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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 2


Residents react as they are evacuated from a village retaken by Ukrainian forces, next to a frontline, near Kharkiv, Ukraine, May 2, 2022.

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

Recap of May 2
FIGHTING
* Two explosions took place in the early hours in Belgorod, the southern Russian region bordering Ukraine, according to the region’s governor.
* Teams of workers strove to repair a bridge in southwestern Russia near the border with Ukraine that was damaged in what a local governor described as an act of sabotage.
* Moscow won’t set artificial timeframes for its military operation in Ukraine in order to complete it by Victory Day, celebrated on May 9, Russia’s official TASS news agency reported.
* A Russian rocket strike hit a strategically important bridge across the Dniester estuary in the Odesa region of southwest Ukraine.
HUMANITARIAN
* Efforts to evacuate more civilians from the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol ran into delays and hundreds of people remained trapped in the Azovstal steel works.
* Relatives of people killed in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha are trying to identify and retrieve the bodies of family members.
* Ukraine’s Prosecutor General said on Twitter that the first suspect in the murders of civilians in Bucha has been identified.
* The U.N. human rights office (OHCHR) said the death toll of civilians killed in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 had exceeded 3,000 people.
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that half a million Ukrainians have been “illegally taken to Russia, or other places, against their will."
ECONOMY
* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia is blocking ships from going in and out of its Black Sea ports.
* Ukraine has announced the temporary closure of its four main seaports after losing control of them to Russian forces.
DIPLOMACY
* House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement Monday at the conclusion of a visit by a Congressional delegation to Poland and Ukraine.
* The U.S. embassy hopes to return to Kyiv by the end of May if conditions permit.
* Sweden will on Wednesday reopen its embassy in Kyiv.
* Hungary has moved its embassy in Ukraine back to Kyiv from Lviv as the security situation in the capital keeps improving.
SANCTIONS
* Poland urged its European Union partners to unite and impose sweeping sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas sectors over the war in Ukraine, and not to cave in to pressure to pay for their gas in Russian rubles.
* A large bipartisan majority of U.S. citizens say they support sanctions on Russia as well as military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released.
* Germany would be able to weather an E.U. embargo on Russian oil imports by the end of this year even though a stoppage could result in shortages, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said.
* The European Commission may spare Hungary and Slovakia from an embargo on buying Russian oil, two EU officials said.
NUCLEAR
* The International Atomic Energy Agency said new transmission channels installed last week at the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine are once again beginning to remotely transfer data on safeguards back to IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria.
* Finnish group Fennovoima says it has canceled a contract on cooperating with Russian state-owned nuclear power giant Rosatom to supply a nuclear power plant, saying Moscow's war in Ukraine has "worsened" risks for the project.

MEDIA
* Twenty-four hours after internet service was disconnected to Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Kherson, which Russian troops seized in early March, it has resumed but it is now under Kremlin control.
* Legal action and threats are becoming the new normal for those in Russia who defy the strict censorship around the war in Ukraine.
* Ukraine’s government-run Media Center will host a panel discussion with leading media figures in the country on World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday.
* Since the war began on February 24, at least seven journalists have been killed and several others injured.

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

8:35 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Monday, "We expect a new package from the European Union soon. This package should include clear steps to block Russia's revenues from energy resources."

7:14 p.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Greek state television Monday that the civilians who are remaining in a steel plant in Mariupol were afraid to board buses because they believe they would be taken to Russia.

5:42 p.m.: Ukrainian soldiers defending the village of New York, near Donetsk, say they repelled several attacks as Russian forces tried to outflank their positions. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Maryan Kushnir spent time with them recently as the sound of explosions and small-arms fire echoed across the landscape.

5:16 p.m.: The sanctions imposed on Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine will not be lifted until Moscow reaches a peace agreement with Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, adding that it was for Ukraine to decide what peace it wanted. Interviewed on ZDF public television, Scholz said Putin had miscalculated if he had anticipated that he might be able to gain territory from Ukraine, declare an end to hostilities and see Western countries drop sanctions.

4:27 p.m.: An 87-year-old Ukrainian woman who survived the Holocaust and Nazi siege of Leningrad says the destruction of Mariupol by Russian forces is worse than what she experienced during World War II. Elvira Borts and her 94-year-old husband endured a month of constant shelling before being able to escape the besieged Ukrainian port city. Borts' interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian Service was the last story produced by journalist Vira Hyrych before she was killed in an April 28 Russian missile strike on her apartment building in Kyiv.

3:24 p.m.: VOA national security correspondent Jeff Seldin reports that CIA urging disgruntled Russian to reach out on the darknet.

2:59 p.m.: State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the U.S. hopes to see American diplomats return to Kyiv "as soon as possible" or "within the coming weeks," but it will depend on "a regular assessment of the security situation in our ability to operate safely and responsibly" in Kyiv, VOA State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching reports. Price also said U.S. diplomats have been making day trips to Lviv from Poland (where they are currently based) consistently, while "not every day" in the past week.

2:30 p.m.: A Ukrainian fighter holed up the city of Mariupol said on Monday that up to 200 civilians remained trapped inside bunkers in the Azovstal steel works after an evacuation operation led by the United Nations to save civilians from the site. Captain Sviatoslav Palamar, 39, a deputy commander of Ukraine’s Azov Regiment, told Reuters that his fighters could hear the voices of people trapped in bunkers of the vast industrial complex. He said they were women, children and elderly people, but that the Ukrainian forces there did not have the mechanized equipment needed to dislodge the rubble, he said. Reuters was unable to independently verify his comments.

2:13 p.m.: The CIA says Russians disaffected by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine may be trying to get in touch with U.S. intelligence – and it wants them to go to the darknet, The Associated Press reported. The agency on Monday began a new push to promote its presence on a part of the internet accessible only through specialized tools that provide more anonymity. The CIA has a darknet site that has the same features as its regular homepage but accessible only through the Tor internet browser, which has encryption features not available on most regular browsers. Instructions in English and Russian on how to access the darknet site appeared Monday on the CIA’s social media channels. The agency hopes Russians living abroad can share the instructions with contacts inside the country.

2:02 p.m.: Since the war began on February 24, at least seven journalists have been killed and several others injured, according to Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists. The National Union of Journalists in Ukraine said last month that at least 20 media professionals had been killed. Many others have been detained, tortured, and interrogated by occupying Russian forces and their proxies in parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has the story of Ukrainian journalist Oleh Baturin, who recounted his brutal week as a Russian prisoner.

1:26 p.m.: A rocket strike hit the Black Sea port city of Odesa in southwestern Ukraine on Monday evening, causing deaths and injuries, the local governor, Maksym Marchenko, said on the Telgram messaging app. No further details were immediately available. Separately, Ukraine's public broadcaster Suspilne quoted the southern military command as saying that the strike had damaged a religious building, Reuters reported.

1:05 p.m.: Relatives of people killed in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha are trying to identify and retrieve the bodies of family members. Ukraine says more than 1,000 bodies have been discovered in or around Bucha since Russian forces withdrew in April, with many showing signs of torture. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this story.

12:52 p.m.: Twenty-four hours after internet service was disconnected to Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Kherson, which Russian troops seized in early March, it has resumed but it is now under Kremlin control, The Associated Press reported. “Someone must have activated a line from Crimea to Kherson,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for Kentik Inc. He called the development “eerily similar” to what occurred after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. The London-based internet monitor Netblocks, like Madory, reported that the Kherson region’s traffic had been rerouted as of Sunday evening through Russia’s state-controlled Rostelecom after a day-long outage.


12:38 p.m.: The United States believes that the Russian military's Chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, visited Ukraine's Donbas region last week but cannot confirm media reports that he was wounded during fighting, a U.S. defense official said on Monday. "We can confirm he was in the Donbas," the senior U.S. official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. The senior defense official also said Russians are not holding their gains in Donbas. “They’ll move in, declare victory, and then pull out, allowing the Ukrainians to take it back,” he said. VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin monitored the briefing and shared more details on Twitter.

12:13 p.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement Monday at the conclusion of a visit by a Congressional delegation to Poland and Ukraine, saying, in part, “I am proud that the Members of our delegation served as strong representatives of the American commitment to the NATO alliance and to Ukraine. Our delegation returns to Washington with further insight and deeply inspired from our engagements, as we continue to work to further support Ukraine, so that Democracy triumphs over dictatorship.”

11:56 a.m.: Ukraine’s Prosecutor General said on Twitter Monday that the first suspect in the murders of civilians in Bucha has been identified.

11:50 a.m.: Sweden will on Wednesday re-open its embassy in Kyiv after it closed temporarily following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Swedish foreign minister said on Twitter on Monday. "Sweden will continue to #StandWithUkraine, and is delighted that @SwedeninUA 's diplomatic presence will be back where it belongs," Foreign Minister Ann Linde wrote on the social media platform, Reuters reported.

11:27 a.m.: The International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday that new transmission channels installed last week at the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine are once again beginning to remotely transfer data on safeguards back to IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The transmission from Chernobyl had been interrupted for two months, the IAEA said in a statement. Last week IAEA technicians visited Chernobyl and “upgraded the unattended monitoring systems” and “deployed new transmission channels based on satellite technologies,” it said.

11:13 a.m.: Legal action and threats are becoming the new normal for those in Russia who defy the strict censorship around the war in Ukraine. Moscow in March passed a law to limit coverage of the military and invasion, and a mix of fines and website blocks has resulted in most independent news outlets being forced out. VOA’s Alexey Gorbachev has this report.

10:57 a.m.:

10:51 a.m.: Striking photos from Victory Day rehearsals show uniformed Russians wearing armbands reminiscent of Nazi outfits, but most online commenters omitted a key detail: many of the photos that caused an outcry online are several years old, and photographic archives show that Russia has employed the same armbands since at least 2012. Armbands with numbers are worn only during rehearsals and do not feature during the annual parade to mark victory over Nazi Germany, observed on May 9. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

10:46 a.m.:


10:44 a.m.: Teams of workers strove Monday to repair a bridge in southwestern Russia near the border with Ukraine that was damaged in what a local governor described as an act of sabotage, The Associated Press reported. The regional administration said it expects the repair work will be completed Wednesday. Kursk regional Governor Roman Starovoit said Sunday the bridge was blown up by unidentified attackers and the Investigative Committee, Russia’s top state investigative agency, has launched a criminal probe into what it described as a “terrorist act.” No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on the bridge, which follows a series of explosions and fires in western Russia amid the war in Ukraine.

10:43 a.m.: Up to 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the war so far, the Kyiv Independent quoted Ukraine’s president as saying.

10:33 a.m.: Hungary has moved its embassy in Ukraine back to Kyiv from Lviv as the security situation in the capital keeps improving, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday. In a Facebook video, Szijjarto said the move was finished over the weekend and the embassy in Kyiv was already operating, Reuters reported.

10:12 a.m.: Poland urged its European Union partners on Monday to unite and impose sweeping sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas sectors over the war in Ukraine, and not to cave in to pressure to pay for their gas in Russian rubles, The Associated Press reported. EU ministers are meeting in Brussels to discuss their response to Russia’s decision last week to cut gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland.

9:46 a.m.: Moscow won’t set artificial timeframes for its military operation in Ukraine in order to complete it by Victory Day, celebrated on May 9, Russia’s official TASS news agency reported Monday. "Our troops won’t artificially base their activities on a specific date, including Victory Day," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Italy’s Mediaset broadcaster, TASS reported. "We will solemnly celebrate May 9 the way we always do," Lavrov added. The pace of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine first and foremost depends "on the need to mitigate risks for civilians and Russian troops," TASS quoted Lavrov as saying.

9:27 a.m.: Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba on Monday took Denmark’s visiting foreign minister to Irpin, a town near the capital Kyiv which had been occupied by Russian forces until recently.

9:13 a.m.: Ukraine’s government-run Media Center will host a panel discussion with leading media figures in the country on World Press Freedom Day on May 3, according to a statement posted on its website. The topic for the discussion panel is “Coverage of the war in Ukraine: security and freedom of speech” and the event will bring together journalists who can talk about how they cover the war, it said. “They will discuss how the media can do their job safely during the war, and will mention colleagues who (died in) the war,” the statement said.

8:59 a.m.:


8:42 a.m.: The U.N. human rights office (OHCHR) said on Monday that the death toll of civilians killed in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 had exceeded 3,000 people. The toll of 3,153 killed so far represents an increase of 254 from Friday. OHCHR said that the real toll was likely to be considerably higher, citing access difficulties and ongoing corroboration efforts. Most of the victims were killed by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, such as missile strikes and air strikes, the rights office said, without attributing responsibility, Reuters reported.

8:35 a.m.:

8:21 a.m.: Efforts to evacuate more civilians from the devastated Ukrainian port city of Mariupol ran into delays on Monday and hundreds of people remained trapped in the Azovstal steel works, the last stronghold of resistance to the Russian siege, Reuters reported. A first group of evacuees from Mariupol had been due to arrive in the Ukrainian-held city of Zaporizhzhia on Monday. But the city council said the buses had not yet reached the agreed pickup point, contradicting an earlier report that they had already left. The council urged the evacuees to remain in place. The civilians in question are from the city itself, not from the Azovstal steel works.

8:17 a.m.: Finnish group Fennovoima says it has canceled a contract on cooperating with Russian state-owned nuclear power giant Rosatom to supply a nuclear power plant, saying Moscow's war in Ukraine has "worsened" risks for the project. Fennovoima said in a statement on Monday that the planned Hanhikivi plant has encountered significant delays in recent years and that because of the situation in Ukraine, "cooperation with [Rosatom] is terminated with immediate effect and both the design and licensing work and works at the Hanhikivi 1 site with [Rosatom] end." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

8:03 a.m.: A large bipartisan majority of U.S. citizens say they support sanctions on Russia as well as military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday. Some 72 percent are against the U.S. taking direct military action against Russia, while 21 percent say they would support such action, the Washington Post reported.

7:56 a.m.: The U.S. embassy hopes to return to Kyiv by the end of May if conditions permit, its charge d’affaires said on Monday. U.S. diplomats departed the Kyiv embassy nearly two weeks before Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, moving some functions to the western city of Lviv before eventually relocating to neighboring Poland. “We listen to the security professionals, and when they tell us we can go back we will go back,” the charge d’affaires, Kristina Kvien, told a news briefing. Some Western countries have already moved their embassies back to Kyiv as the main focus of fighting in Ukraine has moved away from the capital to the east and south of the country, Reuters reported.

7:24 a.m.: Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Russia to investigate three incidents during which Russian forces opened fire on civilian vehicles in Ukraine after the start of Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, killing six Ukrainians and wounding three. HRW said that international humanitarian law and the laws of war forbid deliberately targeting civilians and that anyone who orders or deliberately commits such acts, or aids and abets them, is responsible for war crimes. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

7:21 a.m.: Russia's Bolshoi Theatre has upset opera and ballet fans by abruptly cancelling a series of shows this week by directors who have spoken out against the war in Ukraine. The theatre gave no reason for dropping Timofey Kuliabin's production of the opera "Don Pasquale" and Kirill Serebrennikov's ballet "Nureyev," Reuters reported. Kuliabin has used his Instagram account to express solidarity with Ukraine and ridicule Russia's description of its actions there. In one post, he showed a mocked-up version of the cover of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace," replacing the first word of the title with "Special Operation" - the term used by the Kremlin to describe the invasion. Serebrennikov told France 24 in an interview last month that "it's quite obvious that Russia started the war," and that it was breaking his heart. Both directors are currently outside Russia.

7:11 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that half a million Ukrainians have been “illegally taken to Russia, or other places, against their will,” The Associated Press reported. Speaking to Greek state TV ERT, Zalenskyy said the remaining civilians in the Azovstal factory in the city of Mariupol are afraid to board buses because they believe they will be taken to Russia. The United Nations has begun evacuating civilians from the factory. Zelenskyy said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres assured him that those evacuated would end up in an area controlled by the government of Ukraine. “We want to believe this,” the Ukrainian leader said.

6:59 a.m.: People fleeing besieged Mariupol described weeks of bombardments and deprivations as they arrived Monday in Ukrainian-held territory, where relief workers awaited the first group of civilians freed from a steel plant that is the last redoubt of Ukrainian fighters in the port city. While official evacuations have often faltered, many people have managed to flee Mariupol under their own steam in recent weeks. Others are unable to escape. The Associated Press has this story.

6:52 a.m.: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's comments to Italian television in which he suggested that Adolf Hitler had Jewish origins are "absurd" propaganda, a German government spokesperson said on Monday. During an interview with Rete 4 channel on Sunday, Lavrov was asked how Russia could say it needed to "denazify" Ukraine, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was Jewish. "I think that Hitler also had Jewish origins, so it means nothing," Lavrov said via an interpreter, in comments that were met with sharp criticism from Israel, Reuters reported.

6:33 a.m.: A top-level U.S. congressional delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Warsaw on Monday to express gratitude to Poland for its humanitarian and other support for Ukraine, The Associated Press reported. Pelosi and a half dozen U.S. lawmakers met with President Andrzej Duda and Polish lawmakers in Warsaw. The visit followed a weekend visit to Kyiv where they met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, pledging to support his country until it defeats Russia. In a statement after the meeting with Duda, Pelosi called him “a valued partner in supporting the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin’s brutal and unprovoked war.”

6:28 a.m.: A Russian rocket strike hit a strategically important bridge across the Dniester estuary in the Odesa region of southwest Ukraine on Monday, local authorities said. The bridge, which has already been hit twice by Russian forces, provides the only road and rail link on Ukrainian territory to a large southern section of the Odesa region. Serhiy Bratchuk, the Odesa regional administration’s spokesman, reported the strike on the Telegram messaging app but gave no further details, Reuters reported.

6:12 a.m.:

6:04 a.m.: Ukraine has announced the temporary closure of its four main seaports after losing control of them to Russian forces. On Monday, the country's Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that the seaports of Berdyansk, Mariupol, Skadovsk, and Kherson will be closed "until Ukraine regains control over" them. "This measure has been caused by an inability to service ships and passengers, cargo, transport, and other related economic activities so as to ensure an adequate level of shipping safety and compliance with international treaties," the ministry said. The announcement is mainly a formality since Russia has blockaded or captured the seaports since launching its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.


5:54 a.m.: Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday sent holiday greetings to Muslims celebrating Eid al-Fitr in Ukraine and elsewhere.

5:48 a.m.: Germany would be able to weather an EU embargo on Russian oil imports by the end of this year even though a stoppage could result in shortages, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday, appearing to throw his weight behind a ban. Two European Union diplomats earlier said the bloc is leaning toward a ban on imports of Russian oil by the end of the year as part of a sixth package of sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. EU energy ministers will discuss the proposed oil ban in Brussels later on Monday. “We have managed to reach a situation where Germany is able to bear an oil embargo,” Habeck told a news conference, according to Reuters.

5:46 a.m.: The European Commission may spare Hungary and Slovakia from an embargo on buying Russian oil, two EU officials said on Monday, according to Reuters. The Commission is expected to finalise on Tuesday work on the next, and sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine, which would include a ban on buying Russian oil, exports of which are a major source of Moscow's revenue. Hungary, heavily dependent on Russian oil, has repeatedly said it would not sign up to sanctions involving energy. Slovakia is also one of the EU countries most reliant on Russian fossil fuels. To keep the 27-nation bloc united, the Commission might offer Slovakia and Hungary "an exemption or a long transition period," one of the officials said.

5:42 a.m.:

5:39 a.m.: The first evacuees from the ruins of Mariupol's Azovstal steel works were expected to reach the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia on Monday after cowering in underground bunkers from Russian shelling for weeks, Reuters reported. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that around 100 civilians would arrive in Zaporizhzhia in southeastern Ukraine on Monday. "For the first time, we had two days of a ceasefire on this territory, and we managed to take out more than 100 civilians - women, children," he said. Some evacuees who had not been holed up in the steel works also arrived in Zaporizhzhia on Monday morning after traveling from Mariupol independently.


5:35 a.m.:

5:32 a.m.: With no end to Moscow’s devastating war on Ukraine in sight, a related battle that is bloodless but potentially painful for both sides is now under way. It pits Russia, the world’s largest natural-gas exporter, against the European Union, the world's third-largest economy -- and it could get worse before it’s over. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has this report.

5:30 a.m.: Israel has summoned the Russian ambassador over comments made by the Russian foreign minister about Nazism and antisemitism, The Associated Press reported. Sergey Lavrov claimed in an interview with an Italian news channel that Ukraine could still have Nazi elements even if some figures, including the country’s president were Jewish, saying “Hitler also had Jewish origins.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called the remarks “unforgivable and scandalous and a horrible historical error.” Lapid’s stern reaction came in a statement on Monday. It stands in contrast to Israel’s position on the war in Ukraine, where it has tried to maintain a semblance of neutrality, the AP reported.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said “Lavrov could not help hiding the deeply-rooted antisemitism of the Russian elites” and that his comments “demonstrate that today’s Russia is full of hatred towards other nations.”

4:30 a.m.: Finland will decide to apply for NATO membership on May 12, Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported late on Sunday, citing anonymous government sources.

The decision to join will come in two steps on that day, with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto first announcing his approval for the Nordic neighbor of Russia to join the Western defense alliance, followed by parliamentary groups giving their approval for the application, the paper reported.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed Finland and Sweden to the verge of applying for NATO membership and abandoning a belief held for decades that peace was best kept by not publicly choosing sides. Reuters was not immediately able to verify the details provided by Iltalehti.

Under the Finnish constitution, the president leads Finland’s foreign and security policy in cooperation with the government. The decision will be confirmed in a meeting between the President and the government’s key ministers after the President’s and the Parliament’s initial announcements, the paper reported. Russia, with which Finland shares a 1,300-km (810-mile) border and a pre-1945 history of conflict, has warned it will deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in its Baltic coast enclave of Kaliningrad if Finland and Sweden decide to join the U.S.-led NATO alliance.

Additionally, Finnish consortium Fennovoima said Monday it had terminated its contract with Russia’s state-owned nuclear power supplier Rosatom for the delivery of a planned nuclear power plant in Finland, Reuters reported.

The planned Hanhikivi plant was commissioned by Fennovoima, a Finnish-Russian consortium, in which Finnish stakeholders including Outokumpu OUT1V.HE, Fortum FORTUM.HE and SSAB SSABa.ST own two thirds and Rosatom’s subsidiary RAOS Voima holds the rest.

4:00 a.m.: About 5.5 million refugees have left Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in late February, according to the United Nations, with more than 3 million of them going to Poland. Romania has taken in the second most with more than 800,000.

3:30 a.m.: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday that Russia is blocking ships from going in and out of its Black Sea ports, triggering a food crisis that will affect Europe, Asia and Africa, Reuters reported. Zelenskyy said Ukraine can lose tens of millions of tons of grain as a result. “Russia wants to completely block our country’s economy,” he told the Australian news program 60 Minutes.

2:10 a.m.: Reuters reported that two explosions took place in the early hours on Monday in Belgorod, the southern Russian region bordering Ukraine, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the region’s governor wrote in a social media post.

“There were no casualties or damage,” Gladkov wrote.

1:45 a.m.: Ukrainian officials said they expect more civilians will be able to evacuate from the besieged city of Mariupol on Monday.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message late Sunday that more than 100 civilians were able to leave Sunday, and that they were due to arrive Monday in Zaporizhzhia, about 200 kilometers away.

With Russian troops taking control of the rest of Mariupol, hundreds of civilians and an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian troops have been holed up at the Azovstal steel works. Multiple earlier attempts to evacuate civilians from the site fell apart with Ukraine accusing Russia of shelling evacuation routes. “For the first time, there were two days of real cease-fire on this territory,” Zelenskyy said.

1:15 a.m.: Britain’s defense ministry said more than one-fourth of the 120 battalion tactical groups Russia committed at the start of the conflict in Ukraine have likely “been rendered combat ineffective.” The ministry added that some of the most elite Russian units “have suffered the highest levels of attrition.”

12:15 a.m.: The White House announced first lady Jill Biden will begin a trip Thursday to Romania and Slovakia that will include meeting with Ukrainians displaced by Russia’s invasion. Biden will also meet with aid workers, local families supporting Ukrainian refugees and also educators who are helping Ukrainian children continue schooling.

12:01 a.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking elected official to visit Ukraine’s president in Kyiv. She led a U.S. congressional delegation that promised more support for Ukraine and unwavering solidarity in its fight against Russian aggression. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi has more.

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

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