Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Russia warns West of risk of ‘direct and open’ conflict

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, has warned the West that military assistance to Ukraine risks creating a conflict between Russia and NATO.

Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said such a conflict could easily escalate.

“The pumping of Ukraine by NATO countries with weapons, the training of its troops in the use of Western equipment, the dispatch of mercenaries and the conduct of exercises by the countries of the alliance near our borders increase the likelihood of a direct and open conflict between NATO and Russia instead of their ‘proxy war’,” Medvedev claimed in a Telegram post.

“Such a conflict always risks turning into a full-fledged nuclear war,” Medvedev said. “It will be a doomsday scenario for everyone.”

Medvedev’s comments come as tensions between Russia and NATO are likely to rise further after Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced that the country should apply to join NATO “without delay. “. Sweden may also be on the verge of announcing its intention to apply to join the military alliance.

Holly Ellyatt

Ukrainian counterattack north of Kharkiv continues

Ukrainian forces continue to counterattack north of the city of Kharkiv, retaking several towns and villages towards the Russian border, according to the latest intelligence update from the UK Ministry of Defense.

“Russia’s prioritization of operations in Donbass has left elements deployed in Kharkiv Oblast vulnerable to the mobile and highly motivated Ukrainian counterattack force,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Despite Russia’s success in encircling Kharkiv early in the conflict, it reportedly withdrew units from the area to reorganize and rebuild its forces after heavy casualties, the intelligence update said.

“Once reconstituted, these forces will likely deploy to the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, forming a blocking force to protect the western flank of Russia’s main concentration of forces and the main supply routes for operations in proximity to Izium.”

On Thursday, Ukraine’s armed forces posted footage on Twitter purporting to show Russian forces being destroyed as they attempted to cross the Siverskyi Donets River.

—Holly Ellyatt

Finnish leaders say country should apply to join NATO ‘without delay’

Three NATO warships from Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1 Group), EML Sakala from Estonia, Dutch HNLMS Schiedam and flagship LVNS Virsaitis from Latvia, arrive in a port for training with the Finnish coastal fleet, in the southwestern Finnish coastal city of Turku, Finland April 25, 2022.

Roni Lehti | Reuters

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday that the country should apply to join NATO “without delay”.

Finland has a decades-long policy of military neutrality that would end if it became a full member of the military alliance.

At the same time, leaving Helsinki could trigger aggression from Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has expressed opposition to NATO expansion.

Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, which means joining the military alliance would roughly double the land border Russia has to share with NATO territories (Russia has land borders with 14 countries and five of them are members of NATO: Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Norway).

Russian airstrikes hit schools in northeast Ukraine, governor says

The governor of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine has reported a number of casualties following several Russian airstrikes targeting critical infrastructure including schools overnight in Novhorod-Siversky.

There were “several airstrikes on critical infrastructure”, including schools, Governor Vyacheslav Chaus said on his Telegram channel, posting images of damaged buildings.

“There are dead and injured,” he said, without specifying figures. He said rescuers and medics were working at the scene.

Other administrative buildings and private homes were also damaged, he added.

NBC has not independently verified the reports.

Russia is ‘most direct threat’ to world order, says EU chief

Russia is the “most direct threat” to the international order, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned at a meeting in Japan.

Speaking after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, von der Leyen told a press conference “today is the most direct threat to the world order with the barbaric war against Ukraine” .

She also cited what she called Russia’s “worrying pact” with China and “their call for new, highly arbitrary international relations.”

European Council President Charles Michel also took part in the summit in the Japanese capital of Tokyo, where Japan and the EU pledged to strengthen their ties.

Commenting on the invasion, Japan’s Kishida said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not just Europe’s business, but it shakes the heart of the international order, including the Asia. This must not be tolerated.

Ukraine says more than 500 members of its national guard have been killed since the invasion

Ukrainian national guard soldiers stand guard near frontline positions on May 7, 2022 in Zelenodolsk, Ukraine. More than 500 members of Ukraine’s National Guard have died since the Russian invasion, said Oleksiy Nadtochyi, the head of its operational department, according to NBC News.

John Moore | Getty Images News | Getty Images

More than 500 members of Ukraine’s National Guard have died since the invasion of Russia in late February, said Oleksiy Nadtochyi, head of its operational department, according to NBC News.

It is the first time that the military force has announced its results since the beginning of the war.

Nadtochyi told state media that 501 members were killed and 1,697 injured, NBC News reported.

The National Guard covers Ukraine’s northern border with Belarus and is also involved in operations in the eastern and southern regions of the country, Nadtochyi added.

The National Guard of Ukraine was formed in March 2014 when Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and serves as a military unit with law enforcement powers.

—Chelsea Ong

Pro-Russian leader based in Kherson, Ukraine will ask Putin to annex him

The pro-Russian leader based in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson, the first city to fall entirely under Russian control, said he would ask Putin to annex the territory to Russia.

“There will be a demand to make the Kherson region a full subject of the Russian Federation,” Kirill Stremousov, the new deputy head of the Kherson military-civilian administration, told Russian news agencies. . He added that Kherson will be fully under Russian law by the end of this year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded by saying it was up to the people of Kherson to decide whether they would join Russia. But Ukrainian and Western officials warn that Moscow plans to hold a mock referendum there to justify Russian rule.

Kherson is a strategically important capture for Moscow as it provides a land link between Russian separatist-backed territories in eastern Ukraine in Luhansk and Donetsk and Crimea to the south, which it annexed in 2014.

—Natasha Turak

Boris Johnson signs security statement with Sweden

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signed a security declaration with Sweden, pledging to support the Nordic country in the event of a military attack. The security pact can also mean intelligence sharing or joint military exercises, Johnson said.

“The statement makes it clear that it is at Sweden’s request that the UK will of course provide assistance,” the British leader said. “What matters above all is what Sweden decides to ask for.”

The news comes as Sweden and Finland, the latter bordering Russia, are about to make their decision on whether to apply to join the NATO alliance, breaking a position of neutrality. for a long time with regard to the alliance and Russia. Moscow has threatened consequences if the countries join NATO.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson sign documents during their meeting at the Swedish Prime Minister’s summer residence in Harpsund, Sweden, May 11, 2022.

Christine Olson | Tt Press Agency | via Reuters

Public support for joining the defensive alliance in Sweden and Finland soared after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Speaking in Sweden alongside Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Johnson stressed the right of sovereign countries to chart their own courses of action.

“The war in Ukraine forces us all to make difficult decisions, but sovereign nations must be free to make those decisions without fear, influence or threat of reprisal,” he said. Johnson is also due to travel to Finland to sign a similar security agreement.

—Natasha Turak

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