Russia-Ukraine war: 1,730 fighters have now surrendered from Azovstal, Kremlin claims; cover-ups hurting Russian military, says UK – live | Ukraine


Russia claims total of 1,730 fighters have now surrendered from Azovstal

Russia’s defence ministry, according to their morning briefing on Telegram, has said 1,730 fighters have surrendered from Azovstal since Monday. That includes a further 771 who surrendered, they say, in the last 24 hours. 80 were wounded. The Russian defence ministry says “those in need of inpatient treatment receive assistance in medical institutions” in Novoazovsk and Donetsk.

The International Committee for Red Cross has stated that it has now registered “hundreds” of Ukrainian POWs who left the Azovstal steel plant this week.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he has told allies he will “say no” to Finland and Sweden’s Nato membership bid.

Erdoğan was speaking in an interview late on Wednesday, posted onto his Twitter account today, where he was quoted as saying:

We will continue our policy in a determined way. We have told allies that we will say no to Finland and Sweden’s Nato membership.

He also accused Sweden and Finland of harbouring and financing “terrorists” and supplying them with weapons.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in Ankara, Turkey.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks in Ankara, Turkey. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ankara says the two countries support people linked to groups it deems terrorists, namely the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and Syrian Kurdish YPG, which it also views as a terrorist group closely tied to the PKK.

Erdoğan added:

Nato is a security alliance and we cannot accept terrorists to be in it.

Russia ‘will only open Ukraine’s ports if sanctions are reviewed’ after UN appeal

Russia’s foreign ministry said it will only consider opening access to Ukraine’s Black Sea ports if the removal of sanctions against Russia is also considered, the Interfax news agency reports.

Russian deputy foreign minister, Andrei Rudenko, was quoted as saying:

You have to not only appeal to the Russian Federation but also look deeply at the whole complex of reasons that caused the current food crisis and, in the first instance, these are the sanctions that have been imposed against Russia by the US and the EU that interfere with normal free trade, encompassing food products including wheat, fertilisers and others.

Rudenko’s remarks come after the United Nations food chief, David Beasley, pleaded with Vladimir Putin, saying millions would die around the world because of the Russian blockade of Black Sea ports.

Addressing the Russian president directly, Beasley said:

If you have any heart at all for the rest of the world, regardless of how you feel about Ukraine, you need to open up those ports.

Beasley’s World Food Programme feeds some 125m people and buys 50% of its grain from Ukraine. Ukraine is among the top five global exporters of several vital agricultural products, including corn, wheat and barley, as well as being a key exporter of sunflower and meal.

Earlier today, the UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, warned that the food shortages stoked by the war in Ukraine could cause “malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years” across the world.

Ukraine’s top presidential advisor and member of the negotiating team, Mykhailo Podolyak, said a ceasefire with Russia is “impossible without (a) total Russian troops withdrawal”.

Podolyak tweeted that Kyiv is not interested in a new “Minsk”, referring to the 2015 Minsk agreement, brokered by France and Germany, which attempted to secure a ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and Russia-backed separatists in the east of Ukraine.

Podolyak added:

Until Russia is ready to fully liberate occupied territories, our negotiating team is weapons, sanctions and money.

Do not offer us a ceasefire – this is impossible without total Russian troops withdrawal. Ukraine is not interested in new “Minsk” and the war renewal in a few years. Until 🇷🇺 is ready to fully liberate occupied territories, our negotiating team is weapons, sanctions and money.

— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) May 19, 2022

Russia has expelled five Portuguese diplomats in a retaliatory move, its foreign ministry said. Embassy staff are required to leave Moscow within 14 days, it said.

It comes after the Russian ministry kicked out a total of 85 diplomats – 34 from France, 27 from Spain and 24 from Italy – on Wednesday in response to similar moves by those countries.

Last month, Russia also sent home 45 Polish staff and 40 Germans. It has announced tit-for-tat moves against Finland, Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Japan, among others.

Trench positions of Russian forces littered with munitions and other remnants of war during occupation of Malaya Rohan, Ukraine.
Trench positions of Russian forces littered with munitions and other remnants of war during occupation of Malaya Rohan, Ukraine. Photograph: Carol Guzy/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Today so far …

  • Russia’s defence ministry has said 1,730 fighters have surrendered from Azovstal since Monday. That includes a further 771 who surrendered, they say, in the last 24 hours. 80 were wounded. The Russian defence ministry says “those in need of inpatient treatment receive assistance in medical institutions” in Novoazovsk and Donetsk.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has issued a statement saying “The ICRC started on Tuesday, 17 May to register combatants leaving the Azovstal plant, including the wounded, at the request of the parties. The registration process that the ICRC facilitated involves the individual filling out a form with personal details like name, date of birth and closest relative. This information allows the ICRC to track those who have been captured and help them keep in touch with their families.”
  • Russia’s news agency Tass has quoted Denis Pushilin, head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, as saying that more than half of the Ukrainian fighters who were inside Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant have now left the plant.
  • Kursk regional governor Roman Starovoy has posted details of a claimed attack on the village of Tyotkino in Russia which he says has killed one person, and damaged houses and factories.
  • Serhiy Haidai, Ukraine’s governor of Luhansk, has claimed that overnight “Russians used aircraft to destroy civilian objects in the areas of the settlements of Loskutivka, Katerynivka and Orikhove”. He also claimed that “sixteen enemy attacks were repulsed in Luhansk and Donetsk last night”.
  • The UK’s ministry of defence has claimed that Russia’s Lieutenant General Serhiy Kisel has been suspended for failing to capture Kharkiv and Vice Admiral Igor Osipov has been suspended from commanding the Black Sea Fleet. Their intelligence briefing states “A culture of cover-ups and scapegoating is probably prevalent within the Russian military and security system. Many officials involved in the invasion of Ukraine will likely be increasingly distracted by efforts to avoid personal culpability for Russia’s operational set-backs.”
  • The trial of 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin continues in Kyiv. He is a Russian tank commander charged with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian as he rode his bicycle down a village road. Shishimarin has pleaded guilty.
  • Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin has said in an interview in an Italian newspaper that she does not anticipate Nato opening a permanent base or locating nuclear weapons on Finnish soil. “This issue is not on the agenda,” she told Corriere della Sera.
  • Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said that his nation would defend Sweden and Finland if they were attacked even before they joined Nato.
  • Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has called for an urgent ceasefire in Ukraine so that serious negotiations can begin to end the war. Draghi said it was important to maintain pressure on Russia through economic sanctions “because we have to bring Moscow to the negotiating table.”
  • G7 finance ministers will meet in Germany on Thursday hoping to thrash out a plan to bolster Ukraine’s war-ravaged economy. United States treasury secretary Janet Yellen said ahead of the meeting in Koenigswinter that what had been agreed so far was “not enough” and called on US partners to “join us in increasing their financial support”.
  • UN secretary general António Guterres has warned that the food shortages stoked by the war in Ukraine could cause “malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years” across the world.
  • Russia’s Aeroflot, Ural Airlines and Rossiya Airlines have been targeted with new sanctions to prevent them selling off landing slots at UK airports.
  • The US embassy in Kyiv has reopened after closing at the beginning of the war nearly three months ago. Staff ran the star-spangled banner up the flagpole outside the embassy at a ceremony on Thursday morning.
  • Switzerland’s department of foreign affairs has announced that it will reopen its embassy in Kyiv.

Léonie Chao-Fong will be with you shortly to continue our live coverage for the next few hours.

The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford has been tweeting from the court in Kyiv where 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin is on trial for the murder of a 62-year-old man as he rode his bicycle down a village road. He pleaded guilty yesterday.

Kateryna Shelipova, the dead man’s wife, has given evidence.

‘My husband was a tractor driver, we didn’t have any weapons. He was in civilian clothes’

‘The loss of my husband is everything for me. he was my protector’

— Sarah Rainsford (@sarahrainsford) May 19, 2022

Shishimarin has also given evidence.

Russian tank commander Shishimarin is now giving his testimony, standing in the metal & glass cage in court. He’s speaking Russian. Voice not wavering. Looking straight ahead.

He says he refused to shoot Oleksandr at first, but was ordered & threatened by another soldier

— Sarah Rainsford (@sarahrainsford) May 19, 2022

Yesterday our Emma Graham-Harrison reported from Kyiv that Shysimarin comes from Ust Illyinsk in the south-east Irkutsk region of Russia and was a commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division on the day of the killing, 28 February, in Chupakhivka village. The case is being heard by three judges, who must reach an unanimous verdict for the suspect to be convicted and sentenced, even after the guilty plea. He faces life in jail for the killing.

Russia’s Aeroflot, Ural Airlines and Rossiya Airlines have been targeted with new sanctions to prevent them selling off landing slots at UK airports.

The slots, which are now unused as a result of the ban on Russian airlines, could have been worth around £50m.

PA Media quotes foreign secretary Liz Truss saying: “As long as Putin continues his barbarous assault on Ukraine, we will continue to target the Russian economy.

“We’ve already closed our airspace to Russian airlines. Today we’re making sure they can’t cash in their lucrative landing slots at our airports.

“Every economic sanction reinforces our clear message to Putin, we will not stop until Ukraine prevails.”

The Swiss department of foreign affairs has announced that it will reopen its embassy in Kyiv. Reuters reports five staff members, including the ambassador, are set to return to the Ukrainian capital over the next few days.

The decision to reopen Switzerland’s embassy after it was temporarily closed two and a half months ago was based on an in-depth analysis of the security situation, the ministry said.

Kursk regional governor Roman Starovoy has posted again to Telegram with further details of what he claims was an attack on the village of Tyotkino in Russia, which is right on the border with Ukraine. His message says he is visiting the area:

According to updated information, the truck driver from the Voronezh region died. I express my condolences to the family. Another driver from the Voronezh region was injured. He was sent for treatment to the Kursk Regional Hospital, with a moderate wound. We will give him all the help he needs.

Communicated with residents. Affected residential buildings will be promptly repaired. Two families with children live in the most destroyed house. They will be temporarily transferred to Kursk.

The task for today is to close the windows and roofs of the affected houses and begin repairs. The gas is already being restored. Buildings on the territories of the distillery and the sugar factory were also damaged.

The message states that his visit continues. Earlier he posted some images to Telegram purporting to be from the scene of the alleged attack.

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has called for an urgent ceasefire in Ukraine so that serious negotiations can begin to end the war that began with Russia’s latest invasion almost three months ago.

“A ceasefire must be achieved as soon as possible,” Reuters reports Draghi told the upper house Senate in Rome, opening a debate on Italy’s role in supporting Ukraine, which is creating growing tensions in the premier’s ruling majority.

Draghi said it was important to maintain pressure on Russia through economic sanctions “because we have to bring Moscow to the negotiating table.”

Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said that his nation would defend Sweden and Finland if they were attacked even before they joined Nato.

“I consider the accession of Sweden and Finland to Nato as an important signal of strengthening security in Europe,” Reuters report he said during a conference.

“I want to make it clear that in the event of an attack on Sweden or Finland during their accession, Poland will come to their aid.”

Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin has given an interview to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, and the key lines appear to be that she is ruling out Nato locating a permanent base or nuclear weapons on Finnish soil. She says (in translation):

It is not a current debate, the issue is not part of the negotiation. These are national decisions. Nobody will impose nuclear weapons or permanent bases on us if we don’t want them. This issue is not on the agenda. It does not seem to me that there is even interest in deploying nuclear weapons or opening NATO bases in Finland.

She said that, even without Nato assistance, Finland was well placed to defend itself:

We have good defensive capabilities, we already spend more than 2% of our GDP on defence, and for decades we have invested heavily in our security, precisely because of the large and aggressive neighbour we have on our borders.

She had strong words about Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine, telling the newspaper:

The decision to apply for Nato membership is an act of peace, not an act of war. We must make sure that there is never a war on Finnish soil and we will always try to solve problems through diplomacy.

Unfortunately, not all countries think so.

Russia does not think so. It has attacked Ukraine by killing civilians, children, mothers, old people, acting in an unacceptable way. This is why we must support Ukraine and ensure that it wins the war by providing weapons, financial and humanitarian aid, by launching new sanctions against Russia, which will not stop until it is stopped

Here is the statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross over prisoners of war who have surrendered from Azovstal:

The ICRC started on Tuesday, 17 May to register combatants leaving the Azovstal plant, including the wounded, at the request of the parties. The operation continued Wednesday and was still ongoing Thursday. The ICRC is not transporting POWs to the places where they are held.

The registration process that the ICRC facilitated involves the individual filling out a form with personal details like name, date of birth and closest relative. This information allows the ICRC to track those who have been captured and help them keep in touch with their families.

In accordance with the mandate given to the ICRC by States under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the ICRC must have immediate access to all POWs in all places where they are held. The ICRC must be allowed to interview prisoners of war without witnesses, and the duration and frequency of these visits should not be unduly restricted.

Russia claims total of 1,730 fighters have now surrendered from Azovstal

Russia’s defence ministry, according to their morning briefing on Telegram, has said 1,730 fighters have surrendered from Azovstal since Monday. That includes a further 771 who surrendered, they say, in the last 24 hours. 80 were wounded. The Russian defence ministry says “those in need of inpatient treatment receive assistance in medical institutions” in Novoazovsk and Donetsk.

The International Committee for Red Cross has stated that it has now registered “hundreds” of Ukrainian POWs who left the Azovstal steel plant this week.

Here are some of the latest images we have been sent across the newswires from Ukraine.

A man sits next to his horse during nearby mortar shelling in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine.
A man sits next to his horse during nearby mortar shelling in Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images
A Russian military vehicle painted with the letter Z drives past destroyed houses in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol.
A Russian military vehicle painted with the letter Z drives past destroyed houses in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol. Photograph: Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images
From left, veteran soldier Aaron and new recruit Yost walk across a street while exploring areas damaged during the Russian invasion at Barvinkove.
From left, veteran soldier Aaron and new recruit Yost walk across a street while exploring areas damaged during the Russian invasion at Barvinkove. Photograph: Daniel Carde/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

Russia’s news agency Tass is quoting Denis Pushilin, who is head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, as saying that more than half of the Ukrainian fighters who were inside Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant have now left the plant.

The reports are unclear on an exact number, and have not been independently verified. There has been confusion over exactly how many fighters were besieged in the plant.

Yesterday Russia claimed that 959 Ukrainian service personnel had surrendered, of which 51 were taken to hospital. The remainder had been sent to a former prison colony in the town of Olenivka in a Russian-controlled area of Donetsk region.

Serhiy Haidai, Ukraine’s governor of Luhansk, has published his latest assessment of overnight events in Ukraine. He told his Telegram followers:

During 18 May, the Russians used aircraft to destroy civilian objects in the areas of the settlements of Loskutivka, Katerynivka and Orikhove. They carried out assaults in the Ustynivka and Zolotoho-4 areas, but were unsuccessful. Settlements have numerous destructions. Damage to houses was also recorded in Vrubivka, Nyrkovo and Komyshuvas.

As previously reported, in Lysychansk yesterday afternoon, the Russians cut off a powerful power substation. The area was left without light.

Sixteen enemy attacks were repulsed in Luhansk and Donetsk last night, eight tanks, seventeen units of armoured combat vehicles, four special armoured vehicles and six conventional enemy vehicles were destroyed. Air defence units shot down an enemy Su-34 fighter-bomber.

The claims have not been independently verified.





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