimes

Ukraine spy chief confident war will end this year

Saturday 14 May 2022 10:10 , Liam James

Major General Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, said he was confident the war with Russia would be over by the end of the year.

Speaking to Sky News, he predicted a turning point would be reached in the second half of August and military action would cease in the later months of the year.

Mr Budanov also said Ukraine would take back all territory claimed by Russia including Crimea and parts of the Donbas long held by Russian-backed rebels.

His forecast is optimistic compared with officials from western nations including Britain and the US who have warned the war is likely to last years.

Russia will respond if Nato nuclear weapons deployed near border

Saturday 14 May 2022 09:45 , Liam James

Moscow will act if Nato deploys nuclear forces and infrastructure closer to Russia’s border, Russian news agencies quoted Alexander Grushko, the deputy foreign minister, as saying on Saturday.

“It will be necessary to respond ... by taking adequate precautionary measures that would ensure the viability of deterrence,” Interfax agency quoted Mr Grushko as saying.

Mr Grushko said Moscow has no hostile intentions towards Finland and Sweden and does not see “real” reasons for those two countries to be joining the Nato alliance.

He also reiterated the Kremlin’s earlier statement that Moscow’s response to Nato’s possible expansion will depend on how close the alliance moves military assets towards Russia and what infrastructure it deploys.

Finland’s plan to apply for Nato membership, announced on Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the military alliance that Russian president Vladimir Putin wished to prevent.

Russia said the move would seriously damage relations with the Nordic countries. This morning, Russia’s state electricity company said it was cutting off power to Finland, blaming missed payments.

Russian forces driven from Kharkiv – Reuters

Saturday 14 May 2022 09:09 , Liam James

Ukrainian forces destroyed parts of a Russian armoured column as it tried to cross a river in the Donbas region, video from Ukraine’s military showed on Friday, as Moscow appeared to be refocusing its assault in the east after a new pushback by Kyiv.

Ukraine has driven Russian troops away from the second-largest city of Kharkiv in the fastest advance since Kremlin forces pulled away from Kyiv and the northeast over a month ago, although Moscow is still bombarding villages north of Kharkiv.

Reuters journalists confirmed Ukraine now controls territory stretching to the Siverskyi Donets River, around 25 miles to the east.

Some six miles north of the city, firefighters doused smouldering wreckage in Dergachi after what local officials said was an overnight Russian missile attack on the House of Culture, used to distribute aid. Volunteers inside were trying to salvage packages of baby diapers and formula.

“I can’t call it anything but a terrorist act,” the mayor, Vyacheslav Zadorenko, told Reuters. “They wanted to hit the base where we store provisions and create a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Putin ‘very ill with blood cancer’, Russian oligarch recorded saying

Saturday 14 May 2022 08:28 , Liam James

Vladimir Putin is “very ill with blood cancer” an oligarch with close ties to the Russian leader has reportedly been recorded as saying.

Vladimir Putin is “very ill with blood cancer” an oligarch with close ties to the Russian leader has reportedly been recorded as saying (Thomas Kingsley writes).

The unnamed oligarch was recorded discussing Putin’s health with a Western venture capitalist in mid-March in a recording obtained by New Lines, a US magazine.

The new claims come amid mounting health concerns about the Kremlin leader who has appeared frail at public events including the Victory Day celebrations last week while videos have circulated showing president Putin “shaking uncontrollably.” Publicly the Kremlin has stated that Mr Putin is fit and well but his strict precautions during the pandemic and use of a long table to meet other political leaders have strengthened rumours.

The Russian oligarch says in the recording that Mr Putin had surgery on his back linked to his blood cancer shortly before ordering the invasion of Ukraine - which he has called a “special military operation”. He adds that the president has gone “crazy”.

Putin ‘very ill with blood cancer’, Russian oligarch recorded saying

Russian dead gathered to be sent home

Saturday 14 May 2022 08:05 , Liam James

The bodies of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine were brought to a rail yard outside Kyiv and stacked with hundreds of others in a refrigerated train, waiting for the time when they can sent back to their families.

“Most of them were brought from the Kyiv region, there are some from Chernihiv region and from some other regions too,” Volodymyr Lyamzin, the chief civil-military liaison officer, told Reuters on Friday as stretcher-bearers in white, head-to-toe protective suits lifted bodybags into the box cars.

He said refrigerated trains stationed in other regions across Ukraine were being used for the same grim purpose.

There have been no reliable estimates of the scale of Russia’s losses but Ukraine puts the death toll at around 25,000, while a Russian soldier was reportedly intercepted complaining that around that number of troops had been lost.

Russian and US defence ministers speak for first time since invasion

Saturday 14 May 2022 07:38 , Liam James

Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu spoke with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday after months of refusing direct contact with his American counterpart. But officials said the call didn’t appear to signal any change in Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

A senior Defence Department official said while Mr Austin believes the hour-long conversation was important in the effort to keep lines of communication open, it didn’t resolve any “acute issues” or lead to any change in what the Russian are doing or saying as the war enters its 12th week.

The call – initiated by Mr Austin – marked the highest level American contact with a Russian official since the war began in late February. Over the past several months, Pentagon officials have repeatedly said that Russian leaders declined to take calls from Austin and Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

This is the first conversation between Mr Austin and Mr Shoigu since 18 February, a week before the war started. Another senior official said Friday that Mr Milley is expected to also reach out to his counterpart, General Valery Gerasimov, Russian chief of the general staff.

In a statement, the Pentagon said Mr Austin “urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasised the importance of maintaining lines of communication.”

US seeks to clarify Turkey’s stance on Nordic Nato accession

Saturday 14 May 2022 07:22 , Liam James

The US will seek to clarify Turkey's position on Sweden and Finland joining Nato at a meeting this weekend after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested his country would use its veto on membership to block their admission.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet his Nato counterparts, including the Turkish foreign minister, this weekend in Germany and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Washington was trying to establish the basis of Turkey's attitude.

The Turkish president earlier explained his opposition by citing Sweden and other Scandinavian countries' alleged support for Kurdish militants and others considered by Turkey to be terrorists.

He said he also did not want to repeat Turkey's past "mistake" when it agreed to readmit Greece into Nato’s military wing in 1980. He claimed the action had allowed Greece "to take an attitude against Turkey" with Nato’s backing.

Mr Erdogan did not say outright that he would block any accession attempts by the two Nordic nations, but Nato makes all its decisions by consensus, meaning each of the 30 member countries has a potential veto over who can join.

Russia to include Ukraine’s Kherson in its territory, claims UK

Saturday 14 May 2022 07:00 , Arpan Rai

The military-civilian administration imposed by Russia in Kherson is set to include the southern city Kherson into its fold, claimed the British defence ministry on Saturday, warning that the Kremlim planned on using rigged referendums.

“The Russian-imposed military-civilian administration in Kherson announced they will ask Russia to include Kherson Region in the Russian Federation. A central part of Russia’s original invasion plan was highly likely to use rigged referendums to place the majority of Ukraine’s regions under long-term pro-Russian authority,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update.

It added: “The fact that Russia has only succeeded in imposing a pro-Russian local leadership in Kherson highlights the failure of Russia’s invasion to make progress towards its political objectives in Ukraine.”

The defence ministry said that in the event Russia carries out an accession referendum in Kherson, “it will almost certainly manipulate the results to show a clear majority in favour of leaving Ukraine.”

Citizens in the Kherson region are likely to continue to demonstrate their opposition to Russian occupation, the ministry said.

India bans exports of wheat over threat to food security

Saturday 14 May 2022 06:48 , Arpan Rai

India will not be sending out wheat outside its borders effective immediately, officials announced on late Friday, citing a threat to its food security.

“Export will be allowed in case of shipments where an irrevocable letter of credit is issued on or before the date of notification. Export will be allowed on the basis of permission granted by the government of India to other countries to meet their food security needs and based on the request of the governments,” the official order from Directorate of Foreign Trade said.

It added that a surge in global prices of wheat has sparked a threat to food security of India and neighbouring vulnerable countries.

India is the second biggest wheat producer globally was eyeing to ship out a historic 10 million tonnes this year as war started by Russia gripped Ukraine paralysed the wheat exports. Both the countries account for a third of wheat and barley exports.

The ripple effect of shutting down wheat exports from India is likely to lead to sharp rise in global prices, experts have warned.

Russia to cut power supply to Finland from 1am today

Saturday 14 May 2022 06:36 , Arpan Rai

Officials at the Russian state energy said the Kremlin will end electricity supplies to Finland starting 1am on Saturday citing payment difficulties.

Rao Nordic, Russian state energy holder Inter RAO’s subsidiary, said that it was “forced to suspend the electricity import” from 14 May.

It added that the energy firm is “not able to make payments for the imported electricity from Russia.

“This situation is exceptional and happened for the first time in over 20 years of our trading history,” the statement added.

Fingrid, Finnish grid company, confirmed the slashing of imports in electricity “for the time being” as it was facing problems in receiving payments for selling electricity in the market but added that “there is not threat to the adequacy of electricity in Finland.

Ukraine war has changed, says country’s lawmaker

Saturday 14 May 2022 06:08 , Arpan Rai

The situation on Ukraine’s battlefield against Russian offensive is “far worse” than what the country saw when the war began in February, Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksandra Ustinova said.

Calling the situation “hell” on the frontlines right now, Ms Ustinova said that Ukraine is “losing many more men now than it was at the beginning of the war” while addressing reporters at German Marshall Fund roundtable in Washington on Friday.

The battle-marred country needs the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), Paladin self-propelled howitzers, and fighter jets like the F-16s and training of Ukrainian troops from the US to use such jets, the lawmaker said, reported CNN.

She added that Ukraine does not need Soviet-era MiG fighter jets because the “war has changed”.

Russian shelling kills one, injures 12 in Donetsk

Saturday 14 May 2022 05:33 , Arpan Rai

At least one person was killed and 12 other civilians were injured after Russian shelling struck the region on Friday, officials said.

The shelling hit Illinka, Bakhmutske, and Zalizne settlements in the Donetsk oblast, governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

White House, Asean leaders underline “sovereignty, political independence” over Ukraine

Saturday 14 May 2022 05:17 , Arpan Rai

In a historic summit, the White House and Asean leaders on Friday called for compliance with the United Nations charter and international law over the war in Ukraine.

“With regard to Ukraine, as for all nations, we continue to reaffirm our respect for sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity. We reiterate our call for compliance with the UN Charter and international law,” the White House said in a statement.

The statement added: “We underline the importance of an immediate cessation of hostilities and creating an enabling environment for peaceful resolution.”

“We support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General in the search for a peaceful solution. We also call for the facilitation of rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine, and for the protection of civilians, humanitarian personnel, and persons in vulnerable situations,” the officials said in a statement.

First war trial against Russian soldier begins

Saturday 14 May 2022 04:56 , Arpan Rai

Ukraine held its first war trial against a 21-year-old Russian soldier who has been held for murdering an unarmed civilian, marking the first ever-such proceedings since Russia invaded the country in February.

The small courtroom in Kyiv was filled with journalists as the soldier Vadim Shyshimarin, who was a commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division, was seen entering the room in a grey and blue tracksuit flanked by security officials.

If convicted, Shishimarin faces life imprisonment.

State prosecutor said that after this first case of trial against invading Russian soldiers, there will be “a lot of these cases”.

The sergeant, according to the prosecutors, was driving a stolen vehicle with other Russian troops in Sumy when they saw a 62-year-old man.

He shot down the man on an order, which was to prevent the Ukrainian civilians from revealing their location in the region.

Shishimarin confirmed basic details like his name in the court and is yet to contest the charges against him.

The hearing will resume on Wednesday.

Ukraine ‘mounting a stiff and effective resistance’ to Russia - Pentagon

Saturday 14 May 2022 04:42 , Arpan Rai

The Ukrainian military is “holding its own against the Russian force”, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on late Friday, highlighting that both sides — Ukraine and Russia — have lost their capabilities.

“The Ukrainians continue to resist the Russian invaders in the Donbas region — Russia’s major push in the region now. They have prevented the Russians from achieving virtually any of their strategic objectives thus far in the war,” Mr Kirby said.

The Pentagon spokesperson added: “Now, both sides have taken casualties. Both sides have lost capabilities, whether that’s actual hardware or defensive systems. That’s why we’re trying so hard to make sure that Ukraine continues to have available to it, the materials, the systems, the weapons to continue to defend themselves.”

He added that there are “roughly 105 Russian battalion tactical groups in Ukraine” as of today.

But the Ukrainians absolutely are mounting a stiff and an effective resistance to the Russians, he added.

In case you missed it: UK sanctions Putin’s alleged mistress

Saturday 14 May 2022 04:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Britain has announced more Russian sanctions, with members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle – including his ex-wife, family members and alleged mistress Alina Kabaeva – hit in the latest tranche of measures designed to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Read the full story by Alastair Jamieson here:

UK sanctions Putin’s ‘shady’ friends and family including alleged mistress

Zelensky warns of famine in ‘dozens of countries’ due to war

Saturday 14 May 2022 04:15 , Arpan Rai

Seeking an end to delays in further sanctioning Russia, Volodymyr Zelensky said that the war is set to trigger a massive food crisis and the consequences due to that will be difficult to manage.

“The world has already recognized that Russia’s blockade of our ports and this war are provoking a large-scale food crisis. Russian officials are also openly threatening the world that there will be famine in dozens of countries. And what could be the consequences of such a famine?” the Ukrainian president asked.

He added: “What political instability and migration flows will this lead to? How much will you have to spend then to overcome the consequences?”

“These are the questions that need to be answered by those who are delaying sanctions on Russia or trying to postpone aid to Ukraine,” Mr Zelensky said.

Calling for “much more pressure” on Moscow, Mr Zelensky cited rising threats and losses suffered by Ukraine.

“Every day of war is an increase in global threats, it is a new opportunity for Russia to provoke instability in other parts of the world, not only here in Europe. And these are new lost lives in Ukraine: Ukrainian men and women who give their lives so that everyone can live freely,” the Ukrainian leader said.

He added: “I emphasize this: everyone, especially in those countries where they still find time to argue instead of investing in aid as much as possible.”

‘Turkey’s standing in Nato unchanged despite Erdogan comments’

Saturday 14 May 2022 03:30 , Lamiat Sabin

The US is working to clarify Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s comments about Finland and Sweden but Ankara’s standing in the NATO alliance had not changed because of them, the Pentagon said on Friday.

“Nothing changes about their standing in the NATO alliance... we’re working to better clarify (their) position,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

Earlier on Friday, Mr Erdogan said it was not possible for Nato-member Turkey to support plans by Sweden and Finland to join the pact given that the Nordic countries were “home to many terrorist organisations.”

Reuters

‘Russia loses almost 27,000 soldiers and 200 aircraft' - Zelensky

Saturday 14 May 2022 02:26 , Lamiat Sabin

Russia has lost nearly 27,000 troops and a total of 200 military aircraft in its war in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky said.

In his nightly video address, the Ukrainian president said: “Today we can report on the 200th downed Russian military aircraft. Russia has not lost so many aircraft in any war in decades. And Russia has lost almost 27,000 soldiers, many of them young conscripts.”

File phot of Volodymyr Zelensky (AP)
File phot of Volodymyr Zelensky (AP)

He also said: “Russia has lost over three thousand tanks, armoured combat vehicles, a large number of conventional military vehicles, helicopters, drones and all its prospects as a state.”

Mr Zelensky called on “countries of the whole free world” to exert “much more pressure on Russia” to help stop the conflict.

Russian soldier ‘admits to shooting POW for asking to use toilet’

Saturday 14 May 2022 01:30 , Lamiat Sabin

A Russian soldier has told his mother that he shot a Ukrainian prisoner of war in the back for requesting permission to use the toilet, according to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Security Service said it intercepted the conversation between the man and his mother who was shocked to hear his confession.

The soldier was quoted as saying: “He really wanted to go to the toilet. He was told, ‘You are going home now. Go, he says, go to the toilet, and you will go home’. That's it, he went – we shot him in the back.”

The Ukrainian secret service said that his pro-Putin mother was so shocked that she tried to blame the incident on Ukrainians “shooting their own,” to which he allegedly replied: “No, we shot him.”

Russian shelling ‘kills one civilian in Donetsk’

Saturday 14 May 2022 00:30 , Lamiat Sabin

One civilian was killed and twelve more people were injured in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region as a result of Russian shelling.

Regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko wrote on Telegram: “On May 13, the Russians killed one more civilian of Donbas – in (the city of) Avdiivka. 12 more people were injured today as a result of Russian shelling.”

He said that Russian troops were indiscriminately firing at communities in Donetsk.

Ukraine preparing 41 war crime cases against Russian troops

Friday 13 May 2022 23:32 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukraine is preparing 41 cases of alleged war crimes against Russian soldiers.

This is according to Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova.

She said during a live briefing on Ukrainian TV: “We have 41 suspects in cases with which we will be ready to go to court.

“All of them concern Article 438 of the [Ukrainian] criminal code on war crimes, but different types of war crimes. There is the bombing of civilian infrastructure, the killing of civilians, rape and looting.”

Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova (L) (EPA)
Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova (L) (EPA)

It has not yet been revealed how many of the suspects would be tried in absentia.

Ukraine’s first prosecution of a Russian soldier was in Kyiv during the early stages of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The 21-year-old went on trial for the killing of an unarmed Ukrainian civilian.

Ms Venediktova said that two more of the suspects, who are in Ukraine, are likely to face preliminary hearings next week.

Negotiations with Russia for Azovstal evacuation ‘very difficult'

Friday 13 May 2022 21:30 , Lamiat Sabin

Ukrainian deputy PM Iryna Vereshchuk said negotiations with Russia on getting defenders out of the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol were “very difficult” but did not give details.

Smoke rises from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol during shelling (AP)
Smoke rises from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol during shelling (AP)

“The result may not be to everyone’s liking, but our task is to evacuate our boys. All of them. Alive,” she said in an online post. “God willing we will rescue them all.”

Watch: Russian soldiers captured on CCTV shooting at unarmed civilians

Friday 13 May 2022 20:21 , Aisha Rimi

UK sanctions Putin’s ‘shady’ friends and family including alleged mistress

Friday 13 May 2022 19:54 , Aisha Rimi

Britain has announced more Russian sanctions, with President Vladimir Putin’s ex-wife, family members and inner circle hit in the latest tranche of measures designed to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

Read the full story:

UK sanctions Putin’s ‘shady’ friends and family including alleged mistress

G7 finance ministers eyeing 30 billion euros in Ukraine aid but opposition remains

Friday 13 May 2022 19:32 , Aisha Rimi

The finance ministers of the G7 nations aim to agree on providing close to €30 bn euros (£25.56 bn) in financial support to Ukraine at their meeting in Germany next week, Spiegel magazine reported.

The aid, which is intended to cover the war-torn country’s financial needs up to the end of the year, would be provided in the form of loans and grants, meaning that Kyiv would not have to repay the entire sum, Spiegel reported, citing sources involved in the negotiations.

There is still opposition to the plan, the report said, adding that one European country has reportedly not yet agreed to participate.

In first since Ukraine invasion, Pentagon chief speaks with Russian counterpart

Friday 13 May 2022 18:54 , Aisha Rimi

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine when he spoke by telephone to his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu for the first time since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon said.

Mr Austin has tried multiple times to try and talk with Mr Shoigu since the invasion started nearly three months ago, but officials said Moscow had appeared uninterested.

Mr Austin stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the call, which was requested by Mr Austin, lasted about an hour but did not solve any specific issues or lead to direct changes in what the Russians are doing in Ukraine.

The official described the tone of the call as “professional.”

Russia’s TASS news agency quoted the Russian defence ministry as saying that the call happened “at the initiative of the American side”.

“Topical issues of international security were discussed, including the situation in Ukraine,” TASS said, quoting the ministry.

The US and Russia have established a hotline since the invasion to prevent miscalculation and any widening of the conflict.

The “deconfliction” hotline is an open phone line based at the European Command’s headquarters and falls under Air Force General Tod Wolters, who leads all US forces in Europe.

Russia advises against travel to UK because of 'unfriendly' visa stance

Friday 13 May 2022 18:38 , Aisha Rimi

Russia said it was recommending that its citizens not travel to Britain, complaining that authorities there were making it “virtually impossible” for Russians to obtain visas.

The Russian Foreign Ministry alleged Russian applications were being delayed because Britain was giving higher priority to Ukrainian refugees. It said Russians were also unable to pay on the British website via Mastercard and Visa, which have both suspended their operations in Russia.

“Taking into account the extremely unfriendly course of the UK towards our country, in order to avoid financial losses and other possible problems, we recommend that Russian citizens refrain, if possible, from travelling to the UK and trying to obtain British visas,” it said.

“Until the situation normalises, we will act in the same way with respect to the British.”

The British actions were “a politically motivated infringement of the rights of Russian citizens,” the ministry said.

A spokesperson for the British interior ministry, the Home Office, said: “There are currently no restrictions or limitations for Russian nationals to work in the UK on long-term work visas.”

“We are prioritising Ukraine Family Scheme and Homes for Ukraine applications in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, so applications for study, work and family visas have taken longer to process.”

Leaders of the US, Finland and Sweden reiterate their ‘shared commitment’ to support Ukraine during phone call

Friday 13 May 2022 18:26 , Aisha Rimi

US President Biden spoke with the Prime Minister of Sweden and the President of Finland earlier today, where they all expressed their shared commitment to continued coordination in support of Ukraine and the people affected by the war.

The leaders also discussed the close defence and security cooperation between the countries, as well as their respective efforts aimed at strengthening transatlantic security.

Mr Biden also emphasised his support for NATO’s Open Door policy and for the right of Finland and Sweden to decide their own future, foreign policy and security arrangements.

Latest map shows extent of Russian advance

Friday 13 May 2022 17:55 , Tom Batchelor

Italy backs Nato membership for Finland and Sweden

Friday 13 May 2022 17:27 , Tom Batchelor

Italy will fully support Nato membership for Finland and Sweden, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Friday.

“We as Italy will be very happy to welcome these two countries in this great alliance that defends its member countries and... which has guaranteed peace for decades,” Mr Di Maio told reporters in Berlin.

Finland said on Thursday it would seek to join the US-led military alliance without delay and Sweden is expected to follow its neighbour’s lead as early as Monday.

US and Russian defence ministers hold first phone call of war

Friday 13 May 2022 16:54 , Tom Batchelor

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a call with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday, the first since the war broke out more than two months ago.

During the call, Mr Austin appealed for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication, the Pentagon said.

It was the first time Mr Austin had spoken with Mr Shoigu since 18 February, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Ukraine favourite to win at Eurovision

Friday 13 May 2022 16:35 , Tom Batchelor

Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra and its folk-hip hop anthem to their war-torn country is favourite to win the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday.

Twenty-five bands will compete in the contest in the Italian city of Turin. Last year, 183 million people tuned in.

Kalush Orchestra’s Eurovision entry “Stefania” was written as the frontman’s tribute to his mother but has become an anthem to the motherland since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

The song is a mashup of traditional Ukrainian folk music and contemporary hip hop elements.

US seeks to clarify Turkey’s position on Nato expansion

Friday 13 May 2022 16:24 , Tom Batchelor

US officials are working to clarify Turkey’s position on Sweden and Finland’s potential membership to Nato, America’s diplomat for Europe at the State Department said on Friday, after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara is not supportive of the two countries’ bid to join the alliance.

In a call with reporters, Karen Donfried, assistant secretary for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, said the topic will be discussed at the Nato ministerial meeting over the weekend in Berlin.

Erdogan says Turkey not supportive of Finland, Sweden joining Nato

Friday 13 May 2022 16:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday it was not possible for Nato-member Turkey to support plans by Sweden and Finland to join the pact given that the Nordic countries were “home to many terrorist organisations”.

Though Turkey has officially supported NATO enlargement since it joined the U.S.-led alliance 70 years ago, its opposition could pose a problem for Sweden and Finland given new members need unanimous agreement.

Turkey has repeatedly slammed Sweden and other Western European countries for its handling of organisations deemed terrorist by Ankara, including the Kurdish militant groups PKK and YPG, and the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Ankara says Gulenists carried out a coup attempt in 2016. Gulen and his supporters deny the accusation.

Finland’s plan to apply for NATO membership, announced Thursday, and the expectation that Sweden will follow, would bring about the expansion of the Western military alliance that Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent by launching the invasion of Ukraine.

“We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don’t hold positive views,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding it had been a mistake for NATO to accept Greece as a member in the past.

“As Turkey, we don’t want to repeat similar mistakes. Furthermore, Scandinavian countries are guesthouses for terrorist organisations,” Erdogan said, without giving details.

“They are even members of the parliament in some countries. It is not possible for us to be in favour,” he added.

Russian soldier on trial in first Ukraine war crimes case

Friday 13 May 2022 15:50 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A 21-year-old Russian soldier went on trial Friday in Kyiv for the killing of an unarmed Ukrainian civilian, marking the first war crime prosecution of a member of the Russian military from 11 weeks of bloodshed in Ukraine.

The soldier, a captured member of a tank unit is accused of shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka during the first days of the war.

Scores of journalists and cameras packed inside a small courtroom at the Solomyanskyy district court in Ukraine‘s capital, where the suspect, Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin, sat in a glassed-off area wearing a blue and grey hoodie, sweatpants and a shaved head.

He faces up to life in prison under a section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war. Ukraine‘s top prosecutor, with help from foreign experts, is investigating allegations that Russian troops violated Ukrainian and international law by killing, torturing and abusing possibly thousands of Ukrainian civilians.Friday’s hearing in Shyshimarin’s case was brief.

A judge asked him to provide his name, address, marital status and other identifying details. He also was asked whether he understood his rights, quietly replying “yes,” and if wanted a jury trial, which he declined.

The judges and lawyers discussed procedural matters before the judges left the courtroom and then returned to say the case would continue on May 18.

Defense attorney Victor Ovsyanikov acknowledged that the case against the soldier is strong but said the court would make the final decision over what evidence to allow.

Ovsyanikov said Thursday that he and his client had not yet decided how he will plead.

After Friday’s hearing, Ovsyannikov said he was assigned to defend Shishimarin as a lawyer for the Center for Free Legal Aid.

His client “certainly knows all the details” of what he’s accused of, Ovsyannikov said. The lawyer would not detail his defense strategy.

Access to abortions needed for Ukrainian refugees in Poland - UNHCR

Friday 13 May 2022 15:40 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Women who have fled to Poland to escape war must have access to reproductive rights that meet international standards, including abortions, a top UNHCR official said on Friday, amid reports of rape and sexual violence in Ukraine.

Poland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, and human rights activists have raised concerns about the difficulties victims of rape from Ukraine fleeing to the country may face if they need to terminate a pregnancy.

“There are particular policies (regarding reproductive services in Poland) that we believe do not meet international standards,” assistant high commissioner for protection Gillian Triggs told a news briefing.

“(Victims of sexual violence) need counselling and they need assistance. In some cases they will need abortions. We will raise this ... with the government,” she said.

She said that the UNHCR would work with those who needed an abortion to make sure that they got them in Poland or elsewhere.

A Polish government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Helsinki urges patience after Turkey says not supportive of Finland joining Nato

Friday 13 May 2022 15:26 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto urged patience on Friday and called for a step-by-step approach in response to Turkish resistance to Finnish and Swedish NATO membership.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier said NATO member Turkey could not support Finnish and Swedish plans to join the alliance, erecting a potential stumbling block as membership requires unanimous backing from all 30 member states.

“We need some patience in this type of process, it’s not happening in one day ... Let’s take issues step-by-step,” Haavisto told reporters.

Erdogan’s statement appeared to come as a surprise to Finland after Haavisto had visited Turkey twice in recent months and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto spoke on the phone with Erdogan in early April.

After that call, Niinisto tweeted “Turkey supports Finland’s goals.”

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