Russia’s most-advanced £4 million tank destroyed by Ukraine
Finland’s president and prime minister have said they are in favor of applying for Nato membership.
Since Russia‘s invasion of Ukraine in February, Finland and Sweden have been pondering whether to abandon their historic, decades-old neutrality and join the 30-member alliance.
President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin in a joint statement: “As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” they said. “Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days.”
In a press conference this morning, Mr Niinisto said the Russian president was responsible for the move, saying: “You caused this. Look in the mirror.”
Boris Johnson has offered to provide Finland with assistance — including military support — if the European country set to join Nato comes under attack.
Elsewhere, around 2,500 Ukrainian troops, 700 of whom are wounded, are believed to still be holed up in the Azovstal steel plant, much of which has been bombarded into rubble.
How likely is it that Russia will launch a nuclear attack?
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.
My colleague Isobel Frodsham reports:
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 10:40
‘Whatever happens we are prepared,’ Finnish MP says on Russia
Finnish MP Elina Valtonen has said the country is ready to defend itself if Russia responds aggressively to Finland’s application for Nato membership.
She told Sky News: “Finland is a sovereign country and we are free to make our own decisions, and whatever happens we are prepared.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 10:30
Prime minister: Hard to see how to ‘renormalise’ relations with Putin
Boris Johnson has said Vladimir Putin is guilty of a “barbaric onslaught” in Ukraine, and suggested there is now no way to normalise relations with his regime in Russia.
The prime minister told LBC: “I think that repentance is going to be very difficult for Vladimir Putin now because … nothing is impossible, I suppose. But I just cannot see for the life of me how we can renormalise relations with Putin now.
He added: “He has grossly violated human rights, international law. He’s guilty of absolutely barbaric onslaught on a totally innocent country.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 10:20
Zelenskyy expresses ‘full support’ for Finland’s move to join Nato
Finland’s president has tweeted that he spoke to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy who supported Finland’s plan to join Nato.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 10:10
UN rights chief says many Ukraine abuses may amount to war crimes
The UN Human Rights chief has said that a thousand bodies had been recovered in the area of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in recent weeks, adding that many of the violations it is verifying since the Russian invasion may amount to war crimes.
“The scale of unlawful killings, including indicia of summary executions in areas to the north of Kyiv, is shocking,” Michelle Bachelet told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council via a video address.
The Human Rights Council will decide on Thursday whether to task investigators with an official probe into the events that occurred in Kyiv and other regions in February and March.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 10:00
Russia says it hit two ammunition depots in Ukraine’s Chernihiv region
Russia said its forces hit two ammunition depots in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported.
The defence ministry also said Russia had destroyed a Ukrainian S-300 air defence missile system in the Kharkiv region and a radar station near the city of Odesa.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 09:50
Sweden to take Finland Nato stance into account when making decision, foreign minister says
Sweden will take into account Finland’s NATO assessments when deciding on whether it will send an application, the Swedish foreign minister said on Thursday.
“Finland is Sweden’s closest security & defence partner, and we need to take Finland’s assessments into account,” foreign minister Ann Linde said on Twitter.
The decision is significant for Sweden as it is likely to move in tandem with Finland, with whom Sweden have close historic and military ties.
Sweden is expected to announce it will apply for membership within days.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 09:40
Over 7000 civilian casualties in Ukraine, UN says
According to the UN’s human rights agency, as of midnight on May 10, Russia’s war against Ukraine has killed 3,496 civilians and wounded 3,760 resulting in a total of 7,256 since Feb. 24.
The agency believes the actual figures are much higher and it is working to corroborate every single incident.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 09:27
Ukrainian fighter trapped in Mariupol steel plant asks Elon Musk for help
One of the fighters holed up in a steelworks besieged by Russian forces in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has appealed to SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk to help evacuate them.
Many civilians were rescued from the sprawling Azovstal plant last week under an agreement with Russia, but no deal has been reached with Moscow on allowing out hundreds of fighters, some of whom are wounded, after weeks of bombardment.
“@elonmusk people say you come from another planet to teach people to believe in the impossible. Our planets are next to each other, as I live where it is nearly impossible to survive,” marine commander Serhiy Volina wrote on Twitter.
“Help us get out of Azovstal to a mediating country. If not you, then who? Give me a hint.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 09:15
Putin sends message to Moscow-backed rebels
President Vladimir Putin has reaffirmed Russia‘s determination to wrest separatist-held territory from Ukraine in a congratulatory message to the head of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine.
Russia backed the separatists for years and recognized them as independent on the eve of invading Ukraine.In a statement released by the Kremlin on Thursday, Putin said: “I am sure that through our joint efforts we will defend the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity” of the Luhansk republic.
Meanwhile, the head of the Luhansk self-proclaimed republic, Leonid Pasechnik, said Thursday that it would never return to Ukrainian control and that most of its residents want it to become part of Russia.
Russian migration authorities also reported that 15,000 people had crossed from Ukraine‘s Donbas region to Russia‘s Rostov region in 24 hours, according to Russian state news agency Tass.
The number couldn’t be verified and the circumstances of the crossings were unclear.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain12 May 2022 09:05