BRUSSELS – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says Finland and Sweden have applied to join the world’s largest military alliance, fueled by security concerns over Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“I warmly welcome the requests of Finland and Sweden to join NATO. You are our closest allies,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday after receiving their applications from the ambassadors of the two Nordic countries.
The application must now be weighed by the 30 member states.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has objected to the involvement of Finland and Sweden.
If his objections are addressed, and accession talks go as well as expected, the two could become members within a few months. This process usually takes eight to 12 months, but NATO wants to move quickly, given the threat looming over the Nordic countries from Russia.
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– Follow all Associated Press stories on Russia’s war against Ukraine https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudsman said Russian forces were capturing 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 arrived at the former penal colony number 120 near Olenivka on Tuesday.
Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova said on Telegram earlier on Tuesday that citizens were also being held near Olenivka in the former penal colony number 52.
She said most civilians are kept for one month, but those deemed “particularly unreliable”, including ex-servicemen and police, are kept for two months.
Denisova said those captured included about 30 volunteers who provided humanitarian supplies to Mariupol during the Russian siege.
Melitopol, Ukraine – Ukraine’s guerrilla fighters have reportedly killed several high-ranking Russian officials in the southern city of Melitopol, the regional administration said on Telegram.
The city has been occupied by Russian forces since the beginning of the war.
According to the regional administration, the occupiers are trying to hide the situation, but Russian troops were more actively checking private cars in the city on Tuesday, most likely looking for guerrillas.
No details of the killings were given and the report could not be immediately confirmed.
During the war, Ukrainians claimed to have killed several Russian generals and other officers. Some of the deaths have been confirmed by the Russians.
LVIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that in conjunction with Russian strikes, Russian forces fired missiles in the western Lviv region and the Sumy and Chernihiv regions in the northeast and airstrikes in the eastern Luhansk region.
Zelensky said Russian “sabotage activity” was observed in Ukraine’s border areas.
“All of this isn’t just creating tension for our state, it’s just not a test of our strength,” Zelensky said in his video address of the night. “This is an attempt to compensate the Russian military for a series of failures in the east and south of our country.”
According to Zelensky, the Russians are unable to demonstrate any success in the areas they are trying to attack.
So “they are trying to show success through their missiles and other activities, but even that to no effect,” Zelensky said. “These attacks, like many previous attacks, do not fundamentally change anything. In addition, our air defense and anti-sabotage measures are getting stronger. ”
KYIV, Ukraine — The fall of Mariupol appears to be at hand as Ukraine moves to abandon a massive steel plant where its troops bombarded relentlessly for months, which would make it the largest city to fall into Russian hands .
Most of the steel plants are buried under rubble.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was working to get its remaining troops out of the Azovstal Steel Plant safely.
In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelensky said the evacuation mission was being monitored by Ukraine’s military and intelligence officials and “contains the most influential international intermediaries.”
However, hundreds of Ukrainian fighters left the Azovstal Steel Plant and handed themselves over to Russian hands.