Ukraine/Russia War Update: Russia has lost the battle for Kharkiv, Turkey “Not Closing Door” to Sweden and Finland NATO Membership, G7 Meeting, U.S. Senator Demands Accountability and War Crimes

UKRAINE (May 14, 2022)— Ukraine latest as a 21-year-old Russian soldier’s war crimes trial begins; FSB agents believe Vladimir Putin is terminally ill after receiving a top-secret memo, reports claim; leader’s wife hit with new sanctions; G7 foreign ministers meet in Germany.

Ukraine on counter offensive near Izyum – Ukrainian military

The Ukrainian military says it has launched a counter offensive near the Russia-held city of Izyum in the east of the country.

It comes after reports that Russia was retreating from Kharkiv, 70 miles to the north.

Oleh Sinegubov, the region’s governor, said: “Our armed forces have switched to a counteroffensive [at Izyum].

“The enemy is retreating on some fronts and this is the result of the character of our armed forces.”

Russia appears to be focusing more firepower in the Donbas region and the south of Ukraine.

Russian power to Finland stopped over unpaid bills

Reima Paivinen, the senior vice president at Fingrid, the operator of Finland’s national grid, has told Sky News that Russia cut power to its neighbour because of unpaid bills.

However he said Finland was not worried about the situation, as they can increase imports from Sweden and the Baltic states.

Turkey ‘not closing door’ to Sweden and Finland NATO entry – Erdogan adviser

An adviser to Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan says the NATO country is “not closing the door” to Finland and Sweden joining the organization.

But Ibrahim Kalin, who is the president’s top foreign policy adviser,  said they were raising the issue “as a matter of national security” for Turkey due to “many terrorist organizations” being present in the Nordic nations.

Speaking to Reuters, Mr Kalin singled out Stockholm as a particular problem area.

Finland has already signaled its intention to join NATO, and Sweden is expected to follow suit.

Turkey had been highlighted as potentially being opposed to the two countries joining.

Mr. Kalin said the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) – which is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the EU, had a “strong and open and acknowledged” presence in Sweden in particular.

“Of course we want to have a discussion, a negotiation with Swedish counterparts,” he said. 

Finland wanting NATO membership is consequence of Ukraine invasion

Tytti Tuppurainen, Finland’s minister for European affairs, has told Sky News that her country’s desire to join NATO “is one of the consequences” of Vladimir Putin invading Ukraine.

Putin has told his neighbour that they are making a mistake by applying for membership to the organisation.

Ms. Tuppurainen went on to say that the threats being made by Putin were nothing new.

Asked if NATO “assets” would be stationed on the Finnish-Russia border, she said that they were not looking to provoke anyone. 

West has declared ‘total hybrid war’ against Russia – Sergei Lavrov

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has claimed that the West has declared a “total hybrid war” against Russia.

Speaking from Moscow, Mr Lavrov adds that its hard to predict how long the conflict with the West will last.

He goes on to say that efforts to isolate Russia are “doomed”.

Mr Lavrov says that “Western politicians should understand their efforts to isolate our country are in vain”.

Russia responds to Finland call – says abandoning neutrality would be a mistake

Earlier, we reported  that Finland’s president Sauli Niinisto has told Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin of his plans to join NATO on a phone call.

Russia has now released a summary of its side of the conversation.

According to Russian state broadcaster RIA, President Putin told Mr. Niinisto that abandoning neutrality would be a “mistake”.

The Russian leader is also reported to have told Mr. Niinisto there are no security threats to Finland, and that a change in Finland’s foreign policy would be negative for bilateral relations.

‘Up to 50 million people face hunger’ in coming months due to Ukraine war food shortage

Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has warned tens of millions of people  face hunger because of the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine is a major contributor to world food stocks, exporting sizeable amounts of cooking oil, corn and wheat. 

But these supplies are currently trapped due to Russia’s invasion.

Speaking after a G7 summit in Germany, Ms. Baerbock said up to 50 million people, particularly in the countries of Africa and the Middle East, will face hunger in the next few months.

A group statement from the G7’s foreign ministers said: “Russia’s war of aggression has generated one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history which now threatens those most vulnerable across the globe,.

“We are determined to accelerate a coordinated multilateral response to preserve global food security and stand by our most vulnerable partners in this respect.”

Canada’s foreign minister, Melanie Joly, said she was ready to send ships to European ports to transport grain should Ukraine’s supplies be released.

“We need to make sure that these cereals are sent to the world,” she told reporters. “If not, millions of people will be facing famine.”

Finland tells Putin of plans to join NATO after Ukraine invasion ‘altered security environment’

Finland’s president Sauli Niinisto has told Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin of his plans to join NATO.

A readout of aphone call between the pair was released by Finland.

It stated that Mr Niinsito told Mr Putin “how fundamentally the Russian demands in late 2021 aiming at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have altered the security environment of Finland”.

“President Niinistö announced that Finland decides to seek NATO membership in the next few days,” it added.

Mr. Niinisto added how he told Mr Putin at their first meeting in 2012 that “every independent nation maximizes its security”, and that by joining NATO, Finland was assuming its responsibilities. 

“The conversation was direct and straight-forward and it was conducted without aggravations. Avoiding tensions was considered important”, Mr. Niinisto said in a statement.

Following Finland’s announcement that it plans to apply for NATO membership, Russian supplies of electricity to its neighbour have ceased, and Russia has carried out military drills in its Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad.  

Russia carries out military drills in European exclave

Russia has carried out military drills in its Kaliningrad exclave, which is nestled between Poland and Lithuania.

According to the Russian Baltic Sea fleet’s press service, Russian Su-27 fighters took part in war games that simulated an enemy air strike on Kaliningrad.

It comes just days after nearby Sweden and Finland indicated their desire to join NATO.

More than 10 Su-27 crews were involved in the drills, which “destroyed” the planes of the simulated enemy, according to the Interfax news agency.

G7 will continue economic pressure on Russia

Following a meeting of the G7 nations in Germany, the group’s foreign ministers have co-signed a statement saying they will continue to put economic pressure on Russia.

They said this would reinforce Russia’s political isolation.

The group also said it would continue supplying weapons to Ukraine and work to ease the global food shortage.

The G7 is made up of the UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and Italy, with the EU also participating.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was part of the UK’s delegation to this week’s summit.

The joint statement said: “We reaffirm our determination to further increase economic and political pressure on Russia, continuing to act in unity.”

Russian troops withdrawing from Kharkiv – Ukrainian military

Ukraine’s military says Russian troops are withdrawing from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city.

The region has been subjected to weeks of heavy bombardments by the invading forces.

Ukraine’s general staff said the Russians were pulling back and focusing on guarding supply routes, as mortar, artillery and air strikes were launched against the Donetsk region further south.

Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine is “entering a new – long-term – phase of the war”. 

Russia has lost the battle for Kharkiv – think tank

Russia has lost the battle for Kharkiv, according to an American think tank.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which produces daily reports about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, says Moscow’s forces have been pushed back from the city in northeastern Ukraine.

The ISW adds that it is “likely” Russia’s military will withdraw from the region as Vladimir Putin focuses his efforts further south.

Yesterday’s ISW report said: “The Russian military has likely decided to withdraw fully from its positions around Kharkiv City in the face of Ukrainian counter offensives and the limited availability of reinforcements. 

“Russian units have generally not attempted to hold ground against counter attacking Ukrainian forces over the past several days, with a few exceptions.

“Reports from Western officials and a video from an officer of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) indicate that Moscow is focused on conducting an orderly withdrawal and prioritizing getting Russians back home before allowing proxy forces to enter Russia rather than trying to hold its positions near the city.”

It went on to say that a Ukrainian offensive eastwards to the border is unlikely due to the difficulty of a military operation amid large water features.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul Blocks Ukraine Aide

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) objected Thursday to a Senate vote on assistance for Ukraine, delaying passage of the bill till next week and dampening a bipartisan push to maintain steady aid to Kyiv.

“My oath of office is to the U.S. Constitution, not to any foreign nation,” Paul tweeted Thursday evening, repeating his remarks on the Senate floor. 

Paul requested that an inspector general be appointed to oversee the funding but rejected an offer from Senate leaders to hold an amendment vote on his provision. Changing the bill would have forced it back to the House.

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Source: Sky News wrote original article. Bee News Daily contributed.

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