- Finland leaders say they intend to apply to join NATO ‘without delay’.
- Pro-Moscow authorities in Ukraine’s occupied southern region of Kherson say they plan to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to incorporate the territory into Russia by the end of this year.
- Ukraine’s prosecutor general has said for the first time since the war began that a Russian soldier will stand trial for committing an alleged war crime in Ukraine.
- Ukrainian officials warn of “medieval” conditions in Mariupol as Moscow continues its push for complete control of the southeastern port city.
- Sweden and Finland are expected to apply to join NATO in the coming days.
- The UK’s defence ministry says Russian forces are withdrawing from Kharkiv after heavy losses.
Finland in favour of joining NATO alliance: President, PM
Finland’s president and prime minister have said their country was willing to join NATO and a formal decision would be taken later this week,
“Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay,” President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in a joint statement.
Demining Ukraine may take up to 10 years: Official
It will take up to 10 years to remove all the landmines planted by Russian forces in eight Ukrainian regions, an official has reportedly said.
“Judging by international experience, the demining would take between five to 10 years,” Oleh Bondar of the State Emergencies Service was quoted by the Ukrinform news agency as saying on Thursday.
Ukrainian military and officials said Russians leave mines, booby traps and explosive devices in public schools, houses and next to dead bodies.
‘People of Ukraine’ win Atlantic Council award
The Atlantic Council has honoured the people of Ukraine with a distinguished leadership award, marking the first time the council has given a full nation the accolade.Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Ukrainian singer-songwriter Jamala were among today’s award honorees, recognised for representing “the pillars of the transatlantic relationship”, according to the Council.
In a video message, Zelenskyy thanked the Council saying “courage is our national trait of character” and listed only a few names of those who made sacrifices during the war.
They included: Vitalii Skakun “who blew up a bridge sacrificing himself to stop a column of Russian tanks”; “21-year-old lieutenant Vitalii Sapilo, who neutralised 30 units of equipment of the enemy and died from an air strike”; “paramedic Serhiy Chornobryvets in Mariupol, who has been on duty for 22 days since the beginning of the war”; and “11-year-old Maksym, who said nothing to his mother, ran away from home and came to ask for permission to be a part of territorial defence.”
Russia’s Kharkiv withdrawal shows its inability to capture key cities: UK
The withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kharkiv region “is a tacit recognition of Russia’s inability to capture key Ukrainian cities,” the UK’s defence ministry has said.
In its latest intelligence briefing, the ministry noted that Ukrainian forces were continuing a counterattack in the north of Kharkiv and had recaptured several towns and villages. It said Russia’s prioritisation of operations in the Donbas had left the troops around Kharkiv vulnerable.It added that Russia had withdrawn troops from Kharkiv to replenish. Once reconstituted, the ministry said, “these forces will likely deploy to the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River, forming a blocking force to protect the western flank of Russia’s main force concentration and main supply routes for operations in the vicinity of Izium.”