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Russia-Ukraine live news: Donbas offensive ‘has lost momentum’ | Russia-Ukraine war News

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin warns Finland that joining NATO would be ‘a mistake’ as Moscow stopped supplying electricity to the Nordic country.
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says “very complex negotiations” with Russia are under way to get fighters out of the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol.
  • Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, makes a surprise visit to Kyiv, assures Ukraine of sustained support.
  • A convoy of hundreds of cars that left Mariupol reaches safety in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia.
  • Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra wins Eurovision with the folk hip hop song, Stefania.

Here are all the latest updates:

NATO deputy chief confident consensus can be found on Finland, Sweden membership

NATO’s Deputy Secretary Mircea Geoana said he was confident Turkey’s concerns over Finland and Sweden joining the defensive military alliance could be addressed.

“Turkey is an important ally and expressed concerns that are addressed between friends and allies,” Geoana told reporters in the German capital, Berlin. Geoana also said he was confident “to find all conditions for consensus to be met”.

His comments came as Sweden and Finland are poised to come out in favour of entering NATO – a move that Turkey, a member of the alliance, was opposed to. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Scandinavian countries of being “guesthouses for terrorist organisations”.


One person in Russian village wounded: governor

One person was injured with a shrapnel wound after a Ukrainian strike hit the Russian village of Sereda, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the Belgorod region, said on his Telegram channel.

The town is in Shebekinsky district, next to the border with Ukraine.


Missile hits military infrastructure in Lviv: Official

The governor of Ukraine’s Lviv region has reported a missile attack in the western area.

Maxim Kozitsky said the missile attack early on Sunday hit some military infrastructure in the region.

“There is no information about dead or injured at this hour,” Kozitsky said. “The extent of the destruction is being clarified.”


Russia’s Donbas offensive has ‘lost momentum’: UK

The British Ministry of Defence says the Russian offensive in Ukraine’s Donbas region “has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule”.

In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry said Russia has “failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the past month whilst sustaining consistently high levels of attrition”.

It is likely that Russia has now suffered losses of one-third of the ground combat force it committed in February, the briefing said.

“Russian forces are increasingly constrained by degraded enabling capabilities, continued low morale and reduced combat effectiveness,” the ministry added. “Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days.”


Eurovision winners ready to return home and fight

The Kalush Orchestra frontman says he and his band members are “ready to fight” Russia once more when they return to their country.

Oleh Psiuk spoke during a news conference in Turin after Ukraine’s victory at the Eurovision Song Contest was confirmed in the early hours of Sunday.

“We have a temporary authorisation to be here and it ends in two days and exactly in two days we are going to be back in Ukraine,” Psiuk said. “It’s hard to say what exactly I am going to do, because this is the first time I win the Eurovision Song Contest, but like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go on until the end.”

Currently, an order from Ukraine’s government prohibits men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country, but the six members of the all-male band received special permission to go and represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture at the music contest. One of the original members stayed to continue with the war effort.


UK’s Johnson congratulates Ukraine on Eurovision win

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has congratulated Ukraine on its Eurovision victory, describing the win as a reflection of European support for the war-torn country.

“Congratulations to Ukraine for winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2022,” the prime minister said in a tweet

“It is a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom,” he said in a tweet.


Relatives of Azovstal troops ask China’s Xi for help

Relatives of Ukrainian soldiers trapped in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant have called on China’s President Xi Jinping to “save” the encircled troops, saying he was the last world leader that Moscow would listen to.

Five wives of the Ukrainian soldiers and one father gave a press conference in Kyiv on Saturday, in another desperate appeal to help the soldiers, holed up in underground tunnels in the huge factory that has been besieged by Russian forces for weeks.

“There is only one man left in the world that we can address, it is the Chinese leader,” said Stavr Vychniak, the father of one of the trapped soldiers. “China has a big influence on Russia and on Putin personally. We ask for him to intervene,” he said.

A woman reacts as relatives of Ukrainian service members who are besieged inside of the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol attend a protest to demand a rescue operation
Relatives of Ukrainian troops trapped in Azovstal attend a protest to demand a rescue operation, near the presidential palace in downtown Kyiv [File: Carlos Barria/ Reuters]

Turkey offers sea evacuation for wounded Mariupol fighters: Erdogan aide

A spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara has proposed carrying out a sea evacuation of wounded fighters holed up in the steel plant in Mariupol.

Ibrahim Kalin told the Reuters news agency he had personally discussed the proposal with Zelenskyy in Kyiv two weeks ago and that it remains “on the table” although Moscow has not agreed to it.

Under the plan, people evacuated from the vast Azovstal steel plant would be taken by land to the port of Berdyansk which, like Mariupol, is on the Sea of Azov, and a Turkish vessel would take them across the Black Sea to Istanbul, he said.


Zelenskyy hails Ukraine’s Eurovision win, pledges to host contest in Mariupol one day

Ukraine’s president has praised the Kalush Orchestra’s win in the Eurovision song contest.

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” Zelenskyy said in a Telegram post.

As winners of this year’s Eurovision, Ukraine will host next year’s contest. Zelenskyy said he hoped to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in a “free, peaceful and rebuilt” Mariupol.


Blinken arrives in Germany for NATO meeting

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Germany ahead of an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin.

The gathering will consider moves by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, as well as ways in which NATO can support Ukraine without being drawn into the conflict with Russia.


Mitch McConnell assures Ukraine of ‘sustained support’

The Republican leader of the US Senate has reaffirmed Washington’s support for Ukraine during a surprise visit to Kyiv.

In a statement, Mitch McConnel said he reassured Zelenskyy that the US “stands squarely behind Ukraine and will sustain our support until Ukraine wins this war”.


Ukraine wins Eurovision Song Contest

Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest, riding a wave of public support across Europe for the embattled nation and buoyed by an infectious folk hip hop melody.

Kalush Orchestra’s song, Stefania, beat out 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event on Saturday. Sung in Ukrainian, the winning song fused rap with traditional folk music and was a tribute to band frontman Oleh Psiuk’s mother.

Ukraine’s president sent good luck wishes earlier in the night, saying that a Kalush Orchestra victory would have huge symbolic meaning.

Russia had been excluded from the competition in Turin because of its invasion of Ukraine.

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine appear on stage after winning the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy on May 15, 2022 [Yara Nardi/Reuters]
Kalush Orchestra on stage after winning the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest on May 15 [Yara Nardi/Reuters]
Ukrainian service members watch the performance of Kalush Orchestra during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest on May 14, 2022 [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]
Ukrainian service members watch the Kalush Orchestra performance during the Eurovision final [Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters]

Mariupol convoy reaches safety, refugees recount ‘devastating’ escape

A large convoy of cars and vans carrying refugees from the ruins of Mariupol has arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia after waiting days for Russian troops to allow them to leave.

An aide to Mariupol’s mayor said earlier that the convoy on Saturday numbered between 500 to 1,000 cars and was the largest evacuation from the city since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The refugees who arrived first had to get out of Mariupol and then somehow make their way to Berdyansk – about an hour further west along the coast – and other settlements before the two-hour drive northwest to Zaporizhzhia.

Nikolai Pavlov, 74, said he had lived in a basement for a month after his apartment was destroyed. A relative, using “secret detours”, managed to get him out of Mariupol to Berdyansk.


Envoy says Russian diplomats in US threatened, enticed by FBI, CIA

Russia’s envoy to the US says Russian diplomats in Washington are being threatened and US intelligence services are trying to contact them, according to the TASS news agency.

“Basically, our embassy is operating in a hostile environment … Embassy employees are receiving threats, including threats of physical violence,” TASS quoted Ambassador Anatoly Antonov saying on Saturday.

“Agents from US security services are hanging around outside the Russian embassy, handing out CIA and FBI phone numbers, which can be called to establish contact,” the ambassador told TASS.

Russia and the US have been locked in a dispute over the size and function of their respective diplomatic missions since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian Embassy in Washington DC in March 2022 [File photo: Susan Walsh/AP]
The Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, in March 2022 [File photo: Susan Walsh/AP] (AP Photo)

US’s Mitch McConnell meets Zelenskyy in Kyiv

Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, paid an unannounced visit to Kyiv with other Republican senators and met the Ukrainian president for talks. Hel was accompanied by fellow Senators Susan Collins, John Barrasso and John Cornyn.

Zelenskyy hailed the visit as a powerful signal of US bipartisan support for Ukraine and the strength of relations between the two nations.

“We discussed many areas of support for our state, including in defence and finance, as well as strengthening sanctions against Russia,” Zelenskyy said in a video address, adding that he stressed to the senators the need for Russia to be designated a “terrorist” state.

McConnell is pressing Republican Senator Rand Paul to end his opposition to a $40bn aid package for Ukraine, which has overwhelming support from both major parties in the US.

In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, shakes hands with Senator Mitch McConnell in Kyiv, Ukraine on Saturday, May 14, 2022 [Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP]
In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, shakes hands with Mitch McConnell in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 14 [Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP]

Ukraine band makes plea for Mariupol at Eurovision

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra made a plea for Mariupol and the fighters holding out at the Azovstal steel plant at the end of their appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest.

“Please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now,” lead singer Oleh Psiuk shouted from the front of the stage in the Italian city of Turin after the band performed its song, Stefania.

Russian forces have been bombarding the steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, the last bastion of hundreds of Ukrainian defenders in a city almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of siege.

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine perform during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy, May 14, 2022 [Yara Nardi/Reuters]
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra perform during the final of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy, May 14 [Yara Nardi/Reuters]

Putin tells Finnish president: Joining NATO would be ‘a mistake’

Putin has told his Finnish counterpart that joining NATO would be “a mistake”, as Moscow cut off its electricity supply to the Nordic country earlier.

“Putin stressed that the end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland’s security,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday.

“Such a change in the country’s political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations developed over years in a spirit of good neighbourliness and cooperation between partners,” it said.

Read more here.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Saturday, May 14 here.

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