- Washington says it is “confident” that Turkey’s concerns over the admission of Sweden and Finland to NATO will be taken into account.
- The Russian Defense Ministry said the last group of Ukrainian forces locked in the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol had surrendered.
- A Russian missile hit a cultural center in the Kharkiv region, according to the Ukrainian government.
- A US consular officer has visited American basketball star Brittney Griner detained in Russia, the US State Department confirms.
Here are all the latest updates:
Blinken to discuss Ukraine during visit to Japan (State Dept.)
The State Department announced that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Japan to accompany Biden on his trip to Asia.
“While in Tokyo, the Secretary will meet with Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and other senior Japanese officials,” the State Department said in a statement.
“The Secretary and the Minister of Foreign Affairs will discuss our global response to President Putin’s continued brutal war against Ukraine, the increasingly destabilizing behavior of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and U.S.-Japan cooperation in the framework of the new Economic Policy Advisory Committee (EPCC), including on economic development.”
Zelensky says high-risk flights delivered supplies to beleaguered Azovstal
President Volodymyr Zelensky has revealed a week-long mystery of the Azovstal siege in Mariupol: how supplies were delivered to fighters in the steelworks?
Ukrainian pilots risked Russian anti-aircraft fire to transport medicine, food and water to the steelworks in helicopters, causing a large number of casualties, Zelenskyy said in an interview with the occasion of the third anniversary of his inauguration as President. He said the effort also included recovering bodies and picking up the wounded.
“These are absolutely heroic people, who knew it would be difficult, knew flying would be next to impossible,” Zelenskyy said.
Russian missile hits cultural center in Kharkiv region, Ukraine says
A Russian missile hit a Ukrainian cultural center in the Kharkiv region, injuring seven people, including an 11-year-old child, kyiv said.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s social media channel posted a video showing a large explosion hitting the newly renovated Palace of Culture in Lozova. The building was partly destroyed and the roof caught fire, Ukrainian emergency services reported.
“The occupiers have identified culture, education and humanity as their enemies,” Zelenskyy wrote. “What’s on the minds of people who choose such targets? Absolute evil, absolute stupidity.
US says departing basketball detained in Russia received consular visit
A US consular official visited detained basketball star Brittney Griner in Russia, the US State Department said, while urging Moscow for more regular consular access.
Griner, 31, a two-time Olympic champion and member of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in February for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.
“I can confirm that a consular officer visited Brittney Griner in custody yesterday, Thursday, May 19. The consular officer found that she continued to do as well as expected under these extremely difficult circumstances,” Price said during of a briefing.
“But again, our message is clear and simple. We continue to insist that Russia allow consistent and timely consular access to all detained US citizens. One-time visits are not enough.
Germany to ship anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine: report
German news agency DPA reported that the country will ship the first 15 Gepard anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine in July.
DPA said the delivery, which includes training and nearly 60,000 rounds, was agreed following discussions between the German defense minister and his Ukrainian counterpart.
Gepard – German for “cheetah” – is considered very effective against low-flying aircraft and lightly armored ground targets. It was decommissioned by the German military in 2012, but around 50 mothballed units are being restored by manufacturer KMW for use by Ukraine.
US ‘confident’ Turkey’s concerns about NATO expansion will be taken into account
The US State Department said Washington was “confident” that Turkey’s concerns about admitting Sweden and Finland into NATO would be addressed.
“Turkey is a long-standing and valued NATO ally,” spokesman Ned Price said. “We understand Turkey’s longstanding concerns and will continue to work together in our efforts to end the scourge of terrorism.”
Turkey has accused Finland and Sweden of harboring ‘terrorists’, in reference to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement, the latter which Ankara accuses of being behind a coup failed in 2016 against the government.
Surrender of the last Ukrainian fighters from the Mariupol steelworks: Russia
The Russian Defense Ministry said the last group of Ukrainian forces locked in the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol had surrendered, marking the end of a week-long siege.
“The territory of the Azovstal Metallurgical Plant (…) has been completely liberated,” the ministry said in a statement.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Read all of the Friday, May 20 updates here.