Photo: Sky News
Monday’s Coverage: Finland Applies to Join NATO, Sweden to Follow
Source: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1935 GMT:
The scene of one of the Russian strikes across eastern Ukraine on Tuesday:
This community center in Derhachi near Kharkiv, where humanitarian aid was distributed daily to hundreds of local residents, was hit twice by Russian rockets. Two people were killed, 4 wounded. Another Russian war crime to threaten people and destroy aid centers. pic.twitter.com/RTL3ZE6jdW
— Maria Avdeeva (@maria_avdv) May 17, 2022
UPDATE 1800 GMT:
CNN journalists have seen the charred remains of a Russian battalion tactical group, with up to 800 troops, which was demolished last Friday when it tried to cross a pontoon bridge in the eastern Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.
The remains of tanks, other armored vehicles, heavy machine guns, and troops were strewn near the Siverskyi Donets River, close to the town of Bilohorivka.
The Ukrainian military claimed the destruction of “at least 73 units of equipment”, including T-72 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles.
A senior Ukrainian officer said artillery fire destroyed the Russian pontoon bridge, and ground fire then raked the armored column.
They had three places to cross. They tried the first one, they failed, they were smashed there. On the second one they tried, they got smashed.
Well, and on that last one you saw, where they lost the most equipment. There, they tried four times. First time they did not succeed, they were crushed, artillery. Second time the same thing. Each time they increased their efforts, not understanding that we are observing everything. And for every action they take, we have a counter-action.
They had no time to cross, no time to drop the boats. They all broke through, facing artillery and gunfire, and we watched from the drones as they fell into the water and sank.
UPDATE 1725 GMT:
Seven buses have carried Ukrainian fighters out of the Azovstal steel works in Mariupol, to face interrogation and possible show trials by Russian officials.
The buses arrived at a former penal colony in the Russian-occupied town of Olenivka near Donetsk. The “Russian investigative committee” will question them, according to Russian State news agency TASS.
The Zelenskiy Government had hoped to exchange the fighters for Russian POWs, but Moscow signalled its rejections by saying the interrogations were into “criminal cases concerning Ukrainian regime crimes”.
UPDATE 1642 GMT:
Having spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier in the day, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has had a “long and meaningful” phone call with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, including fuel supplies to Ukraine and defense support from France.
The two leaders also had a “substantive discussion of our application for the status of a candidate for EU membership”..
Last week Macron poured cold water on Ukraine’s application, saying approval would take years.
Finished a long and meaningful phone conversation with @EmmanuelMacron. Told about the course of hostilities, the operation to rescue the military from Azovstal and the vision of the prospects of the negotiation process. Raised the issue of fuel supply to Ukraine. (1/2)
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 17, 2022
UPDATE 1355 GMT:
Finland’s Parliament has approved application for NATO membership.
Parliament supports Finland's application for NATO membership. Parliament adopted the position in accordance with the Foreign Affairs Committee report after a vote 188-8 in favour.
Parliament requires that the Govt keeps it informed of the progress of the membership process.
— SuomenEduskunta (@SuomenEduskunta) May 17, 2022
UPDATE 1340 GMT:
Ukraine Presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, said negotiations with Russia have been suspended because of Moscow’s “stereotypical mindset”.
Podolyak said there have been “no significant changes, no progress” since the two sides met in Istanbul in late March.
Objectively speaking, the negotiation process is suspended. Why? There are several reasons. Russia does not demonstrate the key – the understanding of today’s processes in the world and [Russia’s] extremely negative role.
Ukraine presented a 15-page proposal to end the Russian invasion, with provisions such as a 15-year consultation period over Russian-occupied Crimea and Kyiv’s pledge not to join NATO in return for security guarantors such as the US, UK, France, and Turkey. The Kremlin never made a substantive reply to the package, and it was overtaken by revelations of mass killings of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces.
See also Ukraine War, Day 78: Zelenskiy — Possibility of Negotiations Recedes “With Each New Bucha, Each New Mariupol”
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said earlier Tuesday, “No, the negotiations are not continuing. Ukraine has practically withdrawn from the negotiating process.”
UPDATE 1336 GMT:
Eight civilians have been killed and 12 wounded by four Russian missiles fired on the village of Desna in the Chernihiv region in northern Ukraine.
The strike was launched at about 5 a.m. Two of the missiles struck buildings in the village.
UPDATE 1010 GMT:
Italy’s energy giant Eni will comply with Vladimir Putin’s ultimatum to pay for Russian gas in roubles.
“People familiar with the situation” said Eni will open accounts in rubles and euros with Russia’s Gazprombank by Wednesday to make payments on time this month.
Almost all European Union countries, guided by the EU, have stood up to Putin’s ultimatum and supplies have continued except to Poland, which Russia cut off earlier this month.
Revised guidance this week is expected to stop short of banning rouble accounts, with a roadmap for companies to buy gas which may include payment in euros and a second account in roubles for the transaction.
UPDATE 0940 GMT:
Russian forces have fired a missile on a village near Chernihiv in northeast Ukraine, the third targeting of the liberated region in recent days.
“We have dead and many wounded,” said Vyacheslav Chaus, the head of the regional military administration.
Pushed out of northern Ukraine last month, the Russians also attacked the Sumy region overnight (see 0712 GMT).
UPDATE 0934 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has spoken again with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz:
Held productive talks with @Bundeskanzler. Discussed the situation on the frontline, further pressure on Russia, sanctions increase, the prospects of peace. Appreciate 🇩🇪 support, including defensive one. We count on further 🇩🇪 assistance on 🇺🇦 path to full membership in the #EU
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 17, 2022
UPDATE 0915 GMT:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has given a further signal that the Kremlin will accept Finnish and Swedish accession to NATO:
Finland and Sweden, as well as other neutral countries, have been participating in NATO military exercises for many years.
NATO takes their territory into account when planning military advances to the East. So in this sense there is probably not much difference. Let’s see how their territory is used in practice in the North Atlantic alliance.
Vladimir Putin hinted on Monday that he will accept the accession, provided Finland and Sweden do not host foreign bases.
UPDATE 0712 GMT:
Sumy regional governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi posts that Russian forces have fired missiles overnights on the city of Okhtyrka.
Five Russian missiles landed on civilian targets and caused a lot of damage. Warehouses caught fire. The shockwave damaged the front door of the two-story building, and people were trapped inside.
Many private houses were affected. The windows in the church were broken. The “Fairy Tale” Kindergarten also suffered. This is the same one that was bombed by the racists in the first days of the war, when people died here.
At least five people have been injured in today’s attack on the city.
Russian forces were driven out of the Sumy region in northern Ukraine at the end of March.
In western Ukraine, the Russians attacked a railway in Yavoriv, near Lviv.
Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi wrote that nearby houses were damaged, only 20 km (13 miles) from the border with the European Union:
This was indeed one of the largest attacks on the Lviv region in terms of the number of missiles. It is difficult to predict what will happen next. So go to the shelter!
UPDATE 0658 GMT:
In an unusual display of dissent on Russian State TV, senior military analyst Mikhail Khodaryonok says, “Let’s not consume info-sedatives….The overall strategic situation is as follows: Ukraine’s armed forces can arm 1 million men….[This] should be accepted as a reality of the near future….The situation in that sense for us will keep worsening.”
In an extremely rare moment of candour on Russian state TV today, defence columnist Mikhail Khodaryonok gave a damning assessment of Russia's war in Ukraine and his country's international isolation. It's fairly long but worth your time so I've added subtitles. pic.twitter.com/0mr7WAgSx6
— Francis Scarr (@francis_scarr) May 16, 2022
Julia Davis, a specialist in Russian media and politics, evaluates:
Many are wondering: why is Khodaryonok allowed to keep talking on Russian TV where any dissent is discouraged? Because his words don’t harm the regime. To the contrary, they help temper the expectations, while other pundits promise fast, easy victories.
UPDATE 0651 GMT:
Another 20 civilians, including a child, were killed on Monday by Russian shelling in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian military.
Struggling to advance on Severodonetsk, the easternmost city held by Ukraine, Russian forces have stepped up bombardment of nearby areas.
Ukraine’s General Staff claimed, in its morning update, that Ukrainian forces repelled 11 Russian attacks in Donetsk and Luhansk over the past 24 hours. The military declared the destruction of five Russian tanks, one Tor anti-aircraft missile system, six artillery systems, and 12 armored combat vehicles.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: After almost 12 weeks of Russian bombardment, siege, and ground attacks, hundreds of Ukrainian fighters have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in southern Ukraine.
More than 260 defenders, many of them wounded, were moved after protracted negotiations. Ukraine Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said 53 seriously-wounded soldiers were taken to a hospital in the Russian-occupied town of Novoazovsk. Another 211 were transported to Olenivka, held by a Russian proxy group in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s General Staff said the troops had “performed their combat task” and the main goal was now to save lives of personnel. They noted that their resistance, in the face of an overwhelming Russian force and the starvation and deprivation of the siege, they had prevented Russian forces from rapid capture of other cities such as Zaporizhzhia, 132 miles to the northwest.
The defense also tied down 12 Russian battalion tactical groups, preventing them from joining Russia’s offensive to seize more territory in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.
It is unclear how many fighters remain in Azovstal. Before last night’s evacuation, defenders had said there were about 1,000 of them, with more than 600 wounded and unable to get proper medical treatment.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video statement on Monday night, “We hope to save the lives of our boys. I want to underline: Ukraine needs its Ukrainian heroes alive. This is our principle.”
Russian forces finally occupied the rest of Mariupol, at the eastern end of a coastal corridor along the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, earlier this month. But the fighters and about sheltering civilians remained.
Russia finally allowed the departure of the last civilians, almost all women and children, just over a week ago. However, the fighters refused to surrender, preventing Vladimir Putin from claiming a significant triumph on Russia’s Victory 9 on May 9.
See also EA with Radio Renascença: Putin’s Non-Victory Day in Ukraine…and Much, Much More
Just before the evacuation, the wife of one of the fighters summarized, “They are in hell. They receive new wounds every day. They are without legs or arms, exhausted, without medicines.”
Ukrainian officials said more than 21,000 people have died as Russia tried to overrun Mariupol, key to control of the Sea of Azov and the link between Russian proxy territory in eastern Ukraine and Russian-occupied Crimea to the south. Many are buried in newly-dug mass graves outside the city.
Many civilians have finally fled the city, despite Russia’s refusal of organized evacuations and humanitarian aid. Up to 100,000 remain.
Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko urged evacuated residents not to risk a return to the occupied city.
“You can get in, but leaving is very complicated,” Boychenko said in a televised statement, citing Russian “filtration” that reportedly includes interrogations, searches, and torture for anyone suspected of being a Ukrainian serviceman, official, or sympathizer.
He added that offers by the Russians to pay compensation for lost housing and killed relatives a “trap” and “propaganda” to lure back residents.