Russia-Ukraine latest news: Russia 'drops phosphorus bombs' on Azovstal steelworks

·26 min read
A still image from a video shows a shower of burning munitions hitting the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol
A still image from a video shows a shower of burning munitions hitting the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol

Ukraine has accused Russia of dropping phosphorus bombs on the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

An aerial video shared on social media on Sunday showed a missile detonating in mid-air before releasing an array of ‘sparks’ – a grouping of incendiary munitions – that fell to the ground over the plant and ignited.

The footage appears to show numerous explosions on the ground following the munition drop.

Ukrainian officials said that Russian forces used 9M22C incendiary shells with thermite layers in the attack. The temperature of combustion for the bombs is around 2-2.5 thousand degrees Celsius.

Petro Andriushchenko, the adviser to Mariupol mayor Vadym Boychenko, said specialists will assess the area and make a conclusion on the nature of the attack. He also shared the video footage on Telegram.

Around 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers remain trapped in the besieged steelworks, their last remaining stronghold in the Russian-controlled port city, following weeks of intense fighting.

On Saturday night, a large convoy of cars and vans evacuating civilians from Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia after waiting days for Russian soldiers to allow them to leave.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

03:08 PM

That's all for today

Thanks for following along with Sunday's live updates. We'll be back tomorrow, and until then, here are eight key developments you may have missed:

  1. Finland will apply to join Nato. President Sauli Niinistö said the move marks a "new era" for his country, which has long been militarily-neutral, while he said Vladimir Putin acted "calm and cool" in a telephone call - but confirmed the Russian President believed the decision to be a mistake.

  2. Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Finland's decision to join the military alliance would strengthen global security, and insisted that Ukraine can "win this war" against Russia.

  3. However, Turkey has unexpectedly criticised Finland's imminent accession. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said it was "unacceptable and outrageous" that Finland be admitted over its alleged support for banned Kurdish militant group PKK.

  4. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travelled to Berlin to meet with other Nato foreign ministers, and told his Ukrainian counterpart that "more weapons and other aid is on the way to Ukraine".

  5. Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest with their song Stefania, with President Volodymyr Zelensky saying: "Any victory is very important. So, let's cheer for ours. Glory be to Ukraine!"

  6. During the Eurovision final, Italian police prevented numerous hacker attacks by pro-Russian cyber groups like 'Killnet' and 'Legion'. The former were responsible for a cyber attack on May 11 that targeted Italian institutions, such as the Senate, upper house of parliament and the National Health Institute (ISS).

  7. Intelligence from the UK's Ministry of Defence suggests that Russia's offensive in the Donbas region has "lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule". Meanwhile, the Russian military has likely lost around a third of the ground forces it originally deployed to Ukraine.

  8. Officials in the western Lviv region said that four Russian missiles hit some military infrastructure early on Sunday morning, resulting in it being destroyed. There were no casualties.

02:48 PM

‘Putin as bad as Hitler and Stalin’ says Holocaust survivor

Anastasia Gulej makes no attempt to veil her hatred for Vladimir Putin: the Russian leader, she says, is “evil” and no different to Stalin and Hitler.

Anastasia Gulej from Kyiv visits the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp memorial. The survivor of the camps Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen had to flee from Ukraine to Germany because of the war. - Julian Stratenschulte/Alamy Live News
Anastasia Gulej from Kyiv visits the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp memorial. The survivor of the camps Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen had to flee from Ukraine to Germany because of the war. - Julian Stratenschulte/Alamy Live News

The 96-year-old is currently living as a refugee in Germany having fled her home in Kyiv shortly after Putin ordered his forces to invade Ukraine in late February.

As a young child she lived through the Holodomor, Stalin’s man-made famine that claimed the lives of millions of Ukrainians. A few years later the dictator’s Great Terror swept through the Soviet Union, a wave of repression and purges that killed hundreds of thousands more people including the director of her school. Her father, she recalls, always had a bag packed in case they came for him.

Then the Second World War broke out and Hitler’s forces brought new horror. She was sent to the Auschwitz death camp as a forced labourer and sent on a death march. The end of the war saw her trapped in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she was barely alive when it was liberated by the British Army on April 15, 1945.

You can read the full article here

02:34 PM

US has delivered majority of artillery pieces to Ukraine

The US has delivered all but one of the 90 artillery pieces they were due to send to Ukraine, the Kyiv embassy has said.

The US embassy added that Ukraine has deployed many of its new M-777 howitzers at the front lines that were sent by Washington.

The M-777 is a significant battle weapon because of its long range and accuracy.

02:09 PM

Finnish President says talk with Putin on Nato was 'calm and cool'

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said on Sunday that his latest talk with Vladimir Putin about Finland's decision to apply for Nato membership was "calm and cool" and did not contain any threats.

"He confirmed that he thinks it's a mistake. We are not threatening you. Altogether, the discussion was very, could I say, calm and cool," Niinisto said in an interview with CNN.

02:07 PM

Russia has damaged agreement with Nato, says German FM

Russia’s behaviour amounts to the unilateral repudiation of a 1997 cooperation agreement with Nato, Germany’s foreign minister has said.

Annalena Baerbock said: "The Russian government has made it clear that the Nato-Russia Founding Act is no longer worth anything to it.

"So we now have to acknowledge that this basic act was also unilaterally terminated by Russia, not by Nato."

The agreement was designed to build trust and limit both sides’ force presence in eastern Europe, reports Reuters.

01:59 PM

Watch: Kyiv residents react to Ukraine winning Eurovision 2022

01:45 PM

US: Support almost unanimous for Finland and Sweden joining Nato

There is support from "almost across the board" of member states of Nato for Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

He said he had spoken to Turkey's foreign minister about their concerns regarding the two Nordic countries' admission.

He also said the US would reopen its embassy in Kyiv and resume operations "very soon".

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Berlin, Germany on May 15, 2022. - Michael Sohn/AP
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Berlin, Germany on May 15, 2022. - Michael Sohn/AP

01:10 PM

'Ukraine can win this war', says Nato chief

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that Ukraine can win in the war against Russia, and Finland and Sweden joining the military alliance would strengthen global security.

He said: "Their membership would increase our shared security, demonstrate that Nato's door is open and that aggression does not pay.

"Ukraine can win this war. Ukrainians are bravely defending their homeland."

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg meets with Finland's prime minister Sanna Marin during the North Atlantic Council's (NAC) meeting in Helsinki on 12 May, 2022. - Jussi Nukari/AFP
Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg meets with Finland's prime minister Sanna Marin during the North Atlantic Council's (NAC) meeting in Helsinki on 12 May, 2022. - Jussi Nukari/AFP

12:45 PM

Ukraine renames train route in honour of Eurovision winners

Jubilant Ukrainians have renamed a train route in honour of the group who earned them the winning spot at Eurovision on Saturday.

The Kalush Orchestra swept the board in Turin, Italy with their song Stefania, with the UK coming second.

The head of the railway service announced that the number 43 train from Kyiv to Ivano-Frankivsk will be renamed the Stefania Express.

Railway stations in Kyiv, Kalush and Ivano-Frankivsk will play the winning song when the train pulls in, he said.

12:35 PM

Russia says it hit Ukrainian positions in Donbas with missiles

Russia said on Sunday that it had hit Ukrainian positions in the east with missiles, targeting command centres and arsenals as its forces seek to encircle Ukrainian army units in the battle for Donbas.

Russia's defence ministry said rockets had hit two command points, 11 company positions and four artillery stores in four parts of the Donetsk region.

It added that Russian forces had hit areas near the cities of Baxmut and Kostyantynivka, as well as destroying two S-300 missile systems and a radar post in the Sumy region.

The claims have not been independently verified.

11:52 AM

'Nato membership offers Finland the most security'

11:45 AM

The war in Ukraine, in pictures

Ukrainian soldiers stand next to a military truck covered with camouflage in Donetsk, Ukraine on May 14, 2022.  - Diego Herrera/Anadolu
Ukrainian soldiers stand next to a military truck covered with camouflage in Donetsk, Ukraine on May 14, 2022. - Diego Herrera/Anadolu
A view of a destroyed area and buildings is seen in Kozarovychi village, north of the city of Vishhorod, which was captured by the Russian army in the first days of the war, in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 14, 2022. - Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu
A view of a destroyed area and buildings is seen in Kozarovychi village, north of the city of Vishhorod, which was captured by the Russian army in the first days of the war, in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 14, 2022. - Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu
A Ukrainian man stands in front of the ruins of damaged buildings in Borodianka, Ukraine on May 11, 2022. - Andre Luis Alves/Anadolu
A Ukrainian man stands in front of the ruins of damaged buildings in Borodianka, Ukraine on May 11, 2022. - Andre Luis Alves/Anadolu

11:28 AM

Finland's PM calls joining Nato an 'act of peace'

Finland's prime minister has said the country's decision to apply for Nato membership was necessary following Russia's invasion of Ukraine to guarantee security.

Sanna Marin said: "When we look at Russia, we see a very different kind of Russia than we saw just a few months ago.

"Everything changed when Russia attacked Ukraine, and I personally think we cannot trust any more that there will be a peaceful future next to Russia with our own.

"That is why we are making the decision to join Nato. It's an act of peace."

She added that Finland has historically "had wars with Russia and we don't want that kind of future for ourselves or for our children".

Finland's President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, left, attend the press conference on Finland's security policy decisions at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Sunday May 15, 2022.  - Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva
Finland's President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, left, attend the press conference on Finland's security policy decisions at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Sunday May 15, 2022. - Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva

10:56 AM

Ukrainian adviser shares footage of alleged phosphorus bomb strike on Azovstal steel plant

10:55 AM

MoD: Russia has lost a third of its forces in Ukraine

Russia has likely lost around a third of the ground forces it deployed to Ukraine, British military intelligence said on Sunday.

The Ministry of Defence said on Twitter: "Despite small-scale initial advances, Russia has failed to achieve substantial territorial gains over the past month whilst sustaining consistently high levels of attrition.

"Russia has now likely suffered losses of one third of the ground combat force it committed in February."

The MoD added that Russia was unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days.

10:52 AM

Italian police blocked Russian hackers during Eurovision

Italian police prevented numerous hacker attacks by pro-Russian cyber groups during the Eurovision semi-final and final in Turin, authorities said on Sunday.

During performances and voting, the police cybersecurity department blocked several cyber attacks on network infrastructure conducted by the 'Killnet' group and its affiliate 'Legion'.

The police also gathered information from the pro-Russian group’s Telegram channels to prevent other security breaches and identified the attacks’ geographic location.

On 11 May, 'Killnet' claimed responsibility for an attack on the websites of multiple Italian institutions, including the Senate, the upper house of parliament and the National Health Institute (ISS).

10:14 AM

Finland to apply for Nato membership

President Sauli Niinistö has confirmed that Finland will apply for Nato membership.

He said: "Today, the President of the Republic and the Government's Foreign Policy Committee have jointly agreed that Finland will apply for Nato membership, after consulting parliament. This is a historic day. A new era is opening."

The Finnish parliament will convene on Monday to debate the decision, with current projections showing that the majority of lawmakers are set to support the bid.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin said: "We have reached today an important decision in good cooperation with the government and the president of the republic. We hope the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for the Nato membership during the coming days. It will be based on a strong mandate."

10:12 AM

Nato must strive to be more global, says Truss

Some more words from Liz Truss at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Berlin, following our previous post.

The Foreign Secretary said: “Ukraine must win the battle in Ukraine. We must also win the struggle beyond Ukraine, the struggle to shape the future of the world.

“We must build an international system that protects states’ freedom and sovereignty, defends their right to trade fairly, determine their own future and prosper.”

She said the member states' also discussed "the future of the Nato alliance - one that is strengthened and modernised, more global, more geopolitical and more assertive".

A particular focus for Nato should be reaching out to partners in the Indo-Pacific, she added, which "will ensure we retain our tech and industrial edge, standing up for the rules and principles that matter to us".

09:53 AM

Nato must maintain 'open door' policy for new members, says Truss

Nato must maintain its “open door” policy for admitting new members, Liz Truss has said.

Following a meeting of member states' foreign ministers in Berlin, the Foreign Secretary said security in Europe will be strengthened if Finland and Sweden forge ahead with their plans to join the alliance.

She said: "Nato’s open door policy is essential and if Finland and Sweden decide to apply to join, it is clear that they would strengthen the alliance and European security as a whole.

"Putin must face a sustained defeat in Ukraine, Russia must be contained and such aggression must never happen again. Ukraine’s security must come from it being able to defend itself. Allies must support Ukraine’s move to Nato-standard equipment, immediately providing artillery, training and the required expertise."

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, attends a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Berlin, Germany on May 15, 2022.  - Bernd von Jutrczenka/Reuters
Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, attends a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Berlin, Germany on May 15, 2022. - Bernd von Jutrczenka/Reuters

09:33 AM

Azov wives: ‘Our husbands were betrayed by Ukrainian traitors’

In the warren of nuclear-proof tunnels in the vast Azovstal iron and steelworks in Mariupol, an almost pathetic grinding sound could be heard. There, amid the foetid smell of rotting, gangrenous wounds, hundreds of Ukraine’s most committed fighters – Azov regiment men shelled, cut off and besieged by Russian forces – are eking out the last of their supplies.

The wives - Yulya Fedosiuk, 29, Hanna Naumenko, 25, Kateryna Prokopenko, 27, and Olga Andrianova, 31 - of workers trapped inside the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol stand in Rome, Italy on April 29, 2022. - Yara Nardi/Reuters
The wives - Yulya Fedosiuk, 29, Hanna Naumenko, 25, Kateryna Prokopenko, 27, and Olga Andrianova, 31 - of workers trapped inside the besieged Azovstal steel works in Mariupol stand in Rome, Italy on April 29, 2022. - Yara Nardi/Reuters

“I spoke to Dmytro last night,” says Hanna Naumenko, 25, fiancee of Dmytro Danilov, 29. The connection was terrible, so the couple communicated by text. “He wrote they only had a little rice left, and were trying to make a kind of flour.”

Currently on a tour of Europe, the women this week spoke to Pope Francis on Wednesday, hoping he might intervene. “He said he wanted to prepare a [humanitarian] corridor for Azovstal, but Putin doesn’t want to let [the soldiers] go,” says Yuliia Fedosiuk, whose husband Arseniy Fedosiuk, 29, is an Azov sergeant. Now in Paris, they hope to visit Britain to ask Boris Johnson for help too, but have yet to secure visas.

“I spoke to my husband last night,” says Kateryna Prokopenko, married to Lieutenant Colonel Denis Prokopenko, 30. “He said he’d eaten only once and had only one glass of technical water.”

You can read the full report by Harry de Quetteville here

09:15 AM

Ukrainian and US diplomats meet as Blinken sends 'more weapons and aid'

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Sunday he had met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin and that "more weapons and other aid is on the way to Ukraine".

"We agreed to work closely together to ensure that Ukrainian food exports reach consumers in Africa and Asia. Grateful to Secretary Blinken and the US for their leadership and unwavering support," Kuleba tweeted.

08:58 AM

Nato deputy chief 'confident' about quick admission of Finland and Sweden

Nato is confident that it can overcome objections by Turkey and quickly admit Finland and Sweden, its deputy chief said on Sunday.

Foreign ministers from Nato's 30 member states are holding two days of talks this weekend in Berlin that are focused on the two Nordic countries' membership bids.

On Saturday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu unexpectedly raised objections, saying it was "unacceptable and outrageous" that the prospective new Nato members gave support to the outlawed Kurdish militant group PKK.

Nato's Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana said: "Turkey is an important ally and expressed concerns that are addressed between friends and allies. I am confident if these countries decide to seek membership in Nato we will be able to welcome them, to find all conditions for consensus to be met."

Mr Geoana also congratulated Ukraine for winning the Eurovision song contest with their "beautiful song" that was a testament to its bravery in fighting Russia.

08:38 AM

Croatia says talks between Turkey, Finland and Sweden over Nato 'on track'

Croatia’s foreign minister has said talks between Turkey and Finland and Sweden over its concerns about the latter two's potential Nato membership were on track after the three countries met.

Gordan Grlić-Radman said: "Discussions are on a good track and we hope we will have a good outcome today to show solidarity and speak with one voice."

His Romanian counterpart Bogdan Aurescu said it was important that the two Nordic states should push ahead with their membership pledges to send a message to Russia.

Meanwhile, German’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock has said Germany has prepared everything for a quick ratification of Finland’s and Sweden’s Nato membership.

She said: "If they decide to join they can join quickly... We must make sure that we will give them security guarantees, there must not be a transition period, a grey zone, where their status is unclear."

The ratification period can usually take as long as a year, during which time the countries in question would not be protected by Nato's article 5 - which guarantees that an attack on one ally is considered an attack on all member states.

08:15 AM

Ukraine's Eurovision presenter reacts to win from bomb shelter

Timur Miroshnychenko, Ukraine's Eurovision presenter and commentator, reacted joyously to the news his country had won the contest on Sunday.

He was broadcasting his commentary from a bomb shelter due to ongoing rocket attacks.

08:01 AM

Finland to announce Nato plans, as Putin issues warning

Finland's government is expected to officially announce its intention to join Nato on Sunday, as Sweden's ruling party holds a decisive meeting that could pave the way for a joint application.

"Hopefully we can send our applications next week together with Sweden," Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin said.

The countries broke their strict neutralities after the end of the Cold War by joining the EU and becoming partners Nato in the 1990s, solidifying their affiliation with the West. But the concept of full Nato membership was a non-starter until the war in Ukraine saw public and political support for joining the military alliance soar in both countries.

Three days after publicly saying their country "must apply for Nato membership without delay", Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin are due to announce Helsinki's decision on whether to seek membership at a news conference at 1pm (10am GMT).

After a government council meeting, they are expected to submit a membership proposal to parliament on Monday.

Vladimir Putin on Saturday warned Finland it was making a "mistake" joining Nato, saying relations would be "negatively affected".

07:55 AM

Missile hits military infrastructure in Lviv

A missile strike hit some military infrastructure in the western Ukrainian region of Lviv early on Sunday, the region's governor said.

"Four enemy missiles hit one of the military infrastructures in the Lviv region," Maxim Kozitsky said on Telegram.

"The object is completely destroyed. According to preliminary information, there are no casualties. No one sought medical help."

The report has not been independently verified.

The regional 'West' Air Command of Ukraine's Air Force said in a post on social media that several missiles were fired from the Black Sea toward Lviv.

Two of the missiles were destroyed before hitting targets, it added.

07:36 AM

MoD: Russia's Donbas offensive has 'lost momentum'

British intelligence suggests that Russia's offensive in Ukraine's southeastern Donbas region has "lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule".

The Ministry of Defence's latest update also said that the Russian-imposed administration in Kherson has asked Moscow to include the region in the Russian Federation, in a move that continues Putin's ploy to place Ukrainian regions under Kremlin authority.

07:30 AM

'I defended Macron's approach to Russia - now it's unforgivable'

The French President’s realpolitik is turning him into a Putin-enabler, writes Anne-Elisabeth Moutet.

There’s a peculiarly French way of getting important decisions wrong, and it’s best described by a very British expression the likes of Emmanuel Macron cannot see the point of, “too clever by half”. It’s all about finessing power play and triangulating self-interest; replacing simple words like “honour”, “right” and “wrong” by sophisticated calculations which we call “realism”.

Yesterday, Volodymyr Zelensky called the French president flat out on it on the national Italian broadcaster, RAI. Macron’s endless negotiations and eagerness to allow Russia to “save face” were “in vain”. “Ukraine is not ready to sacrifice territory and sovereignty. This is a waste of time.” [...]

I long defended Macron’s approach to Putin. Seeking to keep channels open, in early February, and again two days after the beginning of the Russian attack, seemed sensible, even necessary.

But now my President’s continued equivocation is unforgivable. Macron should shut up. Just add up his latest statements. No EU membership for Ukraine for decades. No NATO membership for Kyiv either. Repeated warnings not to humiliate Russia. All this plays in the hands of Putin and no-one else.

You can read the full comment piece here

07:26 AM

Glory for Ukraine at Eurovision - but UK's Ryder was a worthy runner-up

He soared towards the stars but ultimately gravity – and a huge public vote for eventual winners Ukraine – brought Eurovision front runner Sam Ryder, representing the UK with his song Space Man, back down to Earth, at the end of a breathlessly tense final from Turin.

Given the backdrop of Russia’s brutal invasion of their homeland, nobody could begrudge Kalush Orchestra their victory at this 66th Eurovision Song Contest (BBC One). It helped that their entry, Stefania, was a classic Eurovision bopper – mixing pop, rap and traditional woodwind. However, with Space Man having held pole position through the national jury voting, Ryder’s eventual second-place finish potentially carried the tiniest whiff of anti-climax...

Still, in the end the night belonged to Ukraine. They had concluded their performance of Stefania with a plea: "Please help Ukraine... please help Mariupol... right now.” And, as they accepted their trophy, they looked more stoic than ecstatic. “Thank you so much. Thank you for supporting Ukraine,” they said. “This victory is for every Ukrainian.” Team Ryder or not, who would want to take these 15 minutes of glory away from them?

Members of the band "Kalush Orchestra" pose onstage with the winner's trophy and Ukraine's flags after winning on behalf of Ukraine the Eurovision Song contest 2022 on May 14, 2022 at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin. - Marco Bertorello/AFP
Members of the band "Kalush Orchestra" pose onstage with the winner's trophy and Ukraine's flags after winning on behalf of Ukraine the Eurovision Song contest 2022 on May 14, 2022 at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin. - Marco Bertorello/AFP
Sam Ryder, the UK's entrant for Eurovision 2022, arrives onstage during the final of the contest on May 14, 2022 at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin. - Marco Bertorello/AFP
Sam Ryder, the UK's entrant for Eurovision 2022, arrives onstage during the final of the contest on May 14, 2022 at the Pala Alpitour venue in Turin. - Marco Bertorello/AFP

You can read Ed Power's full 4 star review here

05:57 AM

Eurovision 2023 will be in Ukraine 'one way or the other'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed his country's Eurovision victory, Ukraine's third since its 2003 debut in the competition, and said "we will do our best" to host next year's contest in the hotly contested port city of Mariupol.

He underlined "Ukrainian Mariupol", and added "free, peaceful, rebuilt".

"I am sure our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off," Mr Zelensky said in a post on Telegram messaging app.

With Ukraine still fighting Russian forces, it is unclear where next year's Eurovision contest will be held, with the event hosted by the winning country.

When it was suggested on Twitter that if Ukraine cannot host it, the UK should offer to, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace replied: "One way or the other it will be in Ukraine!"

05:25 AM

Envoy says Russian diplomats in US are threatened

Russian diplomats in Washington are being threatened with violence and US intelligence services try to make contact with them, Tass news agency cited the ambassador as saying.

Anatoly Antonov told Russian television that since Russia invaded Ukraine, face-to-face meetings with US officials had ended.

"It's like a besieged fortress. Basically, our embassy is operating in a hostile environment ... Embassy employees are receiving threats, including threats of physical violence," Tass quoted him as saying.

"Agents from US security services are hanging around outside the Russian embassy, handing out CIA and FBI phone numbers, which can be called to establish contact."

04:45 AM

Fighting continues as food shortages fears rise

Ukraine's forces were fighting off a fierce Russian onslaught on the east of the country Sunday.

President Volodymr Zelensky warned on Saturday that the war in his country risked triggering global food shortages, adding that the situation in Ukraine's Donbas is "very difficult".

04:33 AM

Zelensky: 'Any victory is very important'

Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest in the early hours of Sunday in a clear show of support for the war-ravaged nation.

The band's frontman, Oleg Psiuk, took advantage of the enormous global audience to make an impassioned plea to free fighters: "I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal, right now."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave signs that he was watching from Kyiv.

"Indeed, this is not a war, but nevertheless, for us today, any victory is very important," Mr Zelensky said, according to a presidential statement. "So, let's cheer for ours. Glory be to Ukraine!"

Read the full story here.

04:25 AM

Putin warns Finland it would be ‘a mistake’ to join Nato

Vladimir Putin on Saturday warned Finland it was making a "mistake" joining Nato, saying relations would be "negatively affected" if Helsinki ended decades of military neutrality.

The Russian president made the thinly veiled threat after Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland, spoke to him by phone to confirm that Helsinki would apply to join the alliance in the next few days.

Putin has previously demanded that Finland and Sweden never join Nato, and invaded Ukraine in order to stop it from doing the same despite the low likelihood of it being granted membership.

Read the full story here.

04:24 AM

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