May 12, 2022: Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Jessie Yeung, Travis Caldwell, Adrienne Vogt, Seán Federico O'Murchú, George Ramsay, Jack Guy and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 3:21 p.m. ET, May 16, 2022
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6:47 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Finland's NATO support is a result of "very drastic change" in security environment

From Laura Ford, Jaya Sharma and Sarra Alayyan

Finland’s support for joining NATO is the result of a “very drastic change in our security environment” after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Klaus Korhonen, Finnish Ambassador to NATO told CNN on Thursday.

Currently, there are no “direct military threats against Finland,” by Russia, Korhonen said, adding that they don’t see any “irregular activity.”

But the nation does expect potential “cyber harassment” or “disinformation campaigns,” by Russia which would be “nothing new” to them, he added.

Remember: Finland shares an 800-mile border with Russia and its accession to the alliance would mean that Russia would share a border with a country that is formally aligned with the United States.

When asked what the Nordic-nation has to offer NATO if it were to join, Korhonen said that they have a “strong national defense” and that by being a member of the alliance the protection “would be even more effective.”

“We have a strong defense, we have a very capable border guard, and I think right now we are awake, so I think the border is very secure,” he said. 

Korhonen continued by saying that while nuclear rhetoric is “always part of Russian security policy narratives at this time,” we are currently “very far away from any nuclear situation.”

“The use of nuclear weapons or threat of use of nuclear weapons, that would open up an entirely new chapter in the Euro Atlantic landscape,” he said.

6:00 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

UK calls for further sanctions on Russia

From CNN's Bethlehem Feleke

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss walks to bilateral talks with her Japanese counterpart at the meeting of the G7 Foreign Ministers in Germany on May 12.
The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss walks to bilateral talks with her Japanese counterpart at the meeting of the G7 Foreign Ministers in Germany on May 12. (Marcus Brandt/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called for international allies to commit more sanctions against Russia until it completely withdrawals from Ukraine and agrees to peace, according to a UK statement following a meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers in Germany on Thursday.

She urged sanctions on Russia not be lifted until those demands are met.

The foreign secretary also asserted that NATO allies should plan to assist Ukraine's transition to NATO-standard equipment by the end of the summer. That would include supplying NATO-standard artillery shells, as well as training and expertise. 

In addition to NATO provided support, Truss also urged the G7 to plan for helping Ukraine rebuild from the war by providing financial and technical assistance, "building on the principle of a Marshal Plan."

4:06 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

US: "Several thousand Ukrainians" sent to so-called filtration centers and tens of thousands taken to Russia

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The United States assesses that Russian forces have sent “at least several thousand Ukrainians” to be processed at Russia’s so-called filtration centers “and evacuated at least tens of thousands more to Russia or Russia-controlled territory,” US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Michael Carpenter said Thursday.

The forced displacement – and reported violence that are faced by those at the so-called filtration centers – amount to war crimes, Carpenter said according to the transcript of his remarks to the OSCE Permanent Council.

“Numerous eyewitness accounts indicate that ‘filtering out’ entails beating and torturing individuals to determine whether they owe even the slightest allegiance to the Ukrainian state,” Carpenter said.

Some background:CNN investigation in April revealed that Russian forces and allied separatist soldiers were taking Mariupol residents to a so-called “filtration center” set up in Bezimenne, where they were registered before being sent on to Russia, many against their will. Ukrainian government and local Mariupol officials say that tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been forcibly deported to the Donetsk People’s Republic and Russia since the war began.

“Survivors of this process describe a coercive, multi-destination journey through various ‘filtration’ waypoints in the Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine, and eventually across the border into Russia itself," Carpenter noted. “Survivors describe these centers as either makeshift encampments composed of military tents or civilian infrastructure such as schools or sports centers. Commercial satellite images show these encampments in various locations across Ukraine’s southeast.”

The US Mission to the OSCE declined to discuss the sources of the information, but said it is confident in the assessment and the scale of the numbers stated.

According to Carpenter, victims described an "invasive and humiliating" inspection process at these centers.

“Russia’s soldiers photograph victims from various angles, fingerprint and physically examine them for tattoos, inspect their cell phones and download their contacts and data onto devices, and record their biographic information in a variety of databases ... In some cases, Russia’s soldiers confiscated passports, identification documents, and cell phones altogether,” Carpenter said.

“Once in Russia, survivors report that some Ukrainian citizens are permitted to stay with friends and family living in Russia but that people without money or documents are put onto trains destined for cities hundreds of miles away, to be given jobs by Russian authorities,” he added.

4:08 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Finnish foreign minister says the government expected to propose country join NATO on Sunday

From Chris Liakos in Helsinki, Finland

Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto addresses a joint press conference with his French counterpart in Helsinki, Finland, on March 31.
Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto addresses a joint press conference with his French counterpart in Helsinki, Finland, on March 31. (Emmi Korhonen/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images)

The Finnish government is planning to issue a second white paper on Sunday proposing that the country joins NATO, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters in a media briefing in Helsinki on Thursday.

The proposal would then be put into a parliamentary vote with a plenary scheduled for Monday morning.

Haavisto noted that it is “important to go through a proper parliamentary debate”

The Finnish foreign minister said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had “changed very much the security landscape in Europe,” adding that it also changed the public opinion on NATO membership.

“For the first time ever the majority of Finns support a NATO membership,” he said.

Haavisto told reporters that the country is in close contact with the Swedish Foreign Ministry as Sweden also considers joining NATO. He added that he is in talks with European partners and the UK as applicant countries are not covered by security guarantees.

2:17 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minister urges German companies to pull out of Russia and relocate to Ukraine

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday urged for German companies to pull out of Russia and relocate to Ukraine.

Kuleba tweeted, "As Russia keeps committing heinous atrocities in Ukraine, revenues of foreign companies still doing business in Russia are stained with Ukrainian blood. I urge German businesses to pull out of Russia and relocate to Ukraine. This will be a sincere contribution to peace in Europe."

Earlier Thursday, Kuleba told reporters in Berlin that Ukraine has seen the positive dynamic and praised Germany's response to the war with Russia. ''We see an evolving position of Germany on the most important issues — this position is moving in the right direction,'' Kuleba said.

View Kuleba's tweet here:

2:11 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

France says it fully supports Finland’s "sovereign choice" to join NATO 

From CNN's Zahid Mahmood in London, Joseph Ataman in Paris and Nadine Schmidt in Berlin

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the media in February in Berlin.
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the media in February in Berlin. (Hannibal Hanschke/Pool/Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron told his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö on Thursday that France “fully supports” Finland’s bid to join NATO. 

"The President of the [French] Republic has told the President of Finland that France fully supports Finland's sovereign choice to quickly join NATO," the Elysee Palace said in a statement. 

Earlier on Thursday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also welcomed Finland’s bid to join the alliance and offered Berlin’s “full support,” after Finland's president and prime minister announced their support for joining NATO, moving the Nordic nation — which shares an 800-mile border with Russia — one step closer to membership of the US-led military alliance.  

On Wednesday, Niinistö said that Russian President Vladimir Putin should “look in the mirror" if Finland decides to join NATO to increase its own security.  

While speaking alongside British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Helsinki, the Finnish leader said that if Finland joined NATO, it would be the result of Putin’s own actions. 


1:39 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Another Russian naval ship is on fire in the Black Sea, Ukraine says

From CNN's Tim Lister and Olga Voitovych

A Russian support ship, the "Vsevolod Bobrov," was being towed to Sevastopol from the area of Snake Island after it caught fire, according to Serhii Bratchuk, spokesperson for Odesa Regional Military Administration.

2:06 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

G7 foreign ministers will discuss how to end Ukrainian grain blockade during meeting in Germany 

From CNN’s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin 

The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations will discuss how to end a blockade of Ukrainian grain so it can be exported to the world, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Thursday, as the meeting kicks off at the Baltic Sea resort of Weissenhaus, northeast of the German city of Hamburg.    

''There are 25 millions of grain currently blocked in the Ukrainian port of Odesa, which means food for millions of people in the world that is urgently needed, above all in African countries and the Middle East,” Baerbock told reporters.  

Ukraine is one of the world's largest grain-producing countries. 

The UN has called to reopen the Odesa port in southern Ukraine to help ease a global food crisis. CNN has also reported that Russian forces are stealing thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers, as well as targeting food storage sites with artillery, according to multiple sources. 

The German foreign minister on Thursday welcomed top diplomats of the G7 nations for a three-day meeting, which will focus on the war in Ukraine, energy and food security, relationship with China and climate change.  

Baerbock also welcomed her Ukrainian and Moldovan counterparts, Dmytro Kuleba and Nicu Popescu, who are attending the meeting as guests.  

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, whose country chairs the Group of 20 major economies (G20) this year, is also participating in the meeting but remotely.  

1:02 p.m. ET, May 12, 2022

Nearly 100 children killed in Ukraine in April alone and actual figures could be higher, UNICEF says

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam 

UNICEF has verified that almost 100 children were killed in Ukraine in April alone, but actual figures could be significantly higher with the conflict creating a child protection crisis, a top UNICEF official told the UN Security Council on Thursday.

"In just this past month, the UN verified that nearly 100 children were killed, and we believe the actual figures to be considerably higher," UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi said. 

During his remarks at the UN Security Council Meeting on the maintenance of peace and security in Ukraine, Abdi said, "More children have been injured and faced grave violations of their rights, millions more have been displaced," and added, "The war in Ukraine, like all wars, is a child protection and child rights crisis."

Abdi also said that "education is also under attack" and "schools continue to be used for military purposes."

"As of last week, at least 15 of 89 — one in six — UNICEF-supported schools in eastern Ukraine had been damaged or destroyed since the start of the war." he said and added, "Hundreds of schools across the country are reported to have been hit by heavy artillery, airstrikes, and other explosive weapons in populated areas." 

"Schools are a lifeline for children, especially in conflict. Schools are a safe spaces, with routines providing protection from harm and a semblance of normalcy. Schools are also critical conduits for information about the risks of deadly explosive ordnance. And they are a connector to essential health and psychosocial services," he continued.