War in Ukraine: Latest developments

AFP , Thursday 19 May 2022

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

Ukraine
A view of wreckage in a heavily damaged uninhabited house after a Russian bombing early in the morning in Velyka Kostromka village, Ukraine, Thursday, May 19, 2022. AP

 

Russian soldier begs forgiveness

The Russian soldier at the centre of the first war crimes trial held over the conflict asks the widow of the Ukrainian civilian he killed for forgiveness.

Vadim Shishimarin, 21, has admitted to shooting dead 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov near the northern village of Chupakhivka on February 28 to stop him reporting a carjacking.

"I know that you will not be able to forgive me, but nevertheless I ask you for forgiveness," he says on the second day of the trial in Kyiv.

Ukrainian prosecutors have requested he be given a life sentence.

1,730 Mariupol fighters surrender

Russia says the number of Ukrainian soldiers who have surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol has risen to 1,730.

In the past 24 hours, a further 771 emerged from the sprawling steel mill that has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance.

Ukraine persuaded the men to stand down to save their lives after weeks spent in the underground complex, with dire shortages of food, water and medicine.

US Congress approves $40 billion aid package

Congress approves a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, the latest tranche of US assistance for Kyiv in its fight against Russia's invasion.

The aid package is roundly approved by the Senate after being adopted by the House of Representatives last week. It now heads to President Joe Biden's desk for his signature.

'No shortcuts' to EU

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says there can be "no shortcuts" to European Union membership for Ukraine, the second EU leader to quash Kyiv's hope of fast-track membership in as many weeks.

Scholz says making an exception for Ukraine would be unfair to the Western Balkan countries also seeking to join.

"The accession process is not a matter of a few months or years," he warns.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemns what he calls the "second-class treatment" of his country.

Turkey 'determined' to block NATO bids

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he is "determined" to block Sweden and Finland's bids to join NATO, calling Stockholm in particular a "complete terror haven".

Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership on Wednesday, renouncing decades of military non-alignment, over fears they could be future targets of Russian aggression.

US President Joe Biden met Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto and Sweden's Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Washington to tell them their countries "meet every NATO requirement".

Addressing Turkey, Niinisto said Finland was "open to discussing all the concerns that you may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner".

12 killed in Severodonetsk

The governor of the eastern Lugansk region says at least 12 people have been killed and 40 injured in Russian shelling of the city of Severodonetsk.

Severodonetsk has been the target of sustained bombardment in recent days as Russian forces attempt to capture the easternmost city still in Ukrainian hands.

Six civilians also die in the Kharkiv and Donetsk regions, regional governors say.

US, Russia generals speak

Top US General Mark Milley speaks by telephone with his Russian counterpart General Valery Gerasimov, their first discussion since before Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, the Pentagon says.

Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, "discussed several security-related issues of concern", according to a spokesman for the US Joint Staff.

War could stretch out: Pentagon

A senior Pentagon official says that the Ukraine war could continue for a long time despite Kyiv's forces recapturing the Kharkiv region and their use of substantial US artillery supplies.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, cautions against analysts saying that Russian forces are stretched to capacity and could within weeks reach a point at which they are no longer able to advance.

"It's difficult to know where this is going to go over time," the official says.

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