mcloudy.png
Friday July 1st, 2022 6:56PM

Finland moves toward joining NATO amid Russian threats

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Finland’s leaders Thursday came out in favor of applying to join NATO, and Sweden could do the same within days, in a historic realignment on the continent 2 1/2 months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sent a shiver of fear through Moscow’s neighbors.

The Kremlin reacted by warning it will be forced to take retaliatory “military-technical” steps.

On the ground, meanwhile, Russian forces pounded areas in central, northern and eastern Ukraine, including the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol, as part its offensive to take the industrial Donbas region, while Ukraine recaptured some towns and villages in the northeast.

The first war-crimes trial of a Russian soldier since the start of the conflict is set to open Friday in Kyiv. A 21-year-old captured member of a tank unit is accused of shooting to death a civilian on a bicycle during the opening week of the war.

Finland’s president and prime minister announced that the Nordic country should apply right away for membership in NATO, the military defense pact founded in part to counter the Soviet Union.

“You (Russia) caused this. Look in the mirror,” Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said this week.

While the country's Parliament still has to weigh in, the announcement means Finland is all but certain to apply — and gain admission — though the process could take months to complete. Sweden, likewise, is considering putting itself under NATO's protection.

That would represent a major change in Europe's security landscape: Sweden has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland adopted neutrality after its defeat by the Soviets in World War II.

Public opinion in both nations shifted dramatically in favor of NATO membership after the invasion, which stirred fears in countries along Russia's flank that they could be next.

Such an expansion of the alliance would leave Russia surrounded by NATO countries in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic and would amount to a stinging setback for Putin, who had hoped to divide and roll back NATO in Europe but is instead seeing the opposite happen.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said the alliance would welcome Finland and Sweden with open arms.

Russia's Foreign Ministry warned that Moscow "will be forced to take retaliatory steps of military-technical and other characteristics in order to counter the emerging threats to its national security.”

NATO's funneling of weapons and other military support to Ukraine already has been critical to Kyiv's surprising success in stymieing the invasion, and the Kremlin warned anew in chilling terms Thursday that the aid could lead to direct conflict between NATO and Russia.

“There is always a risk of such conflict turning into a full-scale nuclear war, a scenario that will be catastrophic for all," said Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council.

While Russia's advance in the Donbas has been slow, its forces have gained some ground and taken some villages.

Four civilians were killed Thursday in three communities in the Donetsk region, which is part of the Donbas, the regional governor reported.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia’s focus on the Donbas has left its remaining troops around the northeastern city of Kharkiv vulnerable to counterattack from Ukrainian forces, which recaptured several towns and villages around the city.

Russian rocket strikes Thursday killed one person and wounded three in a suburb of Kharkiv, the regional governor said.

Fighting across the east has driven many thousands of Ukrainians from their homes.

“It is terrible there now. We were leaving under missiles,” said Tatiana Kravstova, who left the town of Siversk with her 8-year-old son Artiom on a bus headed for the central city of Dnipro. “I don’t know where they were aiming at, but they were pointing at civilians.”

Ukraine also said Russian forces had fired artillery and grenade launchers at Ukrainian troops in the direction of Zaporizhzhia, which has been a refuge for civilians fleeing Mariupol, and attacked in the Chernihiv and Sumy regions to the north.

Overnight airstrikes near Chernihiv, in northern Ukraine, killed at least three people, Ukraine's military said. It said that Russian troops fired rockets at a school and student dormitory in Novhorod-Siversky and that some other buildings, including private homes, were also damaged.

And eight to 12 Russian missiles struck an oil refinery and other infrastructure in the central Ukrainian industrial hub of Kremenchuk on Thursday, the region's acting governor, Dmytro Lunin, wrote in a Telegram post. In early April, he said, the refinery, which had been the last fully functional one in Ukraine at the time, was knocked offline by an attack.

In the southern port of Mariupol, which has largely been reduced to smoking rubble with little food, water or medicine, or what the mayor called a “medieval ghetto,” Ukrainian fighters continued to hold out at the Azovstal steel plant, the last stronghold of resistance in the city.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said negotiations were underway with Russia to win the release of 38 severely wounded Ukrainian defenders from the plant. She said Ukraine hoped to exchange them for 38 “significant” Russian prisoners of war.

___

Yesica Fisch in Bakhmut, David Keyton in Kyiv, Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Mstyslav Chernov in Kharkiv, Jari Tanner in Helsinki, and other AP staffers around the world contributed.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Finland moves toward joining NATO amid Russian threats
Finland’s leaders have come out in favor of applying to join NATO, and Sweden could do the same within days
11:16AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Greg Norman's comments on Khashoggi killing spark backlash
Greg Norman’s brushing off of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing as a “mistake” has been condemned by the fiancee of the late Washington Post columnist
11:10AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Biden hosts ASEAN as he looks to show Pacific commitment
President Joe Biden is hosting leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as his administration continues an effort to demonstrate that the United States hasn’t lost focus on the Pacific
11:05AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Report criticizes meat industry, USDA response to pandemic
A new Congressional report says that at the height of the pandemic, the meat processing industry worked closely with political appointees in the Trump administration to stave off health restrictions and keep slaughterhouses open even as COVID-19 spread rapidly among workers
10:02AM ( 1 hour ago )
Astronomers capture 1st image of Milky Way's huge black hole
Astronomers have unveiled the first wild but fuzzy image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy
9:57AM ( 1 hour ago )
US stocks open lower as inflation remains stubbornly high
Stocks are off to another weak start on Wall Street Thursday as more declines in big technology companies weighed on the broader market
9:48AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
UK warns 'no choice but to act' to change Brexit deal
Britain’s foreign secretary has warned the European Union that the U.K. will have “no choice but to act” to revoke parts of a Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland if the EU doesn't show flexibility
8:21AM ( 3 hours ago )
Stubborn inflation weighs on US and global markets
Wall Street is pointing toward another down day with global markets falling sharply on more bad inflation data
8:17AM ( 3 hours ago )
North Korea confirms 1st COVID outbreak, Kim orders lockdown
North Korea has imposed a nationwide lockdown to control its first acknowledged COVID-19 outbreak of the pandemic
7:23AM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Average long-term US mortgage rates edge up to 5.3%
Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged up again this week, with interest on the key 30-year loan at its highest level since 2009
10:12AM ( 1 hour ago )
Live updates | Russia to respond to Finnish decision on NATO
Russia has warned that it will have to take unspecified “military-technical” steps in response to Finland’s decision to join NATO
10:08AM ( 1 hour ago )
South African firm says it may close its COVID vaccine plant
The first factory to produce COVID-19 vaccines in Africa has announced that it has not received enough orders and is planning to stop production within a few weeks, in what a senior World Health Organization official described as a “failure” in efforts to achieve vaccine equity
9:44AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Greg Norman's comments on Khashoggi killing spark backlash
Greg Norman’s brushing off of Jamal Khashoggi’s killing as a “mistake” has been condemned by the fiancee of the late Washington Post columnist
11:10AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Biden hosts ASEAN as he looks to show Pacific commitment
President Joe Biden is hosting leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as his administration continues an effort to demonstrate that the United States hasn’t lost focus on the Pacific
11:05AM ( 17 minutes ago )
County, governor spar over protests at justices' homes
Fairfax County officials have rebuffed a request from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to establish a security perimeter around the neighborhoods of Supreme Court justices living in the county who have faced protests outside their homes
11:02AM ( 20 minutes ago )
Live updates | Germany supports Finland's plan to join NATO
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö Thursday, the same day Finland’s leaders announced the country plans to apply for NATO membership
10:46AM ( 36 minutes ago )
North Macedonia: US leads exercise in NATO's newest member
U.S. troops are joining forces from Britain, France, Italy and allied countries in the region in a military exercise held in NATO’s newest member North Macedonia
10:41AM ( 41 minutes ago )