May 14, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Nectar Gan, Tara John, Sana Noor Haq, Adrienne Vogt and Joe Ruiz, CNN

Updated 0405 GMT (1205 HKT) May 15, 2022
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9:28 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Finland will decide to seek NATO membership "in the next few days," nation's president tells Putin

From CNN's Chris Liakos and Radina Gigova

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö speaks at a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, on May 11.
Finland's President Sauli Niinistö speaks at a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, on May 11. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images)

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Saturday that the Nordic nation will decide "to seek NATO membership in the next few days," Niinistö's office said in a statement.

During the phone call initiated by Finland, "President Niinistö told President Putin how fundamentally the Russian demands in late 2021 aiming at preventing countries from joining NATO and Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have altered the security environment of Finland," read the statement.

“The conversation was direct and straight-forward and it was conducted without aggravations. Avoiding tensions was considered important,” Niinistö is quoted as saying in the statement. 

Niinistö noted that he had already told Putin in their first meeting in 2012 "that every independent nation maximizes its security" and that "this is what is happening now, too," the statement said.

By joining NATO, Finland "strengthens its own security and assumes its responsibility" as "it is not away from anyone else," the statement says. In the future, Finland "wants to take care of the practical questions arising from being a neighbor of Russia in a correct and professional manner," it adds. 

Niinistö "repeated his deep concern over the human suffering caused by the war Russia wages in Ukraine" and "stressed the imperative of peace." He also "conveyed the messages on securing the evacuation of civilians delivered earlier in the same week by (Ukraine's) President Volodymyr Zelenskyy," according to the statement. 

What the Kremlin says: Niinistö and Putin had "a frank exchange of views" during a phone call on Saturday that was held in connection with the announced intention of the Finnish leadership to apply for NATO membership, the Kremlin said in a statement. 

"Vladimir Putin stressed that abandoning the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake, since there are no threats to Finland's security," according to the statement. 

"Such a change in the country's foreign policy may have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations, which for many years have been built in the spirit of good neighborliness and partnership cooperation, and were mutually beneficial," it added.

The leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

"Vladimir Putin, in particular, shared his assessment of the state of the negotiation process between Russian and Ukrainian representatives, which was actually suspended by Kyiv, who do not show interest in a serious and constructive dialogue," the statement said. 

8:21 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Ukrainian fighter describes atrocious conditions for wounded at Azovstal: "Almost impossible to save them"

From CNN's Tim Lister and Julia Presniakova

Smoke rises at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 13.
Smoke rises at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 13. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

One of the Ukrainian fighters still trapped in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol has described the atrocious conditions for the wounded there.

Speaking on Ukrainian television from within the plant, the unidentified fighter said there were about 600 wounded still within the sprawling complex. 

"The conditions are just awful," he said.

"Today I was in the hospital. This is a huge gym, school ... several dozen bunk beds. Everything else is just on the floor. Fighters are simply lying without limbs, without arms, without legs," the fighter said.
"They are dying in large numbers because we can't provide medical care. There are simply no medicines. Those with severe wounds ... it is almost impossible to save them."

He described the conditions in the hospital ward as "completely unsanitary. It's already warmer, so there are flies. The smell is disgusting."

After the collapse of the operating room's ceiling, it had been moved to the same room as the hospital, the fighter said. Medics were operating without anesthesia.

The fighter said he had witnessed one surgery on a soldier with a bad leg wound: "He has a belt in his teeth. He is without anesthesia. And two doctors are trying to remove something there. He yells into this belt, his leg twitches."

The fighter said he was not sure whether all civilians had been evacuated from the enormous complex.

"No one can be 100% sure. Let's just say that we took out those civilians that we knew about. Somewhere they may be under the rubble, in some bunkers, where we have not yet explored in some shelters. Therefore, no one can be 100% sure. But those civilians whom we knew who were here, we took out completely 100%," he said.

There's been no word Saturday on the progress of negotiations to evacuate the badly wounded from Azovstal. Late Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that "at the moment, very difficult negotiations are underway on the next stage of the evacuation mission, the removal of the seriously wounded and medics. We are talking about a large number of people."

8:14 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

G7 urges China "not to undermine sanctions" imposed on Russia

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau in London

Foreign ministers of the G7 meet in Berlin, Germany, on May 13.
Foreign ministers of the G7 meet in Berlin, Germany, on May 13. (Janine Schmitz/Photothek/Getty Images)

Foreign ministers of the G7, representing the world's richest nations, said in a joint statement Saturday they “will never recognize borders Russia has attempted to change by military aggression,” adding that the G7 rejected “any notion of spheres of influence and any use of force that is not in compliance with international law."

The group also called on China, in a separate communiqué, “not to assist Russia in its war of aggression against Ukraine, not to undermine sanctions imposed on Russia for its attack against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, not to justify Russian action in Ukraine, and to desist from engaging in information manipulation, disinformation and other means to legitimize Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

After three days of talks in Germany, the group of foreign ministers collectively expressed their “solidarity with and support for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s unjustifiable, unprovoked and illegal war of aggression.”

In the presence of the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Moldova, the group added the war had reaffirmed their determination to “reject outright attempts to redraw borders by force in violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

We will pursue our ongoing military and defense assistance to Ukraine as long as necessary,” the statement read. The G7 will also broaden its sanctions “to include sectors on which Russia has particular dependence,” without the statement giving more details.

G7 foreign ministers emphasized their support of Moldova’s stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, and called on Belarus to “stop enabling Russia’s aggression” and “abide by its international obligations.” There are fears that Russia could start a new front in the war in Eastern Europe via Transnistria, a breakaway territory within Moldova that has housed Russian troops for decades.

We will never recognize borders Russia has attempted to change by military aggression,” the statement read, adding that the G7 rejected “any notion of spheres of influence and any use of force that is not in compliance with international law.”

G7 foreign ministers also said they would “uphold (their) engagement in the support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea and all states," and affirmed its determination to "ensure availability and accessibility of food, energy and financial resources as well as basic commodities” in Ukraine.

7:47 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Picking up the pieces in a place that saw the horrors of wars

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Oleksandra Ochman in Kyiv

Tamara Aheieva sells home-made food, vegetables and flowers. 
Tamara Aheieva sells home-made food, vegetables and flowers.  (David von Blohn/CNN)

The remnants of the horrors that transpired in Dmytrivka just a few weeks ago are everywhere around Tamara Aheieva.

Across the road from her little produce stall lies the burnt wreckage of a Russian armored vehicle. Just to the right of her is the deep crater left behind by a rocket, its edges formed of strangely smooth asphalt that melted on impact, then solidified again.

The building next to it is seriously damaged, its roof collapsed on itself.

“A man I knew was killed riding his bike down the road,” she said.

Friday was Aheieva’s first day back selling home-made pickled vegetables, flowers, potatoes and what she calls “zucchini caviar.”

She fled the village when Russian troops starting to close in and spent the next few weeks about 50 miles (80km) away in Zhytomyr region.

Aheieva said 17 houses have been destroyed in this tiny village alone. She was lucky — her home is a bit further from the main road and was spared the worst damage.

We were here until the last moment. We left when the awful things started happening,” she said.

Before the war, the 64-year old pensioner would be one of many coming here to trade home-made food, vegetables and flowers. Now, it’s just her.

“People are just coming back. Normally we sell flowers and vegetable and people stop and buy from us, I hope they will come back,” she said.

6:28 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Ukrainian MMA champion Yaroslav Amosov recounts the horrors of war

From CNN's Matias Grez


As MMA fighter Yaroslav Amosov walks through the streets surrounding his hometown of Irpin, which sits around 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) west of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, there are fleeting moments when it seems like an ordinary day in May.

But for many Ukrainians, such moments have been few and far between since Russia began its invasion on February 24 and every few steps, Amosov is reminded of the destruction Vladimir Putin's war has brought to his homeland.

It's hard to look at your city that was once full of happiness, life," Amosov, a reigning world champion, tells CNN Sport in an exclusive interview from Ukraine.

"It was always very beautiful here, people were happy, they were happy with their life and took pleasure in it.

Yaroslav Amosov, second from right, rests with fellow Ukrainian soldiers in Irpin, Ukraine, on March 6.
Yaroslav Amosov, second from right, rests with fellow Ukrainian soldiers in Irpin, Ukraine, on March 6. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock)

"Then simply to look at the city now, which is on fire, which is getting destroyed and it becomes horrible to look at. You couldn't really go driving around the city because the roads were covered with trees, in some places, there were parts of houses. Destruction."

The Ukrainian is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of his generation and, at 26-0, currently holds the longest active unbeaten streak in all of MMA. On May 13, he should have been defending his welterweight world title at Bellator's event at Wembley Arena in London, before Russia's invasion of Ukraine forced him to pull out.

Read the full story:

9:28 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

What you need to know about Finland, Sweden and NATO

From Josh Berlinger in Paris

Finland is on the cusp of joining NATO while Sweden is on the verge of following suit. Here's what you need to know about how the war in Ukraine pushed the two Nordic states closer to the US-backed alliance, and what comes next:

Why haven't Finland and Sweden already joined NATO?

While other Nordic countries like Norway, Denmark and Iceland were original members of the alliance, Sweden and Finland did not join the pact for historic and geopolitical reasons.

Both Finland, which declared independence from Russia in 1917 after the Bolshevik revolution, and Sweden adopted neutral foreign policy stances during the Cold War, refusing to align with the Soviet Union or the United States.

For Finland, this proved more difficult, as it shared a massive border with an authoritarian superpower. To keep the peace, Finns adopted a process some call "Finlandization," in which leaders acceded to Soviet demands from time to time.

Both countries' balancing acts effectively ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union. They joined the European Union together in 1995 and gradually aligned their defense policies with the West, while still avoiding joining NATO outright.

Each country had different reasons for avoiding signing up for NATO pact in tandem with the EU.

For Finland, it was more geopolitical. The threat for Russia is more tangible thanks to the two countries' shared 830-mile border.

"Finland has been the exposed country, and we've been the protected country," former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt told CNN's Christiane Amanpour in a joint interview alongside former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb.

While an independent nation, Sweden's geography puts it in the same "strategic environment" as its liberal democratic neighbors, Bildt said. Finland and Sweden have enjoyed a close partnership for decades, with Stockholm viewing its decision to refrain from joining NATO as a way to help keep the heat off Helsinki. Now, however, Sweden is likely to follow Finland's lead.

Read the full story here:

5:31 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Russia cuts its electricity supply to Finland, Finnish operator confirms

From CNN’s Martin Goillandeau in London

Russia has suspended power exports to Finland, Finnish operator Fingrid confirmed to CNN on Saturday.

Fingrid’s Senior Vice President of Power System Operations Reima Päivinen said the supply was effectively cut at 12 a.m. CET on Saturday (7 p.m. ET Friday).

He added that the suspension did not have any impact on the market and that Finland “can cope” with the cut, as Russian electricity amounts to a small fraction of the country’s total consumption. 

“We’re also heading into the summer and less electricity will be needed,” Päivinien said, adding he was “confident there won’t be any major problems” next winter. 

On Friday, Fingrid said Russia was suspending power exports due to problems in receiving payments.

Some context: 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 on Thursday. The proposal would then be put into a parliamentary vote with a plenary scheduled for Monday morning.

Russia's foreign ministry said Finland's possible accession to NATO marked a "radical change in the country's foreign policy" and warned of retaliatory countermeasures.

Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia and its accession would mean that Russia would share a border with a country that is formally aligned with the US.

"Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security that arise in this regard," it said.

In late April, Gazprom said it fully halted supplies to Polish gas company PGNiG and Bulgaria's Bulgargaz after they refused to meet a demand by Moscow to pay in rubles rather than euros or dollars.

8:46 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Ukrainian military says Russians retreating from Kharkiv

From CNN's Tim Lister

Ukrainian Army vehicles drive past the remains of a Russian tank near Kharkiv on Friday, May 13.
Ukrainian Army vehicles drive past the remains of a Russian tank near Kharkiv on Friday, May 13. (Bernat Armangue/AP)

The Ukrainian armed forces said in a brief update late Friday that Russian forces are focused on ensuring the withdrawal of troops from the northern 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 fierce counterattack has taken back a number of villages in the area east of Kharkiv. Ukraine's advances threaten the symbolic embarrassment of pushing the Kremlin's forces back to their own border, while posing the strategic threat of cutting Russia's supply lines into Ukraine and its forces further south in the Donbas region. It has also revealed further evidence of apparent Russian atrocities, according to a CNN team on the ground.

The General Staff on Friday also reported more cross-border shelling far from the current area of hostilities in the northeastern region of Sumy -- as well as an airstrike against a village in the region.

In the east of Ukraine, the General Staff said there had been more artillery shelling of Ukrainian-held territory as the Russians tried to make progress towards Sloviansk in the Donetsk region, 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 12 miles (20 kilometers) 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, the General Staff said a Russian attack on the town of Zolote had been repulsed. 

5:00 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

It's 12 p.m. in Kyiv. Here's what you need to know

NATO leaders are meeting as Finland and Sweden make moves to join the US-led alliance. This comes as Ukraine's defense minister says the country is now entering a "long" phase of war with Russia. Here's the latest:

Nordic NATO developments: NATO foreign ministers are convening in Germany on Saturday while the Finnish government plans to issue a second white paper on Sunday proposing that the country joins NATO. But NATO-member Turkey signaled hesitancy about the bloc's expansion. The Kremlin says it will be "forced to take retaliatory steps" if Finland goes forward. Russia will suspend power exports to Finland starting Saturday due to problems in receiving payments, Finland’s transmission system operator Fingrid said in a statement on Friday.

Where the fighting is happening: In eastern Ukraine, satellite imagery and first-hand testimony have provided a fuller picture of the multiple and disastrous efforts by Russian forces to cross the Siverskyi Donets River over the past week. Russians may have sustained heavy casualties, and lost as many as 70 armored vehicles and other equipment in attempting to cross the river early this week. Their goal was to try to encircle Ukrainian defenses in the Luhansk region, but it failed spectacularly. 

In the Luhansk region, more than 50 houses have been destroyed by Russian shelling, as fighting continues to rage around a belt of industrial towns in the area, according to Ukrainian officials. The Russians appear to have made little progress on the ground after consolidating their control over Rubizhne earlier this week.

In northern Ukraine, a Ukrainian counterattack has taken back a number of villages in the area east of Kharkiv. The Ukrainian advances threaten the symbolic embarrassment of expelling the Kremlin's forces back to their own border and while posing the strategic threat of cutting Russia's supply lines into Ukraine and its forces further south in the Donbas region. It has also revealed further evidence of apparent atrocities.

In Mariupol, difficult negotiations are continuing over the fate of Ukrainian soldiers still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant, Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk region military administration, said. In the meantime, he said, the Russians continued to attack Avozstal from the air. "These are heavy, vacuum, high-explosive bombs," the official said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukraine has retaken six settlements from Russian forces on Friday, and 1,015 overall since the start of the conflict in February. It is unclear exactly how much territory those settlements constitute. Zelensky did outline other gains by Ukraine’s military in those areas.

Ukraine appeals for more defense systems: A Ukrainian lawmaker called on the United States to provide air defense systems and fighter jets to Ukraine, saying that the situation on the battlefield is "far worse" than it was at the beginning of the war. The House of Representatives passed the $40 billion Ukraine aid supplemental this week, but the Senate failed to pass the bill after Sen. Rand Paul blocked its passage.

Rising food prices see India export ban: India is banning wheat exports as prices rise worldwide due to Russia's prolonged war on Ukraine. India is the world’s second-highest producer of wheat, the bulk of which is consumed domestically. Ukraine and Russia together are responsible for about 14% of global wheat production. Wheat exports from the Black Sea region have plummeted since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, sending global buyers to turn to India to alleviate supply shortages. 

War crimes trial: 21-year-old soldier Vadim Shishimarin is set to become the first Russian to be tried for war crimes at a trial in Kyiv on Friday. He is accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old man in Ukraine’s Sumy region, according to the country's prosecutor general's office.

War looms large at the Eurovision: Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra is the favorite to win at tonight's Eurovision Song Contest, the continent's garish and much-loved singing competition scheduled to take place in Turin, Italy. Russia was removed from the competition following its invasion of Ukraine.