Finland said on Thursday it would apply to join NATO “without delay”, with Sweden expected to follow suit, suggesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will bring about the very expansion of the Western military alliance that Vladimir Putin aimed to prevent.
Russia said Finland’s decision was a hostile move that”definitely” posed a threat to its security.
Ukraine reported pushing back Russian forces in a counterattack that could signal a shift in the momentum of the war and shut gas flows on a route through Russian-held territory, raising the spectre of an energy crisis in Europe.
Russia said on Thursday its forces hit two ammunition depots in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine. The defence ministry said Russia had destroyed a Ukrainian S-300 air defence missile system in the Kharkiv region and a radar station near Odesa.
One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned the West that the increasing military support given toUkraine by the United States and its allies risked triggering conflict between Russia and NATO.
The Russian military’s failure to seize the Ukrainian capital was inevitable as in the preceding years they had never directly faced a powerful enemy, and they are not up to the jobin Ukraine, said a former mercenary with the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group who fought alongside the Russian army.
Reports of battlefield developments could not be immediately verified by Reuters.
Head of UN nuclear watchdog says situation at Ukraine power plant fragile:
ENERGY AND SANCTIONS
Pressure on Europe to secure alternative gas supplies increased on Thursday after Moscow imposed sanctions on European Subsidiaries of state-owned Gazprom and Ukraine stopped a gas transit route, pushing prices higher.
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the West had triggered a global economic crisis and a wave of ruinous inflation by imposing on Russia the most severe sanctions in recent history over the conflict in Ukraine.
NATO allies expect Finland and Sweden to apply to join the alliance in the coming days and will grant membership quickly ,diplomats and officials said.
Sweden’s government plans to submit an application to join NATO next week, following neighbour Finland in re-writing its post-World War Two security policy, Expressen newspaper reported on Thursday.
The European Commission said on Thursday it would work with EU governments to help Ukraine export millions of tonnes of grain stuck in the country because the Russian navy is blockingUkraine’s ports. Ukraine was the world’s fourth largest grain exporter in 2020-21.
Ukraine-Russia | Impact of the escalating conflict on world markets:
The UN Human Rights Council will decide on Thursday whether to launch an investigation into possible war crimes byRussian troops in the Kyiv area, a move that Russia said would amount to political score-settling. Russia denies targeting civilians.
The near-constant crump of shellfire washed over the battered hamlet of Vilkhivka, testifying to fierce fighting beyond its windswept fields between Ukrainian troops pressing a counter-offensive and Russian forces that once occupied the area. Villagers have only just begun filtering back to retrieve possessions from properties, salvaging what they can despite the peril from unexploded ordnance.
In epic detours via Russia, Ukrainians are skirting the war front to flee to the European Union.
“The war will end when Russia returns our right to live,”Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told French students via videolink.
“This war will not last forever. There will be a time when peace negotiations will take place. I do not see that in the immediate future. But I can say one thing. We will never give up,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.