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Russia bans 963 Americans from country - as it happened

Buses carrying Ukraine forces who surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel mill drive away under escort
Buses carrying Ukraine forces who surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel mill drive away under escort. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

This blog is closing now but we will be back in a few hours with more rolling updates on the war in Ukraine.

In the meantime you can read all our coverage of the conflict here.

That’s it from me, Richard Luscombe in the US, for tonight. Thanks for joining me for the last few hours.

I’ll leave you with this latest look at the position in Ukraine from the Observer’s graphics desk, showing the areas of the country where Russia has been advancing, and others where the defenders have been fighting back.

After the reported fall of Mariupol on Friday, Russia appears to be concentrating on Ukraine’s second largest city of Kharkiv, which is under attack from renewed shelling and pushes from Russian troops.

Updated

The lights dimmed, a hush came over the auditorium and the orchestra struck up the first notes of the overture. This ritual has taken place thousands of times at Kyiv’s grand opera house over the past century, but the performance on Saturday afternoon was something out of the ordinary.

In a city that over the past three months became used to wailing air-raid sirens and the thuds of artillery from the suburbs, the audience was instead treated to the frothy melodies of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.

It marked the first performance since the missiles and shells of Vladimir Putin’s invasion rudely interrupted the opera season – and everything else in Ukraine – in the early hours of 24 February.

Now, less than three months later and with fierce battles still raging in the eastern part of the country, the opera is back, although with some changes. Performances will only take place on weekend afternoons, a maximum of 300 tickets are sold, and the audience has to be ready to move quickly to the basement cloakrooms if air-raid sirens sound during a performance.

The Kyiv Opera performs The Barber of Seville
The Kyiv Opera performs The Barber of Seville Photograph: Alessio Mamo/The Observer

Saturday’s audience was a mix of couples enjoying their first opportunity for weeks to wear their most elegant outfits, and soldiers in military fatigues taking a break from their army service for some high culture.

Only the stalls were full, with the four tiers of gilded balconies off-limits to ensure an evacuation could take place more quickly if needed.

“I can’t say opera is my usual entertainment, but it is an incredible feeling to hear this music and to be in a different world for a little while, before coming back to our reality,” said Volodymyr, a soldier who only wanted to give his first name.

Read more:

Joe Biden among 963 Americans receiving 'lifetime bans' from Russia

Russia on Saturday released a list of 963 Americans it said were banned from entering the country, a punctuation of previously announced moves against president Joe Biden and other senior US officials.

The country, which has received global condemnation for its 24 February invasion of Ukraine, said it would continue to retaliate against what it called hostile US actions, Reuters reported.

The lifetime bans imposed on the Americans, including secretary of state Antony Blinken, US senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, defence secretary Lloyd Austin and CIA head William Burns, are largely symbolic.

Joe Biden.
Joe Biden. Photograph: Getty Images

They came on the same day Biden signed a support package providing nearly $40bn (£32bn) in aid for Ukraine.

But the latest action by Russia forms part of a downward spiral in the country’s relations with the west since its invasion of Ukraine, which prompted Washington and allies to impose drastic sanctions on Moscow and step up arms supplies to Ukraine’s military.

Several on the Russian government’s list of undesirables wouldn’t have been able to make the trip anyway: they are already dead.

John McCain, the former Republican US presidential candidate and long-serving senator; Democrat Harry Reid, who served as senate majority leader from 2007 to 2015; and Orrin Hatch, whose 42 years in the chamber made him the longest-serving Republican senator in history; are all included.

McCain died in August 2018 at the age of 81; Reid died last December, aged 82; and Hatch died on 23 April at 88.

Last month, Russia’s foreign ministry banned Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Ben Wallace and 10 other British government members from entering the country.

The ministry said the decision was made “in view of the unprecedented hostile action by the UK government”.

Updated

Discord over the war in Ukraine spilled over into the Cannes film festival on Saturday night, with the presence of Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov - a dissident who has spoken out against his country’s invasion - under attack from Ukrainian filmmaker Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk.

Reuters says that the Ukrainian used the debut showing of his movie Pamfir to criticise festival organisers for inviting the Russian.

Kirill Serebrennikov.
Kirill Serebrennikov. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“When he’s here, he is part of the Russian propaganda, and they can use him,” Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk told the news agency during Cannes’ directors’ fortnight event.

Serebrennikov, who has spoken out against the invasion of Ukraine, and said earlier this week that Russian culture should not be boycotted, premiered his in-competition film Tchaikovsky’s Wife at the festival on Wednesday.

Set in the forests of western Ukraine’s Chernivtsi region, Pamfir begins with the return of a father, Leonid, to his family after months of working in Poland, a story with parallels in Ukrainian men being separated from loved ones while they fight the Russian invasion.

“[The film] is a reflection of the strength and power of the Ukrainian people, who are very strong and who will win. It’s just a question of time … because we can’t be defeated,” actor Oleksandr Yatsentyuk, who plays Leonid, told Reuters.

Updated

The Associated Press has published an incredibly powerful montage of images from inside Mariupol’s Azovstal steel mill, where hundreds of Ukrainian fighters and civilians were holed up for weeks before their final surrender on Friday.

The pictures were taken by Dmytro Kozatsky, a member of Ukraine’s military who photographed his colleagues during lulls in fighting. He is now a prisoner of war in the hands of Russian forces.

The images, the AP says, are his legacy. See them here.

Summary

It’s midnight in Kyiv, and time to take stock of today’s main developments in the Ukraine conflict:

  • Russia is considering giving up Ukraine fighters captured in Mariupol for Viktor Medvedchuk, a detained ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
  • Russia banned 963 Americans, including President Biden, from entering the country. The list includes president Joe Biden, secretary of state Antony Blinken, and the CIA chief, William Burns.
  • President Biden signed the Ukraine funding bill. The US will provide nearly $40bn, or £32bn, in aid for Ukraine.
  • Turkey continues to have reservations about Sweden’s relationship with Kurdish militants, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson in a phone call.
  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy met Portugal’s prime minister António Costa and described the meeting as “important and meaningful”. Portugal later announced an agreement to provide €250m in financial aid to Ukraine.
  • Zelenskiy also had a phone conversation with Italy’s prime minister Mario Draghi, and says he stressed the importance of more sanctions on Russia and unblocking Ukrainian ports.
  • Canada has imposed sanctions on the Russian-born billionaire and newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev. The former KGB agent is also the former owner of UK newspapers the Evening Standard and the Independent.

Updated

Ukraine on Saturday again ruled out agreeing to a ceasefire with Russia and said Kyiv would not accept any deal with Moscow that involved ceding territory, Reuters reports.

Acknowledging that Kyiv’s stance on the war was becoming more uncompromising, presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told the agency that concessions would backfire on Ukraine because Russia would hit back harder after any break in fighting:

The war will not stop [after any concessions]. It will just be put on pause for some time.

Podolyak was speaking with Reuters in an interview in the heavily guarded presidential office, where some of the windows and corridors are protected by sandbags, the agency said.

You can read the full interview here.

Russia 'considering prisoner swap' for oligarch Medvedchuk

Moscow is exploring a possible exchange of Ukraine fighters captured at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol for an oligarch and politician close to president Vladimir Putin, a leading Russian negotiator says.

According to AFP, Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of Russia’s negotiating team, the prisoners might be handed over if Ukraine gives up Viktor Medvedchuk, a wealthy businessman known as the “dark prince” of Ukraine politics who was detained last month for a second time.

Viktor Medvedchuk.
Viktor Medvedchuk. Photograph: Serhii Nuzhnenko/Reuters

“We are going to study the possibility,” Slutsky said, speaking from the separatist city of Donetsk in southeastern Ukraine, according to AFP citing the RIA Novosti news agency.

Medvedchuk, 67, is one of Ukraine’s richest people and is known for his close ties to Putin, as well as being a member of Ukraine’s parliament.

The Guardian reported last month that the Kremlin said it would not consider a trade for Medvedchuk, who escaped from house arrest after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, but was re-arrested in mid-April.

Among the Ukrainian fighters who gave themselves up to Russian troops in Mariupol were members of the Azov regiment, a former paramilitary unit which has integrated into the Ukrainian armed forces.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy spoke with Italian prime minister Mario Draghi Saturday afternoon, and says he stressed the importance of more sanctions on Russia and unblocking Ukrainian ports.

Zelenskiy tweeted that he had also thanked Draghi for his “unconditional support” of Ukraine’s bid to become a member of the European Union. Draghi initiated the call, he said.

Several among the 963 Americans banned for life from entering Russia wouldn’t have been able to make the trip anyway: because they are already dead.

John McCain, the former Republican US presidential candidate and long-serving senator; Democrat Harry Reid, who served as senate majority leader from 2007 to 2015; and Orrin Hatch, whose 42 years in the chamber made him the longest-serving Republican senator in history; are all on the Russian government’s new list of undesirables.

McCain died in August 2018 at the age of 81; Reid died last December, aged 82; and Hatch died on 23 April at 88.

Morgan Freeman.
Morgan Freeman. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Still very much alive, but now banned from Russia for perceived slights against Russian president Vladimir Putin or his regime, are the actor Morgan Freeman, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, British journalist and CNN correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, and Jeff Katzenberg, chief executive of the DreamWorks animation studio.

As if to reinforce the fact that whomever compiled the lists didn’t fully complete their homework, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senate majority leader is incorrectly identified as a “former Democratic senator” and “deputy senate minority leader”; while Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general of the US from 2017 to 2019, is given the first name “Ron”.

You can peruse the full list here.

Ukraine 'open to talks if Mariupol defenders not harmed'

The Guardian’s Lorenzo Tondo has this latest dispatch from Kyiv, where concern is growing over the fate of Ukraine fighters in Russian hands after their surrender in Mariupol:

Ukraine has suggested that it is willing to resume talks with Russia as Moscow claimed to have taken full control of the besieged city of Mariupol – its biggest prize since it invaded Ukraine in February.

Speaking to a television channel on Saturday, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said that “discussions between Ukraine and Russia will undoubtedly take place”.

“Under what format I don’t know – with intermediaries, without them, in a broader group, at the presidential level,” he added. “But the war will be bloody, there will be fighting and [it] will only definitively end through diplomacy.

“There are things that can only be reached at the negotiating table. We want everything to return [to as it was before] but Russia does not want that.”

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy (right) welcomes Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa to Kyiv on Saturday.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy (right) welcomes Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa to Kyiv on Saturday. Photograph: Presidential Press Service Handout/EPA

The Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, responded by blaming Ukraine for stopping the talks. The last discussions between the two sides took place on 22 April, according to Russian news agencies.

During the interview, held with a Ukrainian broadcaster, Zelenskiy spoke of creating a document enshrining security guarantees for his country. Although bilateral discussions would be held with Russia, the document would be signed by “friends and partners of Ukraine, without Moscow”, he added.

However, he warned that the precondition for resuming negotiations was that Moscow did not kill Ukrainian troops who had been defending the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol. “The most important thing for me is to save the maximum number of people and soldiers,” he said.

Last week, Russia announced it had taken full control of Mariupol, the first major city to fall. The last group of Ukrainian soldiers holed up in the Azovstal steelworks surrendered on Friday, bringing to an end a months-long siege of the defenders’ last stronghold.

Read the full story:

Other victims of the war in Ukraine include hundreds of children who were set to be adopted by families in the US, but have had their moves put on hold.

According the Associated Press, there were more than 300 Ukrainian children previously hosted by American families seeking to formally adopt them at the beginning of the war in February.

Ryan Hanlon, chief executive of the national council for adoption, said at least 200 families were at some point of the adoption process, which takes from two to three years in ideal circumstances, but which has been thrown into turmoil.

Only orphaned children and those for whom parental rights have been terminated can be adopted, and establishing identities and family statuses is impossible for many children with Ukraine courts not sitting and other disruptions, Hanlon said.

He said it was particularly difficult for families who had already hosted Ukrainian children but whose dreams of adoption were now indefinitely postponed:

There’s a very visceral connection that these families have with their children, with having them in their homes.

There were more than 200 adoptions from Ukraine in the US in 2020, and nearly 300 in 2019, the AP said, citing statistics from the US state department.

In March, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers wrote to the state department urging the state department to protect the hundreds of Ukraine children caught in the impasse from “harm and trauma”.

The department said it was “working with the Ukrainian government on resolving cases involving families who have final adoption orders”.

But the same month the Ukraine government said in a statement: “Under current conditions intercountry adoption is impossible”.

Hello, it’s Richard Luscombe in the US, and I’ll be guiding you through the next few hours in our blog on the Ukraine conflict.

Russia today sanctioned 963 Americans, with senior figures including US president Joe Biden and secretary of state Antony Blinken among them.

Biden’s on an overseas trip meeting allies in Asia, where it’s the middle of the night, and hasn’t responded. Blinken’s Twitter account has also been silent about the development.

But back in the US there’s tongue-in-cheek congratulations from colleagues for Julia Davis, a journalist with the Daily Beast, who’s also made the list and has been banned from Russia for life.

Davis appears to have earned the ire of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin for her work monitoring the country’s media for Kremlin propaganda.

The English language Kyiv Post today published this interesting article about her mission, which goes some way towards explaining why Davis was “honoured” with what the newspaper’s special correspondent Jason Jay Smart calls a “lifetime achievement award”.

The governor of the Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, has said Russia is trying to destroy the city of Severodonetsk, with fighting taking place on the outskirts of the city, Reuters reports.

“Shelling continues from morning to the evening and also throughout the night,” Haidai said in a video post on the Telegram messaging app.

Despite losing ground elsewhere in recent weeks, Russian forces have advanced on the Luhansk front.

Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, the city on the other side of the Siverskiy Donets River, form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv.

Updated

'Only diplomacy can end war'

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has warned that only a diplomatic breakthrough rather than an outright military victory can end Russia’s war on his country, as Moscow cut gas supplies to Finland on Saturday.

“There are things that can only be reached at the negotiating table,” Zelenskiy said, just as Russia claimed its long-range missiles had destroyed a shipment of western arms destined for Ukraine’s troops.

Zelenskiy also appealed for more military aid as the US president, Joe Biden, formally signed off a $40bn package of aid for the Ukrainian war effort, AFP reports.

Updated

Ukraine needs to become a full candidate to join the EU, rather than signing up to the kind of broader “European political community” antechamber proposed by France, Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said.

“We don’t need any alternatives to the application of Ukraine to join the European Union, we don’t need such compromises,” the Ukrainian president told reporters in Kyiv during a press conference with the visiting Portuguese prime minister, António Costa, AFP reports.

Earlier this month, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, suggested that Ukraine could take “decades” to become a full EU member and should aspire instead to join a “European political community”, a sort of antechamber for the European Union.

Updated

Workers at a reopened theatre in Ukraine watch behind the scenes a performance of The Barber of Seville
Workers at a reopened theatre in Ukraine watch behind the scenes a performance of The Barber of Seville. Photograph: Alessio Mamo/The Observer

Updated

Summary

It’s past 6pm in Ukraine. Here’s an update of today’s developments so far:

  • Turkey continues to have reservations about Sweden’s relationship with Kurdish militants Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, told Swedish prime minister Magdalena Andersson in a phone call.
  • Turkey reportedly told Finland’s neighbour Sweden that it must act on its concerns about terrorist organisations and lift an arms export embargo after objecting to its Nato application.
  • The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, met Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa and described the meeting as “important and meaningful”. Portugal later announced an agreement to provide €250m in financial aid to Ukraine.
  • Russia banned 963 Americans, including President Biden, from entering country. The list includes President Biden, the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the CIA chief, William Burns.
  • President Biden signed the Ukraine funding bill. The US will provide nearly $40bn, or £32bn, in aid for Ukraine.
  • Canada has imposed sanctions on the Russian-born billionaire and newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev. The former KGB agent is also the former owner of UK newspapers the Evening Standard and the Independent.

I am now handing over the blog to my colleague Nadeem Badshah. Thanks for following along.

Updated

Earlier we reported on Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s meeting with Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, in Ukraine.

Following a meeting with Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal, Portugal announced the country will be providing €250m in financial aid to Ukraine.

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa visits Ukraine
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa visits Ukraine
Photograph: Presidential Press Service Handout/EPA

Updated

Turkey has always supported Nato’s open door policy and the solidarity of member states, but Turkey continues to have reservations about Sweden’s relationship with Kurdish militants, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, told the Swedish prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, in a phone call.

He added that Turkey “expects Sweden to take concrete and serious steps to show that it shares Turkey’s concerns,” according to a readout of the call from the office of the Turkish president.

Erdoğan demanded that Sweden end any further support to Kurdish militant groups, after the Turkish government claimed it found Swedish-made weapons in the hands of Kurdish groups in northern Syria. Turkey has also expressed concerns about what it claims are activities supportive of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) occurring in Sweden.

The Turkish leader also told Sweden it must lift restrictions on arms exports to Turkey imposed in 2019 following a Turkish offensive in Syria.

Turkey’s President Erdoğan holds a news conference during the Nato summit at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2021.
Turkey’s President Erdoğan holds a news conference during the Nato summit at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2021. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Turkey blocked an initial vote on Sweden and Finland’s official accession to Nato earlier this week, and Turkish officials have demanded other Nato members listen to their demands before the accession process can begin. Erdoğan spoke with Boris Johnson on Friday night, and Finnish president Sauli Niinistö on Saturday afternoon.

Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu said Erdoğan told Niinistö that ignoring parties threatening a Nato ally, in reference to Kurdish militant groups on Turkey’s borders, was not compatible with the spirit of the alliance.

Turkish authorities launched a broad offensive against Kurdish groups in the southeast of the country in 2015, and have since conducted multiple incursions into northern Syria as well as striking northern Iraq in a bid to combat groups it regards as terrorists.

Updated

Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of Nato, said he spoke with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on the importance of Nato’s “open door” regarding Finland and Sweden’s applications.

Stoltenberg, the former prime minister of Norway, said:

We agree that the security concerns of all allies must be taken into account and talks need to continue to find a solution.

Updated

Turkey reportedly tells Nato applicant Sweden to act on terrorist organisations and lift arms export embargo

Meanwhile, Turkey reportedly told Finland’s neighbour Sweden that it must act on its concerns about terrorist organisations and that lift an arms export embargo after objecting to its Nato application.

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, stipulated the requests during a call with the Swedish prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, on Saturday, reports Reuters, citing the Turkish state-owned news agency Anadolu.

Finland and Sweden formally applied to join Nato on Wednesday after months of deliberation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Turkey surprised Nato allies last week by objecting to their membership. However, western leaders have expressed confidence that Turkey will not block them from joining.

Ankara claims that both countries shelter people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) militant group and followers of Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara claims orchestrated a coup attempt in 2016.

Updated

Finland reports 'open and direct' talks with Turkey over Nato bid

The Finnish president, Sauli Niinistö, has said he and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had “open and direct” talks to discuss his country’s bid for Nato membership.

It comes after Erdoğaan openly questioned whether Finland and its neighbour Sweden should be permitted to join the alliance.

Niinistö tweeted after the call:

Updated

The Bank of England governor warned last week of ‘apocalyptic’ food price rises. Yet war in Ukraine, climate change and inflation are already taking their toll all over the world, writes Simon Tisdall:

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, met Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, on Saturday and described the meeting as “important and meaningful”.

On Telegram, Zelenskiy said they discussed:

...Further defense assistance, the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, the prosecution of war criminals, European integration and post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. Thank you friendly Portugal for your support!”

Costa said Portugal stands “unequivocally” with Ukraine and are “committed to further deepen our humanitarian, financial and military support.”

Updated

Here are some of the latest images that have been sent to us over the newswires from Ukraine.

An aerial view of a residential area ruined by Russian shelling, in Irpin, on the north-west outskirts of Kyiv.
An aerial view of a residential area ruined by Russian shelling, in Irpin, on the north-west outskirts of Kyiv. Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP
A Ukrainian soldier in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant on 10 May.
A Ukrainian soldier in Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant on 10 May. Photograph: Dmytro Kozatsky/AP
Irpin residents remove belongings from their house ruined by Russian shelling.
Irpin residents remove belongings from their house ruined by Russian shelling. Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP
Children eat ice cream at a park in the city of Kherson, in southern Ukraine.
Children eat ice cream at a park in the city of Kherson, in southern Ukraine. Photograph: AP
A Ukrainian soldier inside Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant stands in a ray of sunlight on 7 May.
A Ukrainian soldier inside the Azovstal steel plant stands in a ray of sunlight on 7 May. Photograph: Dmytro Kozatsky/AP
The Portuguese prime minister, António Costa, looks at damaged buildings during his visit to Irpin on Saturday.
The Portuguese prime minister, António Costa, looks at damaged buildings during his visit to Irpin on Saturday. Photograph: Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA

Updated

Earlier, we reported on Canada placing sanctions on the Russian-born billionaire and newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev.

Lebedev, whose links to the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, are well documented, has not been subjected to sanctions by the UK.

The fresh wave of sanctions came as talks between G7 countries and Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, concluded in Germany.

Read more from my colleague Miranda Bryant here:

Updated

Russia bans 963 Americans, including President Biden, from entering country

The full published list comes after Biden signed a support package Saturday providing nearly $40bn (£32bn) in aid for Ukraine.

The list includes President Biden, the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the CIA chief, William Burns, Reuters reports.

Joe Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol arrive for a state dinner at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul
Joe Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol arrive for a state dinner at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul. Photograph: Lee Jin-man/AP

Last month, Russia’s foreign ministry banned Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Ben Wallace and 10 other British government members from entering the country.

In April, the ministry said the decision was made “in view of the unprecedented hostile action by the UK government”.

Updated

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he is “grateful” to Joe Biden, after the US president signed a support package on Saturday providing nearly $40bn (£32bn) in aid for Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said:

The leadership of [America], President Biden & the American people in supporting [Ukraine’s] fight against the Russian aggressor is crucial. Look forward to new, powerful defense assistance. Today it is needed more than ever.”

Updated

Interim summary

It’s past 2pm in Ukraine. Time to take stock of developments so far today:

  • President Biden signed the Ukraine funding bill. The United States will provide nearly $40bn, or £32bn, in aid for Ukraine.
  • Canada has imposed sanctions on the Russian-born billionaire and newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev. The former KGB agent is also the former owner of UK newspapers the Evening Standard and the Independent.
  • The United States and several countries walked out of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Russia’s military said it destroyed a major western arms consignment, west of Kyiv. Sea-launched Kalibr missiles were used, reported the Interfax news agency.
  • Russia’s Gazprom on Saturday halted gas exports to neighbouring Finland. They have demanded that European countries pay for Russian gas supplies in roubles because of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Finland refuses to do so.
  • Russia has declared victory in its months-long operation to capture Mariupol after Ukraine ordered the last of its troops holed up in the city’s Azovstal steelworks to lay down their arms.
  • Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has disclosed that the UK has begun discussions with its international allies about sending modern weaponry to Moldova to protect it from Russia.

Updated

President Biden signs Ukraine funding bill

The United States will provide nearly $40bn, or £32bn, in aid for Ukraine, according to a statement from the White House.

The news comes after the US Senate approved Biden’s massive new military and humanitarian aid bill for Ukraine on Thursday. The final vote was 86 in favour, 11 against.

Biden is in Seoul for his first summit with the new South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol.

Joe Biden reacts during a joint news conference with the South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul.
Joe Biden reacts during a joint news conference with the South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul. Photograph: Reuters

Updated

Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, arrived in Kyiv this morning, in response to a request from his “Ukrainian counterpart”.

Costa, who has served as prime minister since 2015, said:

It is with emotion and respect that I come here, as a sign of solidarity with this country and this people, in the face of the barbaric Russian aggression.

António Costa, centre left, walks surrounded by media and security in Irpin, Ukraine
António Costa, centre left, walks surrounded by media and security in Irpin, Ukraine. Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Updated

Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, Emine Dzheppar, shared a video on Twitter of Russian soldiers conducting a “forced ‘evacuation’ of civilians to the territory of Russia under barrels of a machine guns” in Mariupol.

Residents stay in the city subway of Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, on Thursday, May 19, 2022.
Residents stay in the city subway of Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, on Thursday, May 19, 2022. Photograph: Bernat Armangué/AP

Anna Shilonosova writes for us today on the traumas of war she has witnessed as a psychologist helping Ukrainians:

All four of my grandparents survived the second world war, and all four were scarcely willing to talk about it, having either survived the siege of Leningrad or come back from the frontline wounded. On the rare occasions they did, their memories would leave them devastated.

The lifelong PTSD they experienced was quite possibly one of the reasons I became a psychologist. I wanted to do something to end the vicious circle of trauma, abuse, self-neglect and fear. But during my training, I could never have predicted the way I would be applying my skills a decade later.

On 25 February, the day after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I volunteered to join several crisis hotlines where psychologists were working to support those affected by the war. I couldn’t stop the war, but at least I might try to lessen the damage. My colleagues come from many different countries – some of the Ukrainian psychologists kept working between bombings, while others had evacuated to a safer place. Quite a few of us, myself included, are living abroad in safety — a privilege too often taken for granted.

Read more here: Anna Shilonosova — As a psychologist helping Ukrainians, I am a witness to the terrible traumas of war

Updated

Russia’s military says it has destroyed a major western arms consignment in Ukraine’s Zhytomyr region, west of Kyiv.

Sea-launched Kalibr missiles were used, reports the Interfax news agency.

Russia’s defence ministry said the strike took out “a large batch of weapons and military equipment delivered from the USA and European countries”, Reuters reports.

Updated

Sweden and Finland submitted their historic Nato membership applications this week.

Each had very different grounds for staying out of the alliance until now, their neutrality rooted in different geographies, histories and national identities.

Here’s an explainer on why the two countries want to join:

Canada sanctions Russian-born billionaire and newspaper proprietor Alexander Lebedev

Lebedev is one of 13 people included in the latest sanctions announced by Canada on Friday, including oligarchs with links to the Russian president’s regime and their family, the Globe and Mail reports.

Lebedev, a former KGB agent, is the former owner of UK newspapers the Evening Standard and the Independent. He also finances Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s leading opposition newspaper.

The sanctions package, covering goods worth $75.7m in 2021, or nearly £47m, include a ban on certain luxury goods from Russia, including caviar, diamonds and vodka. Canada is also banning products that could be used in the production and manufacture of weapons by Russia.

Lebedev’s son, Evgeny Lebedev, who is a friend of the UK prime minister, has come under the spotlight in recent months after his peerage was approved in 2020 despite a period of review following M15 advice.

Earlier this month, the government refused to release Evgeny Lebedev’s peerage details saying this would undermine the confidentiality of those nominated and could degenerate into “political point-scoring”.

According to the Globe and Mail, others sanctioned include Gleb Frank, owner of one of Russia’s largest fishery companies, and son of Sergei Frank, former minister of transport and former CEO of Sovcomflot, Russia’s largest shipping firm.

• This post was amended on 22 May 2022 to correctly describe Alexander Lebedev as the former owner of the Evening Standard and the Independent.

Updated

Boris Johnson spoke with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Friday evening about cooperation between the two countries and the global response to the conflict in Ukraine.

Highlighting the threat from Russia, the prime minister emphasised that Finland and Sweden would be valuable additions to the Nato alliance. A government statement said Johnson “encouraged” Erdoğan to work with Swedish, Finnish and Nato counterparts to address any concerns ahead of the summit in Madrid next month.

The meeting followed Erdoğan’s threat to veto Finland’s and Sweden’s applications for membership of Nato, with the possibility of tangling Nato up in knots for months.

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Let’s take a look at some of the latest images that have been sent to us over the newswires from Ukraine and beyond.

A Ukrainian serviceman inspects a school damaged during a battle between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the village of Vilkhivka, in eastern Ukraine.
A Ukrainian serviceman inspects a school damaged during a battle between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the village of Vilkhivka, in eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Bernat Armangué/AP
A bus carrying service members of the Ukrainian armed forces, who surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel mill.
A bus carrying service members of the Ukrainian armed forces, who surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel mill. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters
Local resident Anatolii Virko plays a piano outside a house likely damaged after a Russian bombing in Velyka Kostromka village, Ukraine.
Local resident Anatolii Virko plays a piano outside a house likely damaged after a Russian bombing in Velyka Kostromka village, Ukraine. Photograph: Francisco Seco/AP
A picture taken during a media tour organized by the Russian Army shows Russian servicemen standing guard near the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, near Kherson, Ukraine.
A picture taken during a media tour organized by the Russian Army shows Russian servicemen standing guard near the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, near Kherson, Ukraine. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA
Thousands rallied in Latvia on 20 May near a Soviet-era monument, which has become a rallying point for pro-Kremlin supporters in the Baltic state, to call for the second world war memorial to be destroyed. Protesters could be seen carrying placards reading ‘Support Ukrainians’ and ‘Our land, Our rules’ and waved Latvian and Ukrainian flags.
Thousands rallied in Latvia on 20 May near a Soviet-era monument, which has become a rallying point for pro-Kremlin supporters in the Baltic state, to call for the second world war memorial to be destroyed. Protesters could be seen carrying placards reading ‘Support Ukrainians’ and ‘Our land, Our rules’ and waved Latvian and Ukrainian flags. Photograph: Gints Ivuskans/AFP/Getty Images

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The United States and several countries walked out of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

According to Reuters, representatives from the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand walked out of an Asia-Pacific trade ministers meeting in Bangkok on Saturday, while the Russian economy minister Maxim Reshetnikov was speaking.

One diplomat said the walkout was:

an expression of disapproval at Russia’s illegal war of aggression in Ukraine and its economic impact in the APEC region.”

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Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s rolling coverage of the war in Ukraine. I am Geneva Abdul and I will be live-blogging the key developments over the next few hours.

It’s 10am in Ukraine. Here is a summary of the situation this morning:

  • Russia’s Gazprom on Saturday halted gas exports to neighbouring Finland. They have demanded that European countries pay for Russian gas supplies in roubles because of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Finland refuses to do so.
  • Russia has declared victory in its months-long operation to capture Mariupol after Ukraine ordered the last of its troops holed up in the city’s Azovstal steelworks to lay down their arms.
  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy proposed a formal deal with the country’s allies to secure Russian compensation for the damage its forces have caused during the war.
  • The fighting continues to be fiercest in the eastern region of Donbas, a Russian-speaking area that has been partially controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists since 2014.
  • Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has disclosed that the UK has begun discussions with its international allies about sending modern weaponry to Moldova to protect it from Russia.

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I am now handing over the blog to my colleague Geneva Abdul in London. Thanks for following along

Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Milorad Dodik has told European Council President Charles Michel that Bosnia needs to maintain neutrality and will not join EU sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

“I think it is of utmost importance for Bosnia to remain neutral,” Dodik said at a joint news conference with Michel and presidency Bosniak Chairman Sefik Dzaferovic.

“In conditions in which we exist, it would be a problem for us to impose any kind of sanctions or join EU or global sanctions.”

European Council President Charles Michel meets Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sefik Dzaferovic and Serb Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
European Council President Charles Michel meets Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sefik Dzaferovic and Serb Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has disclosed that the UK has begun discussions with its international allies about sending modern weaponry to Moldova to protect it from Russia.

She said that she wants to see the country, which is to the south-west of Ukraine, “equipped to Nato standard.”

Moldova is not currently a Nato member and there are concerns that it could be a future target for Vladimir Putin after the Ukraine conflict.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

In an interview with the Telegraph, Truss said: “I would want to see Moldova equipped to Nato standard. This is a discussion we’re having with our allies.

“Putin has been absolutely clear about his ambitions to create a greater Russia – and just because his attempts to take Kyiv weren’t successful it doesn’t mean he’s abandoned those ambitions.”

The UK, US, France and Germany have held talks about whether to sign a form of security guarantee for Ukraine to continue providing weaponry and support in the long term.

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Read Shaun Walker’s moving report about children in the village of Novyi Bykiv in east Ukraine who are returning to school after the departure of Russian troops who were forced out.

The school in Novy Bikiv
The school in Novy Bikiv Photograph: Sviatoslav Medyk/The Guardian

The school, which now has no windows, electricity or textbooks, was the main Russian base in the village. Over the month the Russians occupied Novyi Bykiv, the residents lived in terror, with summary executions and widespread looting part of life

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The fighting continues to be fiercest in the eastern region of Donbas, a Russian-speaking area that has been partially controlled by pro-Kremlin separatists since 2014.

“Attempts to attack Donbas continue. They completely ruined Rubizhne, Vonokvakha, just as Mariupol,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address late Friday, adding the Russians were “trying to do the same with Severodonetsk and many other cities”.

Ukrainian soldiers moving to the frontline in the Donbas, Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers moving to the frontline in the Donbas, Ukraine Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In the eastern city of Severodonetsk, 12 people were killed and another 40 wounded by Russian shelling.

Zelensky described the bombardment of Severodonetsk as “brutal and absolutely pointless”, as residents cowering in basements described an unending ordeal of terror.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaking on Donbas
Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaking on Donbas Photograph: Reuters

The city forms part of the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in Lugansk, which along with the neighbouring region of Donetsk comprises the Donbas war zone.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy proposed a formal deal with the country’s allies to secure Russian compensation for the damage its forces have caused during the war.

Zelenskiy, who says Russia is trying to destroy as much of Ukraine’s infrastructure as it can, said such a deal would show nations planning aggressive acts that they would have to pay for their actions.

“We invite partner countries to sign a multilateral agreement and create a mechanism ensuring that everybody who suffered from Russian actions can receive compensation for all losses incurred,” he said in a video address.

Zelenskiy said that under such a deal, Russian funds and property in signatory nations would be confiscated. They would then be directed to a special compensation fund.

“That would be fair. And Russia will feel the weight of every missile, every bomb, every shell which it has fired at us,” he said.

Russia has declared victory in its months-long operation to capture Mariupol after Ukraine ordered the last of its troops holed up in the city’s Azovstal steelworks to lay down their arms.

In what would be its biggest victory yet in the war with Ukraine, Russia claimed to have captured the strategic port after a nearly three-month siege that reduced much of the city to a smoking ruin, with over 20,000 civilians feared dead.

Local residents sit in a courtyard near a block of flats heavily damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol,
Local residents sit in a courtyard near a block of flats heavily damaged during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin the “complete liberation” of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance and the city as a whole, spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Friday.

Mariupol endured some of the worst suffering of the war and became a worldwide symbol of defiance. There was no immediate confirmation from Ukraine.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti quoted the ministry as saying a total of 2,439 Ukrainian fighters who had been holed up at the steelworks had surrendered since Monday, including over 500 on Friday.

Azovstal steel mill during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol
Azovstal steel mill during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

As they surrendered, the troops were taken prisoner by the Russians, and at least some were taken to a former penal colony. Others were said to be hospitalised. Russian authorities have threatened to investigate some of the steel mill’s defenders for war crimes and put them on trial, branding them “Nazis” and criminals.

The Kremlin had sought control of Mariupol to complete a land corridor between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014, and free up troops to join the larger battle for the Donbas. The city’s loss also deprives Ukraine of a vital seaport.

Read more in our report from last night:

Updated

The Financial Times has reported that former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder has stepped down as chair of the board of Rosneft, the state-owned Russian oil giant, after weeks of controversy over his refusal to distance himself from the Kremlin over the Ukraine invasion.

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder Photograph: Kay Nietfeld/AP

Former East German intelligence officer Matthias Warnig, a close friend of Putin’s who has worked for Russia for years, also stepped down from the board this week

Rosneft, which is responsible for 40% of Russia’s crude output, said on Friday that the two men had informed it of “their inability to continue their roles at the company’s board of directors”.

It followed a vote in the German parliament this week to strip Schröder, the former Social Democrat leader, of his parliamentary privileges including his office and staff after he defended his ties to Russia and said he did not think Putin was to blame for alleged war crimes committed by Moscow’s troops.

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Russia halts gas exports to Finland

Russia’s Gazprom on Saturday halted gas exports to neighbouring Finland, the Finnish gas system operator said, the latest escalation of an energy payments dispute with Western nations.

Gazprom Export has demanded that European countries pay for Russian gas supplies in roubles because of sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but Finland refuses to do so.

Pipes at the Gasum plant in Raikkola, Imatra, Finland
Pipes at the Gasum plant in Raikkola, Imatra, Finland Photograph: Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva/AFP/Getty Images

“Gas imports through Imatra entry point have been stopped,” Gasgrid Finland said in a statement.

Imatra is the entry point for Russian gas into Finland.

Finnish state-owned gas wholesaler Gasum on Friday said Gazprom had warned that flows would be halted from 4am on Saturday morning.

Gasum also confirmed on Saturday that the flows has stopped.

“Natural gas supplies to Finland under Gasum’s supply contract have been cut off,” it said in a statement.

Updated

Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s rolling coverage of the war in Ukraine. I am Hannah Ellis-Petersen joining you from Delhi and I will be live-blogging the key developments over the next few hours. Here is a summary of the situation this morning.

  • Russia has declared victory in its months-long operation to capture the strategic port of Mariupol after Ukraine ordered the last of its troops holed up in the city’s Azovstal steelworks to lay down their arms. In Russia’s biggest victory in the war yet, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to President Vladimir Putin the “complete liberation” of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, which had been the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance — and the city as a whole. Over 20,000 civilians are feared dead
  • In a video statement, commander of Ukraine’s Azov regiment, Denys Prokopenko said civilians and heavily wounded Ukrainian fighters have been evacuated from the plant. The Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the Ukrainian combatants would be treated in line with international norms for prisoners of war.
  • Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenko said 2,439 Ukrainian personnel had surrendered at the steelworks since May 16, the final 500 on Friday. Ukraine hopes to exchange the surrendering Azovstal soldiers for Russian prisoners though several senior Russian politicians demanded this week they be put on trial and one even called for their execution.
  • The fighting continues to be fiercest in the eastern, Russian-speaking region of Donbas. In the eastern city of Severodonetsk, 12 people were killed and another 40 wounded by Russian shelling. President Zelensky described the bombardment of Severodonetsk as “brutal and absolutely pointless”.
  • Zelenskiy said Russia should be made to pay for every home, school, hospital and business it destroys. He called on Ukraine’s partners to seize Russian funds and property under their jurisdiction and use them to create a fund to compensate those who suffered
  • In the town of Lozova, at least eight people, including a child, were wounded by shrapnel on Friday when a powerful Russian missile strike gutted a newly repaired cultural centre, the largest in the region.
  • The G7 major economies and global financial institutions agreed to provide more money to bolster Ukraine’s finances, bringing the total to $19.8bn. In the U.S., President Joe Biden was expected to sign a $40bn package of military and economic aid to Ukraine and its allies.
  • Russia has cut off the supply of natural gas to Finland. It followed Finland’s refusal to pay for Russian gas supplies in roubles, following sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The cut-off also came after the country’s application to join Nato which Moscow has opposed and warned would be “a grave mistake with far-reaching consequences.” The cutoff, which happened at 4am on Saturday morning, is not expected to have any major immediate effect. Natural gas accounted for just 6% of Finland’s total energy consumption in 2020
  • Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he will speak to Finland’s president today to discuss his opposition to its bid to join Nato. Erdoğan told reporters that he would also be speaking to Britain on Saturday about the issue
  • A captured Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian awaited his fate in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial held in Kyiv. Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, could get life in prison after he admitted to killing an unarmed civilian early in the offensive. The verdict is likely on Monday.
  • Russian lawmakers proposed a bill to lift the age limit of 40 for Russians volunteering for military service. Currently, all Russian men 18 to 27 must undergo a year of service, though many get college deferments and other exemptions.