Russia-Ukraine crisis live updates | Rescue mission under way at Azovstal as hundreds evacuated

People check the remains of a destroyed Russian helicopter in the village of Malaya Rohan, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on May 15, 2022.

People check the remains of a destroyed Russian helicopter in the village of Malaya Rohan, Kharkiv region, Ukraine, on May 15, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

 More than 260 Ukrainian fighters, including some who are badly wounded, were evacuated Monday from a steel plant in the ruined city of Mariupol and taken to areas under Russia’s control, the Ukrainian military said.

 The western Ukrainian city of Lviv has been rocked by number of very loud explosions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia “does not have a problem” with Sweden or Finland as they apply for NATO membership but that it will react to any military expansion in the countries.

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.

Read more news on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis here.

Here are the latest updates:

Russia

Russia-backed separatists say 256 Ukrainian fighters surrendered in Azovstal

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.- Reuters

Vatican City

Vatican minister visits Ukraine as pope toes delicate line

The Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, is heading to Kyiv this week as the Holy See seeks to balance its concern for Ukrainians with its efforts to keep open a channel of dialogue with Russia.

Gallagher is due to arrive Wednesday and meet Friday with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, a visit that was originally scheduled for before Easter but was postponed after Gallagher came down with COVID-19.

The trip comes as the Holy See toes a delicate line in trying to keep alive newly improved ties with the Russian Orthodox Church while offering support to the “martyred” Ukrainian faithful. At the same time, the Holy See is reconciling Pope Francis’ frequent denunciation of the weapons industry and “crazy” recourse to re-arming Ukraine with Catholic teaching that says states have a right and duty to repel an “unjust aggressor.”- AP

European Union

EU clarifies how companies can legally pay for Russian gas

The European Commission has explained how EU companies can pay for Russian gas without breaching the bloc’s sanctions against Russia, in an updated guidance on the issue seen by Reuters.

The Commission told countries last month that European companies may be able to pay for Russian gas but only if they followed certain conditions, after Russia demanded foreign buyers start paying for gas in roubles or risk losing their supply.

In updated guidance, shared with EU countries on Friday, the Commission confirmed its previous advice that EU sanctions do not prevent companies from opening an account at a designated bank, and companies can pay for Russian gas - so long as they do so in the currency agreed in their existing contracts and declare the transaction completed when that currency is paid.- Reuters

Russia

Russian governor says border village draws Ukrainian fire; no injuries

A village in Russia’s western province of Kursk bordering Ukraine came under Ukrainian fire on Tuesday, regional governor Roman Starovoit said, but there were no injuries, although three houses and a school were hit.

Russian border guards returned fire to quell the shooting from large-calibre weapons on the border village of Alekseyevka, Starovoit wrote on messaging app Telegram.- Reuters

Ukraine

Rescue mission under way at Azovstal as hundreds evacuated

Ukrainian authorities said a rescue mission to extract the last defenders of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol was under way on May 17, after hundreds of soldiers were evacuated in an earlier operation.

The factory complex had become a symbol of resistance, with around 600 soldiers holed up in underground tunnels and bunkers fighting a rear-guard battle to prevent Russian troops taking full control of the strategically located port city.

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Ukraine

Ukraine says mission at Mariupol steel mill is complete

The regiment that doggedly defended a steel mill as Ukraine’s last stronghold in the port city of Mariupol completed its mission Monday after more than 260 fighters, including some badly wounded, were evacuated and taken to areas under Russia’s control, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the evacuation to separatist-controlled territory was done to save the lives of the fighters who endured weeks of Russian assaults in the maze of underground passages below the hulking Azovstal steelworks. He said the “heavily wounded” were getting medical help.- AP

International Federation of Red Cross

Europe accused of ‘double-standard’ on Ukrainian refugees

 The quick acceptance of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s aggression puts a spotlight on Europe’s “double standard” for migrants, standing against its nonwelcome for people fleeing violence in Africa, the Mideast and elsewhere, the head of the world’s largest humanitarian network said Monday.

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said he doesn’t think “there is any difference” between someone fleeing eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and someone escaping the Boko Haram extremist group in Nigeria.

“Those who are fleeing violence, those who are seeking protection, should be treated equally,” said Rocca, whose organization operates in more than 192 countries with almost 15 million volunteers.

Speaking at a news conference, he said there is “a moral imperative” to help people escaping violence and upheavals, and “the political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity.”- AP

Lviv, Ukraine

Lviv is rocked by a number of loud explosions

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv has been rocked by number of very loud explosions.

An Associated Press team in the city witnessed the glare of bright explosions which lit up the night sky to the west of the city shortly after midnight local time.

Witnesses counted at least eight explosions accompanied by distant booms. The smell of burning was apparent some time later. The city is currently under curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Makysym Kozytskyy, the region’s governor, posted a message on the social media app Telegram that said “according to preliminary information, air defences worked.”- AP

Ukraine

Zelensky: Ukraine needs its heroes alive

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the evacuation of the fighters from Azovstal to separatist-controlled territory saved their lives.

More than 260 Ukrainian fighters, including some who are badly wounded, were evacuated Monday from a steel plant in the ruined city of Mariupol and taken to areas under Russia’s control, according to a Ukrainian military said.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said 53 seriously wounded fighters were taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk, east of Mariupol. An additional 211 fighters were evacuated to Olenivka through a humanitarian corridor.- AP

Russia

Golden arches to go dark in Russia as McDonald's exits after 30 years

McDonald's Corp. on Monday became one of the biggest global names to exit Russia, laying out plans to sell all its restaurants after operating for more than 30 years in the country following its invasion of Ukraine.

The world's largest burger chain, which owns about 84% of its almost 850 restaurants in Russia, will take a related non-cash charge of up to $1.4 billion.

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Ukraine

Russia says ceasefire reached to evacuate wounded from Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol

Russia's defence ministry said Monday that an agreement has been reached to evacuate injured soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol.

"An agreement was reached with representatives of the Ukrainian military blocked at Azovstal in Mariupol to evacuate the wounded," the ministry said.

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Russia

Russian war effort runs into diplomatic, military hurdles

With its military bogged down in a grinding conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russia also lost diplomatic ground over the weekend as two more European nations moved closer to joining NATO.

Finland announced on Sunday that it was seeking to join the alliance, saying Russia's invasion of Ukraine nearly three months ago had changed Europe’s security landscape. Several hours later, Sweden’s governing party endorsed a bid for membership, which could lead to an application in days.

Those moves would be a serious blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has called NATO’s post-Cold War expansion in Eastern Europe a threat and cited it as a reason for attacking Ukraine. NATO says it is a purely defensive alliance.

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Printable version | Jun 9, 2022 9:25:47 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/russia-ukraine-crisis-live-updates-may-17-2022/article65421721.ece