Finland state

Reports indicate that Sweden and Finland are applying for NATO membership – GV Wire

STOCKHOLM — Two newspapers — one Swedish, the other Finnish — report that the governments of Sweden and Finland have agreed to submit NATO bids at the same time and that this will happen in the middle of next month.

Finnish newspaper Iltalehti said the Swedish government had expressed the wish for Finland to apply together in the week ending May 22, and Swedish government sources confirmed the information to Swedish tabloid Expressen.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to growing support from Sweden and Finland, a Russian neighbor, for NATO membership.

Although not members, the two Nordic countries cooperate closely with NATO, allowing, among other things, the troops of the alliance to exercise on their soil. Helsinki and Stockholm have also significantly intensified their bilateral defense cooperation in recent years.

Massive fire at Russian oil depot

MOSCOW — Russia’s Energy Ministry has said a massive fire at an oil depot in western Russia will not cause a fuel shortage.

The ministry said in a statement that Monday’s fire caused damage to a depot containing diesel fuel in Bryansk, and authorities are dealing with the aftermath of the fire.

The ministry said the fuel supply to consumers has not been interrupted and noted that the region has enough diesel fuel for 15 days.

The Emergencies Ministry said earlier that a massive fire broke out overnight at the depot belonging to Transneft-Druzhba, a subsidiary of Russian state-controlled company Transneft, which operates the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline to the west transporting crude to Europe. It was not immediately clear what caused the fire and whether it could affect deliveries to Europe.

Bryansk is about 60 miles north of the border with Ukraine. Last month, two Ukrainian helicopter gunships hit an oil tank in the Russian region of Belgorod, bordering Ukraine, causing a fire.

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Brits say 15,000 Russian troops killed

LONDON — The British government says it believes 15,000 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine since Moscow launched its invasion two months ago.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that 25% of Russian combat units sent to Ukraine “have been rendered non-combat effective”, and that Russia has lost more than 2,000 armored vehicles and more than 60 helicopters and fighter.

Russia acknowledged 1,351 military casualties.

Wallace said Russia has failed in most of its military goals so far. He told British lawmakers that “we expect this next phase of the invasion to be an attempt by Russia to further occupy Donbass in order to connect it via Mariupol” to Russian-held Crimea. He said international aid and arms were essential to help Ukraine withstand the expected onslaught.

Wallace said Britain had sent more than 5,000 anti-tank missiles, as well as air defense systems and anti-aircraft missiles, and would soon send “a small number” of Stormer armored vehicles equipped with launchers. missiles.

State Department Approves $165 Million Ammunition Sale

WASHINGTON — The US State Department announced it has approved the sale of $165 million worth of Warsaw Pact legacy munitions and other non-standard munitions to Ukraine to aid in its defense against Russia.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency approved the potential sale and provided the legally required notification to Congress. Lawmakers can block arms sales, but are unlikely to do so due to strong support for Ukraine after the Feb. 24 invasion.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy objectives and national security objectives of the United States by enhancing the security of a partner nation that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe,” the department said. of State in announcing the potential sale on Monday. .

The sale came at the request of the Ukrainian government and includes mortar shells, automatic grenade launchers and howitzers.

An Orthodox believer helps her daughter kiss the photo of a priest who founded All Saints Church during the Easter celebration in Bahmut, Ukraine, Sunday, April 24, 2022. (AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Russia expels German diplomats

Russia is expelling 40 German diplomats in response to Germany which expelled the same number of Russian diplomats earlier this month.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday it had summoned German Ambassador Géza Andreas von Geyr for a “strong protest against the clearly hostile decision” to expel Russian diplomatic staff.

The ministry said von Geyr had been informed that 40 staff from German diplomatic missions in Russia would be officially declared undesirable in Russia.

Germany announced the expulsion of 40 Russian diplomats on April 4 following mounting evidence of civilian killings and mass graves in Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

Russian tanker stopped unloading

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Environmental activists used kayaks and a dinghy to prevent a Russian tanker from unloading its cargo south of the Norwegian capital, claiming Norwegian companies are “funding Russia’s war”.

Greenpeace says its members chained themselves to the Hong Kong-registered Ust Luga, leased by Russian oil company Novatek, as it arrived at its destination, an Esso terminal near Toensberg.

The tanker with 95,000 tons of fuel had left St. Petersburg.

Esso spokeswoman Anne Fougner told Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet that the oil was purchased before Russia invaded Ukraine. She added that Esso Norway “has no other contracts for the purchase of products from Russia”.

Several other activists were detained by police before they could take part in the action, Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

Putin accuses US of trying to ‘divide Russian society’

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States and its allies of trying to “divide Russian society.”

Speaking in a meeting with senior officials from the attorney general’s office on Monday, Putin said Russia had faced “unprecedented Western sanctions” over its military action in Ukraine.

He accused the United States and its allies of seeking to “divide Russian society and destroy Russia from within”, adding that their plans had failed.

Putin has urged Russian prosecutors to move faster to block unauthorized protests organized from abroad. He also noted that they should focus on exposing “open provocations” against the Russian military allegedly involving international media and social platforms.

Blinken and Austin in Poland

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speak with reporters Monday, April 25, 2022, in Poland, near the Ukrainian border, after returning from their trip to kyiv, Ukraine, and their meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. (AP/Alex Brandon, Billiards)

Zelenskyy meets Blinken, Austin

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed talks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin as “encouraging” and “effective”.

Speaking in Monday’s video address, he said the United States offered “powerful” support to his country. Zelenskyy added that they agreed “on new measures to strengthen the Ukrainian armed forces and meet all the priority needs of our army”. He noted that the intensification of sanctions against Moscow was also on the agenda of the meeting.

Blinken and Austin said the United States had approved a $165 million munitions sale for Ukraine’s war effort, as well as more than $300 million in foreign military funding.

Zelenskyy noted that Ukraine would expect the United States to lead other allies in offering a package of security guarantees going forward.

The Ukrainian president also denounced Russia for launching strikes on Orthodox Easter Sunday, calling them a “deliberate destruction of life in Ukraine”.

Russians: We will open a humanitarian corridor in Mariupol

MOSCOW — The Russian military says it will open a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to evacuate the besieged Mariupol steelworks.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a humanitarian corridor will open on Monday for all civilians to leave the Azovstal factory in Mariupol. He said Russian troops would cease fire to allow civilians a safe exit from the factory.

The gigantic ironworks, which has a sprawling maze of underground canals. remained the last bulwark of Ukrainian resistance in the strategic port city on the Sea of ​​Azov.

Ukrainian officials said up to 1,000 civilians had taken refuge there. They have repeatedly urged Russia to offer them a safe exit.