Ukraine news live: Mariupol defence ‘changed course of war’, Zelensky aide says

Senate GOP delegation meets Zelensky in Ukraine

The staunch defence of Mariupol has “changed the course” of Russia’s war on Ukraine, an aide to president Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

After weeks holed up in bunkers underneath the Avozstal steelworks, hundreds of Ukrainian fighters were reported to have been transported from this last Ukrainian bastion in the devastated city to Russian-held territory nearby.

The fighters – including some from the Azov Battalion, whose far-right links are symbolically useful to Vladimir Putin’s disputed claims of “denazification” – now face an uncertain fate, as Russian MPs sought to counter Ukrainian hopes of prisoner exchanges with the spectre of new legislation outlawing the swap of those Moscow deems “terrorists”.

Meanwhile, Moscow appeared to climb down from its threats over Finland and Sweden joining Nato, with foreign minister Sergei Lavrov saying their bids would make “not much difference” as they have been participating in the alliance’s military drills for years.

The Nordic countries expressed “optimism” on Tuesday that Turkey would not block their bids, after Ankara surprised its Nato allies by vowing to do so.

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WHO verifies nearly three Russian attacks on health facilities per day

The World Health Organisation has verified the equivalent of nearly three Russian attacks per day on Ukrainian health facilities since Moscow’s invasion began.

The UN agency has so far recorded some 226 attacks on health facilities since 24 February, according to the WHO’s Europe director, Hans Kluge.

The targeted strikes have killed at least 75 people and wounded 59, he said, adding: “These attacks are not justifiable, they are never OK and they must be investigated.”

Andy Gregory18 May 2022 00:04

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Independent TV documentary: The true horror of Russia’s war in Ukraine revealed

In this harrowing latest instalment of Independent TV’s “On The Ground” series, our international correspondent Bel Trew travels across Ukraine, finding a trail of destruction in the wake of the Russian retreat, as residents reel from the devastation and alleged atrocities left behind:

Documentary: The true horror of Russia’s war in Ukraine | On The Ground

Andy Gregory17 May 2022 23:32

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Here is a preview of the front page of The Independent Daily Edition app tomorrow, which carries a special report from Kharkiv, by our defence and security editor Kim Sengupta, titled: “How Ukraine fought back.”

Andy Gregory17 May 2022 22:57

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US ‘considering’ move to block Russian debt payments, reports suggest

The United States is considering blocking Russia’s ability to pay its US bondholders by allowing a key waiver to expire next week, a US administration official has claimed – which could put Moscow closer to the brink of default.

Russia has so far managed to make its international bond payments despite Western sanctions, which have complicated the process of paying. The country has $40bn of international bonds and last month made a late U-turn by making overdue bond payments to avoid default.

Russia has not defaulted on its external debt since the aftermath of its 1917 revolution and was rated investment grade up until Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Now Russia has just eight days until a US license allowing it to make payments is due to expire.

Bloomberg News reported earlier today that Joe Biden’s administration was poised to allow the waiver to expire as scheduled.

Reuters later reported an anonymous Biden administration official as saying: “It’s under consideration but I don’t have a decision to preview at this time … We are looking at all options to increase pressure on Putin.”

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Ukraine war worsening mental health problems elsewhere in Europe, study suggests

Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is taking a toll on people’s mental health “far beyond the borders” of the nations directly involved, new research suggests.

A new study of Danish patients with mental health conditions has found that many experienced a worsening of symptoms “which appear to be related to the war” launched by Russia against its neighbour on 24 February.

With thousands having lost their lives since the war began and nearly 13 million people having been forced to flee their homes, around half of them to other countries, the researchers from Aarhus University stressed that any overall negative impact elsewhere “will be nothing compared to what the Ukrainian population is experiencing”.

But they pointed to previous studies, also relating to Denmark, which highlighted the psychological effect that war and terrorism can have upon “individuals remotely distanced from these events” – and described finding evidence of the same pattern with regards to Ukraine.

Andy Gregory17 May 2022 22:08

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US to launch programme to preserve open-source evidence of possible war crimes

The United States has announced the launch of a new programme to document and analyse open-source evidence of war crimes allegedly carried out by Russia in Ukraine.

The US State Department said the so-called Conflict Observatory, which is being established with an initial $6m investment, will verify and preserve information, including satellite imagery and information shared on social media, so it can be used in ongoing and future accountability mechanisms.

Kyiv claims to have identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes, and a Ukrainian court held a preliminary hearing on Friday in the first war crimes trial of the Russian invasion, after charging a captured Russian soldier with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian.

However Ukraine has little experience in prosecuting such cases, with only three individuals previously convicted for crimes in Crimea and the Donbas since 2014, with its parliament only last year adopting legislation to provide a legal framework in line with international practice, according to the prosecutor general’s office.

The International Criminal Court has said it will take part in a joint team with Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian prosecutors investigating war crime allegations.

Andy Gregory17 May 2022 21:53

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Canada preparing to ban Putin and 1,000 other Russians from entering country

Canada has set in motion plans to ban Vladimir Putin and some 1,000 members of his government and military from entering the country.

“Banning close associates and key supporters of Putin’s regime, including those responsible for this unprovoked aggression, from entering our country is one of the many ways in which we’re holding Russia accountable for its crimes,” Canada’s public safety minister Marco Mendicino said.

Canada cannot ban entry to individuals covered by sanctions without amending the so-called Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), a spokesman told Reuters, and it has today introduced a bill in the Senate which, once in force, Ottowa says will apply to all foreign nationals subject to Canadian sanctions, and their family members.

“Once in force, these amendments to IRPA will apply to all foreign nationals subject to sanctions by Canada, and any accompanying family members,” a statement said.

In response to Canadian sanctions on its defence sector and hundreds of individuals and entities, Russia has banned Justin Trudeau and nearly 600 other Canadians from entering the country.

Andy Gregory17 May 2022 21:29

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Zelensky quotes Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator at Cannes opening ceremony

Volodymyr Zelensky made a virtual appearance at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival.

The Ukrainian president appeared by video link at the opening event for the 75th annual event at the Palais des Festivals on Tuesday (17 May).

Speaking from Kyiv as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, Zelensky told the attendees that it is “necessary for cinema not to be silent”.

Joe Middleton17 May 2022 20:41

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Sky News journalist ducks for cover as blast heard nearby in Kharkiv

Sky News journalist ducks for cover as blast heard nearby in Kharkiv

Joe Middleton17 May 2022 20:20

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Seven dead after Russian attacks in Donetsk region, says governor

Russian attacks killed seven civilians in the Donetsk region on Tuesday, regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on his Telegram channel.

Mr Kyrylenko said six people had also been injured in the attacks.

Reuters could not independently confirm the governor’s account.

Joe Middleton17 May 2022 20:00