Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

NATO Deputy Secretary-General ‘confident’ of consensus on Finland and Sweden

NATO’s deputy secretary-general said on Sunday that if Finland and Sweden decide to apply to join the military alliance, “they will be able to welcome them.”

Speaking to reporters when he arrived at the informal meeting of foreign ministers in Berlin, Mircea Geoana said the two countries were already NATO’s closest partners.

“I am sure that if these two countries decide, in the next few days, as I understand it, to seek membership in NATO, that [we] will be able to welcome them and find all the conditions for consensus to come about,” he said.

Geoana described Turkey, whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cast doubt on the possible membership of Sweden and Finland, as an important ally.

“They expressed concerns that are addressed and discussed among friends and allies,” Geoana said.

Turkey joined NATO in 1952 and has the second largest army in the 30-member alliance after the United States.

Meanwhile, Finland’s leaders on Thursday called for NATO membership “without delay” and neighboring Sweden is expected to do the same, making it almost certain that the Scandinavian countries will soon abandon their traditional positions of neutrality towards NATO and Russia to Please join the mutual defense pact.

—Katrina Bishop and Natasha Turak

Russia has lost a third of its original invasion force, UK estimates

Ukrainian military with a Russian drone shot down in kyiv in March.

Aris Messinis | AFP | fake images

Russia has likely lost a third of the ground combat force it originally committed to its invasion of Ukraine, and Moscow has little chance of accelerating its advance into eastern Ukraine, according to a British government intelligence estimate.

Russia’s attempted offensive in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region has lost momentum and “failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the past month, while maintaining consistently high levels of attrition,” said the UK Ministry of Defense said on Sunday.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

The British assessment noted that destroyed Russian drones and river bridge equipment worsen the situation for Russian troops. “Russian UAVs are vital for tactical awareness and artillery direction, but have been vulnerable to Ukraine’s anti-aircraft capabilities,” the UK Ministry of Defense said.

A Russian attempt to cross the Seversky Donets River in eastern Ukraine last week was repulsed by Ukrainian defenders with heavy equipment losses. Ukrainian officials on Thursday released a video showing burned vehicles and a destroyed pontoon bridge.

Low Russian morale and reduced combat effectiveness are exacerbating delays in its planned offensive, the British ministry said.

“Under current conditions,” the British ministry said, “it is unlikely that Russia will drastically accelerate its rate of advance in the next 30 days.”

—Ted Kemp

Ukraine wins the Eurovision Song Contest

Ukrainian musical act Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest 2022.

The Kalush Orchestra, which fuses hip hop with Ukrainian folk music, made an appeal during the competition on behalf of people trapped in a steel mill in Mariupol, Ukraine, by the Russian siege.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a video cheering on his compatriots and saying “for us today, any victory is important,” according to an NBC News translation of his remarks.

Artists from across the continent compete in the contest, each from a different country, and the winner is determined through a complicated voting system. This year’s final was held in Turin, Italy.

More than 180 million people watched the final last year, according to Sky News.

—Ted Kemp

Russian forces withdraw from the outskirts of Kharkiv

A police officer in a school gym near Kharkiv, Ukraine, after Ukrainian troops liberated the surrounding town on May 13.

Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | fake images

Russian troops are withdrawing from the outskirts of Ukraine’s second-largest city after shelling it for weeks, the Ukrainian military said on Saturday, as forces from kyiv and Moscow clashed in a tough battle for the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine. country.

Ukraine’s military said Russian forces were withdrawing from the northeastern city of Kharkiv and concentrating on protecting supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and air strikes in the eastern province of Donetsk to “exhaust Ukrainian forces and destroy the fortifications”.

Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine was “entering a new phase of the long-term war.”

-Associated Press

Former MI6 officer and author of the Trump dossier, Christopher Steele, reportedly says sources tell him Putin is “pretty seriously ill.”

Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer and author of the Russian dossier on former President Donald Trump, told Sky News that his sources have said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “quite seriously ill” although the nature of the illness remains. without being clear.

“Certainly from what we hear from sources in Russia and elsewhere is that Putin is, in fact, very seriously ill,” Steele, who headed MI6’s Russia office in London from 2006 to 2009, told Sky News. “It’s not clear exactly what this disease is, whether it’s incurable or terminal, or whatever it is.”

His comments come after Ukrainian Major General Kyrylo Budanov, in a separate interview with Sky News, said Putin is seriously ill with cancer and a coup is underway to remove him from office in Russia.

CNBC was unable to independently verify these comments.

Read the full Sky News report here.

Terri Cullen

Ukrainian band advocates for Mariupol in Eurovision

The Kalush Orchestra of Ukraine performs the song “Stefania” in the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest. The international music competition is being held for the 66th time.

Images Alliance | Images Alliance | fake images

Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra made an impassioned call to free people still trapped in a besieged steel mill in a strategic Ukrainian port city on Saturday night after performing in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, where the bookies give them a tip to win.

“I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal, right now,” the band’s leader, Oleh Psiuk, told the live crowd of some 7,500 people, many of whom gave a standing ovation. standing, and world television. audience of millions.

The plea to free the remaining Ukrainian fighters trapped beneath the sprawling Azovstal plant by the Russians served as a grim reminder that the hugely popular and sometimes outlandish Eurovision song contest was taking place against the backdrop of a war on the eastern flank of Europe.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave signs that he was watching from kyiv and supporting the Ukrainian gang.

“In fact, this is not a war, but nevertheless, for us today, any victory is very important,” Zelenskyy said, according to a presidential statement. “So, let’s cheer for our own. Glory to Ukraine!”

Kalush Orchestra was among 25 bands to perform in the Eurovision Song Contest final in front of a live audience in the northern industrial city of Turin, while being watched on television or streamed by millions around the world.

The Ukrainian band received a big tip to win from bookmakers, who give the group that mixes traditional Ukrainian rhythms, costumes and dance moves with contemporary hip hop a 60% chance of winning.

Associated Press

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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