Russia Cuts Off Finland’s Natural Gas Supply

Russia Cuts Off Finland’s Natural Gas Supply

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5 hr 6 min agoIt’s 2 p.m. in Kyiv. Here’s what you need to knowSmoke rises above the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 20. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)After nearly three months of brutal fighting in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Russia says it has taken control of the Azovstal steel plant. Meanwhile, Russia has turned off its natural gas supplies to Finland after the country said it wants to join NATO, and at least six people have been killed in Russian attacks on the city of Severodonetsk, local officials say.

Here are the latest developments:

Russia claims steel plant control: For weeks, the Azovstal steel plant has been the last holdout of Ukrainian resistance in the otherwise Russian-occupied city of Mariupol. On Friday, Russia claimed the last Ukrainian fighters had surrendered — which, if true, marks a symbolic military victory for Moscow. Ukraine has not yet confirmed this, and CNN is unable to independently verify the claim. It comes after a Ukrainian commander at Azovstal ordered soldiers to preserve their lives and stop their defense of the city. Meanwhile, Ukrainian families anxiously wait to hear from loved ones leaving Azovstal.Severodonetsk deaths: At least six people have been killed in Russian attacks on the city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region in the past day, the head of the regional military administration said Saturday. The dead include two people sheltering in a school basement.Evacuations blocked: Russian forces continue to prevent people from evacuating the Kherson region into Ukrainian-controlled territory, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Saturday, accusing Russia of “terror tactics.” Villages there are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said. Russia turns off the tap: Russia halted natural gas exports to Finland on Saturday, according to a statement from Finnish state-owned energy firm Gasum. Russian state media outlet TASS confirmed the export halt, citing “non-payment” as the reason for Russian firm Gazprom’s decision to cut supplies. Gazprom has continued to demand European countries pay for Russian gas in rubles.US aid to Ukraine: US President Joe Biden has signed a $40 billion Ukraine aid bill, a White House official has confirmed. The bill was flown to Seoul after the Senate passed it in the hours after Biden departed Washington for his trip. Biden is in South Korea for his first Asia trip as President this weekend, and will head to Tokyo on Sunday.American troops in Europe: The US is expected to keep 100,000 troops stationed in Europe for the foreseeable future unless Russia escalates and threatens Sweden and Finland or NATO members, according to multiple US officials.5 hr 4 min agoBiden signs $40 billion aid package to Ukraine while in SeoulFrom CNN’s Kaitlan Collins

US President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, on May 21. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)US President Joe Biden has signed the massive $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, a White House official has confirmed.

The bill was flown to Seoul after the Senate passed it in the hours after Biden departed Washington for his trip. 

Biden is currently attending a state dinner with the South Korean president. He signed the aid package off-camera earlier Saturday.

4 hr 3 min ago”Lots of blood”: Civilians describe dangerous journeys to escape Russian-held territory From CNN’s Tim Lister and Sanyo Fylyppov in Lviv

As thousands of Ukrainians continue to flee Russian-occupied parts of southern Ukraine, they run a gauntlet of harassment by Russian troops, sometimes coming under fire.

More than a dozen people have spoken to CNN at length about their harrowing journeys out of the Kherson region, which has been under Russian control since the beginning of the invasion in late February. They also tell of the unexplained disappearances at night, the climate of fear and the acute shortages that led them to flee.

Ukrainian officials said Friday that the Russians have now blocked exits from Kherson to areas controlled by the Ukrainian government and are trying to send everyone who wants to leave to Crimea.

They say the Russians have intensified patrols and increased the number of checkpoints.

Several people have been killed and many more injured when their convoys became stranded in what’s known as the “gray zone” between Russian and Ukrainian lines.

At least two convoys were marooned for days around Davydiv Brid, a village set in rolling farmland where the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia meet.

One column was fired on a week ago: A man was killed and several people injured. This week, at least three people were killed and many more injured in the village when a convoy of about 100 civilian vehicles was fired on, according to witnesses.

Read more here:

6 hr 51 min agoKherson evacuations still blocked, Ukrainians say, warning of deepening humanitarian crisisFrom CNN’s Maria Kostenko in Chernivtsi and Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

A Russian military truck painted with the letter Z travels on a road in the Kherson region on May 19. (Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images)Russian forces continue to prevent people from evacuating the Kherson region into Ukrainian-controlled territory, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Saturday, accusing Russia of “terror tactics.”

Villages there are on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office said Saturday. 

Kherson has been occupied by the Russians since early in the invasion of Ukraine, and Russians have been allowing Ukrainians who want to flee only to go to Crimea, which Russia occupied and annexed eight years ago. 

Ukrainians in the region have told CNN about critical shortages of medicines, and Russian harassment, disappearances and violence against people who have remained.

Convoys of cars trying to leave the area have been blocked for days at a time and sometimes fired upon.

The deputy head of the Kherson regional council, Yurii Sobolevskyi, said Saturday the Russian occupiers’ “organizational incompetence and criminal actions … are driving the Kherson region into a deeper humanitarian crisis.”

He said Ukrainian local governments were refusing “to collaborate with the occupiers,” which was creating a leadership vacuum.

The Russians trying to govern the occupied territories “do not know how to solve the problems of communities; their interests are limited to ‘collecting taxes’ and redistributing property and other assets,” Sobolevskyi charged.

7 hr 36 min agoAt least six killed in Russian attacks on the Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, says Luhansk regional officialFrom CNN’s Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv

At least six people have been killed in Russian attacks on the city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s Luhansk region in the past day, the head of the regional military administration said Saturday.

The dead include two people sheltering in a school basement, Serhiy Hayday said, adding that three people had also been wounded when Russians fired on the school.

“Two people died on the spot, three more were hospitalized. Two killed and one wounded are members of the same family,” Hayday said in a statement on Telegram.

Residents of Severodonetsk had been hiding since the beginning of the war, according to Hayday.

Two women were killed by Russian shelling in Lysychansk and Privillia, and a man and a woman died near their house in Severodonetsk, he said, without specifying how they died.

The Russians “have thrown all their forces and efforts into the assault on Severodonetsk and cutting off the Lysychansk-Bakhmut

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