- Ukraine’s general staff says Russian troops were pulling back from the northeastern city of Kharkiv.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin tells Finland joining NATO would be ‘a mistake’.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says “very complex negotiations” with Russia are under way to get fighters out of the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol.
- Ukrainian forces are on the counteroffensive near the Russian-held town of Izium, striking at a key axis of Russia’s assault in the east.
- Russia will suspend electricity supplies to Finland as of Saturday, a supplier says, amid tensions over the European nation’s expected NATO bid.
Here are all the latest updates:
Large convoy from Mariupol reaches safety, refugees talk of ‘devastating’ escape
A large convoy of cars and vans carrying refugees from the ruins of Mariupol has arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia after waiting days for Russian troops to allow them to leave.
The refugees that arrived on Saturday first had to get out of Mariupol and then somehow make their way to Berdyansk – some 80 km further west along the coast – and other settlements before the 200 km drive northwest to Zaporizhzhia.
Nikolai Pavlov, 74, said he had lived in a basement for a month after his apartment was destroyed. A relative using “secret detours” managed to get him out of Mariupol to Berdyansk.
“We barely made it, there were lots of elderly people among us… the trip was devastating. But it was worth it, ”he said after the convoy arrived in the dark.
An aide to Mariupol’s mayor said earlier that the convoy numbered between 500 to 1,000 cars and was the largest single evacuation from the city since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ambassador says Russian diplomats in US threatened, enticed by FBI, CIA: Tass news agency
Russian diplomats in Washington are being threatened with violence and US intelligence services are trying to make contact with them, Russia’s Tass news agency reported, citing Moscow’s ambassador to the US.
“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 Ambassador Anatoly Antonov saying on Saturday.
“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,” the ambassador told Tass.
Russia and the US have been locked in a dispute over the size and functioning of their respective diplomatic missions since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Top US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell meets Zelenskyy
Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, paid an unannounced visit to Kyiv with other Republican senators and met the Ukrainian president for talks.
McConnell was accompanied by fellow Senators Susan Collins, John Barrasso and John Cornyn.
Zelenskyy hailed the visit as a powerful signal of US bipartisan support for Ukraine and the strength of relations between the two nations.
“We discussed many areas of support for our state, including in defense and finance, as well as strengthening sanctions against Russia,” Zelenskyy said in a video address, adding that he stressed to senators the need for Russia to be designated a terrorist state. .
McConnell is pressing Republican Senator Rand Paul to end his opposition to a $ 40 billion aid package for Ukraine, which has overwhelming support from both major parties in the US.
Ukraine band makes plea for Mariupol at Eurovision
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra made a plea for the city of Mariupol and fighters holding out at the Azovstal steel plant at the end of their appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest.
“Please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now, ”lead singer Oleh Psiuk shouted from the front of the stage in the Italian city of Turin after the band performed its song“ Stefania ”.
Russian forces have bombarded the steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, the last bastion of hundreds of Ukrainian defenders in a city which is almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of a siege.
In a video address released before the performance, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he believed the Kalush Orchestra would win.
“Europe, vote for Kalush Orchestra, (song) No 12! Let’s support our fellow countrymen! Let’s support Ukraine! ” he said, clenching his fist.
Putin tells Finnish president: Joining NATO would be ‘mistake’
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has told his Finnish counterpart that joining NATO would be “a mistake”, as Moscow cut off its electricity supply to the Nordic country earlier.
“Putin stressed that the end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland’s security,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday.
“Such a change in the country’s political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations developed over the years in a spirit of good neighborliness and cooperation between partners,” it said.
Read more here.
Russia denies Ukraine forces damaged navy ship in Black Sea
Russia has dismissed Ukraine’s claim it had damaged a modern navy logistics ship in the Black Sea and showed photos of what it said was the vessel with no signs of damage.
In an online post, the Russian defense ministry published photos it said had been taken of the ship in the Crimean Black Sea port of Sevastopol.
“It is now clear from the photographs that the ship is not damaged at all,” he said.
Military authorities in the southern Odessa region said that Ukrainian naval forces had struck the Vsevolod Bobrov, setting it alight.
Medvedev dismisses G7 support of Ukraine territorial integrity
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed a statement by the Group of Seven to “never” recognize border changes brought about by Moscow’s war on Ukraine.
“To put it mildly, our country doesn’t care about the G7’s non-recognition of the new borders,” he said on his Telegram channel.
Arguing that the will of the people living in a region was all that mattered, Medvedev called the G7’s promise to continue supplying Ukraine with weapons a continuation of its “covert war against Russia.”
The situation in Donbas region remains very difficult: Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the situation in the Donbas region remained very difficult, adding that Russian forces were still trying to demonstrate some kind of victory.
“On the 80th day of a full-scale invasion this seems especially crazy, but they are not stopping their efforts,” he said in a late night video address.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine. Read all the updates from Saturday, May 14 here.