After nearly three months of brutal fighting in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Russia says it has taken control of the Azovstal steel plant. Meanwhile, Russia has turned off its natural gas supplies to Finland after the country said it wants to join NATO, and at least six people have been killed in Russian attacks on the city of Severodonetsk, local officials say.
Here are the latest developments:
- Russia claims steel plant control: For weeks, the Azovstal steel plant has been the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in the otherwise Russian-occupied city of Mariupol. On Friday, Russia claimed the last Ukrainian fighters had surrendered — which, if true, marks a symbolic military victory for Moscow. Ukraine has not yet confirmed this, and CNN is unable to independently verify the claim. It comes after a Ukrainian commander at Azovstal ordered soldiers to preserve their lives and stop their defense of the city. Meanwhile, Ukrainian families anxiously wait to hear from loved ones leaving Azovstal.
- Severodonetsk deaths: At least six people have been killed in Russian attacks on the city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region in the past day, the head of the regional military administration said Saturday. The dead include two people sheltering in a school basement.
- Evacuations blocked: Russian forces continue to prevent people from evacuating the Kherson region into Ukrainian-controlled territory, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Saturday, accusing Russia of "terror tactics." Villages there are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said.
- Russia turns off the tap: Russia halted natural gas exports to Finland on Saturday, according to a statement from Finnish state-owned energy firm Gasum. Russian state media outlet TASS confirmed the export halt, citing "non-payment" as the reason for Russian firm Gazprom’s decision to cut supplies. Gazprom has continued to demand European countries pay for Russian gas in rubles.
- US aid to Ukraine: US President Joe Biden has signed a $40 billion Ukraine aid bill, a White House official has confirmed. The bill was flown to Seoul after the Senate passed it in the hours after Biden departed Washington for his trip. Biden is in South Korea for his first Asia trip as President this weekend, and will head to Tokyo on Sunday.
- American troops in Europe: The US is expected to keep 100,000 troops stationed in Europe for the foreseeable future unless Russia escalates and threatens Sweden and Finland or NATO members, according to multiple US officials.