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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10:10 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Russia has deliberately extended its Ukraine invasion into a "grain war," German foreign minister says

From CNN's Inke Kappeler in Berlin

A Ukrainian army officer inspects a grain warehouse in Novovorontsovka, Ukraine, on May 6, after it was shelled by Russian forces.
A Ukrainian army officer inspects a grain warehouse in Novovorontsovka, Ukraine, on May 6, after it was shelled by Russian forces. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Russia has deliberately decided to extend the military war against Ukraine into a grain war, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said during the concluding press conference of the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Germany.

"Russia's actions are causing supplies to fail, prices to rise immeasurably — not only in our country but around the world — and the threat of brutal hunger,“ Baerbock said. 

"We must not be naïve — this is not collateral damage. It is a deliberately chosen instrument in a hybrid war that is being waged right now,“ she added. 

"Russia is preparing the breeding ground for new crises in order to deliberately weaken international cohesion against Russia's war,“ said Baerbock. "Hunger, instability, energy insecurity, the creeping erosion of democratic values, but also of human rights through disinformation" are caused by the Russian aggression on Ukraine, Baerbock said. 

Some background: Russia and Ukraine both produce almost 30% of global wheat exports. Russian troops have been stealing farm equipment and thousands of tons of grain from Ukrainian farmers, as well as targeting food storage sites with artillery, according to sources. Ukraine's defense ministry said last week that an estimated 400,000 tons of grain had been stolen by Russian troops. And CNN tracked a Russian ship loaded with nearly 30,000 tons of Ukrainian grain that was turned away from two Mediterranean ports before landing in Syria.

"How we act, or how we don't act, will shape the way we live together in the world for many years or perhaps decades to come. That is why ducking out of the way, passivity or dithering, hesitation, and then in the end saying nothing at all, is not an option for us, for me personally," Baerbock said. 

"Having had to make many decisions in recent weeks to support Ukraine in a sprint," Baerbock now fears that the alliance must prepare for "a long-distance race" to "to fight this global crisis."

"We will never recognize border changes that Russia wants to enforce by military force,“ Baerbock added. 

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

German foreign minister says she supports Finland and Sweden joining NATO

From CNN's Inke Kappeler in Berlin

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks at a press conference on May 14, in Holstein, Germany.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks at a press conference on May 14, in Holstein, Germany. (Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she supports Finland's and Sweden's accession to NATO, despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's criticism.

"Each country is free to decide on its alliance membership. This also applies to Sweden and Finland," Baerbock said during the concluding press conference following the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Germany. 

"It is not NATO that has pushed Sweden and Finland to join, but the actions of the Russian President have pushed Finland and Sweden, because they want to continue to live in peace with their neighbors, into this alliance, if they join together, which I would very much support," Baerbock said. 

Finland's President Sauli Niinistö told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that the Nordic nation will decide "to seek NATO membership in the next few days." On Thursday, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said Sweden will consider Finland's assessments on NATO membership as it also considers joining the military alliance.

"The German government has already made it clear that we more than support this accession. Sweden and Finland are strong countries in terms of their own defense capabilities. That alone would make their accession stronger for NATO," Baerbock said.  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday welcomed Finland's bid to join NATO and offered Berlin's “full support."

Erdoğan on Friday said he did not view Sweden and Finland's possible accession to NATO "positively" and had claimed on Thursday that "Scandinavian countries are like a guest house for terrorist organizations."

9:36 a.m. ET, May 14, 2022

Families of soldiers trapped in Azovstal appeal to Chinese president for help

From CNN's Saskya Vandoorne in Kyiv

The families of soldiers trapped inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol made a desperate plea to China's President Xi Jinping to act as a mediator in helping to get their loved ones out, just days after they made a similar request to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

During a press conference in central Kyiv on Saturday, the families, who have limited contact with their loved ones, say time is running out for the soldiers who have dwindling medical supplies and almost no food.

Tanya Vychnyk speaks with CNN.
Tanya Vychnyk speaks with CNN. (CNN)

Tanya Vychnyk, who last saw her 21-year-old son Artem in February, said she’s praying for a miracle. “It is hell in there, they are in real hell,” Vychnyk told CNN, her eyes filled with tears. 

They deserve to stand on the surface of the earth and see the sun,” she said.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of Donetsk region military administration, previously said that difficult negotiations are continuing over the soldiers' release, several of whom are injured.

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: