US ‘would support’ Finland, Sweden joining NATO amid Ukraine war

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White House says if the European countries choose to join the US-led alliance, Washington would back their bids.

  • White House says the United States “would support a NATO application by Finland and/or Sweden should they apply”.
  • More than six million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began, UN refugee agency data shows.
  • Russian media report says Ukrainian shelling killed a student in a Russian village near the border.
  • The UN Human Rights Council passes a resolution to investigate alleged rights abuses committed by Russian troops in parts of Ukraine formerly under their control.
(Al Jazeera)

Here are all the latest updates:

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US Republican senator delays passage of $40bn Ukraine aid bill

Republican US Senator Rand Paul has defined leaders of both parties and single-handedly delayed the approval of an additional $40bn in American aid to Ukraine.

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With the Senate poised to debate and vote on the package of military and economic aid, Paul denied leaders the unanimous agreement they needed to proceed.

The legislation has been approved overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives, but without all 100 senators on board, the bill must follow a lengthy legislative process in the upper chamber.

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Paul is demanding that the legislation be altered to require an inspector general to oversee spending on Ukraine.

“This is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months. And this bill is three times larger than the first,” Paul said before formally blocking the aid package. “Congress just wants to keep on spending, and spending.”

Rand Paul
Senator Rand Paul has single-handedly denied swift passage to $40bn Ukraine aid bill [File: Shawn Thew/Pool via AP]

Zelenskyy accuses Russia of ‘barbarity’

Zelenskyy has said Russian forces struck the Chernihiv region and hit schools.

“Of course, the Russian state is in such a state that any education only gets in its way. But what can be achieved by destroying Ukrainian schools? All Russian commanders who give such orders are simply sick, and incurable,” he said.

Zelenskyy added that since the invasion began, the Russian military had damaged 570 medical facilities, fully destroying 101 hospitals.

“What is that? It’s stupidity. It’s barbarity. It’s the self-destruction of Russia as a state that anyone in the world could see as a cultured nation,” he said.


Zelenskyy says he is ready for talks with Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he is ready to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin and that “we must find an agreement,” but with no ultimatum as a condition.

Zelenskyy told Italian RAI state TV in an interview scheduled to be broadcast on Thursday night that Ukraine will never recognize Crimea as part of Russia.

“Crimea has always had its autonomy, it has its parliament, but on the inside of Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said in excerpts of the interview that RAI released earlier on Thursday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Ukraine Ukraine will never recognize Crimea as part of Russia [File: Efrem Lukatsky/AP Photo]

Rocket attacks intensify on central Poltava region: Governor

Rocket attacks on Ukraine’s central Poltava region have been “perhaps the most intense for the duration of the war,” the regional governor has said.

“Today’s shelling of the Poltava region is perhaps the largest during the course of this full-scale war,” Dmitry Lunin wrote in a Telegram post on Thursday. “12 Russian missiles hit the infrastructure in [the city of] Kremenchuk; most of them hit an oil refinery that was not operational anyway.”

“Rescuers are putting out a fire at the refinery. Luckily, no one was hurt,” Lunin added.


Ukraine warns against involvement in sale of ‘stolen’ grain

Ukraine’s foreign minister has said that everyone involved in the transportation and sales of grain seized by Russia in occupied areas of the country will face legal consequences.

“I want to remind the participants in this deal: what is stolen has never brought happiness to anyone. Everyone involved in the sale, transportation or purchase of stolen grain is an accomplice to the crime,” ministry’s press service quoted Dmytro Kuleba as saying.

Ukrainian officials said earlier this week that a Russian ship carrying seized Ukrainian grain had reached the Mediterranean Sea with Syria as it likely destination.


Two civilians killed in attack near Kharkiv, says local official

At least two civilians have died as a result of a shelling attack on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, local authorities have said.

“As a result of the shelling, two people were killed, four more were injured, two of whom are doctors. All these people are civilians,” Vyacheslav Zadorenko, the mayor of the suburban town of Derhachi, wrote in a Telegram post.

He added that the attack also damaged a building housing a humanitarian aid unit, municipal offices, and hospital facilities.


Student dies in shelling on Russian village: Report

A student at a construction college in the Russian village of Solokhi near the border with Ukraine has died as a result of a shelling attack, a teacher at the college has told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

“Russian Nifodyov died as a result of the shelling of the peaceful village of Solokhi by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Nikolai Ignatenko was cited as saying.

Earlier, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, where Solokhi is located, said that at least one civilian had been killed in the shelling, while six more were injured. Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov likewise blamed the attack on Kyiv’s forces, but it was not immediately clear whether the slain civilian he referred to was Nifodyov.


White House backs any move by Finland and Sweden to join NATO

The White House has said it would support any move by Finland and Sweden to join NATO in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We would support a NATO application by Finland and/or Sweden should they apply. We would respect any decision they make,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.


Ukraine says its forces damaged Russian navy ship in Black Sea

Ukrainian forces have damaged a modern Russian navy logistics ship in the Black Sea, setting it on fire, a for the Odesa regional military administration in Ukraine has said.

Spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said in an online post that the Vsevolod Bobrov had been struck near Snake Island, the scene of renewed fighting in recent days, but did not give details.

The tiny island is located near Ukraine’s sea border with Romania.


More than six million refugees have fled Ukraine, UN says

More than six million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, United Nations refugee agency data shows.

A total of 6,029,705 people had fled the country as of May 11, the agency said.

Many have gone to neighboring countries, according to the agency’s dedicated website, with Poland hosting the largest number of people.

Ukrainian refugee
An elderly Ukrainian woman at a facility housing Ukrainian refugees in Chisinau, Moldova, May 10 [File: Aurel Obreja/AP Photo]

Canada to deploy military general, officers to new NATO unit in Latvia

Canada will deploy a general and six staff officers to a new NATO unit in Latvia that will help plan, coordinate and integrate regional military activities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

The general and staff officers will “be part of a first of its kind unit”, Trudeau told reporters at a joint news conference with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins. “It’ll serve as a continued important part of our enhancements to NATO’s defense and deterrence capabilities.”

Canada has almost 700 members of its armed forces deployed in Latvia, a small Baltic state that shares a border with Russia. Karins welcomed Canada’s participation in a new “multi-divisional headquarters” there.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all the updates from Thursday, May 12 here.

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