The Kremlin Calls Finland’s Plans To Join NATO A Threat And Says It Will Be ‘forced To Take Retaliatory Steps’ If Its Neighbor Goes Ahead

The Kremlin Calls Finland’s Plans To Join NATO A Threat And Says It Will Be ‘forced To Take Retaliatory Steps’ If Its Neighbor Goes Ahead

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3 hr 41 min agoRussia will be “forced to take retaliatory steps” if Finland joins NATO, Russian foreign ministry saysFrom CNN’s Uliana Pavlova and Radina Gigova in London

Finland “must be aware of the responsibility and consequences” of joining NATO, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement Thursday, adding that Russia “will be forced” to take retaliatory steps if the country joins the alliance.  

“The statement by Finnish President S. Niinistö and Finnish Prime Minister S. Marin, who spoke today in favor of Finland joining NATO, is a radical change in the country’s foreign policy,” the Russian foreign ministry said, adding “Helsinki must be aware of the responsibility and consequences of such a move.”

Finland’s possible accession to NATO would cause serious damage to bilateral Russian-Finnish relations, which are maintaining stability and security in the Northern European region, the ministry said. 

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks at a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on January 24. (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)”Russia will be forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature, in order to stop the threats to its national security that arise in this regard,” it said. 

“Joining NATO will also be a direct violation of Finland’s international legal obligations, primarily the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947 and the 1992 Treaty between Russia and Finland on the fundamentals of relations,” Russia’s foreign ministry said. 

Finland shares an 800-mile border with Russia.

4 hr 19 min agoUkrainian migration service doing “audit” of Russian expats to identify unfriendly activity against UkraineFrom CNN’s Anastasia Graham-Yooll in London

The State Migration Service of Ukraine is conducting a “complete audit” into the services provided to its Russian citizens, in order to “single out those individuals who conduct certain activity against Ukraine,” the agency’s head, Natalia Naumenko, told journalists in Kyiv on Thursday.

“We are working on gathering an understanding for each one of these cases, and not just us, but our law enforcement agencies as well,” Naumenko added.

Citizens of Russia and Belarus make up the largest expat community in Ukraine, with over 150,000 nationals currently living in the country. Ukrainian Migration Service stopped processing Ukrainian citizenship applications for Russians in the country during the ongoing conflict. 

Naumenko added that those Russian nationals with a valid residence permit in Ukraine are “free to travel in an out of the country through controlled checkpoints.”

4 hr 32 min agoPutin says sanctions against Russia are “provoking” global crisisFrom CNN’s Katharina Krebs

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, holds a portrait of his father during the Immortal Regiment walk during the Victory Day celebrations at Red Square, Moscow, Russia, on May 9. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)Sanctions imposed on Russia by the West are “provoking” a global crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday during a meeting on economic issues.

“Their authors, guided by short-sighted, inflated political ambitions, Russophobia, to a greater extent hit their own national interests, their own economies, the wellbeing of their citizens. We see this, first of all, in a sharp increase in inflation in Europe,” said Putin.

According to the Russian leader, continuation of the West’s “obsession with sanctions” will inevitably lead to the “most difficult, intractable consequences” for the European Union as well as the poorest countries in the world.

“The blame for this lies entirely with the elites of Western countries, who are ready to sacrifice the rest of the world in order to maintain their global dominance,” he said.

Putin added that Russia is coping with external challenges provoked by Western sanctions and the inflation in the country is slowing down.

“The weekly increase in prices has already dropped to 0.1% — this is already close to the weekly growth rate that corresponds to the inflation target of the Bank of Russia,” he said.

4 hr 35 min agoFirst on CNN: Russian ship caught on satellite images moving stolen Ukrainian grain from Crimea to SyriaFrom CNN’s Tim Lister, Sanyo Fylyppov and Paul P. Murphy

The bulk carrier Matros Pozynich is seen at the Syrian port of Latakia on May 8. (Maxar Technologies)A Russian merchant ship loaded with grain stolen in Ukraine has been turned away from at least one Mediterranean port and is now in the Syrian port of Latakia, according to shipping sources and Ukrainian officials.

CNN has identified the vessel as the bulk carrier Matros Pozynich.

On April 27, the ship weighed anchor off the coast of Crimea and turned off its transponder. The next day, it was seen at the port of Sevastopol, the main port in Crimea, according to photographs and satellite images.

The Matros Pozynich is one of three ships involved in the trade of stolen grain, according to open-source research and Ukrainian officials.

Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, produces little wheat because of a lack of irrigation. But the Ukrainian regions to its north, occupied by Russian forces since early March, produce millions of tons of grain every year. Ukrainian officials say thousands of tons are now being trucked into Crimea.

Kateryna Yaresko, a journalist with the SeaKrime project of the Ukrainian online publication Myrotvorets, told CNN the project had noticed a sharp increase in grain exports from Sevastopol to about 100,000 tons in both March and April.

From Sevastopol, according to satellite images and tracking data reviewed by CNN, the Matros Pozynich transited the Bosphorus strait and made its way to the Egyptian port of Alexandria. It was laden with nearly 30,000 tons of Ukrainian wheat, according to Ukrainian officials.

But the Ukrainians were one step ahead. Officials say Egypt was warned that the grain was stolen, and the shipment was turned away. The Matros Pozynich steamed toward the Lebanese capital of Beirut with the same result. The ship turned off its transponder again on May 5, but imagery from and Maxar Techno

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