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Russia-Ukraine war: UK vows support if Sweden or Finland attacked; peace talks harder ‘with each new Bucha’, says Zelenskiy – live | Ukraine

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UK would support Finland if it came under attack, says Boris Johnson

Asked whether the declaration will mean British boots on the ground in Finland, Johnson says the agreement is clear:

What it says is that in the event of a disaster, or in the event of an attack on either of us, then we will come to each other’s assistance, including with military assistance.

The nature of that assistance will “depend on the request of the other party”, Johnson says.

The UK prime minister stresses that Nato is a “defensive” alliance, adding:

Nato poses no threat to anyone. It is there for the purposes of mutual defence.

Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, says the Russian invasion of Ukraine has “changed the picture” and “made us think” about its security.

Russia has shown it is “ready to attack a neighbouring country”, he said. As a result, Finland is now considering joining Nato.

This is not the first time Finland has discussed joining Nato, he says, but Russia has “made it very clear that if you join Nato, they have explained they will do some contra-steps”.

At the end of last year, Russia stated that Finland and Sweden cannot join Nato and demanded that Nato does not take new members, he says.

Niinisto says:

Russia actually expressed that we don’t have our own will here. That is a huge change. That made us think.

Addressing Russia directly, Niinisto says:

You caused this. Look at the mirror.

Finland is already an enhanced partner in Nato and is part of the West, so joining the alliance “would not be that radical”, Niinisto says.

UK would support Finland if it came under attack, says Boris Johnson

Asked whether the declaration will mean British boots on the ground in Finland, Johnson says the agreement is clear:

What it says is that in the event of a disaster, or in the event of an attack on either of us, then we will come to each other’s assistance, including with military assistance.

The nature of that assistance will “depend on the request of the other party”, Johnson says.

The UK prime minister stresses that Nato is a “defensive” alliance, adding:

Nato poses no threat to anyone. It is there for the purposes of mutual defence.

Boris Johnson has been speaking at a joint news conference with Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, after signing a new security agreement that would involve Britain providing military assistance if Finland is attacked.

Niinisto says Finland appreciates the UK’s strong support of Nato’s open-door policy and Finland’s potential to join the alliance. He says joining Nato would “not be against anybody”, adding:

We would like to maximise our security in one way or another while thinking about membership in Nato, but it is not a zero sum game. If Finland increases its security, it’s not away from anybody else.

Johnson says Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “brought Finland and the UK even closer together”.

Referring to the new signed declaration, Johnson says:

From the high north to the Baltics and beyond, our armed forces will train in operational exercises together, marrying our defence and security capabilities and formalising a pledge that we will always come to another’s aid.

Boris Johnson is due to speak shortly after a meeting with Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö, about the war in Ukraine and European security.

You can watch the press conference here on our live blog. I will also be covering the top lines that emerge from the briefing.

Nearly a third of jobs in Ukraine – 4.8m in total – have been lost since the Russian invasion, according to the UN.

“Economic disruptions, combined with heavy internal displacement and flows of refugees” have caused “large-scale losses in terms of employment and incomes,” the UN’s International Labour Organisation said.

In its first report on the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the ILO praised Kyiv’s efforts to keep Ukraine’s social protection system running.

Heinz Koller, the ILO’s Europe and Central Asia regional director, told a press conference:

The Ukrainian government is fully operational as well as the employers and the workers’ organisations.

We continue to support them in order to be ready to assist them in the current situation, but hopefully also in the reconstruction phase after this conflict is over.

Richard Partington

The war in Ukraine is fuelling a surge in money transfers to the country as migrant workers and refugees fleeing the conflict scramble to send financial support back to their families.

The World Bank said remittances to Ukraine from other countries were expected to rise by more than 20% this year, driven by Ukrainians abroad transferring funds back to friends and family facing the severe economic impact of the Russian invasion.

Meanwhile the flow of funds from Russia to countries in central Asia, from where it draws millions of migrant workers, is expected to suffer a dramatic decline as western sanctions plunge Russia into the deepest recession since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Remittances are payments sent from one person to another in a different country, typically by migrant workers sending money back to their families.

The World Bank said the surge in cross-border payments to Ukraine mirrored a trend typically seen after natural disasters, as refugees and migrant workers scrambled to support friends and family. The biggest increases came from Poland, the largest recipient of Ukrainian migrant workers, and, to some extent, the US.

Rajeev Syal

Rajeev Syal

Undocumented people who travel from the Ukraine to the UK via Ireland could be considered for removal to Rwanda, a senior Home Office official has told MPs.

During the same select committee hearing, a minister refused to say under repeated questioning whether Ukrainians who arrive in the UK across the Channel by boat could also be sent to the central African country.

The exchanges occurred at the home affairs select committee where the minister, Tom Pursglove, was unable to point to any calculations that the government’s relocation policy would reduce the number of people arriving in the UK in small boats.

Some Conservative MPs have criticised Ireland’s decision to lift all restrictions for refugees fleeing war, claiming it would create a back door to the UK, leaving the country vulnerable to potential criminal elements.

It has been pointed out that the common travel area means that Ukrainians who do not pass British security checks or are left waiting for visas to arrive could simply reach the UK by travelling to Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic and then getting a ferry to the UK.

Stuart C McDonald, the SNP’s home affairs spokesperson and a committee member, asked Dan Hobbs, the director of asylum, protection and enforcement, about Ukrainians crossing into Northern Ireland from Ireland. “Are they within the scope of this policy or are they not?” he said.

Hobbs replied: “Depending on the individual circumstances they may not fall in the ‘inadmissibility’ criteria.”

McDonald said: “You are leaving open the possibility that you can cross from Dublin to Belfast and conceivably end up in Rwanda.”

Earlier, Diana Johnson, the chair of the committee, asked Pursglove if Ukrainians who travelled to the UK by small boat would be ruled “inadmissible” and therefore could be removed.

Pursglove, the minister for justice and tackling illegal migration, replied: “There is absolutely no reason why any Ukrainian should be getting into a small boat and paying a people smuggler to get into the UK.”

Today so far…

If you’ve just joined us, here’s a quick roundup of the key events so far:

  • Three Russian prisoners of war accused of targeting or murdering civilians, and a soldier who allegedly killed a man before raping his wife, are set to be in the dock in the first war crimes trials of the Ukraine conflict, the Ukrainian prosecutor general has revealed. More than 10,700 crimes have been registered since the war began by the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general, led by Iryna Venediktova, and a handful of cases have now been filed or are ready to be submitted.

Good afternoon from London. I’m Léonie Chao-Fong and I’ll continue to bring you the news from the war in Ukraine. Feel free to get in touch on Twitter or via email.

Russia ‘has completely lost Ukraine’, says former Chinese ambassador

A Chinese former ambassador to Ukraine has strongly criticised Russia’s invasion in a recent speech which was reported on by the Chinese press before quickly being taken down, Helen Davidson and Chi Hui Lin report.

Gao Yusheng, who retired over a decade ago after a career spent mostly in Russia and central Asia, told an online Chinese Academy of Social Sciences seminar that Russia’s war is failing.

Incredible speech by former CN ambassador to Ukr Gao Yusheng 高玉生. My favorite lines — “#Putin regime’s foreign policy views former Soviet states as its exclusive sphere of influence. Its core and foremost goal is to restore the empire through integration mechanisms in various

— Pengqiao Lu (@plu91) May 10, 2022

Gao said Moscow under Putin’s rule had never really accepted the sovereignty and independence of former Soviet states, and his frequent “violations” of their territory were “the greatest threat to peace, security and stability in Eurasia”.

Gao said:

The central and overriding direction of the Putin regime’s foreign policy is to regard the former Soviet Union as its exclusive sphere of influence, and to restore the empire through integration mechanisms in various spheres dominated by Russia.

This had been dramatically changed by the Ukraine war, and Gao suggested that once it was over a new world order would likely emerge that saw Ukraine removed from Russia’s “sphere of influence” and brought further into Europe, and Russia’s political, economic, military and diplomatic power drastically weakened and isolated.

According to a translation by former US state department official, David Cowhig, Gao said:

It can be said that Russia has completely lost Ukraine.

At the same time, the former Soviet Union, with the exception of white Russia, including the members of the Collective Security Treaty and the Eurasian Economic Union, have refused to support Russia. Russia’s defeat would leave it with no hope of rebuilding its old empire.

Gao’s remarks were reported on by Pheonix News, a Chinese media outlet, but later removed from the internet. An archived copywas available.

China’s leader Xi Jinping is a close ally of Putin, and the Chinese Communist Party has refused to condemn the invasion. While Gao is not considered within the CCP’s sphere of influence, analysts suggested his views likely reflected others among the political elite about Xi’s foreign policy regime.

Gao was a diplomatic officer to the Soviet Union and then the Russian Federation from 1984-88 and 1992-96. He served as ambassador to Ukraine from 2005-2007 after stints in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Ukraine prosecutors ready to launch first war crimes trials of Russia conflict

Daniel Boffey and Pjotr Sauer report for us that Ukraine prosecutors are ready to launch the first war crimes trials of the Russian conflict:

Three Russian prisoners of war accused of targeting or murdering civilians, and a soldier who allegedly killed a man before raping his wife, are set to be in the dock in the first war crimes trials of the Ukraine conflict, the Ukrainian prosecutor general has revealed.

More than 10,700 crimes have been registered since the war began by the office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general, led by Iryna Venediktova, and a handful of cases have now been filed or are ready to be submitted in what marks a watershed moment two months into the war.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova talk as they stand near a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, right, and Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova talk as they stand near a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv. Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Vadim Shysimarin, a 21-year-old commander of the Kantemirovskaya Tank Division, who is currently in Ukrainian custody, is expected to be the first to face trial over his alleged murder of a 68-year-old man.

It is alleged Shysimarin, a sergeant, had been fighting in the Sumy region in north-east Ukraine when he killed a civilian on 18 February in the village of Chupakhivka. He is accused of driving a stolen car with four other soldiers as he sought to flee Ukrainian fighters and then shooting dead the unarmed man on a bicycle as he was talking on his phone. He was ordered “to kill a civilian so he would not report them to Ukrainian defenders”, according to prosecutors.

The crime is said to have happened close to the victim’s house and was committed using an AK-74. The case has this week been filed at a criminal court. “He is here [in Ukraine], we have him,” said Venediktova, speaking from her heavily fortified headquarters in Kyiv.

A spokesperson added: “Prosecutors and investigators of the SBU [Ukrainian secret services] have collected enough evidence of his involvement in violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder. For these actions, he faces 10 to 15 years in prison or life in prison.”

Read more of Daniel Boffey and Pjotr Sauer’s report: Ukraine prosecutors ready to launch first war crimes trials of Russia conflict

Russia has demanded a formal apology from Poland and threatened possible future reprisals after its ambassador, Sergey Andreev, was doused with red paint at the Soviet military cemetery in Warsaw on Monday.

Russia’s foreign ministry summoned the Polish ambassador, Krzysztof Krajewski, to receive its protest and said in a statement:

Russia expects an official apology from the Polish leadership in connection with the incident and demands the safety of the Russian ambassador and all employees of Russian foreign institutions in Poland are ensured.

A decision on further steps will be taken depending on Warsaw’s reaction to our demands.

Jonathan Steele

Jonathan Steele

Leonid Kravchuk, who has died after a long illness aged 88, was a Communist party bureaucrat who became the first president of independent Ukraine and a main player in bringing the Soviet Union to an ignominious end.

At a hastily arranged meeting in a remote hunting lodge in the Belavezha forest in Belarus in December 1991, Kravchuk joined Stanislav Shushkevich, a nuclear physicist who was the leader of Belarus, and Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Russian Federation, in signing a declaration that the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. Shushkevich died of Covid-19 a week ago. Yeltsin died in 2007.

Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk delivers a speech in Kyiv, in 2016.
Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk delivers a speech in Kyiv, in 2016. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Kravchuk was the most dynamic and radical of the three men during the fateful discussion. Fearing Russia would continue to try to dominate Ukraine, he told Yeltsin he did not want the Soviet Union to turn itself into a loose confederation. It should be abolished altogether.

The three men’s deal had gone ahead without the knowledge of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet president, who was shocked when he heard the news. He had no choice but to resign two weeks later, after accepting that the three Slavic republics, the core entities of the Soviet Union, were no longer loyal to the system.

Leonid Kravchuk, left, and Boris Yeltsin signing an economic agreement in 1991.
Leonid Kravchuk, left, and Boris Yeltsin signing an economic agreement in 1991. Photograph: Vitaly Armand/AFP/Getty Images

The road to independence had begun in August 1991 when the Ukrainian parliament voted for secession from the Soviet Union a few days after the collapse of an abortive coup by communist hardliners in Moscow to reverse Gorbachev’s democratisation programme. Kravchuk led the Communist party majority in parliament and played a key role in persuading his colleagues to support the opposition’s proposal for independence.

The parliament arranged a confirmatory referendum and a presidential election for 1 December. Some 92% of the Ukrainian electorate, including a majority of Ukraine’s ethnic Russians, voted for independence. Kravchuk was chosen as president, a job in which he served until 1994.

Read Jonathan Steele’s full obituary of Leonid Kravchuk.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said he was “deeply concerned” about worldwide food shortages as the war in Ukraine threatened food security in different parts of the world.

The war in Ukraine has sent global prices for grains, cooking oils, fuel and fertiliser soaring, with UN agencies warning that the price rises will worsen a food crisis in Africa. It has also disrupted shipping in the Black Sea, a major route for grains and other commodities.

Speaking alongside Austria’s chancellor and foreign minister in Vienna, Guterres said:

I have to say that I am deeply concerned, namely with the risks of hunger becoming widespread in different parts of the world because of the dramatic food security situation we are facing because of the war in Ukraine.

He also said talks were ongoing to evacuate more civilians from conflict zones in Ukraine, but played down the prospects of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine happening anytime soon.

A few lines from Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who said Moscow has enough buyers for its oil and gas outside of western countries, as EU countries try to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas.

Speaking earlier at a news conference in Muscat, Oman, Lavrov said:

Let the west pay more than it used to pay to the Russian Federation, and let it explain to its population why they should become poorer.

Lavrov also claimed Russia did not want war in Europe, blaming western countries for “constantly and persistently” saying they wanted to see Russia defeated in Ukraine.

Lavrov said:

If you are worried about the prospect of war in Europe – we do not want that at all. But I draw your attention to the fact that it is the west that is constantly and persistently saying that in this situation, it is necessary to defeat Russia.

Draw your own conclusions.

Smoke rising from burning storage buildings containing agricultural products after shelling by Russian forces, in the town of Orikhiv, near Zaporizhzhia, eastern Ukraine.
Smoke rising from burning storage buildings containing agricultural products after shelling by Russian forces in Orikhiv, near Zaporizhzhia, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images
A burnt car and tractor after shelling by Russian forces in the town of Orikhiv, near Zaporizhzhia, eastern Ukraine.
A burnt car and tractor after shelling by Russian forces in Orikhiv. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

The UK prime minister Boris Johnson has promised to support Sweden against potential Russian threats in any way necessary as he travelled to the country to sign a mutual security agreement, with its government considering Nato membership in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

Here is a video clip from his news conference with Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson.

Boris Johnson pledges UK support if Sweden were to come under attack – video

The pro-Russian self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine have announced that they have blocked access to Facebook and Instagram. This aligns them with Russian policy towards the US social networks.

“Access to the information resources of the American company Meta, which allows calls for violence against Russian-speaking users on its social networks, has already been blocked,” the DNR’s communications ministry said in a statement, Reuters reports.

“In light of this, access to the Facebook and Instagram social networks is blocked on the republic’s territory.”

In a separate statement, the LNR communications ministry said it had also blocked access to the social networks.

Russia banned Facebook and Instagram in March after a court found Meta guilty of “extremist activity”.

The wives of two of the last remaining Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol’s steelworks asked Pope Francis on Wednesday to help get soldiers to a third country, with one telling him: “Please don’t let them die”.

Kateryna Prokopenko, 27, and Yuliya Fedosiuk, 29, spoke to the pope for about five minutes at the end of his general audience in St Peter’s Square, also asking him to intervene directly with Russian president Vladimir Putin to let the men go because “Russian captivity is not an option”.

Reuters reports Prokopenko could be heard telling the pope: “You are our last hope, I hope you can save their lives. Please don’t let them die.”

They said they last spoke to their husbands on Tuesday. The men are members of the Azov Regiment, which retains some far-right affiliations.

“Our soldiers are waiting to be evacuated to a third country, to lay down their arms in case of evacuation,” Fedosiuk said.

Yulya Fedosiuk (L) and Kateryna Prokopenko (R) speak to the media after meeting the Pope.
Yulya Fedosiuk (left) and Kateryna Prokopenko (right) speak to the media after meeting the pope. Photograph: Fausto Gasparroni/Ansa/Rex/Shutterstock

https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2022/may/11/russia-ukraine-war-zelenskiy-says-ukrainian-forces-gradually-pushing-occupiers-away-from-kharkiv-live

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