Ukraine news – live: War crime trial against Russia begins as Mariupol fighters reach prison

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The staunch defence of Mariupol has “completely changed the course” of Russia’s war on Ukraine, an aide to president Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

After weeks holed up in bunkers underneath the Avozstal steelworks, hundreds of Ukrainian fighters were reported to have been transported from this last Ukrainian bastion in the devastated city to Russian-held territory nearby.

The fighters – including some from the Azov Battalion, whose far-right links are symbolically useful to Vladimir Putin’s disputed claims of “denazification” – now face an uncertain fate, as Russian politicians talked down Ukrainian hopes of prisoner exchanges and Moscow investigators unveiled plans to interrogate the captives over what they claimed were potential “crimes committed against the civilian population”.

Meanwhile, Moscow appeared to relax its threats over Finland and Sweden joining Nato, with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov saying their bids would make “not much difference” as they have been participating in Nato military drills for years.

The Nordic countries expressed “optimism” that Turkey would not block their bids, after Ankara surprised its Nato allies by vowing to do so.

Key Points

  • Staunch Mariupol defence ‘changed course of war’, as fighters face uncertain fate

  • Vladimir Putin warns of ‘irreversible damage‘ for Europe if it bans Russian oil

  • Russia appears to climb down from Nato threat over Finland and Sweden

  • Finland and Sweden ‘optimistic’ Turkey will approve Nato bids

  • Ukrainian troops succeed in Kharkiv counter-attack, claims governor

  • Putin likely to have lost third of his invasion force, UK officials claim

The Battle for Kharkiv

08:49 , Rory Sullivan

Earlier this week, Kyiv announced that a group of Ukrainian soldiers who had been defending the city of Kharkiv had succeeded in reaching the Russian border 30 miles away.

Moscow’s failure to capture the country’s second biggest city has been a major blow for the Kremlin.

Kim Sengupta reports from Kharkiv:

‘Such a great feeling’: Ukrainian fighters on the successful battle for Kharkiv

Russian gymnast who wore pro-war symbol banned for one year

08:30 , Rory Sullivan

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak has been given a one-year ban for wearing a pro-war symbol on the podium at a Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha in March.

Shortly after Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to attack Ukraine, the 20-year-old sported the “Z” insignia, which came to prominence after being painted onto Russian military vehicles.

Kuliak is banned from all International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) events until at least 17 May 2023.

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak given one-year ban for wearing pro-war symbol Z

Finland and Sweden formally apply to join Nato

08:11 , Rory Sullivan

Finland and Sweden have formally applied to join Nato, a decision warmly welcomed by the alliance’s secretary general.

“This is a historic moment, which we must seize,” the Nato boss Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday at a short ceremony to mark the occasion.

“I warmly welcome requests by Finland and Sweden to join Nato. You are our closest partners, and your membership in Nato will increase our shared security,” he added.

Finland and Sweden took the historic step of asking for Nato membership over security concerns in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The only obstacle to their accession to the alliance is Turkey’s unexpected opposition.

“We are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions,” Mr Stoltenberg said.

New Marshall Plan needed to rebuild Ukraine, says Truss

07:49 , Rory Sullivan

The UK and other G7 countries have spoken about how Russian assets could be used to pay for the rebuilding of Ukraine, the British foreign secretary has said.

“We need a new Marshall Plan to rebuild Ukraine and in fact, we’ve just been discussing this at the G7 meeting that I had with my colleagues from around the world. We are looking at what we can do to use Russian assets to help pay for this,” Liz Truss told Times Radio.

UN in talks to restore Ukrainian grain exports

07:33 , Rory Sullivan

The UN is looking to help restore Ukrainian grain shipments amid a Russian blockade of the country’s ports.

Antonio Guterres, the UN’s secretary general, is expected to announce on Wednesday that he is in talks about the issue with Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, the US and the EU.

This comes after Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, blamed Russia for destabilising global food security through its invasion of Ukraine.

“Their blockade of ports not allowing food and wheat to leave Ukraine, their efforts to keep farmers from planting their farms, their attacks on food silos - all of this has contributed to an already dire situation,” she said on Tuesday.

Russia’s ‘disparate personnel’ hampering progress in war, says MoD

07:19 , Rory Sullivan

Russia’s use of disparate groups of auxiliary personnel is hampering its operations in Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

Citing the case of Mariupol, the MoD mentioned the involvement of Chechen soldiers loyal to leader Ramazan Kadyrov, including his cousin Adam Delimkhanov.

“The combat deployment of such disparate personnel demonstrates Russia’s significant resourcing problems in Ukraine and is likely contributing to a disunited command which continues to hamper Russia’s operations,” it said in its latest military intelligence report.

Negotiations for releasing trapped steel mill fighters for Russian POW underway

06:18 , Arpan Rai

Officials discussing Ukraine’s exchange of Azov regiment fighters from the steel mill against the release of Russia’s prisoners of war have said negotiations are underway.

The Russian parliament is set to take up a resolution to halt the exchange, Russian news agencies have reported.

However, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said that the negotiations were ongoing along with plans to rescue Ukrainian fighters still trapped inside the steel mill.

Volodymyr Zelensky said the “most influential international mediators are involved” in the exchange — first such in the course of invasion.

The true horror of Russia’s war in Ukraine

05:42 , Arpan Rai

In the 84 days of continuous attacks since the invasion began, Ukrainian forces have managed to combat the Russian forces in regions across the former Soviet territory.

And now, as soldiers retreat, Ukrainians are returning to find areas bombed and shelled to rubble. Signs of possible war crimes are visible in sight as many residents in the besieged country are recounting scenes of torture, execution and sexual violence.

The Independent’s Bel Trew has travelled across Ukraine, finding a trail of destruction and Ukrainians trying to find out about the fate of loved ones, documenting what’s happened and trying to put their lives back together.

Watch our documentary here:

Documentary: The true horror of Russia’s war in Ukraine | On The Ground

Top Russian military officials killed by guerrilla fighters, claims Ukraine

05:25 , Arpan Rai

A high-ranking Russian military officials have been killed by guerrilla fighters in Melitopol, Ukrainian military said on Tuesday, reported The Kyiv Independent.

The Russian troops, occupying the region, are “trying to hide the situation”, said Zaporizhzhia regional military administration on its Telegram channel.

Officials added that Russian forces have stepped up with the inspection of private vehicles in Melitopol “probably in search of guerrillas”.

Trevelyan plans to ‘de-Putinise’ world economy by ending reliance on Russian gas

05:04 , Arpan Rai

Britain’s fresh round of sanctions will back green trade to reduce the global dependency on Vladimir Putin’s oil and gas, top officias are set to announce.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan will use a major speech to set out the need to “decisively turn our backs on the era of dependence on polluting fuels”, supporting British firms exporting technology to help with the shift to cleaner forms of energy.

The combination of sanctions on Russia and reduced reliance on fossil fuels will “de-Putinise the world’s economy”, she will say in a speech in the City of London.

Read the full story here:

Trevelyan plans to ‘de-Putinise’ world economy by ending reliance on Russian gas

Ukraine’s air defence, anti-sabotage moves becoming ‘stronger’ - Zelensky

04:39 , Arpan Rai

Volodymyr Zelensky said missile shelling by Russia in a number of regions in Ukraine and subversive activity at the border are merely an attempt of the Moscow troops to “compensate for a series of failures in the east and south” of the country.

Talking about intensified counterattack in Lviv, Sumy, Chernihiv and air strikes in the Luhansk and other border areas, Mr Zelensky said: “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.”

“They cannot demonstrate success with general military action in the areas where they are trying to advance. So they are trying to show success through their missiles and other activities. To no avail as well,” he said.

Mr Zelensky said that these strikes, “like many previous ones, do not change anything radically.”

Especially since our air defence and anti-sabotage measures are becoming stronger, he added.

Ukraine war worsening mental health problems elsewhere in Europe, study suggests

04:25 , Arpan Rai

Russia’s invasion and nearly month-long war on Ukraine is taking a toll on people’s mental health not just within the frontiers but also “far beyond the borders”, a new study shows.

Many are experiencing worsening of symptoms “appear to be related to the war” started by the Kremlin on its neighbour on 24 February, a new study of Danish patients with mental health conditions has found.

According to the researchers from Aarhus University, any overall negative impact elsewhere “will be nothing compated to what the Ukrainian population is experiencing”.

Thousands have lost their lives and nearly 13 million people have been rendered refugees in Ukraine after fleeing their homes.

Read the full story here:

Ukraine war worsening mental health problems elsewhere in Europe, study suggests

Zelensky’s passionate speech on war in Ukraine at Cannes: ‘They’ve sown Europe with corpses’

04:17 , Arpan Rai

In his first such address, Volodymy Zelensky addressed the filmmakers and actors at the opening of the 75th Cannes international film festival where in he told the story of Ukraine’s invasion in the form of a movie.

“On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale war against Ukraine. Planning to go further to Europe. And what kind of war is this? I want to answer this question as clearly as possible. Armed with the words that were said by cinematography in the years after the previous continental war,” Mr Zelensky said, adding that people have already heard most of these “eerie” words.

“But, unfortunately, this has become a reality. Remember that? Remember how it sounded in the movies?” the actor-turned-president said in his virtual address.

He added: “You smell that? Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning…”

“Yes, it started in Ukraine in the morning. At four o’clock, when we heard the first missile explosions. When the air strikes began. And when death, going to Ukraine across the border, marked its equipment with the swastika analogue - the “Z” symbol,” the president said.

“They all want to be better Nazis than Hitler...,” he added.

“Now, there is not a single week passing without mass graves of killed and tortured people found in the territory where Russian troops were or still are. 229 children were killed as a result of the Russian invasion. They can’t get anywhere but kill, kill, kill! They have sown Europe with corpses,” the wartime president said.

“War isn’t hell. War is war, and hell is hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse,” Mr Zelensky said.

Zelensky accuses Russia of ‘sabotage activity’ in border regions

03:18 , Andy Gregory

Russian forces fired missiles at the western Lviv region and the Sumy and Chernihiv regions in the northeast on Tuesday, and were and carrying out airstrikes in the eastern Luhansk region, Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

In his nightly video address, the Ukrainian president said the border regions of Ukraine saw Russian “sabotage activity”.

“All of this is not just creating tension for our state, is not just a test of our strength,” Mr Zelensky said. “This is kind of an attempt to compensate the Russian army for a series of failures in the east and south of our country."”

But according to Mr Zelensky, the Russians are unable to demonstrate any success in the areas where they are trying to attack.

So “they are trying to show success through their missiles and other activities, but also to no effect”, Mr Zelensky said, adding: “These strikes, like the many previous ones, do not fundamentally change anything. Moreover, our air defense and anti-sabotage measures are getting stronger.”

Mariupol fighters face an uncertain fate

02:30 , Andy Gregory

The hundreds of fighters reportedly released from underneath Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks now face an uncertain fate, with some in Moscow keen to pour cold water on Ukrainian hopes of a potential prisoner swap.

The final defence of Mariupol was led by the Azov Regiment, whose far-right links are symbolically useful to Vladimir Putin’s disputed claims of “denazification”. Ukraine claims the militia has been folded into Ukraine’s National Guard – a military wing of the interior ministry – and that it has been reformed away from its radical nationalist origins, with many new members joining because of its military professionalism.

In an agreement with Moscow, many of the soldiers have reportedly been transported from Azovstal to Russian-held territory nearby in the past 24 hours, after weeks held out in bunkers under the steelworks.

Calling their departure from the plant “the only option”, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar suggested they would be swapped in a prisoner exchange.

But some high-profile Russian politicians spoke out against any prisoner swap.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, Russia's lower house, said: “Nazi criminals should not be exchanged”, while Leonid Slutsky, one of Russia's negotiators in talks with Ukraine, called the evacuated combatants “animals in human form” and said they should be executed.

Russia’s main federal investigative body said it intends to interrogate the troops to “identify the nationalists” and determine whether they were involved in crimes against civilians.

Ukraine working to release remaining troops from Mariupol steelworks, Zelensky says

01:40 , Andy Gregory

In his nightly video address to the nation, Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine is working to get its remaining troops safely out of the Azovstal steel plant, and that the mission was being supervised by Kyiv’s military and intelligence officers, while “the most influential international mediators are involved”.

More than 260 Ukrainian fighters — some of them seriously wounded and taken out on stretchers — left the ruins of the Azovstal plant on Monday and turned themselves over to the Russian side in a deal negotiated by the warring parties.

Ukrainian authorities would not say how many were still there, but seven buses carrying an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers from the plant were reportedly seen arriving at a former penal colony on Tuesday in the town of Olenivka, approximately 55 miles north of Mariupol.

Five buses also reportedly arrived in the Russian-held town of Novoazovsk.

Staunch Mariupol defence ‘changed course of war’, Zelensky aide says

Wednesday 18 May 2022 00:37 , Andy Gregory

The staunch defence of Mariupol has “completely changed the course of the war”, an advisor to Volodymyr Zelensky has suggested.

Comparing the fighters’ resistance in the besieged city to that of Spartans, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak claimed the Azovstal fighters’ defence “ruined” Russia’s plan to capture eastern Ukraine, and showed the truth of Moscow’s combat capabilities.

“They are forever in history,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces wrote on Facebook, 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.”

WHO verifies nearly three Russian attacks on health facilities per day

Wednesday 18 May 2022 00:04 , Andy Gregory

The World Health Organisation has verified the equivalent of nearly three Russian attacks per day on Ukrainian health facilities since Moscow’s invasion began.

The UN agency has so far recorded some 226 attacks on health facilities since 24 February, according to the WHO’s Europe director, Hans Kluge.

The targeted strikes have killed at least 75 people and wounded 59, he said, adding: “These attacks are not justifiable, they are never OK and they must be investigated.”

Independent TV documentary: The true horror of Russia’s war in Ukraine revealed

Tuesday 17 May 2022 23:32 , Andy Gregory

In this harrowing latest instalment of Independent TV’s “On The Ground” series, our international correspondent Bel Trew travels across Ukraine, finding a trail of destruction in the wake of the Russian retreat, as residents reel from the devastation and alleged atrocities left behind:

Tuesday 17 May 2022 22:57 , Andy Gregory

Here is a preview of the front page of The Independent Daily Edition app tomorrow, which carries a special report from Kharkiv, by our defence and security editor Kim Sengupta, titled: “How Ukraine fought back.”

US ‘considering’ move to block Russian debt payments, reports suggest

Tuesday 17 May 2022 22:33 , Reuters

The United States is considering blocking Russia’s ability to pay its US bondholders by allowing a key waiver to expire next week, a US administration official has claimed – which could put Moscow closer to the brink of default.

Russia has so far managed to make its international bond payments despite Western sanctions, which have complicated the process of paying. The country has $40bn of international bonds and last month made a late U-turn by making overdue bond payments to avoid default.

Russia has not defaulted on its external debt since the aftermath of its 1917 revolution and was rated investment grade up until Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Now Russia has just eight days until a US license allowing it to make payments is due to expire.

Bloomberg News reported earlier today that Joe Biden’s administration was poised to allow the waiver to expire as scheduled.

Reuters later reported an anonymous Biden administration official as saying: “It's under consideration but I don't have a decision to preview at this time ... We are looking at all options to increase pressure on Putin.”

Ukraine war worsening mental health problems elsewhere in Europe, study suggests

Tuesday 17 May 2022 22:08 , Andy Gregory

Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is taking a toll on people’s mental health “far beyond the borders” of the nations directly involved, new research suggests.

A new study of Danish patients with mental health conditions has found that many experienced a worsening of symptoms “which appear to be related to the war” launched by Russia against its neighbour on 24 February.

With thousands having lost their lives since the war began and nearly 13 million people having been forced to flee their homes, around half of them to other countries, the researchers from Aarhus University stressed that any overall negative impact elsewhere “will be nothing compared to what the Ukrainian population is experiencing”.

But they pointed to previous studies, also relating to Denmark, which highlighted the psychological effect that war and terrorism can have upon “individuals remotely distanced from these events” – and described finding evidence of the same pattern with regards to Ukraine.

Here is the full report:

Ukraine war worsening mental health problems elsewhere in Europe, study suggests

US to launch programme to preserve open-source evidence of possible war crimes

Tuesday 17 May 2022 21:53 , Andy Gregory

The United States has announced the launch of a new programme to document and analyse open-source evidence of war crimes allegedly carried out by Russia in Ukraine.

The US State Department said the so-called Conflict Observatory, which is being established with an initial $6m investment, will verify and preserve information, including satellite imagery and information shared on social media, so it can be used in ongoing and future accountability mechanisms.

Kyiv claims to have identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes, and a Ukrainian court held a preliminary hearing on Friday in the first war crimes trial of the Russian invasion, after charging a captured Russian soldier with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian.

However Ukraine has little experience in prosecuting such cases, with only three individuals previously convicted for crimes in Crimea and the Donbas since 2014, with its parliament only last year adopting legislation to provide a legal framework in line with international practice, according to the prosecutor general’s office.

The International Criminal Court has said it will take part in a joint team with Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian prosecutors investigating war crime allegations.

Canada preparing to ban Putin and 1,000 other Russians from entering country

Tuesday 17 May 2022 21:29 , Andy Gregory

Canada has set in motion plans to ban Vladimir Putin and some 1,000 members of his government and military from entering the country.

“Banning close associates and key supporters of Putin’s regime, including those responsible for this unprovoked aggression, from entering our country is one of the many ways in which we’re holding Russia accountable for its crimes,” Canada’s public safety minister Marco Mendicino said.

Canada cannot ban entry to individuals covered by sanctions without amending the so-called Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), a spokesman told Reuters, and it has today introduced a bill in the Senate which, once in force, Ottowa says will apply to all foreign nationals subject to Canadian sanctions, and their family members.

“Once in force, these amendments to IRPA will apply to all foreign nationals subject to sanctions by Canada, and any accompanying family members,” a statement said.

In response to Canadian sanctions on its defence sector and hundreds of individuals and entities, Russia has banned Justin Trudeau and nearly 600 other Canadians from entering the country.

Zelensky quotes Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator at Cannes opening ceremony

Tuesday 17 May 2022 20:41 , Joe Middleton

Volodymyr Zelensky made a virtual appearance at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival.

The Ukrainian president appeared by video link at the opening event for the 75th annual event at the Palais des Festivals on Tuesday (17 May).

Speaking from Kyiv as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, Zelensky told the attendees that it is “necessary for cinema not to be silent”.

Isobel Lewis reports.

Zelensky quotes Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator at Cannes opening ceremony

Sky News journalist ducks for cover as blast heard nearby in Kharkiv

Tuesday 17 May 2022 20:20 , Joe Middleton

Seven dead after Russian attacks in Donetsk region, says governor

Tuesday 17 May 2022 20:00 , Joe Middleton

Russian attacks killed seven civilians in the Donetsk region on Tuesday, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on his Telegram channel.

Mr Kyrylenko said six people had also been injured in the attacks.

Reuters could not independently confirm the governor’s account.

Macron tells Zelensky arms deliveries to Ukraine will intensify

Tuesday 17 May 2022 19:45 , Joe Middleton

French President Emmanuel Macron told his Ukrainian counterpart on Tuesday that French arms deliveries to Ukraine would intensify in coming days and said France was ready to respond to additional demands for help, the Elysee said.

“(Macron) confirmed that arms shipments from France will continue and gain in intensity in the days and weeks to come,” a statement by the Elysee presidential office said after Macron spoke to President Volodymyr Zelensky by telephone.

France last week supplied 13 vehicles for emergency services and has provided 800 tonnes of humanitarian aid since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February.

The Elysee statement said both presidents spoke of security guarantees that France could provide for Ukraine as part of an international settlement that would respect Ukraine‘s territorial integrity.

The two leaders also discussed ways of enabling Ukraine to resume blocked grain exports “on which a large part of the world depends”, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from Mariupol steelworks arrive in Russian-controlled town

Tuesday 17 May 2022 19:30 , Joe Middleton

Finland and Sweden ‘optimistic’ Turkey will agree Nato application bid

Tuesday 17 May 2022 19:00 , Joe Middleton

Finland and Sweden voiced optimism on Tuesday that they would join Nato, despite Turkey vehemently claiming it would not support their bids.

Finland’s president Sauli Niinisto said he was confident he could convince Turkey to accept its Nato application bid “with the help of constructive discussions”.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has poured cold water on Finland and Sweden’s “historic” announcements to join the military alliance, claiming Ankara would not approve their bids.

“Statements from Turkey have very quickly changed and become harder during the last few days,” President Niinisto said during an address to Sweden’s parliament. “But I am sure that, with the help of constructive discussions, we will solve the situation.”

He added: “I am optimistic.”

Finland and Sweden ‘optimistic’ Turkey will agree Nato application bid

Russia on verge of seizing Mariupol as besieged fighters evacuated to uncertain fate

Tuesday 17 May 2022 18:26 , Joe Middleton

Mariupol was on the verge of falling completely into Russian control on Tuesday after hundreds of fighters were finally evacuated from a steel factory after surviving weeks of bombardment by Russia.

The capture of the city would make it the biggest to be taken by Moscow’s forces yet and give the Kremlin a badly needed victory, though it has largely been reduced to rubble.

There was immediate concern about the fate of the fighters captured by Russian forces. A Russian investigative committee will question those Ukrainian fighters who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant, TASS news agency reported.

David Harding and Lamiat Sabin have the latest.

Russia on verge of seizing Mariupol as besieged fighters evacuated

Mary Dejevsky to host ‘Ask Me Anything’ about Ukraine war

Tuesday 17 May 2022 18:09 , Joe Middleton

It has been more than 80 days since Russia invaded Ukraine and as the war approaches the three-month mark, The Independent’s columnist Mary Dejevsky will be on hand to answer your questions.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian officials claimed the Mariupol steel mill mission has been “fully accomplished”, while an ex-Russian colonel conceded on an extraordinary state TV interview that Moscow is “geopolitically” isolated as a result of its invasion.

Earlier this week, Finland and Sweden both said they were going to apply to join Nato against the backdrop of Russia’s agression. This has been met with resistance from Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said he opposes their accession, accusing the pair of not taking a “clear stance” against groups his country perceives to be terrorists.

So, how are things looking for Russia and Ukraine now? How could Finland and Sweden’s Nato bids affect Russia? What is going to happen next?

Mary will be here to answer your questions on Wednesday 18 May at 3pm for an hour. If you have a question, submit it now, or when she joins live on Wednesday for the “Ask Me Anything” event.

Mary Dejevsky to host ‘Ask Me Anything’ on Ukraine

Zelensky has ‘long and meaningful’ talk with Macron

Tuesday 17 May 2022 17:42 , Joe Middleton

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday he had a “long and meaningful” phone conversation with French president Emmanuel Macron about the war in Ukraine and further EU Sanctions on Russia.

“Told about the course of hostilities, the operation to rescue the military from Azovstal and the vision of the prospects of the negotiation process. Raised the issue of fuel supply to Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said on Twitter.

“We also discussed defence support from France, preparation of the 6th package of (European Union) sanctions (against Russia), possible ways to export Ukrainian agricultural products. Held a substantive discussion of our application for the status of a candidate for EU membership.”

Pictured: weapons training in Lviv, Ukraine

Tuesday 17 May 2022 17:19 , Joe Middleton

A Ukrainian man holds a Kalashnikov rifle during in a weapon training (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian man holds a Kalashnikov rifle during in a weapon training (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian woman takes aim with a Kalashnikov rifle (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian woman takes aim with a Kalashnikov rifle (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A Kalashnikov rifle and the instruction leaflet for the Kalashnikov rifle (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A Kalashnikov rifle and the instruction leaflet for the Kalashnikov rifle (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian woman holds a Kalashnikov rifle (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A Ukrainian woman holds a Kalashnikov rifle (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Why did Russia invade Ukraine? The conflict explained

Tuesday 17 May 2022 17:05 , Joe Middleton

Russia’s long-feared invasion of Ukraine continues to rage following Vladimir Putin’s announcement of his “special military operation” against the country in the early hours of 24 February, the Russian leader declaring, groundlessly, a need to “demilitarise and de-Nazify” the neighbouring state after eight years of fighting in the Donbas.

As Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky leads by example from the streets of Kyiv, tirelessly rallying the international community for support, his people mount an impressive resistence, holding back Russia’s armed forces as best they can.

The aggressor meanwhile continues to employ brutal siege warfare tactics, surrounding the country’s cities and subjecting them to intense shelling campaigns, a strategy previously seen in Chechnya and Syria.

Thomas Kingsley and Joe Sommerlad explain the origins of the conflict.

Why did Russia invade Ukraine? The conflict explained

If numbers are true, Russia has suffered “impressive losses”, claims top EU official

Tuesday 17 May 2022 16:41 , Joe Middleton

The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that if numbers and reports are true, the Russian army has suffered “impressive losses” while invading Ukraine.

“I wouldn’t dare to make an hypothesis about how long Russia can resist... If it is true that Russia has lost 15% of their troops since the beginning of the war, this is a world record of the lossses of an army invading a country,” Mr Borrell told reporters in Brussels after a meeting of the bloc’s defence ministers.