Finnish President and Prime Minister say "Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay"
In a joint statement Thursday, 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.
"During this spring, an important discussion on Finland's possible NATO membership has taken place," said Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin. "Time has been needed to let parliament and the whole society establish their stands on the matter. Time has been needed for close international contacts with NATO and its member countries, as well as with Sweden. We have wanted to give the discussion the space it required."
The leaders said that the "moment of decision-making is near" and Finland must apply for NATO membership.
"NATO membership would strengthen Finland's security. As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defence alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days," the joint statement said.
8:12 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022
Breaking News: Finland's leaders announce support for NATO membership
In a statement Thursday, 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.
2:58 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022
Siemens to exit Russian market as a result of invasion of Ukraine
From CNN's Jake Kwon and Alex Stambaugh
German manufacturing conglomerate Siemens says it will exit the Russian market as a result of the war in Ukraine.
"We join the international community in condemning the war in Ukraine and are focused on supporting our people and providing humanitarian aid," the company said in a statement Thursday.
The multinational corporation said it has started "proceedings to wind down its industrial operations and all industrial business activities."
Siemens said it had earlier put all new business in Russia and international deliveries to Russia on hold "while it evaluated the situation to ensure the safety of its 3,000 employees in the country."
Read more about the effects of the war on German manufacturers:
Top US House Democrat says leaders are working with Senate to get Ukrainian aid package approved
From CNN's Travis Caldwell and Corey James
US Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN Wednesday night that leaders are working with Senate counterparts to get a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine approved in order to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Schiff credited the US and Ukraine for their quick action on previous aid packages, getting humanitarian aid to citizens and military aid onto the battlefield.
"Those supply lines are now well-orchestrated, and Ukrainians, I think, have done an extraordinary job in getting the materiel to their fighters and to defend the country," he said.
Additional aid packages from the US will depend largely on how long Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his war in Ukraine, Schiff said.
"The more that we do now, the quicker we can bring this to an end once Putin realizes he is not going to accomplish his objectives there," Schiff said. "And the costs to Russia have simply becoming too high. Costs in terms of Russian lives, and costs in terms of the sanctions and the impact on the Russian economy and the Russian people."
Read more about what's in the $40 billion aid package here.
1:59 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022
Russia is the "most direct threat" to world order, says European Commission president
From CNN's Alex Stambaugh and Junko Ogura
Russia's behavior in Ukraine and abroad is the greatest threat to global stability, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday.
Russia "is today the most direct threat to the world order with a barbaric war against Ukraine and its worrying pact with China and their call for new, and very much arbitrary, international relations,” von der Leyen told reporters after talks with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and European Council President Charles Michel in Tokyo.
Michel and von der Leyen are in Tokyo for the 28th EU-Japan summit, during which their support for Ukraine was high on the agenda.
"Our cooperation in Ukraine is critical in Europe, but it’s also important in the Pacific and we also want to deepen our consultation on a more assertive China," Michel told reporters. "We believe that China must stand up to defend the multilateral system that it has benefited from in developing its country." Michel also said "those responsible for war crimes must be and will be brought to justice."
Speaking alongside von der Leyen and Michel, Kishida told reporters, "Russia’s aggression against Ukraine shakes the very foundation of the entire international order, not just for Europe, but for Asia as well, and can never be condoned.”
In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Japan and the European Union have imposed a series of sanctions against Russia, including freezing the assets of President Vladimir Putin and his family members.
1:53 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022
Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine faces bombardments "almost every day," mayor says
From CNN's Travis Caldwell and Niah Humphrey
The mayor of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine told CNN on Wednesday that his city’s proximity to the battlefields between Russian and Ukrainian forces in nearby Kherson means bombardments have occurred “almost every day.”
The frontlines have remained relatively stationary for two weeks, he said, and officials are expecting more aerial attacks since both militaries have taken defensive positions.
Mykolaiv is about 56 miles (90 km) north of Kherson, which has been under Russian control.
Syenkevych strongly disputed Russian reports that residents in areas under their control wish for Russian rule, adding he knows the previous mayor of Kherson who was replaced after the city was seized and that those claims are not true.
"I'm sure that no one wants to go to Russia," Syenkevych said. "People want to be part of Ukraine, but for sure Russian TV and Russian propagandists will say they want to go to Russia. No one wants to go to Russia."
Video shows Russian soldiers killing 2 civilians before they ransack a business
From CNN's Sara Sidner, Sandi Sidhu, Vasco Cotovio, Kostyantyn Gak and Oleksandra Titorova
CNN has obtained surveillance video of what is now being investigated as a war crime by Ukrainian prosecutors, showing Russian soldiers shooting two unarmed civilians as they walked away after an encounter in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
Both civilians died after the heartless shooting that goes against the so-called rules of war that outlaw the targeting of civilians. CNN has identified the victims. One was the owner of the vehicle dealership that was looted, whose family does not want to be named. The other was Leonid Oleksiyovych Plyats, a 68-year-old grandfather who worked as a guard there.
His daughter, Yulia, cannot bear to watch the video of the day her father died, but she is saving it to one day show her children, so they don't forget how savage the invaders were.
"They are executioners," she told CNN. "It's awful because my father was a civilian, he was 68, a peaceful unarmed man."
It's 7:25 a.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know
The struggle over the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol continues, with all the civilians believed to have been evacuated -- though injured soldiers remain inside. Meanwhile, fighting continues in the east of the country, with Ukrainian forces blowing up bridges to counter the Russian advance.
Here are the latest developments:
Civilians out of Azovstal: A Ukrainian captain in the besieged steel plant told CNN on Wednesday he believes all civilians sheltering inside are now out -- but added it's difficult to make a full assessment across the massive facility, given the constant bombardment from Russian forces.
Ukraine offers an exchange: Ukraine has offered to release Russian prisoners of war in exchange for the evacuation of injured Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal plant, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister said on Wednesday. She added there is no agreement yet, and negotiations are underway regarding the proposal.
The risk of returning to Kyiv: The mayor of the Ukrainian capital said he had "no doubt" the city was still Russia's "main target," saying on Wednesday that residents returning should be cautious. As long as the war continued, "we can't give you guarantee" of safety, he said.
Russian civilian reported killed: For the first time, a civilian in Russia has reportedly died as a result of cross-border shelling from Ukraine, according to Russian authorities.
Ukraine blocks Russian efforts: Ukrainian forces blew up two pontoon bridges in the last 24 hours, stopping Russian efforts to cross a river in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. Ukraine's topography — specifically its rivers — has proven a logistical nightmare that's hampered Russian military advances for weeks.
An undisclosed message: The US Ambassador to Russia visited the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairsin Moscow on Wednesday to deliver a message, according to a US State Department. The meeting was to discuss bilateral issues, the official said, without detailing what specific issues were discussed.
12:14 a.m. ET, May 12, 2022
Journalists responsible for publishing articles critical of Putin on pro-Kremlin outlet speak to CNN
From CNN's Paul P. Murphy
Journalists Yegor Polyakov and Aleksandra Miroshnikova, working for Russian online newspaper Lenta.ru, told CNN that the idea to publish dozens of articles critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin came about because they couldn't continue working as usual with the war in Ukraine raging on.
The articles were published to Lenta.ru, a pro-Kremlin news outlet in Russia, on May 9. It coincided with Russia's Victory Day, a major national holiday in the country that celebrates the surrender of the Nazis in Berlin during World War II.
The two journalists published a number of articles with headlines such as "Putin unleashed one of the bloodiest wars of the 21st century" and "Vladimir Putin lied about Russia's plans in Ukraine."
"The idea came to us almost at the same time," the two told CNN in a statement. "We did not even have to discuss with each other the need for this decision. It was simply impossible to continue to work as usual when people are dying in a neighboring country."
"Some people say, 'We had no other choice but to keep working,'" the statement said. "We had no choice but to do what we did. It was the only right decision for us."
Fearful of reprisals against their families in Russia, the two journalists would not go into details of how they published the articles. But they said they have been hard at work for the last week, sleeping only two to five hours a day.
"The articles that we have published are not just catchy headlines, they are well-thought-out materials, with all links, with visual inserts," the two said.
It's unclear whether the two journalists have been fired from Lenta.ru, but they say that they no longer have access to the site's publishing tools.
"Perhaps this will have serious consequences for us," they said — but added that they hope others in Russia will be inspired to do the same. For now, the two say they are no longer in Russia.
"I don't know what's next," Miroshnikova said. "I am in another country, completely alone, I have some small savings to live on for a few months. But I have no idea what to do, where to go and how to live on. Hope I will figure it out."
While both have received positive responses from some readers thanking them and offering them shelter, others — namely colleagues and family members — were less supportive.
"For me personally, the situation is quite difficult, because many of my relatives did not approve of my decision at all," Miroshnikova said. "Someone considered it a betrayal, someone just stupidity, because of which I will be left without a job and any future."