Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Boris Johnson spoke to Turkey’s Erdogan about NATO concerns

Britain’s Boris Johnson spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, focusing on cooperation between their two countries and the war in Ukraine.

Johnson raised the issue of Turkey’s opposition to Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership applications, and ‘encouraged’ Erdogan to work with both countries and NATO leaders to respond to his concerns, according to a statement from the British government. The 30-member alliance will meet in Madrid in June.

Sweden and Finland have taken the decision to seek NATO membership, which would mean a significant expansion of the alliance along Russia’s western border, as both countries reassess their security amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

NATO requires unanimous consent to admit new members, and so far Turkey is the only state to stand in the way, citing Nordic states’ support for Kurdish groups that Ankara calls terrorists.

—Natasha Turak

US, other countries walk out of Asia-Pacific economic cooperation meeting amid Russian minister’s speech

Representatives from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan leave a meeting of ministers at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. The walkout took place as Russian Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov was speaking, in protest against the Russian military offensive in Ukraine.

The act was “an expression of disapproval of Russia’s unlawful war of aggression in Ukraine and its economic impact in the APEC region,” a diplomat quoted by Reuters said.

—Natasha Turak

Russia uses Syrian-style ‘scouting strike’ tactics, but may not have enough drones for it: UK MoD

Russia is using “reconnaissance strike” tactics it previously used in Syria, finding targets via reconnaissance drones and then hitting them with aircraft or artillery.

But Russia is “likely experiencing a shortage of suitable reconnaissance drones for the task, which is exacerbated by limitations on its domestic manufacturing capacity resulting from the sanctions,” the UK Ministry of Defense wrote in its daily intelligence update. on Twitter.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have played a key role for both sides in the Russian-Ukrainian war, but suffer from a high attrition rate, the ministry wrote, as they are frequently shot down or electronically jammed.

“If Russia continues to lose drones at its current rate, the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of Russian forces will be further degraded, negatively impacting operational effectiveness,” the ministry wrote.

—Natasha Turak

End of siege of Ukrainian steel plant in Mariupol, Russia seeks control of Donbass

A view shows the Azovstal Steelworks during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, May 20, 2022.

Alexander Ermoshenko | Reuters

The last Ukrainian forces locked in the devastated Azovstal steelworks of Mariupol have surrendered, the Russian Defense Ministry says, ending the most destructive siege of the war as Moscow struggles to cement control of the Donbass region .

Hours before Russia’s announcement on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the steel mill’s last defenders had been told by the Ukrainian military they could get out and save their lives.

Russia said there were 531 members of the last group who had dropped out. “The territory of the Azovstal Metallurgical Plant (…) has been completely liberated,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that a total of 2,439 defenders had surrendered in recent days.

The Ukrainians did not immediately confirm these figures.

Russia also launched what appeared to be a major assault to seize the last territory under Ukrainian control in Luhansk province, one of two provinces in southeastern Ukraine that Moscow proclaims as independent states.

—Reuters

US state officials urge Russia to grant access to detained US citizens

A close up of Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury at practice and media availability during the 2021 WNBA Finals on October 11, 2021 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Michael Gonzales | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

The State Department called on the Kremlin to grant “consistent and expeditious consular access” to all US citizens detained in Russia.

“One-time visits are not enough, and we will continue to call on Moscow to meet its commitments under the Vienna Convention for consistent and timely access as well,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. during a daily press briefing.

Price said a US consular officer was allowed to visit detained WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday.

“The consular officer found that she continued to do as well as could be expected in these extremely difficult circumstances. But again, our message is clear and simple, we continue to insist that the Russia allows consistent and timely consular access to all detained U.S. citizens,” Price added.

In February, the Olympian was arrested for drug trafficking after a search of her luggage at Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow found vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil, Russian authorities said. .

The offense could carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

—Amanda Macias

Finnish gas supply from Russia will be cut from Saturday

A photo taken on May 12, 2022 shows pipes at Gasum’s factory in Raikkola, Imatra, Finland.

Vesa Moilanen | AFP | Getty Images

Gasum, Finland’s state-owned gas wholesaler, said in a statement that natural gas imports from Russia would be halted on Saturday.

“As of tomorrow, during the next summer season, Gasum will supply natural gas to its customers from other sources via the Balticconnector gas pipeline. Gasum’s gas filling stations in the gas network area will continue to operate as normal” , Gasum CEO Mika Wiljanen said in a statement. statement.

“It is very regrettable that deliveries of natural gas under our supply contract are now interrupted. However, we have prepared carefully for this situation and provided that there are no disruptions on the network gas transport, we will be able to supply all our customers with gas in the months to come.”

Gasum gave no reason for this decision, but Finland also reportedly refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles. It also comes just two days after Finland formally applied for NATO membership.

Read the full story here.

—Matt Clinch

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