May 16, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Rhea Mogul, Jessie Yeung, Amy Woodyatt, Matias Grez, Ed Upright and Maureen Chowdhury, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022
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8:32 a.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Sweden announces it should "work toward" an application for NATO membership

From CNN's Per Bergfors Nyberg

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson conducts a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 27.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson conducts a press conference in Stockholm, Sweden, on February 27. (Patrik Jonsson/Stella Pictures/Abaca/Sipa USA/AP)

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson announced her party’s support for the country to apply to join NATO.

"We Social Democrats consider that the best for Sweden and the Swedish people’s security is that we join NATO. This is a decision that we have made after very careful consideration," Andersson said during a press conference on Sunday.

Andersson noted this decision reverses a stance the country has taken for 200 years, leaving "a political line of security policies that we have had in different shapes and forms."

"For us Social Democrats, the military non-alliance policy has served us well. But our analysis shows that it will not serve us as well in the future," Andersson said. "This is not a decision that we have taken lightly."

The prime minister said the country must "adapt to reality" and make decisions based on the current climate.

"It is very clear that there is a before and after the 24th of February 2022. Europe, Sweden and the Swedish people are living in a new, dangerous reality. The European security order that Sweden has based its security policies on for centuries, that is now under attack,” Andersson said.

This expected announcement follows suit after Finland announced Sunday its decision to apply to join NATO, after both countries have previously refrained from joining for historic and geopolitical reasons.

Earlier on Sunday, Sweden's Social Democratic Party had released a statement on its website saying it has decided the country should work toward a Swedish application to join NATO.

The statement continues to say that the party should, in case the application is granted by NATO, work to state unilateral conditions against the placement of nuclear weapons and permanent bases on Swedish territory.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde called it "a historic decision" in a tweet.

Earlier Sunday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that "NATO's door is open" to Sweden and Finland.

8:32 a.m. ET, May 16, 2022

Finland will seek to join NATO, leaders say, ditching decades of neutrality despite Russia's threats of retaliation

From CNN's Tara John, Chandler Thornton and Amy Cassidy

Finland's government said Sunday it intends to join NATO, ditching decades of neutrality and ignoring Russian threats of possible retaliation as the Nordic country attempts to strengthen its security following the onset of the war in Ukraine. Sweden's ruling party later said it will also support joining the alliance.

The decision was announced at a joint press conference by President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who said the move must be ratified by the country's parliament before Finland can formally seek membership of the alliance.

"We hope that the parliament will confirm the decision to apply for NATO membership," Marin said in Helsinki on Sunday. "During the coming days. It will be based on a strong mandate, with the President of the Republic. We have been in close contact with governments of NATO member states and NATO itself."
"We are close partners to NATO but it is a historic decision that we will join NATO and hopefully we are making the decisions together," she added.

The move would bring the US-led military alliance up to Finland's 830-mile border with Russia, but could take months to finalize as the legislatures of all 30 current NATO members must approve new applicants.

It also risks provoking the ire of Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, told his Finnish counterpart Niinistö on Saturday that abandoning military neutrality and joining the bloc would be a "mistake," according to a Kremlin statement. On Saturday, Russia cut its electricity supply to the Nordic country following problems in receiving payments.

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8:25 p.m. ET, May 15, 2022

Ukraine wins Eurovision Song Contest in wave of goodwill following invasion by Russia

From CNN's Ivana Kottasová and Rob Picheta

Ukraine's folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra has won this year's Eurovision Song Contest, surfing a wave of goodwill from European nations to clinch the country's third win at the glitzy event.

The band's song "Stefania," written about the frontman's mother, beat competition from main rivals the United Kingdom and Spain at the competition in the Italian city of Turin.

The event marked the first major cultural event in which Ukrainians have taken part since Russia invaded in February, and many in the audience waved Ukraine's blue and yellow national flag during the evening.

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