Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and a delegation of GOP senators are due to visit Helsinki on Monday for talks with Finland’s president as the previously neutral Nordic nation bordering Russia seeks NATO membership. Meanwhile, Finland will apply for membership in the NATO military alliance, the country’s president, Sauli Niinisto, confirmed on Sunday, in a historic policy shift prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest in the early hours of Sunday in a clear show of popular support for the war-ravaged nation that went beyond music.
Russian troops are withdrawing from around Ukraine’s second-largest city after bombarding it for weeks, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday, as Kyiv and Moscow’s forces engaged in a grinding battle for the country’s eastern industrial heartland.
The conflict began escalating on February 21, 2022, after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised separatist regions in eastern Ukraine and deployed troops in a peacekeeping role.
Ukraine prepares for new Russian Donbas push, says gains made in north
Ukraine was preparing Monday for a new Russian push in the eastern Donbas region, as Kyiv said its army’s counterattack around Kharkiv had gained momentum.
Since failing to take the capital at the beginning of the invasion in late February, control of Donbas has become one of Moscow’s primary objectives -- but Western intelligence has predicted its campaign will stall amid heavy losses and fierce resistance. -AFP
Moscow acquires Russian assets of France’s Renault
French carmaker Renault has sold its Russian assets to the Russian government, both parties announced on Monday, as foreign companies leave the country amid Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Renault controlled 68% of AvtoVAZ, the largest carmaker in Russia with the country’s top brand Lada but was under pressure to pull out of the country since Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. -AFP
Polish Nobel author says Russia threat to ‘free world’
A Polish Nobel Prize-winning author on Sunday called Russia a threat to the “free world,” saying its attack on neighboring Ukraine had echoes of the Second World War.
Olga Tokarczuk, known for her humanist themes and playful, subversive streak, spoke at the Jerusalem International Writers Festival.
“The Poles share the Ukrainian feeling of danger that Russia presents to the free world,” Ms. Tokarczuk said, adding that the Polish government had warned about the risk presented by Russian aggression for years. -AP
Ukraine restarts gas distribution stations, supplies in Kharkiv
Ukraine’s gas transit system operator said over the weekend that it had resumed operations at two distribution stations in the Kharkiv region and restarted gas supply to more than 3,000 consumers.
Ukraine has scored a series of successes since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, forcing Moscow’s commanders to abandon an advance on the capital Kyiv before making rapid gains to drive them from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city. -Reuters
NATO assures Ukraine open-ended military support against Russia
NATO on Sunday pledged open-ended military support for Ukraine, as Finland hailed its “historic” bid to join the alliance and with Western claims that Russia had suffered heavy losses in its push east.
The promise came after Finland jettisoned decades of military non-alignment for a bulwark against Russia, redrawing the balance of power in Europe and angering the Kremlin. -AFP
Medvedev ready to play Wimbledon if ban reversed
World number two Daniil Medvedev insisted Sunday he was ready to play at Wimbledon if the All England Club reverses its ban on Russian players but accepted it was a “tricky situation”.
Medvedev, who is returning to the tour at this week’s Geneva Open following a hernia operation, said the Roland Garros warm-up tournament was his first chance to talk with other players about the ban, which was announced on April 20. -AFP
Sweden’s ruling party backs joining NATO, paving way for bid
Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats said on Sunday they backed the country joining NATO, abandoning decades of opposition in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and creating a large parliamentary majority in favour of membership. -Reuters