Live updates | Russia claims full control of Mariupol
Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the ministry as saying a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up at the steelworks had surrendered since Monday, including over 500 on Friday.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— West rushes more aid as Mariupol teeters and fighting rages
— AP PHOTOS: Shattered lives and recovery in Ukraine war
— Russia to cut Finland’s natural gas in latest energy clash
— In Ukraine, surviving when your home is blasted
— ‘I can’t see the light’: War fuels surging prices in Europe
— Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
LVIV, Ukraine – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has revealed a weeks-long mystery about the siege of the Azovstal in the strategic port city of Mariupol: How were supplies delivered to the steel mill’s defenders?
Ukrainian pilots risked Russian anti-aircraft fire to fly medicine, food and water to the steel mill on helicopters, suffering a large amount of casualties, Zelenskyy said in an interview published Friday on the third anniversary of his inauguration as president. He stated that the effort included the rescue of bodies and the care of the injured.
To save the “heroes” who were trapped in the massive, ruined remains the steel mill, “a large number of people, including our pilots, were killed in the air.”
“They were absolutely heroic people who knew it would be difficult and knew that flying would be almost impossible.” Zelenskyy stated. He stated that the airlift could not be reported earlier as no safe air route to the plant was established and that powerful anti-aircraft guns were in place.
“A great many weeks, pilots flew helicopters, knowing that there was a 90 percent chance they wouldn’t return.”
BERLIN — The Germany news agency dpa reports that the country will ship the first 15 Gepard anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine in July.
Dpa reported Friday that the delivery, which includes training and almost 60,000 rounds of ammunition, was agreed following talks between Germany’s defense minister and her Ukrainian counterpart.
Gepard, German for “cheetah”, is highly effective against low-flying planes and lightly armored ground targets.
It was decommissioned by the German military in 2012 but some 50 mothballed units are being restored by manufacturer KMW for use by Ukraine.
LVIV, Ukraine — A Russian missile struck a Ukrainian cultural center in the Kharkiv region on Friday, injuring seven people, including an 11-year-old child, in an attack that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called “absolute evil.”
Zelenskyy’s social media channel on Friday released video showing a large explosion hitting the newly renovated Palace of Culture in Lozova. According to the emergency services of Ukraine, the building was partially destroyed and the roof caught on fire.
” The occupiers identified culture and education as their enemies,” Zelenskyy wrote. “What is the mind of people who choose such targets?” Absolute evil, absolute stupidity.”
Lozova’s Palace of Culture is the site of classes, festivals, plays and concerts. It opened in 1977 and includes an auditorium, a lecture hall, three dance halls, a gym and multiple rooms for classes and club meetings.
The Kharkiv region is close to the border with Russia, which invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Some Russian forces have been pushed back by Ukrainian troops.
LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces on Friday continued attacking the cities of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk to try to cut the area off from the rest of Ukraine, the region’s governor said.
Luhansk Gov. According to Serhiy Haidai, Russian forces were focusing on the Lysychansk–Bakhmut highway. He said that it was the only road for evacuating people as well as delivering humanitarian aid.
” The road is vital because it provides access to all other parts of the country,” he stated via email. “The Russians are trying to cut us off from it, to encircle the Luhansk region.”
Russian forces are constantly shelling the road from multiple directions, but Ukrainian armored transports are still able to get through, Haidai added.
One of Friday’s attacks was on a school in Severodonetsk sheltering more than 200 people, many of them children. Haidai stated on Telegram that three adults were killed.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Friday, “the liberation of the Luhansk People’s Republic is nearing completion.”
LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces have been trying for weeks to seize Severodonetsk, a key site in the Donbas that’s outside the territory separatists have held for several years.
Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Friday Russian forces now control 90% of the region.
Twelve people were killed in the latest attack in Severodonetsk and more than 60 houses were destroyed, Haidai said on Telegram.
Haidai stated on Telegram that the Russian forces “just want to destroy the city.”
Haidai said on Telegram on Thursday that Russian forces “just want to destroy the city.”
He told The Associated Press that another city the Russians have been targeting, Rubizhne, has been “completely destroyed.”
Haidai said damaged buildings have been looted, and Russian forces have forcibly deported residents, cut off all communications, and removed all modern equipment from the hospitals and schools and taken it to Russia.
KYIV, Ukraine — The Vatican foreign minister paid tribute to the dead at a mass grave in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, praying that “horrors like this may be always avoided.”
Archbishop Richard Gallagher wrapped up a three-day visit to Ukraine on Friday by visiting what he called “three of the most martyred cities,” Vorzel, Bucha and Irpin, where Russian soldiers are accused of atrocities against Ukrainian civilians.
Gallagher later told reporters at a news conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba that he wanted to bring Pope Francis’ solidarity to the Ukrainian people and promote dialogue and negotiation to find a peaceful resolution what he called “this senseless conflict” sparked by “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”
The Vatican has been toeing a delicate diplomatic line with Ukraine, condemning the death and destruction but seeking to maintain a channel of dialogue open with Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church.
BERLIN — Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder plans to leave the board of directors of Russian state energy company Rosneft as a backlash over his ties with Russia and its energy sector mounts.
Schroeder, 78, is the chairman of Rosneft’s board. Rosneft said Friday that Schroeder announced “the impossibility of extending his powers on the board of directors of the company.”
The announcement came a day after German lawmakers agreed to strip Schroeder of his taxpayer-funded office and staff.
Schroeder, 78, led Germany from 1998 to 2005. His work for Russian state-controlled energy companies has made him more isolated over the past months.
MILAN — The Council of Europe secretary-general said the human rights organization is supporting Ukrainian prosecutors as they investigate “gross human rights violations” committed during the Russian invasion. Marija PEjcinovic Buric stated that he was able to see the “severe and extensive devastation” inflicted upon Ukraine during a recent visit to Kiev. He said that included the “rape, torture, the killing of civilians and combatants.”
She said that confirms the Council of Europe’s decision to expel Russia after the invasion. The organization based in Strasbourg, France was founded after World War II to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe, comprised of 46 member states. The secretary-general stated that the Council of Europe was uniquely placed to support Ukraine and an independent judiciary.
MILAN — Italy’s foreign minister said Friday that Italy has submitted a peace plan for Ukraine to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said during a Council of Europe meeting in Turin, Italy, that the plan submitted Thursday calls for local cease-fires to evacuate civilians along humanitarian corridors, and creating the conditions for a general cease-fire leading “to a long-lasting peace.”
In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was aware of the plan, adding the European Union is “putting all our efforts into trying to bring this conflict to an end.”
Borrell said it’s up to Ukraine to decide the terms of any negotiations. He said that he hopes that “when the time comes for negotiations to take place, Ukraine will be able to negotiate from a position of strength.”
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Russia will cut off natural gas to Finland after the Nordic country that applied for NATO membership this week refused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demand to pay in rubles, the Finnish state-owned energy company said Friday.
Finland has been the latest country to lose its energy supply. This is used to generate electricity, and the power industry.
Poland, and Bulgaria were cut off by Russia late last month, but they were minor customers who were ready to move away from Russian natural gasoline. Putin declared that “unfriendly foreign purchasers” have opened two accounts at Gazprombank. One account can pay in dollars and euros, while the other can be paid in rubles.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country has faced a barrage of cyberattacks from the West amid the invasion of Ukraine but has successfully fended them off.
Speaking Friday to members of Russia’s Security Council, Putin noted that “the challenges in this area have become even more pressing, serious and extensive.”
He charged that “an outright aggression has been unleashed against Russia, a war has been waged in the information space.”
Putin added that “the cyber-aggression against us, the same as the attack on Russia by sanctions in general, has failed.”
He ordered officials to “perfect and enhance the mechanisms of ensuring information security at critically important industrial facilities which have a direct bearing on our country’s defensive capability, and the stable development of the economic and social spheres.”
WARSAW, Poland – Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday hailed the prospect of Finland and Sweden joining NATO.
Morawiecki spoke alongside visiting Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa with whom he had discussed the war in neighboring Ukraine.
Concerned for their security, Finland and Sweden applied this week to join the military alliance, against Russia’s threats aimed at discouraging the move. Finland shares an extensive land border with Russia, while Sweden borders Russia via the Baltic Sea basin.
“We consider these sovereign decisions by the countries, and we will be very happy for Finland and Sweden to join NATO quickly,” Morawiecki stated.
BERLIN — Germany and Qatar have signed an agreement to deepen their cooperation on energy, as Berlin seeks to diversify its natural gas supplies and ultimately stop using Russian gas.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a news conference alongside Qatar’s emir that the agreement signed Friday “opens many opportunities for successful cooperation.” He said that Qatar also “has enormous potential for renewable energies and for the production of hydrogen.”
Germany plans to build two liquefied natural gas terminals to bring in gas from suppliers such as Qatar.
Qatari Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani stated that Germany plans to build two liquefied natural gas terminals to bring in gas from Qatar.
Russia’s defense minister says 1,908 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up at the Azovstal steelworks, the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the port city of Mariupol, have surrendered so far.
“Nationalists blocked off at the plant started to surrender. As of now, 1,908 people have laid down arms,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted by the Russian media as saying Friday.
On Thursday, the Russian military put the total of surrendered fighters at 1,730. It is not clear how many fighters remain trapped in the steel plant’s maze underground tunnels and bunkers.
Denys PROCOPenko, commander of Azov Regiment, stated Friday that the defenders in Mariupol — a group made up of Ukrainian fighters from different military units — have been given an order to “cease defense of the city.” He said the intention was to “save lives, health, and property of the garrison.”
Prokopenko also said that the “serious wounded” were treated and could be evacuated with further exchange and delivery to the territory controlled by Ukraine.
Speaking in a video statement released on Telegram, Prokopenko also said that “the seriously wounded received the necessary assistance and they were able to be evacuated with further exchange and delivery to the territory controlled by Ukraine.”
It was not clear from the video whether Prokopenko was still at the plant. His right arm was bandaged above his elbow.
GENEVA — The international Red Cross says it has been visiting prisoners of war on “all sides” since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine almost three months ago.
The International Committee of the Red Cross didn’t specify what “all sides” meant, but it is believed to mean Russian and Ukrainian government forces, as well as pro-Russian separatists who have been waging an armed struggle in eastern Ukraine against the Kyiv government since 2014. It could also include foreign fighters that might have been captured.
The Red Cross stated Friday that the POW visits had allowed it to share information with hundreds of families about loved ones. The ICRC did no specify how many families were informed about their relatives or where they took place. It said only that the visits had taken place “in recent months.”
The statement came a day after the humanitarian agency broke its silence about prisoners of war in the nearly three-month-long conflict, announcing it has registered “hundreds” of Ukrainian prisoners of war this week from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. It is not clear how many fighters remain trapped in the steel plant’s maze underground tunnels and bunkers.
” Many more families need answers. The ICRC must have full access POWs and civilian internees, wherever they may be held, to provide these answers,” the Geneva-based organization stated.
Some humanitarian law experts have questioned the ICRC’s delay in announcing its POW visits, a crucial part of its mandate. The ICRC is often secretive in its mission to protect civilians, prisoners-of-war, and other noncombatants involved in conflicts and ensure respect of the rules.
KOENIGSWINTER, Germany — Germany’s finance minister says the Group of Seven leading economies and global financial institutions are providing $19.8 billion in aid to bolster Ukraine’s public finances.
Finance Minister Christian Lindner said Friday that $9.5billion of the total was raised at the meetings of the G-7 finance mins in Koenigswinter (Germany). He stated that the goal is to ensure Ukraine’s financial stability does not hinder its ability to defend against Russian invasion.
” We agreed on concrete actions for deepening multilateral economic cooperation, and underlined the commitment to our united response against Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and our unwavering support for Ukraine,” a G-7 statement stated.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Finnish state-owned energy company Gasum says natural gas imports from Russia will be halted on Saturday, after the Finns refused to pay for it in rubles.
Russia demanded payment of rubles following sanctions imposed on Moscow for the February invasion of Ukraine.
Gasum CEO Mika Wiljanen said it was “highly regrettable that gas supplies will now be halted.”
But there will be no disruptions to the gas supply network, he stated in a statement.
In April, Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy company, informed the group that future payments under the supply contract must be made using Russian currency and not euros.
In Finland, natural gas accounted for 6% of the total energy consumption in 2020, Finnish broadcaster YLE said. Almost all gas is imported from Russia and last year the share of Russian natural gas imports was 92%.
Poland, and Bulgaria, who also refused to pay Gazprom rubles, had their gas cut off.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s president says he is engaged in “telephone diplomacy” with foreign counterparts over the bids by Sweden and Finland to join NATO.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Friday that his country is determined not to approve membership of the alliance for countries accused by Turkey of supporting what it calls “terror organizations.”
Erdogan has placed an obstacle to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance. He accuses Stockholm, and in a lesser degree Helsinki, of supporting the Kurdish Workers Party or PKK and other groups Turkey considers terrorists and a threat for its national security.
Turkey has the second-largest army in NATO. He also accuses two Nordic countries of imposing restrictions to Turkey’s export of defense industry equipment and failing to extradite suspected terrorists.
Erdogan said that he spoke with Mark Rutte, the Netherland Prime Minister, on Friday and that he would continue discussions with British leaders and Finnish leaders on Saturday.
Sweden, Finland applied to join NATO this week. All 30 NATO members need to approve the entry of new members.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland and Portugal are trying to figure out ways of bringing Ukraine into the European Union even if some countries in the bloc balk at granting it speedy access.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced the effort after talks Friday in Warsaw with visiting Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
Morawiecki said that “if some EU nations protest vehemently, together with Portugal we want to work out an appropriate package that would be attractive for Ukraine and will show that Ukraine’s place is in the EU.”
Germany, for example, has spoken out against a swift EU membership path for Ukraine, which currently fighting a ferocious war against Russia’s invasion. All 27 EU members need to approve an enlargement to include Ukraine.
Costa stated that EU leaders must not adhere to rigid regulations but be “pragmatic” and respond to current events. He called for a decision at the June EU summit.
KOENIGSWINTER, Germany — Germany’s finance minister says the Group of Seven leading economies are set to agree on more than $18 billion in aid for Ukrainian defense efforts.
Finance Minister Christian Lindner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday that Ukrainians resisting Russia’s invasion “are not only defending themselves, they are defending our values.”
A representative from the U.S. Treasury Department declined to confirm the amount set to be allocated at a meeting of G-7 finance ministers in Germany, and a spokesman from the German finance ministry declined to comment to The Associated Press.
U.S. Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary, and other leaders have discussed this week the need for allies in order to provide enough aid to Ukraine to “get through” the Russian invasion.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the United States for the $40 billion aid package, which got final congressional approval on Thursday.
“This was a demonstration of strong leadership, and a necessary contribution towards our common defense of liberty,” Zelenskyy stated in his nightly video address to nation.
He thanked the European Union also for their support.
” And for our partners, this isn’t just an expense or gift. Zelenskyy stated that this is their contribution towards security. “Defending Ukraine also protects them from any new crises or wars that Russia could cause if it wins the war against Ukraine.” Zelenskyy said. Therefore, we must together ensure that Russia’s aggression against our state has no success, not militarily, economically or any other.”
Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s monthly budget deficit is $5 billion “and so to survive in the war for freedom, we need quick and sufficient financial support.”
The U.S. has announced a shipment of $100 million in military equipment to Ukraine, separate from what will be coming from the $40 billion approved by Congress. The latest package includes 18 more howitzers as well as anti-artillery radar systems, both of which the U.S. has provided to Ukraine already since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops were intensifying their attacks in the Donbas.
“He said that it was hell there and that it wasn’t an exaggeration in his nightly video address. “The brutal and totally senseless bombardment on Severodonetsk. Twelve dead. Twelve dead and dozens wounded there in just one day.”
Zelenskyy said Russian strikes on the northeastern Chernihiv region included a terrible strike on the village of Desna, where he said many were killed and rescuers were still going through the rubble.
” The bombing and bombardment of other cities, as well as missile and air strikes by the Russian army on them, are not just military operations during wartime. It is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill Ukrainians,” Zelenskyy stated. “To destroy more homes, public sites, businesses. This is what will be qualified as genocide of the Ukrainian people and for which the occupiers will definitely be brought to justice.”
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