War in Ukraine: Latest developments

By: AFP
Published: 07:03 PM, 17 May, 2022
War in Ukraine: Latest developments
Caption: Ukrainian service members as they are searched by pro-Russian military personnel after leaving the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine's port city of Mariupol.
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Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

Hundreds of Mariupol defenders surrender 

Russia says that 265 of the Ukrainian fighters who had been holding out at a steelworks in the city of Mariupol for weeks have surrendered under a deal struck with Kyiv.

Russia's defence ministry says 51 of them were heavily wounded and were taken to a hospital in a part of the eastern Donetsk region controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

Ukrainian authorities say the fighters were taken to areas under the control of Russian forces or pro-Russian rebels and will be exchanged at a later date for Russian prisoners.

It says it is working to "rescue" the last holdouts inside the sprawling Azovstal steel plant.

Azovstal became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, with the fighters holding out in dire conditions for weeks after the city fell to Russian forces.

Finnish lawmakers vote for NATO 

Lawmakers in Finland vote overwhelmingly in favour of joining NATO as a deterrent against Russian aggression, paving the way for an application to be submitted in the coming days.

A total of 188 of 200 members of parliament vote in favour of NATO membership, a dramatic turnaround from Finland's military non-alignment policy dating back more than 75 years, prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Finland spent more than a century as part of the Russian empire until it gained independence in 1917.

German military exercises with Sweden, Finland 

Germany will ramp up its military collaboration with Sweden and Finland as the two countries seek NATO membership, Chancellor Olaf Scholz says.

"We will intensify our military cooperation especially in the Baltic Sea region and through joint exercises", Scholz said amid concern for the two candidates' security during the transition period, amid Russian ire at their NATO ambitions. 

Britain has already offered the two countries written security guarantees.

Onslaught on Donbas city 

At least 10 people are killed in the shelling of Severodonetsk, the easternmost city still held by Ukrainian forces, which is the object of a major Russian offensive.

The governor of the Lugansk administrative region, where Severodonestk is located, says Russian forces are shelling the city "without stopping".

Taking control of Severodonetsk would grant the Kremlin de facto control of Lugansk, one of two breakaway regions -- along with Donetsk -- that comprise the Donbas, which Russia has vowed to "liberate" from Ukraine.

Ukraine says that after being driven back from the city of Kharkiv in the northeast, Russian troops are being transferred to Lugansk to boost the fight there.

West and South also hit 

In the west, defence officials in the western city of Lviv say a military infrastructure facility "almost on the border with Poland" is hit in Russian strikes.

The army's southern operational command says the southern cities of Odessa and Mykolaiv have also been targeted in strikes that caused fatalities, without giving exact figures.

Russian forces to reopen Mariupol port

As the battle for the strategic southeastern city of Mariupol draws to a close, Russian forces are planning to reopen the city's port to establish shipping routes from Russia, the US Institute for War (ISW) reports.

The ISW, a defence think-tank, quoted the pro-Russian separatists who have been leading the fighting against Ukrainian forces in Mariupol as saying that they will demine the port by May 25.

The port on the Sea of Azov would act as an economic lifeline to the Donbas.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.