- Russian President Vladimir Putin Finland joining NATO would be ‘a mistake’ as Moscow halted electric supplies to the Nordic country.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says “very complex negotiations” with Russia are under way to get fighters out of the besieged Azovstal plant in Mariupol.
- Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, makes a surprise visit to Kyiv, assures Ukraine of sustained support.
- A convoy of hundreds of cars that left Mariupol reaches safety in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia.
- Ukraine’s Kalusch Orchestra wins Eurovision with the folk hip hop song, “Stefania”.
Here are all the latest updates:
Zelenskyy hails Ukraine’s Eurovision win, pledges to host contest in Mariupol one day
Ukraine’s president has praised the Kalush Orchestra’s win in the Eurovision song contest.
“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” Zelenskyy said in a Telegram.
As winners of this year’s Eurovision, Ukraine will host next year’s contest. Zelenskyy said he hoped to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in a “free, peaceful and rebuilt” Mariupol.
Blinken arrives in Germany for NATO meeting
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Germany ahead of an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin.
The gathering will consider moves by Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance, as well as ways in which NATO can support Ukraine without being drawn into the conflict with Russia.
I have arrived in Berlin where I will informally meet withforeign ministers to discuss our alliance and sustained action to address Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken)
Mitch McConnell assures Ukraine of ‘sustained support’
The Republican leader of the US Senate has reaffirmed Washington’s support for Ukraine during a surprise visit to Kyiv.
In a statement, Mitch McConnel said he reassured Zelenskyy that US “stands squarely behind Ukraine and will sustain our support until Ukraine wins this war”.
A delegation of Senate Republicans just left Ukraine after visiting Kyiv and meeting with President Zelenskyy. We saw firsthand the courage, unity, and resolve of the Ukrainian people. My full statement:
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell)
Ukraine wins Eurovision Song Contest
Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest, riding a wave of public support across Europe for the embattled nation and buoyed by an infectious folk hip hop melody.
Kalush Orchestra’s song “Stefania” beat out 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event on Saturday. Sung in Ukrainian, the winning song fused rap with traditional folk music and was a tribute to band frontman Oleh Psiuk’s mother.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sent good luck wishes earlier in the night, saying that if Kalush Orchestra were to win it would have a huge symbolic meaning.
“For us today, any victory is very important,” he said in his nightly address.
Russia had been excluded from the competition in Turin because of its invasion of Ukraine.
Mariupol convoy reaches safety, refugees recount ‘devastating’ escape
A large convoy of cars and vans carrying refugees from the ruins of Mariupol has arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia after waiting days for Russian troops to allow them to leave.
The refugees that arrived on Saturday first had to get out of Mariupol and then somehow make their way to Berdyansk – some 80 km further west along the coast – and other settlements before the 200 km drive northwest to Zaporizhzhia.
Nikolai Pavlov, 74, said he had lived in a basement for a month after his apartment was destroyed. A relative using “secret detours” managed to get him out of Mariupol to Berdyansk.
“We barely made it, there were lots of elderly people among us … the trip was devastating. But it was worth it,” he said after the convoy arrived in the dark.
An aide to Mariupol’s mayor said earlier that the convoy numbered between 500 to 1,000 cars and was the largest single evacuation from the city since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Envoy says Russian diplomats in US threatened, enticed by FBI, CIA
Russia’s envoy to the US says Russian diplomats in Washington are being threatened with violence and US intelligence services are trying to make contact with them, according to the TASS news agency.
“It’s like a besieged fortress. Basically, our embassy is operating in a hostile environment … Embassy employees are receiving threats, including threats of physical violence,” TASS quoted Ambassador Anatoly Antonov saying on Saturday.
“Agents from US security services are hanging around outside the Russian embassy, handing out CIA and FBI phone numbers, which can be called to establish contact,” the ambassador told TASS.
Russia and the US have been locked in a dispute over the size and functioning of their respective diplomatic missions since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
US’s Mitch McConnell meets Zelenskyy in Kyiv
Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the US Senate, paid an unannounced visit to Kyiv with other Republican senators and met the Ukrainian president for talks.
McConnell was accompanied by fellow Senators Susan Collins, John Barrasso and John Cornyn.
Zelenskyy hailed the visit as a powerful signal of US bipartisan support for Ukraine and the strength of relations between the two nations.
“We discussed many areas of support for our state, including in defence and finance, as well as strengthening sanctions against Russia,” Zelenskyy said in a video address, adding that he stressed to the senators the need for Russia to be designated a terrorist state.
McConnell is pressing Republican Senator Rand Paul to end his opposition to a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine, which has overwhelming support from both major parties in the US.
Ukraine band makes plea for Mariupol at Eurovision
Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra made a plea for the city of Mariupol and fighters holding out at the Azovstal steel plant at the end of their appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest.
“Please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now,” lead singer Oleh Psiuk shouted from the front of the stage in the Italian city of Turin after the band performed its song “Stefania”.
Russian forces have bombarding the steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, the last bastion of hundreds of Ukrainian defenders in a city which is almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of a siege.
Putin tells Finnish president: Joining NATO would be ‘mistake’
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has told his Finnish counterpart that joining NATO would be “a mistake”, as Moscow cut off its electricity supply to the Nordic country earlier.
“Putin stressed that the end of the traditional policy of military neutrality would be a mistake since there is no threat to Finland’s security,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday.
“Such a change in the country’s political orientation can have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations developed over years in a spirit of good neighbourliness and cooperation between partners,” it said.
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Read all the updates from Saturday, May 14.