War in Ukraine: Latest developments

This screen grab obtained from a handout video released by the Russian Defense Ministry on May 17, 2022, shows Ukrainian service members as they are searched by pro-Russian military personnel after leaving the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol. (Photo by Handout / Russian Defence Ministry / AFP) 

Kyiv, UKRAINE (AFP) — Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

– Hundreds of Mariupol defenders surrender –
Russia says that 265 of the Ukrainian fighters who had been holding out at a steelworks in the city of Mariupol for weeks have surrendered under a deal struck with Kyiv.

Russia’s defense ministry says 51 of them were heavily wounded and were taken to a hospital in a part of the eastern Donetsk region controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

Ukrainian authorities say the fighters were taken to areas under the control of Russian forces or pro-Russian rebels and will be exchanged at a later date for Russian prisoners.

It says it is working to “rescue” the last holdouts inside the sprawling Azovstal steel plant.

Azovstal became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, with the fighters holding out in dire conditions for weeks after the city fell to Russian forces.

– Finland, Sweden set for NATO bids –
Finland and Sweden will submit their bids to join NATO together Wednesday, the two Nordic countries announce.

US President Joe Biden will host the leaders of the two hitherto non-aligned countries at the White House on Thursday to discuss their historic bids to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However Turkey, which has accused Sweden and Finland of acting as a hotbed for terrorist groups, says it will not approve NATO’s expansion, which must be unanimously approved by NATO’s 30 members.

– Peace talks ‘on hold’ –
Ukraine says that peace talks to end fighting with Russia in Ukraine have been suspended, blaming Moscow for failing to find areas for compromise.

“The negotiation process is on hold,” Mykhaylo Podolyak, a presidential aide is cited as saying in a statement issued by the presidency.

– ICC sends war crimes team –
The International Criminal Court deploys a team of 42 investigators, forensic experts and support staff to Ukraine to probe war crimes and crimes against humanity, its prosecutor says.

“This represents the largest ever single field deployment by my office since its establishment,” ICC prosecutor Karim Khan says in a statement.

– Onslaught on Donbas city –
At least 10 people are killed in the shelling of Severodonetsk, the easternmost city still held by Ukrainian forces, which is the object of a major Russian offensive.

The governor of the Lugansk administrative region, where Severodonestk is located, says Russian forces are shelling the city “without stopping”.

Taking control of Severodonetsk would grant the Kremlin de facto control of Lugansk, one of two breakaway regions — along with Donetsk — that comprise the Donbas, which Russia has vowed to “liberate” from Ukraine.

Ukraine says that after being driven back from the city of Kharkiv in the northeast, Russian troops are being transferred to Lugansk to boost the fight there.

– West and South also hit –
In the west, defense officials in the western city of Lviv say a military infrastructure facility “almost on the border with Poland” is hit in Russian strikes.

The army’s southern operational command says the southern cities of Odessa and Mykolaiv have also been targeted in strikes that caused fatalities, without giving exact figures

– Zelensky calls Cannes –
Zelensky makes a surprise video address at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival.

“In the end, hatred will disappear and dictators will die,” he tells the audience who give him a standing ovation.

© Agence France-Presse

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