Russian President Vladimir Putin warns Finland joining NATO would be ‘a mistake’ as Moscow halted electric supplies to the Nordic country.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says “very complex negotiations” with Russia are under way to get fighters out of the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol.
Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, makes a surprise visit to Kyiv, assures Ukraine of sustained support.
A convoy of hundreds of cars that left Mariupol reaches safety in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia.
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra wins Eurovision with the folk hip hop song, “Stefania”.
Here are all the latest updates:
Missile hits military infrastructure in Lviv: Official
The governor of Ukraine’s Lviv region has reported a missile strike in the western area.
Maxim Kozitsky said the missile strike early on Sunday hit some military infrastructure in the region.
“There is no information about dead or injured at this hour,” Kozitsky said. “The extent of the destruction is being clarified.”
Russia’s Donbas offensive has ‘lost momentum’: UK
The British Ministry of Defence says the Russian offensive in Ukraine’s Donbas region “has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule”.
In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said Russia has “failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the past month whilst sustaining consistently high levels of attrition”.
It is likely that Russia has now suffered losses of one third of the ground combat force it committed in February, the briefing said.
“Russian forces are increasingly constrained by degraded enabling capabilities, continued low morale and reduced combat effectiveness,” the ministry added. “Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days.”
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 15 May 2022
The frontman of Kalush Orchestra says he and his band members are “ready to fight” in the war with Russia once more when they return to their country.
Oleh Psiuk spoke during a news conference in Turin after Ukraine’s victory at the Eurovision Song Contest was confirmed in the early hours of Sunday.
“We have a temporary authorisation to be here and it ends in two days and exactly in two days we are going to be back in Ukraine,” Psiuk said. “It’s hard to say what exactly I am going to do, because this is the first time I win the Eurovision Song Contest, but like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go on until the end.”
Currently an order from Ukraine’s government prohibits men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country, but the six members of the all-male band received special permission to go and represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture at the music contest.
One of the original members stayed to continue with the war effort.
UK’s Johnson congratulates Ukraine on Eurovision win
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has congratulated Ukraine on its Eurovision victory, describing the win as a reflection of European support for the war-torn country.
“Congratulations to Ukraine for winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2022,” the prime minister said in a tweet
“It is a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom,” he said in a tweet.
Congratulations to Ukraine for winning the @Eurovision Song Contest 2022.
It is a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom.
Incredibly proud of @SamRyderMusic and how he brilliantly represented the UK tonight.
Relatives of Azovstal troops ask China’s Xi for help
Relatives of Ukrainian soldiers trapped in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant have called on China’s President Xi Jinping to “save” the encircled troops, saying he was the last world leader that Moscow would listen to.
Five wives of the Ukrainian soldiers and one father gave a press conference in Kyiv on Saturday, in another desperate appeal to help the soldiers, holed up in the underground tunnels of the huge factory that has been besieged by Russian forces for weeks.
“There is only one man left in the world that we can address, it is the Chinese leader,” said Stavr Vychniak, the father of one of the trapped soldiers. “China has a big influence on Russia and on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin personally. We ask for him to intervene,” he sad.
Natalia Zarytska, the wife of one of the trapped soldiers, said “there is still a person in this world to whom Putin struggles to say no to” and called on Xi to “join in on to save” the soldiers.
“We are confident that China, strong and noble, is able to take decisions difficult in the name of good,” she said.
Turkey offers sea evacuation for wounded Mariupol fighters: Erdogan aide
A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara has proposed carrying out a sea evacuation of wounded fighters holed up in a steel plant in the southern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
Ibrahim Kalin told the Reuters news agency that he had personally discussed the proposal with Ukraine’s Zelenskyy in Kyiv two weeks ago and that it remains “on the table” although Moscow has 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.
In #Mariupol, the Russian army continues storming #Azovstal plant. Russian troops drop bombs, use heavy artillery, tanks and large numbers of infantry to attempt to storm #Ukrainian positions, — #Azov special unit said.
Zelenskyy hails Ukraine’s Eurovision win, pledges to host contest in Mariupol one day
Ukraine’s president has praised the Kalush Orchestra’s win in the Eurovision song contest.
“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” Zelenskyy said in a Telegram post.
As winners of this year’s Eurovision, Ukraine will host next year’s contest. Zelenskyy said he hoped to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in a “free, peaceful and rebuilt” Mariupol.
Blinken arrives in Germany for NATO meeting
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Germany ahead of an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin.
The gathering will consider moves by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, as well as ways in which NATO can support Ukraine without being drawn into the conflict with Russia.
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.
Mitch McConnell assures Ukraine of ‘sustained support’
The Republican leader of the US Senate has reaffirmed Washington’s support for Ukraine during a surprise visit to Kyiv.
In a statement, Mitch McConnel said he reassured Zelenskyy that US “stands squarely behind Ukraine and will sustain our support until Ukraine wins this war”.
A delegation of Senate Republicans just left Ukraine after visiting Kyiv and meeting with President Zelenskyy. We saw firsthand the courage, unity, and resolve of the Ukrainian people. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/bsgCMLiZ6M
Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest, riding a wave of public support across Europe for the embattled nation and buoyed by an infectious folk hip hop melody.
Kalush Orchestra’s song “Stefania” beat out 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event on Saturday. Sung in Ukrainian, the winning song fused rap with traditional folk music and was a tribute to band frontman Oleh Psiuk’s mother.
Ukraine’s president sent good luck wishes earlier in the night, saying that if Kalush Orchestra were to win it would have a huge symbolic meaning.
“For us today, any victory is very important,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.
Russia had been excluded from the competition in Turin because of its invasion of Ukraine.
A large convoy of cars and vans carrying refugees from the ruins of Mariupol has arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia after waiting days for Russian troops to allow them to leave.
The refugees that arrived on Saturday first had to get out of Mariupol and then somehow make their way to Berdyansk – some 80 km further west along the coast – and other settlements before the 200 km drive northwest to Zaporizhzhia.
Nikolai Pavlov, 74, said he had lived in a basement for a month after his apartment was destroyed. A relative using “secret detours” managed to get him out of Mariupol to Berdyansk.
“We barely made it, there were lots of elderly people among us … the trip was devastating. But it was worth it,” he said after the convoy arrived in the dark.
An aide to Mariupol’s mayor said earlier that the convoy numbered between 500 to 1,000 cars and was the largest single evacuation from the city since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Envoy says Russian diplomats in US threatened, enticed by FBI, CIA
Russia’s envoy to the US says Russian diplomats in Washington are being threatened with violence and US intelligence services are trying to make contact with them, according to the TASS news agency.
“It’s like a besieged fortress. Basically, our embassy is operating in a hostile environment … Embassy employees are receiving threats, including threats of physical violence,” TASS quoted Ambassador Anatoly Antonov saying on Saturday.
“Agents from US security services are hanging around outside the Russian embassy, handing out CIA and FBI phone numbers, which can be called to establish contact,” the ambassador told TASS.
Russia and the US have been locked in a dispute over the size and functioning of their respective diplomatic missions since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
US’s Mitch McConnell meets Zelenskyy in Kyiv
Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, paid an unannounced visit to Kyiv with other Republican senators and met the Ukrainian president for talks.
McConnell was accompanied by fellow Senators Susan Collins, John Barrasso and John Cornyn.
Zelenskyy hailed the visit as a powerful signal of US bipartisan support for Ukraine and the strength of relations between the two nations.
“We discussed many areas of support for our state, including in defence and finance, as well as strengthening sanctions against Russia,” Zelenskyy said in a video address, adding that he stressed to the senators the need for Russia to be designated a terrorist state.
McConnell is pressing Republican Senator Rand Paul to end his opposition to a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, which has overwhelming support from both major parties in the US.
Ukraine band makes plea for Mariupol at Eurovision
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra made a plea for the city of Mariupol and fighters holding out at the Azovstal steel plant at the end of their appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest.
“Please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now,” lead singer Oleh Psiuk shouted from the front of the stage in the Italian city of Turin after the band performed its song “Stefania”.
Russian forces have bombarding the steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, the last bastion of hundreds of Ukrainian defenders in a city which is almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of a siege.
Putin tells Finnish president: Joining NATO would be ‘mistake’
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has told his Finnish counterpart that joining NATO would be “a mistake”, as Moscow cut off its electricity supply to the Nordic country earlier.
“Putin stressed that the end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland’s security,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday.
“Such a change in the country’s political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations developed over years in a spirit of good neighbourliness and cooperation between partners,” it said.