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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 17


A woman called Albina, reacts in front of the destroyed Peter Dick's mill that had been damaged in Russian shelling in the village of Niu-York, Donetsk region, Ukraine, May 16, 2022. Photo: Associated Press

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

Recap of May 17
FIGHTING
* After weeks of fighting, Ukraine appears to have surrendered the Mariupol steel complex.
* In its Intelligence Update, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense predicts Russia is “likely to continue to rely heavily on massed artillery strikes as it attempts to regain momentum in its advance in the Donbas.”
ECONOMY
* U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is calling on allies to boost their economic support for Ukraine, saying the support pledged so far will not be enough to meet the country’s basic needs.
* The finance ministers of the Group of Seven economic powers want to put together a $15.8 billion aid package for Ukraine at their meeting in Bonn this week.
HUMANITARIAN
* Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Ukrainian fighters who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant would be treated "in accordance with international standards."
* The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, is looking at banning the exchange of fighters from Ukraine's Azov regiment for Russian servicemen.
* A Russian lawmaker taking part in peace talks with Kyiv said Russia should consider the death penalty for what he called nationalist fighters from Ukraine's Azov regiment.
* The International Criminal Court prosecutor says he’s sent a team of 42 investigators, forensic experts and support personnel to Ukraine as part of a probe into suspected war crimes during Russia’s invasion.
DIPLOMACY
* Russia says it is expelling two Finnish diplomats and will leave a multinational organization focused on the Baltic Sea, as tensions remain high over Finland and Sweden’s ambitions to join NATO.
* On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden will welcome Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland to the White House.
* Sweden and Finland pushed ahead with their bids to join NATO even as Turkey insisted it won’t let the previously nonaligned Nordic countries into the alliance because of their alleged support for Kurdish militants.
SANCTIONS
* The Kremlin said it would be "outright theft" for the Group of Seven economic powers and European Union to seize Russia's frozen reserves and spend them on behalf of Ukraine.
* The Kremlin said Russian fertilizer producers were trying to fulfill contracts despite Western sanctions against them, which posed a risk to global food security.
NUCLEAR
* The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said it plans to send another team of experts to the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine in “the coming weeks."
MEDIA
* In a rare commentary on state media, retired Russian Col. Mikhail Khodaryonok said, “We are in full geopolitical isolation, and that, however much we would hate to admit this, virtually the entire world is against us.”

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

10:56 p.m.: Finland and Sweden announced they will submit their bids to join NATO together Wednesday, despite Turkey's threat to block the military alliance’s expansion.

“I’m happy we have taken the same path and we can do it together,” Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said Tuesday during a joint press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, AFP reported.

Finland — which shares a 1,300-kilometer border with Russia — and Sweden have been rattled by Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Their applications will jettison decades of military non-alignment to join the alliance as a defense against feared aggression from Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday warned NATO’s expansion may trigger a response from Moscow.

9:34 p.m.: The U.S. State Department on Tuesday announced the launch of a new program to capture and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities perpetuated by Russia in Ukraine, as Washington seeks to ensure Moscow is held accountable for its actions, Reuters reported.

9:11 p.m.: Peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have stagnated, officials said, with both sides trading blame and Moscow indicating a return to talks may be difficult.

8:37 p.m.: Ukraine Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar expressed hope that the 264 Ukrainian fighters extracted from the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol would be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war, despite remarks by a top Russian official who called them “criminals” who have to be “brought to justice,” The Associated Press reported.

Maliar said that the comment by Russian State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin is a political statement, “conceived as internal propaganda, (with an eye to) internal political processes in the Russian Federation,” the AP reported.

7:39 p.m: Emmanuel Macron of France has spoken with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for over an hour on the phone to discuss the war, including Mariupol and evacuations at the Azovstal steel plant, according to a communique by the Elysee palace, The Associated Press reported.

7:15 p.m.: In his nightly video address, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, "The 83rd day of our defense began with a rather powerful combination of Russian strikes at Ukraine. Missile shelling of the Lviv region, Sumy region, Chernihiv region. Air strikes in the Luhansk region. Specific sabotage activity in the border areas of Ukraine. All this is not just creating tension for our state, not just testing our strength. This is a kind of attempt of the Russian army to compensate for a series of failures in the east and south of our country."

6:18 p.m.: In a live video address, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened the Cannes International Film Festival in France, saying, "Today, there is a war for freedom again, and again it is necessary for cinematography not to be dumb."

Zelenskyy spoke at length about the connection between cinema and reality, referencing films like Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” as not unlike Ukraine’s present circumstances, The Associated Press reported. “We need a new Chaplin who will demonstrate that the cinema of our time is not silent,” said Zelenskyy, who drew a standing ovation.

5:27 p.m.: The United States is considering blocking Russia’s ability to pay its U.S. bondholders by allowing a key waiver to expire next week, a U.S. administration official said, which could put Moscow closer to the brink of default, Reuters reported.

Russia has so far managed to make its international bond payments despite Western sanctions, which have complicated the process of paying, Reuters reported, adding that Russia has a looming May 25 deadline when a U.S. license allowing it to make payments is due to expire.

4:48 p.m.: Russia’s main federal investigative body said that it intended to interrogate Ukrainian troops extracted from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, as part of its probe into alleged “crimes by the Ukrainian regime against the civilian population” in Ukraine’s industrial east, The Associated Press reported.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a Telegram post that “Russian investigators will identify the nationalists (and) test whether they have been involved in crimes committed against the civilian population; the information obtained during interrogations will be compared with other data available in records pertaining to criminal cases," the AP reported. Russia did not provide any additional information regarding the location or legal status of the Ukrainian fighters, according to the report.

4:12 p.m.: People living in the Ukrainian city of Kalush were bursting with pride after the band named after their hometown won the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty talked to residents of Kalush about their emotions after the Eurovision victory.

3:47 p.m.: Russia's government has relaxed safety and emission standards for locally built vehicles as it looks to stimulate production following an exodus of Western manufacturers over Moscow's war in Ukraine. According to a government resolution quietly approved on May 12, airbags and seat-belt pretensioners, which lock seat belts in place in the event of a crash, will no longer be mandatory in automobiles. The resolution, which will be valid until February 1, 2023, also allows the production of vehicles without anti-lock braking systems (ABS), electronic stability controls (ESC), and emergency signal systems, all standard safety equipment for new cars in most parts of the world. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

3:05 p.m.: Maryland’s public safety agencies have come together to organize help for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression. The state’s governor, Larry Hogan, the Maryland Health Department, as well as the state’s police department donated medical equipment, medical supplies, and PPE to Ukraine’s hospitals and first responders. VOA’s Russian Service produced this report.

2:30 p.m.: Russian troops kept up their blockade of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Tuesday, the Ukrainian military said in its evening operational update, The Associated Press reported. The army’s General Staff said in a post on its official Facebook profile that “in Mariupol, the enemy concentrated its main efforts on blocking our units in the area of the Azovstal plant.” Ukrainian authorities did not disclose the number of fighters who remain in the steel mill, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the ruined port city, after 264 soldiers were extracted Monday and taken to territory held by Russia-backed separatists east of Mariupol.

2:14 p.m.: The U.S. State Department on Tuesday announced the launch of a new program to capture and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Russia in Ukraine, as Washington seeks to ensure Moscow is held accountable for its actions. The State Department in a statement said the so-called Conflict Observatory will encompass the documentation, verification and dissemination of open-source evidence of Russia's actions in Ukraine. Reports and analyses will be made available through the Conflict Observatory's website, Reuters reported.

2:03 p.m.: The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released an information graphic on Twitter Tuesday showing distribution points where 6.4 million people in Ukraine have received vital aid since the start of the war.

1:42 p.m.: Seven buses carrying Ukrainian fighters who held out for weeks against Russian forces at the Azovstal steel works in the port city of Mariupol arrived on Tuesday at a former penal colony in the Russian-controlled town of Olenivka near Donetsk, according to a Reuters witness. The TASS news agency said the Russian Investigative Committee planned to question the soldiers, many of them members of the Azov Battalion, as part of an investigation into what Moscow calls “Ukrainian regime crimes.”

1:23 p.m.: The U.N. World Health Organization Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge is in Ukraine this week, meeting with doctors and nurses, as well as Ukrainian health ministry officials “to discuss the current health situation in Ukraine and the means of assisting the health system recover from the consequences of war.” He said WHO has verified 226 attacks on health facilities in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began, which comprises two thirds of all attacks on health care globally this year. Kluge said the targeted strikes have left at least 75 people dead and 59 injured. On Tuesday he released a video clip on Twitter praising Ukrainian health professionals for their good work under difficult circumstances.

1:12 p.m.: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited the Kherson region of southern Ukraine on Tuesday, according to the RIA Novosti state news agency. It’s a sign of Russia’s increasing influence over areas held by its forces, the Associated Press reported. The Kherson region is in southern Ukraine outside of the areas claimed by Russia-backed separatists, and it has been under control of Russian forces since soon after the invasion began in February. Khusnullin was quoted by RIA as saying Kherson could take “a worthy place in our Russian family.” A Kremlin-installed politician in the Kherson region said last week that officials there planned to appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin to incorporate the region into Russia.

12:35 p.m.:

12:31 p.m.: The European Union's top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that the bloc will not leave Ukraine without military equipment as the war against Russia continues on its territory, Reuters reported. "The European Union will not let Ukraine run out of equipment," the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels after a meeting of the bloc's defense ministers on Tuesday.

12:27 p.m.:

12:16 p.m.: The Biden administration is confident NATO can reach consensus about bids by Sweden and Finland to join the organization, White house press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday, amid pushback from NATO member Turkey. The remarks, made to reporters aboard Air Force One, echoed similar statements by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Reuters reported. “We're confident ... there will be a consensus as it relates to Turkey and Sweden and Finland's application," Jean-Pierre said. “We know there's a lot of support for Sweden and Finland to join NATO," she said, adding that there were "conversations happening."

11:52 a.m.: Sweden and Finland on Tuesday pushed ahead with their bids to join NATO even as Turkey insisted it won’t let the previously nonaligned Nordic countries into the alliance because of their alleged support for Kurdish militants, The Associated Press reported. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strongly worded objections caught the two applicants and other NATO members off guard, complicating what was envisioned to be a swift expansion of the alliance.

11:46 a.m.: After three months of bombardment and siege, Mariupol, a strategic Ukrainian city, is now occupied by Russia, with only pockets of Ukrainian fighters struggling to get out alive. Over the past few months of war, many residents escaped alone or in small family units without a clear path to safety. It is not known how many civilians remain inside the city. VOA’s Heather Murdock has this report from a refugee gathering spot in Zaporizhzhia.

11:41 a.m.:

11:24 a.m.: The finance ministers of the Group of Seven economic powers want to put together a $15.8 billion aid package for Ukraine at their meeting in Bonn this week, a senior German government official said on Tuesday, according to Reuters. The package would cover three months, with a short-term financing arrangement mainly in the form of grants, which unlike loans do not have to be repaid, the official said, adding that the aid was needed because Ukraine's revenues have collapsed. The United States had already offered to contribute half of the aid in the form of grants worth $7.5 billion, the official said, adding that the G7 ministers wanted to agree a joint communique at their meeting starting on Wednesday.

11:15 a.m.:

11:13 a.m.: The Ukrainian government says it is continuing efforts to complete the evacuation of its fighters from the Azovstal steel plant, the last stronghold in the southern city of Mariupol, after around 260 soldiers, some of them wounded, were able to get out of the sprawling complex. Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on May 17 that Ukraine was working on "further stages" of the evacuation of fighters, writing in a post on Telegram that "God willing, everything will be fine." She did not give any further details of the operation. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this review of events.

11:11 a.m.: Ukraine says more than 260 fighters were evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Many of the wounded were taken to areas held by Russia-backed separatists on May 16. The evacuation marked the end of the months-long Russian siege of the strategic port city, now in ruins. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.


11:09 a.m.:

10:54 a.m.: Russians lined up in a Moscow train station on Tuesday for what may be their last Big Mac from one of the few McDonald's restaurants still open in the country, Reuters reported. The world's largest burger chain is rolling down the shutters in Russia after more than 30 years, becoming one of the biggest global brands to leave following Moscow's actions in Ukraine. McDonald's exit ends a chapter in the U.S. company's history that began when it started serving its burgers in Russia as a symbol of American capitalism.

10:33a.m.:

10:29 a.m.: Ukraine's Eurovision Song Contest winners plan a tour of Europe to raise money for the army as it continues to put up fierce resistance to Russian forces more than 80 days after they invaded the country, they said on Tuesday. Kalush Orchestra on Saturday rode a wave of popular support to win the competition, giving their compatriots a much-needed morale boost. Frontman Oleh Psiuk told a televised news conference in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv that the band would soon announce on Instagram where it would tour, Reuters reported.

10:24 a.m.: Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Belarus has been a launching pad for Russian forces. Hundreds of missiles have been fired from Belarusian territory and assault units have been prepared for ground operation in Ukraine. Russian troops that attacked the Ukrainian capital came from Belarusian territory, as did resupply lines. But thousands of Belarusians, who in 2020 stood up to the forces of their longtime ruler Alexander Lukashenko, decided to fight for Ukraine, forming Belarusian units and battalions on Polish territory. VOA’s Myroslava Gongadze got an exclusive look inside the training ground for Belarusian regiment known as “Pahonya” in Poland.

Belarusian Volunteers Train to Defend Ukraine - and Fight Lukashenko
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10:13 a.m.: The International Criminal Court prosecutor says he’s sent a team of 42 investigators, forensic experts and support personnel to Ukraine as part of a probe into suspected war crimes during Russia’s invasion, The Associated Press reported. ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said Tuesday that the team “will significantly enhance the impact of our forensic and investigative actions on the ground.” Khan says the team will improve the gathering of witness testimony, the identification of forensic materials and help ensure that “evidence is collected in a manner that strengthens its admissibility in future proceedings” at the Netherlands-based court.

10:09 a.m.:

10:04 a.m.: Ukraine hailed the defenders of the strategic city of Mariupol on Tuesday as heroes who changed the course of the war with Russia by keeping Russian forces at bay for 82 days of siege and bombardment, Reuters reported. More than 250 fighters, some of them seriously wounded, have been evacuated after spending weeks in bunkers and tunnels below the sprawling Azovstal steel works in Mariupol where they had little food, water, medicine or other supplies.

Because Mariupol drew in the Russian Federation's forces for 82 days, the operation to seize the east and south (of Ukraine) was held up. It changed the course of the war," presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described Mariupol's defenders as heroes who must be kept alive.

Ukraine's military said they were "heroes of our time.” The General Staff of the Armed Forces wrote on Facebook, "They are forever in history," adding that the defence of Azovstal and Mariupol had prevented Russia transferring about 20,000 personnel to fight in other areas. "We gained critically needed time to build up our reserves, regroup our forces and get help from our partners."

10:00 a.m.: After the apparent surrender of the last Ukrainian forces holed up at a vast steel works in Mariupol, Russian President Vladimir Putin looks poised to take full control of the southeastern port city. At the core of that last stand has been the Azov Regiment whose fighters are lionised as heroes in Ukraine, but reviled by Putin's Kremlin as a band of Russia-hating neo-Nazis. Reuters has this report exploring the history of the Azov Regiment.

9:43 a.m.: A small Finnish brewery has launched a NATO-branded beer as Finland has sought membership in the 30-member Alliance along with neighboring Sweden, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The OTAN beer features a blue label, a beer-drinking cartoon character in a metal armor emblazoned with NATO’s compass symbol. The words “OTAN olutta” means “I will have a beer” in Finnish. According to a Twitter posting, the Olaf brewery in the eastern Finnish town of Savonlinna, the pun is intended. OTAN is French abbreviation for NATO -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization which has two official languages, English and French.

9:30 a.m.:

9:24 a.m.: Russia says it is expelling two Finnish diplomats and will leave a multinational organization focused on the Baltic Sea, as tensions remain high over Finland and Sweden’s ambitions to join NATO, The Associated Press reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday framed the expulsion of the two Finnish diplomats as a response to Finland expelling two Russians last month. It also said the Finnish ambassador was read a protest against “Finland’s confrontational course in relation to Russia,” including its role in international sanctions against Russia and arms supplies to Ukraine.

9:20 a.m.:

9:08 a.m.: Germany’s foreign minister says she is “very confident” that Sweden and Finland will be cleared to join NATO, despite objections from Turkey, The Associated Press reported. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Tuesday that the two Nordic nations’ military standards are “more than NATO-compatible” so it is in the alliance’s own interest for them to become members. Baerbock, who hosted a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at the weekend, said the allies had “taken note” of Turkish concerns over “some things.” She adds that “this is being talked about now, but I am very confident that there will be a quick accession of Sweden and Finland because everyone is very aware that this is a decisive moment, a historic moment.”

8:44 a.m.: On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden will welcome Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland to the White House, according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “The leaders will discuss Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO applications and European security, as well as strengthening our close partnerships across a range of global issues and support for Ukraine,” she said in a statement.

8:38 a.m.:

8:33 a.m.: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says that it plans to send another team of experts to the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine in “the coming weeks,” The Associated Press reported. Tuesday’s announcement by the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, came after he led a first mission to the site in northern Ukraine late last month. Russian forces took control of Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, at the beginning of the invasion and withdrew at the end of March.Grossi said in a video message that, after that trip and a previous visit to the active South Ukraine nuclear plant, “we now have a clear picture of what needs to be done.” He said he has drawn up a “comprehensive program of assistance” to Ukraine.

8:30 a.m.: A member of Ukraine’s parliament, Yevheniia Kravchuk, in an interview Tuesday with a Polish television station, made the case for why it would be important to save and exchange the soldiers from the Azov regiment for Russian soldiers. “I really hope that the world can negotiate, not just us, but the whole world, can negotiate on letting the survivors in the steel plant to be able to live.”

8:24 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russian fertiliser producers were trying to fulfil contracts despite Western sanctions against them, which posed a risk to global food security, Reuters reported. Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was responding to a question about a reported proposal by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Russia allow the shipment of some Ukrainian grain to alleviate a global food crisis in return for facilitation of Russian and Belarusian exports of potash fertiliser, currently restricted under sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.

8:15 a.m.: The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Tuesday on the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), that armed conflicts aggravate the vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ+) people and expose them to added risks.

8:09 a.m.: In the nearly three months since Russia invaded Ukraine, The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline” have independently verified 57 schools that were destroyed or damaged in a manner that indicates a possible war crime. The AP has the story.

8:00 a.m.:

7:46 a.m.: The Kremlin said on Tuesday it would be "outright theft" for the Group of Seven economic powers and European Union to seize Russia's frozen reserves and spend them on behalf of Ukraine, Reuters reported. German Finance Minister Christian Lindner told four European newspapers that he was open to the idea of seizing Russian state assets to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine and that proposals to that effect were already being discussed among the G7 and in the EU. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that no one had informed Russia of such an initiative, which he said would be "illegal, blatant and of course requiring an appropriate response... It would be, in fact, outright theft."

7:33 a.m.: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova on Tuesday released an information graphic on Twitter detailing thousands of alleged crimes committed by Russian forces since they invaded Ukraine on February 24.

7:28 a.m.: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is calling on allies to boost their economic support for Ukraine, saying the support pledged so far will not be enough to meet the country’s basic needs, VOA News reported. In comments prepared for the Brussels Economic Forum, Yellen says while Ukraine will eventually need “massive support,” for now it needs “budget funding to pay soldiers, employees and pensioners, as well as to operate an economy that meets its citizens' basic needs.”

7:26 a.m.: Russia's defense ministry said on Tuesday that its missiles destroyed U.S. and European arms shipments in Ukraine's western Lviv region. It also confirmed an earlier report from Russian-backed separatists that more than 250 Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant had laid down their arms and surrendered, of whom 51 were wounded. Reuters was not able to independently verify the report.

7:18 a.m.:

7:13 a.m.: A Russian lawmaker taking part in peace talks with Kyiv said on Tuesday that Russia should consider the death penalty for what he called nationalist fighters from Ukraine's Azov regiment, Reuters reported. In a debate in the lower house of Russia's parliament after the defenders of Ukraine's Azovstal steel works surrendered, lawmaker Leonid Slutsky said although Russia has a moratorium on the death penalty, it should "think carefully" about capital punishment for the Azov fighters.

7:06 a.m.: Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that it is cooperating with the European Union, the United States, Canada, and Britain “to avoid a global food crisis triggered by Russian aggression and blockade.”

7:02 a.m.: The United Nations' children's agency says war in Ukraine, one of the world's largest grain suppliers, is threatening to plunge the world into a "spiraling" food crisis, exacerbating the problem of severe hunger among a growing number of children. UNICEF said in a report released on Tuesday that the cost of life-saving treatment for the most severely malnourished children is set to jump by as much as 16 percent due to Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which comes on top of strains on the food system created by the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

6:51 a.m.: The State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, is looking at banning the exchange of fighters from Ukraine's Azov regiment for Russian servicemen, a Telegram channel which airs Duma proceedings said on Tuesday. TASS news agency quoted the speaker of the Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, as saying "Nazi criminals" should not be exchanged.

6:42 a.m.: The defenders of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol changed the course of the war with Russia by holding out for 82 days, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Tuesday. Podolyak said in televised comments that talks on evacuating more people from the city's Azovstal steel works, the last bastion of defense after weeks of Russian siege and bombardment, were difficult but that there was hope they would be successful, Reuters reported.

6:31 a.m.:

6:25 a.m.: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Ukrainian fighters who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant would be treated "in accordance with international standards," and that Russian President Vladimir Putin had guaranteed this, Reuters reported. Russia's defense ministry said on Tuesday that more than 250 Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant had surrendered after many weeks under siege.


6:08 a.m.:

6:03 a.m.: Ukrainian border guards repelled an incursion by a Russian sabotage and reconnaissance group in the northeastern region of Sumy on Monday, the governor of the Sumy region said. Dmytro Zhyvytsky wrote on the Telegram messaging app that the Russian group entered Ukrainian territory under the cover of mortar shells, grenades and machine gun fire but retreated after the border guards fought back. Reuters could not independently verify Zhyvytsky's account.

6:01 a.m.:

6:00 a.m.: U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is calling on allies to boost their economic support for Ukraine, saying the support pledged so far will not be enough to meet the country’s basic needs.

In comments prepared for the Brussels Economic Forum, Yellen says while Ukraine will eventually need “massive support,” for now it needs “budget funding to pay soldiers, employees and pensioners, as well as to operate an economy that meets its citizens’ basic needs.”

5:10 a.m.: Sweden signed a formal request to join the NATO military alliance. Its application must be approved by all 30 of the existing members.

5:00 a.m.: Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said Ukraine is working on the next stages of evacuation of Azovstal defenders, Reuters reported.

4:50 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said after talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about the situation in Ukraine, added pressure on Russia and boosting sanctions, that he is counting on Germany's support as Ukraine seeks full European Union membership. ​

4:20 a.m.: Reuters reported that Russia-backed separatists said on Tuesday that 256 Ukrainian servicemen who had been holed up in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant “have surrendered” and that 51 were wounded.

Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday it was working to evacuate all remaining troops from their last stronghold in the besieged port of Mariupol, ceding control of the city to Russia after months of bombardment.

3:00 a.m.: Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny is set to appeal against a nine-year prison sentence he was handed in March, Agence France-Presse reported. Supporters say the charges were politically motivated. Navalny has been vocal against the invasion of Ukraine.

2:00 a.m.: Ukraine’s military worked Tuesday to evacuate its remaining fighters from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol where three months of Russian bombing has left the besieged port city in ruins.

Ukrainian officials said more than 260 fighters were evacuated Monday.

Fifty-three seriously injured fighters were taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk, east of Mariupol, Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said. Novoazovsk is under the control of Russian troops and Russian-backed separatists. Another 211 fighters were taken to the town of Olenivka, an area also controlled by Russian-backed separatists, Malyar said, adding that the evacuees would be subject to a potential prisoner exchange with Russia.

1:50 a.m.: ​Retired Russian Col. Mikhail Khodaryonok said on state television Monday that the Ukrainian armed forces “is able to arm a million people,” and that Ukrainians “intend to fight until the last man,” according to a translation provided by the BBC’s Francis Scarr.

“Let’s look at the situation as a whole from the overall strategic position,” Khodaryonok says. “Don’t engage in sabre-rattling with missiles in Finland’s direction. It actually looks quite amusing. After all, the main deficiency of our military-political position is that, in a way, we are in full geopolitical isolation, and that, however much we would hate to admit this, virtually the entire world is against us. And it’s that situation that we need to get out of.”

1:30 a.m.: In its Intelligence Update, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense predicts Russia is “likely to continue to rely heavily on massed artillery strikes as it attempts to regain momentum in its advance in the Donbas.”

12:30 a.m.: After weeks of fighting, Ukraine appears to have surrendered the Mariupol steel complex, according to ​The New York Times.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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