Ukrainian prosecutor general is investigating more than 11,000 alleged war crimes by Russia
From Saskya Vandoorne and Daria Markina in Kyiv
The office of Ukraine's prosecutor general told CNN that a total of 11,239 alleged war crimes by Russian soldiers are being investigated, involving some 8,000 prosecutors nationwide.
The prosecutor general's office said the vast majority of crimes involve breaking the laws and customs of war.
On May 5, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova claimed that the Russian army had committed more than 9,800 war crimes in 70 days of war while testifying to the Helsinki Commission.
Today, a 21-year-old Russian soldier appeared in court for the first war crimes trial since Russia invaded Ukraine back in February. He is accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old man in Ukraine’s Sumy region, according to the prosecutor general's office.
1:31 p.m. ET, May 13, 2022
Turkish president is not looking "positively" at Finland and Sweden potentially joining NATO
From CNN's Talia Kayali in Atlanta, Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul and Samantha Tapfumaneyi in London
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he is not looking at Finland and Sweden joining NATO "positively," accusing both counties of housing Kurdish "terrorist organizations."
"We are following the developments but do not view it positively," Erdoğan said in a presser following Friday prayers in Istanbul.
"Unfortunately, Scandinavian countries are like guesthouses of terror organizations," Erdoğan alleged. "PKK and DHKP-C have taken shelter in Sweden and Netherlands. They have even taken place in their parliaments. At this stage, it is not possible for us to see this positively."
The PKK, or Kurdistan Worker's Party, which seeks an independent state in Turkey, has been in an armed struggle with Turkey for decades and has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the EU.
DHKP-C is an extreme left organization hostile to the Turkish state, the United States and NATO.
Sweden's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ann Linde responded, saying that "the Turkish government has not delivered this kind of message directly to us."
"My Turkish foreign minister colleague, with whom I have a very good and constructive relationship, is coming to this weekend's informal NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Berlin, where both Sweden and Finland have been invited," Linde said.
"We will then have the opportunity to talk to each other about a possible Swedish NATO application, and I hope that we will continue to receive positive messages from all 30 NATO countries. Many of the 30 allies have publicly expressed very strong support for Sweden and Finland," she added.
NATO foreign ministers are meeting in Germany on Saturday, and Finnish, Swedish, and Turkish ministers of foreign affairs will have the opportunity to discuss Turkey's reaction.
CNN has reached out to the Netherlands for comment, and it has yet to respond.
Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday, according to Turkey's state-run news agency Anadolu.
2:22 p.m. ET, May 13, 2022
Ukrainian military says Russian retreat in Kharkiv continues
From CNN's Tim Lister
In a brief update late Friday, the Ukrainian armed forces said that Russian forces are focused on ensuring the withdrawal of troops from the Kharkiv region.
Those troops have come under growing pressure from Ukrainian counter-attacks along a wide front to the west of their supply lines.
The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said there had been more artillery shelling of Ukrainian held territory as the Russians tried to make progress towards Sloviansk, a key objective. The village of Nova Dmytrivka had come under fire, it said, as it has done since late April.
It also said that there had been airstrikes around Dolyna, which is 20 kilometers (more than 12 miles) north of Sloviansk and nearby Adamivka. Airstrikes in the area earlier this week damaged two religious' sites, according to Ukrainian authorities.
In the Luhansk region, a Russian attack on the town of Zolote had been repulsed, the General Staff said, adding that more cross-border shelling was reported far from the current area of hostilities in the northeastern region of Sumy as well as an airstrike against a village in the region.
1:23 p.m. ET, May 13, 2022
US defense secretary spoke to Russian counterpart for first time since Feb. 18 and urged "immediate ceasefire"
From CNN's Michael Callahan, Ellie Kaufman and Oren Liebermann
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with his Russian counterpart for the first time on Friday since before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon announced.
“On May 13, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu for the first time since February 18," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.
Austin "urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication," Kirby said.
The phone call between Austin and Shoygu lasted for about an hour on Friday, a senior US defense official told reporters Friday.
Austin requested the two leaders speak, the official said, noting that the US secretary of state "initiated it."
"Both leaders had a chance to talk back and forth with one another, but I’m not gonna get any more into the context of it," the official added, saying Austin expressed an "interest in keeping the line of communication," between the two leaders open.
This is the first time the two leaders have spoken in 84 days, since before Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.
12:58 p.m. ET, May 13, 2022
Ukrainian artillery is "frustrating" Russian efforts to progress, senior US defense official says
From CNN's Michael Conte
Ukrainian artillery is “frustrating” Russian efforts to advance in the Donbas, according to a senior US defense official, particularly as Russia attempts to move forces across the Donets River to reinforce their position in the northern Donbas.
The official said there is a lot of fighting between Izium and Sloviansk, but the Russians have not been able to make much progress there.
However, Russian forces have made “incremental” gains to the west of Popasna, according to the official.
Meanwhile, the "vast majority" of the 89 M777 howitzer artillery systems the US has given to Ukraine are "in the fight" and are in a "forward-deployed setting," the official told reporters Friday.
"The feedback we’re getting from artillery men inside Ukraine is very positive about the usefulness of the M777s," the official said.
About 30 Ukrainian soldiers have completed a maintenance course for the M777 howitzers, and another 17 are in the two-week maintenance course now, the official said, adding that 370 Ukrainian soldiers have completed training on how to use the howitzers.
About 20 Ukrainians are "in the midst of the training on the Puma," which is an unmanned aerial system, and training on the Phoenix Ghost has also been completed, the official added.
12:14 p.m. ET, May 13, 2022
Finland's president discussed "next steps" of NATO bid with US and Swedish leaders
From CNN's Allie Malloy and Arlette Saenz
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said he discussed “Finland’s next steps towards NATO membership” in a call with US President Joe Biden and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson today.
The call was about 40 minutes long, according to The White House.
It comes one day 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. The Kremlin has responded by saying the move would be a threat to Russia and warned of possible retaliation.
The Swedish prime minister also tweeted about the call, saying the leaders discussed “Russian aggression against Ukraine,” as well as Swedish and Finnish security policy. Andersson also expressed gratitude for America’s “support for our security and respective security policy choices.”
11:58 a.m. ET, May 13, 2022
UK and Norway give "full support" for Nordic countries to make their own "sovereign choice" on security
From CNN’s Max Foster in London
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Støre met on Friday, giving their “full support” for Nordic countries to make their own “sovereign choice” on security, according to a statement from Downing Street.
“The Prime Minister and Prime Minister Støre agreed that neither NATO nor the Nordic region posed a threat and that the longstanding policy of ‘High North, low tension’ had created decades of stability and prosperity for the area,” the statement said.
The statement stressed that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and hostility toward neighboring states was “unjustified” and was “already proving to be a miscalculation,” adding that the two leaders agreed to provide training and equipment to the Ukrainian military.
“They also agreed on the need for NATO allies to back Ukraine politically, taking a unified approach that avoids giving Putin license to further twist the knife in the wound of Ukraine,” according to the statement.
The statement concluded by saying that the two leaders signed a joint declaration on the UK-Norway relationship, meaning the two countries will cooperate “more extensively” than any country in the world.
11:40 a.m. ET, May 13, 2022
This Russian tank graveyard is becoming a new tourist attraction
From Ivana Kottasová and Oleksandra Ochman in Dmytrivka, near Kyiv
On the road from Kyiv to Bucha, a short stretch of scorched ground in the middle of the woods has become something of an attraction in recent weeks.
It’s known as the Russian tank graveyard.
A dozen or so blown up tanks and armored vehicles lie scattered around. Rusty and grotesquely deformed, they attract the attention of many of those passing by.
They’ve been sitting there ever since the Ukrainian army managed to liberate the area after it was under Russian occupation for several weeks in March.
With the seemingly constant stream of bad news coming from eastern and southern parts of Ukraine, many come to this place to see first hand what a victory looks like. Some make a brief stop to look at the damage and take a quick picture or two. But many stay here for a while.
They carefully examine the burnt wreckage, looking inside the vehicles. One man takes a smiling selfie in front of a burnt vehicle with the letter V still visible on it.
Liza Maramon and her boyfriend stopped by the tank graveyard on their way to visit Maramon’s mother who lives in the area. She recently returned home after being evacuated in early March.
“She spent five days sitting in a basement, without electricity, without anything, it was very horrible,” the 26-year old charity worker said. Her mother left when the Russian tanks started closing in on the town. Two days after they managed to flee, the Russians took control of the town.
Nearby, a couple of kids happily climb up a rusty Russian tank as if it was a set of monkey bars at a playground.
Maramon herself took several photos of the destroyed vehicles and planned to share them with friends and post them on social media.
“I can’t explain how I feel. Everyone should remember this. We need to show people, the whole world. It’s not normal,” she said.
11:44 a.m. ET, May 13, 2022
Russia stealing grain from Ukraine is "an especially repugnant form of war," German agriculture minister says
From CNN's Nadine Schmidt in Berlin
German Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir on Friday accused Russia of theft from Ukrainian farmers, saying it is "an especially repugnant form of war that Russia is leading, in that it is stealing, robbing, taking for itself grain from eastern Ukraine."
Speaking in the southwestern German city of Stuttgart, where agriculture ministers of the G7 met together with their Ukrainian counterparts to discuss how to head off a looming international food crisis sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Özdemir said it's "a particularly disgusting component within the war that [Putin] uses starvation."
"All people, everyone, will pay the price for this war worldwide, even if they live on another continent," Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi said at the conference.
"People will have to pay more for food, and they must be aware that they will have to pay more each day," he said.
On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that the foreign ministers of the G7, along with their counterparts from Ukraine and Moldova, will discuss how to end a blockade of Ukrainian grain so it can be exported to the world.
CNN found earlier this month that a Russian merchant ship loaded with grain stolen in Ukraine has been turned away from at least one Mediterranean port and is now in the Syrian port of Latakia, according to shipping sources and Ukrainian officials. It had nearly 30,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat, according to Ukrainian officials.
The Ukrainian defense ministry estimates that at least 400,000 tons of grain has been stolen and taken out of Ukraine since Russia's invasion.