Russia Previously Warned It Would ‘be Forced To Take Retaliatory Steps’ If Finland Joins NATO

Russia Previously Warned It Would ‘be Forced To Take Retaliatory Steps’ If Finland Joins NATO

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1 min agoFinland wants to keep border with Russia “peaceful,” foreign minister says at NATO meetingFrom CNN’s Amy Cassidy in London

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto speaks to reporters as he arrives for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on May 14, in Berlin, Germany. (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)Finland wants to keep its border with Russia peaceful, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Saturday, affirming the need to maintain communication with the Kremlin as the Nordic nation inches closer to joining NATO.

“We have a 1,300-kilometer [about 800 miles] border with Russia,” he told reporters in Berlin, where he was invited to join a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. “The border is peaceful and we want to maintain that border peaceful. It’s very important that we communicate with our neighbor.” 

Asked about Turkey being against Finland joining NATO, Haavisto said he called Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday to “take the tensions down” and will continue discussions with him at the NATO meeting on Saturday. 

He conceded that any NATO member could “block the process,” therefore it is important to maintain “good contacts” with everyone. 

Turkey, which has presented itself as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, has signaled an unfavorable view on Finland and Sweden possibly joining NATO, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accusing the nations of housing Kurdish “terrorist organizations.”

Nevertheless, Haavisto said Saturday he is “confident that in the end, we will find a solution and Finland and Sweden will become members of NATO.” 

Previous reporting from CNN’s Talia Kayali in Atlanta, Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul and Samantha Tapfumaneyi in London contributed to this post.

23 min agoFinland is moving toward a NATO bid. Catch up on the latest on those developments and the war in UkraineIt’s after 7:30 p.m. in Ukraine. Here’s what’s happened on Saturday so far.

Finland makes moves toward NATO: Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that the Nordic nation will decide “to seek NATO membership in the next few days,” Niinistö’s office said in a statement.

Putin said it would be a “mistake,” according to the Kremlin, adding “it may have a negative impact on Russian-Finnish relations.” Russia previously warned Finland, which it shares an 800-mile border with, that it “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,” according to its foreign ministry.

Russia also suspended power exports to Finland, Finnish operator Fingrid confirmed to CNN on Saturday. Fingrid brushed off the cut, as Russian electricity amounts to a small fraction of the country’s total consumption. 

Programming note: CNN’s Dana Bash will interview the Finnish president on Sunday’s “State of the Union” at 9 a.m. ET.

GOP senators in Kyiv: A delegation of Republican US senators, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky said on his Instagram account that the visit “is a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine from the United States Congress and the American people.”

The visit comes as Congress has been trying to pass a roughly $40 billion aid bill that would provide Ukraine with military and humanitarian assistance.

Combat moves: The Ukrainian military said Russian forces are retreating from the northern Kharkiv region. A fierce counterattack has taken back a number of villages in the area east of Kharkiv. 

But a Ukrainian lawmaker called on the United States to provide air defense systems and fighter jets to Ukraine, saying that the situation on the battlefield is “far worse” than it was at the beginning of the war. 

Meanwhile, satellite imagery and firsthand testimony have provided a fuller picture of the multiple and disastrous efforts by Russian forces to cross the Siverskyi Donets River in eastern Ukraine over the past week. New video and analysis of drone and satellite imagery show that the Russians may have lost as many as 70 armored vehicles and other equipment in attempting to cross the river early this week. Their goal was to try to encircle Ukrainian defenses in the Luhansk region, but it failed. 

Azovstal families appeal for extraction: The relatives of Ukrainian soldiers still holed up in Mariupol’s Azovstal plant are appealing to Chinese President Xi Jinping to act as a mediator to help extract their loved ones, following a similar plea to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“Our children are in hell,” one father said at a press conference in Kyiv.

A Ukrainian fighter inside the plant told Ukrainian TV about horrific conditions for the wounded, saying that “fighters are simply lying without limbs, without arms, without legs.” Conditions are unsanitary and there is no medicine, the solider said.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said the government would welcome the prospect of Turkish or Chinese mediation in helping to arrange the evacuation of wounded soldiers from the Azovstal complex in Mariupol.

39 min agoUkraine welcomes possible Turkish role in evacuating wounded from AzovstalFrom CNN’s Tim Lister and Hande Atay Alam

People walk near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said the government would welcome the prospect of Turkish or Chinese mediation in helping to arrange the evacuation of wounded soldiers from the Azovstal complex in Mariupol.

Iryna Vereshchuk said on Ukrainian television that “the Turkish side could really be a mediator in extraction issues. We are talking now about the seriously injured and this is a question to the ICRC [International Red Cross]. If Turkey can be a mediator in this matter as well, that would be good.”

“If Xi Jinping can influence, that would be good too. We hope for the best,” she said. 

Vereshchuk said that if Turkey or China were not involved, “at least a document should be signed by ICRC representatives who, under the Geneva Conventions, have the authority to monitor the process and moreover, to be leaders in this process.”
“We want a document to be signed, how exactly the evacuation from Azovstal will take place,” setting out a corridor that will operate and allow the severely wounded soldiers to be taken to Zaporizhizhia.Vereshchuk spoke as Turkey’s presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, was outlining one option for the evacuation.

“We have had a number of plans, proposals. The first one was to get the soldiers from Mariupol to Berdiansk, and from the Berdiansk port to the ship from Istanbul, bring them here to Turkey. That offer is still on the table,” he said. Berdiansk is controlled by the Russians and is about 50 miles west of Mariupol. 

“The boat is still in Istanbul. It is ready to sail but we are waiting for final clearance from the Russian and the Ukrainian sides for it to go to Berdiansk and bring those injured soldiers to Turkey,” Kalin said. 

1 hr 21 min ago”Our children are in hell”: Families of soldiers still in Azovstal share messages with loved ones inside plantFrom CNN’s Daria Markina in Kyiv

The relatives of Ukrainian soldiers still holed up in Mariupol’s Azovstal plant are appealing to Chinese President Xi Jinping to act as a mediator to help extract their loved ones, following a similar plea to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

After a press conference with the families in Kyiv, Stavr Vishnyak told CNN that his son Artem, 21, is fighting inside Azovstal.

“Our children are in hell. We ask the world community again and again to make the extraction procedure. The petition to save Mariupol has collected one-and-a-half million signatures. We have already reached out to everyone. Only Xi Jinping remained. We ask president of China to mediate, intervene and become a peacemaker in this war. Our heroes have almost no time left. Our warriors have already been to hell. Give them the opportunity to step on the earth and see the sun,” Vishnyak said. Stavr Vishnyak and his wife, Tatyana, have a 21-year-old son in the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, Ukraine. They are part of the families who are asking the Chinese and Turkish leaders to help facilitate the extraction of remaining soldiers in the plant. (Daria Markina/CNN)A Ukrainian soldier inside the plant described horrific conditions for the wound

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Russia previously warned it would ‘be forced to take retaliatory steps’ if Finland joins NATO

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