Ukraine updates: NATO says Finland, Sweden apply to join

What is happening in Ukraine today and how are countries around the world responding? Read live updates on Vladimir Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Finland and Sweden have applied to join the world’s largest military alliance, a move prompted by security concerns over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“I warmly welcome the applications from Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday after receiving his letters of request from the ambassadors of the two Nordic countries.

The request must now be weighed by the 30 member countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed reservations about joining Finland and Sweden.

If their objections are overcome and membership talks go as well as expected, the two could become members within months. The process usually takes between eight and 12 months, but NATO wants to act quickly given the threat from Russia that hangs over the heads of the Nordic countries.


KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman said the Russian military was detaining more than 3,000 civilians from Mariupol in another former penal colony near Olenivka in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Seven buses carrying an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from the Mariupol steel plant were seen arriving at former penal colony No. 120 near Olenivka on Tuesday.

Ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said on Telegram on Tuesday that the civilians were being held in former penal colony No. 52, also near Olenivka.

She said most civilians are held for a month, but those deemed “particularly unreliable,” including former soldiers and police officers, are held for two months.

Denisova said those being held include some 30 volunteers who delivered humanitarian supplies to Mariupol while it was under Russian siege.


MELITOPOL, Ukraine — Ukrainian guerrillas reportedly killed several high-ranking Russian officers in the southern city of Melitopol, the regional administration said on Telegram.

Russian forces have occupied the city since the beginning of the war.

According to the regional administration, the occupiers are trying to hide the situation, but Russian troops more actively searched private cars in the city on Tuesday, most likely looking for guerrillas.

No details of the killings were released and the report could not be immediately confirmed.

Throughout the war, the Ukrainians claimed to have killed many generals and other Russian officers. Some of the deaths have been confirmed by the Russians.


LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that it began with a combination of Russian strikes with Russian forces firing missiles at the western Lviv region and the Sumy and Chernihiv regions in the northeast and conducting airstrikes in the eastern Luhansk region.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s border regions saw Russian “sabotage activity.”

“All of this is not only creating tension for our state, it is not only a test of our strength,” Zelenskyy said in his late-night video address. “This is a kind of attempt to compensate the Russian military for a series of failures in the east and south of our country.”

According to Zelenskyy, the Russians cannot show any success in the areas where they try to attack.

So “they are trying to show success through their missiles and other activities, but also to no effect,” Zelenskyy said. “These strikes, like many before, do not fundamentally change anything. Also, our air defense and anti-sabotage measures are getting stronger.”


kyiv, Ukraine — The fall of Mariupol appears near as Ukraine prepares to abandon a sprawling steel plant where its soldiers held out for months under relentless bombardment, making it the largest city to fall to Russian hands.

Much of the steel plant has been reduced to rubble.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine is working to get its remaining troops out of the Azovstal steel plant to safety.

In his late-night video address to the nation, Zelenskyy said the evacuation mission was being overseen by Ukrainian military and intelligence officials and “the most influential international mediators are involved.”

However, hundreds of Ukrainian fighters left the Azovstal steel plant and surrendered to Russian hands.


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