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Russian navy ship ‘on fire’ in Black Sea – live updates

From neutral to Nato: Finland announces bid to join alliance

Ukrainian forces have set a Russian navy logistics ship on fire in the Black Sea, it has been claimed.

The reported strike is said to have occurred near Snake Island, which was made famous earlier in the war when a Ukrainian soldier stationed there told a Russian warship to “go f*** yourself”.

The claim about the Vsevolod Bobrov was made by Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesperson for the Odesa regional military administration. The Independent has been unable to independently verify the report.

The development comes as the Kremlin threatened to take “retaliatory steps” if Finland joins Nato, following Helsinki’s announcement on Thursday that it wants to join the alliance.

“As a member of Nato, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance,” president Sauli Niinisto and prime minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement.

“Finland must apply for Nato membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days,” they added.

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Ukraine will fight for Snake Island in Black sea ‘as long as is needed’

Ukraine will fight for the remote Zmiinyi Island (Snake Island) in the Black Sea “for as long as is needed”, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence said on Friday.

“Whoever controls the island can at any time block the movement of civilian ships in all directions to the south of Ukraine,” Kyrylo Budanov said in televised comments.

Renewed fighting around Snake Island in recent days may become a battle for control of the western Black Sea coast, according to some defence officials, as Russian forces struggle to make headway in Ukraine‘s north and east.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 10:15

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G7 unity ‘vital’ to protect ‘freedom and democracy,’ Truss says

Foreign secretary Liz Truss has said G7 unity has been “vital” during the Ukraine war crisis “to protect freedom and democracy” and says the alliance will continue to work together.

Watch the full clip here:

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 10:00

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EU pledges $520 million to Ukraine

The European Union is giving Ukraine another 500 million euros ($520 million) to buy heavy weapons to fend off the Russian invasion, the bloc’s foreign affairs chief said Friday at a gathering in Germany of top diplomats from the Group of Seven wealthy nations.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, said he was also hopeful of getting the bloc’s member nations to agree to an oil embargo against Russia soon, despite misgivings from some countries.

“We will provide a new tranche of 500 more millions to support the military of Ukraine,” Borrell told reporters ahead of the G-7 meeting in Weissenhaus, on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast.

The funds would be allocated for the purchase of heavy weapons and take the EU’s total financial support for Ukraine to 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion), he added.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 09:45

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Russian assaults on eastern Ukraine villages mostly unsuccessful, Ukraine military says

Ukraine‘s military have said that Russian forces staged assaults on multiple villages in eastern Ukraine as they try to expand control there, but not all were successful.

In its daily operational note on Friday, the general staff of Ukraine‘s armed forces said Russia‘s military continued to launch artillery and air strikes on the embattled port of Mariupol, focusing on blocking Ukrainian fighters at their last holdout at the Azovstal steelworks.

In the Russian campaign in the east, villages were targeted near Donetsk, Lyman, Bakhmut and Kurakhiv, the Ukrainian military said.

It said Russian forces also fired artillery on Ukrainian troops in the direction of Novopavlovsk and Zaporizhzhia, a major industrial city that has become a haven for refugees fleeing Mariupol.

The Ukrainian military said Russian forces are transferring additional artillery units to border areas near Ukraine‘s northern Chernihiv region, where deadly Russian strikes hit a school and dormitory Thursday.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 09:30

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Pressure is on Russian commanders

British military officials have said the heavy losses suffered recently by a column of Russian armor demonstrate the pressure Moscow’s commanders are under to make progress in eastern Ukraine.

The U.K. Ministry of Defense today confirmed news reports that Ukrainian forces prevented the Russian column from crossing the Siverskyi Donets river, west of Severodonetsk, on a pontoon bridge.

Russia lost “significant” elements of at least one battalion tactical group, as well as equipment used to quickly deploy the floating bridge, the ministry said.

“Conducting river crossings in a contested environment is a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine,” the ministry said in its daily intelligence update.

The Ministry said Russia has failed to make any significant advances, despite concentrating forces in the Luhansk and Donbas regions of eastern Ukraine after withdrawing troops from other areas.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 09:15

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How likely is it that Russia will launch a nuclear attack?

Vladimir Putin placed Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons forces on high alert during the first weekend of his war with Ukraine, prompting fears around the world over what could happen next.

The Russian president blamed “unfriendly actions in the economic sphere”, a reference to the punitive economic sanctions imposed on his country by the Western allies, and claimed leading Nato members had made “aggressive statements”, forcing his hand.

The Russian dictator himself now cuts an increasingly belligerent and isolated figure, seemingly prepared to resort to anything to secure the victory he craves.

My colleague Isobel Frodsham has more:

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 09:00

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Germany promises G7 show of unity against Russia as ministers meet

Foreign ministers from the G7 group of rich nations aim to give what Germany called a “powerful sign of unity” as they meet on Friday to discuss the war in Ukraine, fears that the conflict could spill over into Moldova, and food security concerns.

The annual meeting running until Saturday brings together top diplomats from Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union to a 400-year-old castle estate in the Baltic Sea resort of Weissenhaus.

They will defy Russian attempts to split the world over Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said ahead of the meeting.

“Never since the end of the Cold War have we G7 partners been more profoundly challenged. Never before have we stood more united,” she said in a tweet.

Topping the agenda is the war in Ukraine, following promises by G7 leaders last weekend to deepen Russia’s global isolation, including a pledge to ban or phase out buying Russian oil.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it was vital to keep pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and imposing further sanctions.

The foreign ministers of Ukraine and its smaller neighbour Moldova will also attend.

Germany this weekend separately will host ministers from NATO, as Sweden and Finland gear up to apply for membership of the transatlantic alliance, drawing threats of retaliation from Moscow.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 08:47

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UK urges G-7 to keep up pressure on Putin

The foreign secretary has called for further international efforts to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

Liz Truss told reporters at a meeting with her counterparts from G7 on Friday that “it’s very important at this time that we keep up the pressure on Vladimir Putin by supplying more weapons to Ukraine and by increasing the sanctions.”“G-7 unity is vital during this crisis to protect freedom and democracy,” she added.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 08:35

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UN verifies nearly 100 deaths of children in Ukraine in past month

Omar Abdi, deputy executive director of UNICEF, has said the UN verified nearly 100 deaths of children in the conflict in the last month.

Mr Abdi added that they “believe the actual figures to be considerably higher.”

Although the evacuations from Mariupol and other frontline areas represented “small moments of relief”, the situation continues to be grim for children and families in conflict-affected areas without access to aid.

“Children and parents tell us of their ‘living hell’ where they were forced to go hungry, drink from muddy puddles, and shelter from constant shelling and bombardments, dodging bombs, bullets, and landmines as they fled,” he said.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 08:21

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Russian troops launch another ground offensive on Azovstal

According to The Kyiv Independent Russian troops tried to break into the Azovstal steel plant on May 13, advisor to Mariupol mayor Peter Andryushchenko has reported.

Ukraine’s General Staff have said that Russia continues to shell the besieged steel mill.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain13 May 2022 08:10

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