Finland state

Live Updates | NATO says Finland and Sweden are applying for membership

BRUSSELS – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Finland and Sweden have asked to join the world’s largest military alliance, a move prompted by security concerns over Russia’s war in Ukraine .

“I warmly welcome Finland’s and Sweden’s applications for NATO membership. You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday after receiving application letters from the ambassadors of the two Nordic countries.

The bid now has to be weighed by the 30 member countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed reservations about Finland and Sweden joining.

If his objections are overcome and membership talks go as planned, the two could become members within months. The process usually takes eight to 12 months, but NATO wants to act quickly given the Russian threat hanging over the Nordic countries.

__

KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:

– Ukraine hopes to exchange steelworks fighters for Russian prisoners of war

— Will Turkey end NATO expansion? US officials seek clarification

State Department pushes to see Griner; NBA commissioner steps in

— Target Ukrainian schoolsRussia is bombing the future

– Follow all AP stories about Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

___

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman said the Russian military is detaining more than 3,000 civilians from Mariupol in another former penal colony near Olenivka, in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. Ukraine.

Seven buses carrying an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from the Mariupol steelworks were seen arriving at the former penal colony No. 120 near Olenivka on Tuesday.

Ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said on Telegram on Tuesday that the civilians were being held in the former penal colony No. 52, also near Olenivka.

She said most civilians are detained for a month, but those considered “particularly unreliable”, including former soldiers and police, are detained for two months.

Denisova said the detainees include around 30 volunteers who delivered humanitarian supplies to Mariupol as it was besieged by Russia.

___

MELITOPOL, Ukraine — Ukrainian guerrilla fighters reportedly killed several high-ranking Russian officers in the southern town of Melitopol, the regional administration said on Telegram.

Youtube video thumbnail

Russian forces have occupied the city since the start of the war.

According to the regional administration, the occupiers are trying to cover up the situation but Russian troops were more actively checking private cars in the city on Tuesday, most likely looking for the guerrillas.

No details of the killings were given and the report could not immediately be confirmed.

Throughout the war, the Ukrainians claimed to have killed many generals and other Russian officers. A few of the deaths have been confirmed by the Russians.

___

LVIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday began with a combination of Russian attacks with Russian forces firing missiles at the western Lviv region and Sumy and Chernihiv regions in the northeast and carrying out airstrikes in the eastern Luhansk region.

Zelenskyy said the border regions of Ukraine were the scene of Russian “sabotage activities”.

“All of this is not just creating tension for our state, is not just a test of our strength,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address. “It’s kind of an attempt to compensate the Russian military for a series of failures in the east and south of our country.”

According to Zelenskyy, the Russians are unable to demonstrate any success in the areas where they attempt to attack.

So “they try to show success through their missiles and other activities, but also to no effect,” Zelenskyy said. “These strikes, like the many previous ones, change nothing fundamentally. In addition, our air defense and anti-sabotage measures are getting stronger.

___

KYIV, Ukraine – The fall of Mariupol seems imminent as Ukraine prepares to abandon a sprawling steelworks where its soldiers had stood under relentless bombardment for months, making it the largest city to fall to the Russians.

Much of the steelworks was reduced to rubble.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine was working to get its remaining troops safely out of the Azovstal steelworks.

In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskyy said the evacuation mission was overseen by Ukrainian military and intelligence officers and “the most influential international mediators are involved.”

However, hundreds of Ukrainian fighters left the Azovstal steelworks and surrendered into Russian hands.