December 8, 2022

War in Ukraine: Latest developments

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, and Sweden fear they could be future targets of Russian aggression following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine


Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, and Sweden fear they could be future targets of Russian aggression following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine – Copyright AFP Jonathan NACKSTRAND

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

– Nearly 1,000 Mariupol fighters have surrendered: Russia –

Russia says that a total of 959 Ukrainian soldiers have surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol, including 80 wounded.

The defence ministry in Moscow said that a further 694 fighters had surrendered in the past 24 hours after a first group of 265 laid down arms and left the plant on Monday.

It said that the injured are being treated in a hospital in a part of the eastern Donetsk region controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

It is unclear if any of the troops, who have been acclaimed as heroes for holding out for weeks after Mariupol fell, remain at the plant.

Ukraine says it hopes to exchange Azovstal fighters for Russian soldiers it is holding.

– First war crimes trial starts – 

A 21-year-old Russian soldier has pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed Ukrainian civilian at a war crimes trial in Kyiv, in the first such case to go to court since the start of the offensive.

Vadim Shishimarin from Irkutsk in Siberia admitted gunning down the 62-year-old man near the central village of Chupakhivka to prevent him reporting a carjacking by fleeing Russian troops.

He faces possible life imprisonment for war crimes and premeditated murder after the case heard by a district court in Kyiv.

“By this first trial, we are sending a clear signal that every perpetrator, every person who ordered or assisted in the commission of crimes in Ukraine shall not avoid responsibility,” Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Iryna Venediktova tweeted.

– Finland, Sweden submit NATO bids –

Finland and Sweden submit their bids to join NATO, sealing their decision to jettison decades of military non-alignment, despite threats of reprisals from Moscow.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg calls it a “historic step”. He has promised to welcome them “with open arms” despite Turkey’s threat to veto their membership over its claim that the Nordic neighbours harbour members of armed groups opposed to Ankara.

NATO ambassadors are expected to discuss the applications on Wednesday.

Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border with Russia, and Sweden fear they could be future targets of Russian aggression following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Public support in the two countries for NATO membership skyrocketed after the war began.

– Moscow expels dozens of diplomats –

Russia expels dozens of French, Italian and Spanish diplomats in tit-for-tat responses to the expulsion of Russian diplomats over the Ukraine conflict.

The foreign ministry says 27 Spanish, 24 Italian and 34 French diplomats have been declared “persona non grata”.

France and Italy condemn the move, with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi calling it a “hostile act” which will make resolving the war through peaceful means more difficult.

– Peace talks on hold –

Russia and Ukraine both admit that peace talks have stalled, with both accusing the other of blocking progress.

Kyiv accuses Moscow of failing to find areas for compromise. 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blames the “complete lack of will of Ukrainian negotiators to continue this process.” 

The two sides reported progress at talks in Istanbul in late March but the process stalled shortly after, following revelations of atrocities in towns that were controlled by Russian forces.

– Zelensky calls Cannes –

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky makes a surprise video address to the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival in France.

“In the end, hatred will disappear and dictators will die,” he tells the audience, who give him a standing ovation.

The Ukrainian leader also addressed the Grammys in April.

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