September 24, 2023

War in Ukraine: Latest developments

Ukrainians were offered a much-needed boost of optimism as a rap lullaby combining folk and modern hip-hop rhythms won the Eurovision song contest

Ukrainians were offered a much-needed boost of optimism as a rap lullaby combining folk and modern hip-hop rhythms won the Eurovision song contest – Copyright AFP/File LIU JIN

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

– Eurovision win lifts spirits –

Ukrainians receive a much-needed boost as a folk rap lullaby won the Eurovision song contest. 

“Stefania”, which beat out a host of over-the-top acts at the quirky annual musical event, was written by frontman Oleh Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war — but its nostalgic lyrics have taken on outsized meaning because of the conflict.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azоvstal right now,” Psiuk says in English from the stage, referring to the port city’s underground steelworks where Ukrainian soldiers are surrounded by Russian forces.

– ‘Very difficult’ situation in east Ukraine –

Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky warns that the military situation in Ukraine’s southeastern Donbas region is “very difficult”.

Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, has increasingly turned its attention to the country’s south and east since the end of March, after failing to take the capital Kyiv.

Western analysts believe President Vladimir Putin has his sights on annexing southern and eastern Ukraine in the months ahead but his troops have appeared to be encountering stiff resistance.

– Finland to apply for NATO membership –

Finland will apply for NATO membership, the Nordic country’s president and prime minister announces, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Today, the President of the Republic and the Government’s Foreign Policy Committee have jointly agreed that Finland will apply for NATO membership, after consulting parliament. This is a historic day. A new era is opening”, President Sauli Niinisto and premier Sanna Marin says.

– NATO talks ‘on track’ –

Talks to overcome Turkey’s misgivings about the anticipated NATO membership bids of Finland and Sweden are on a “good track”, Croatia says, as several members of the alliance eye swift accession for the Nordic states.

Turkey says it is ready to discuss Finland and Sweden’s plans to join NATO, despite accusing them of harbouring “terrorist organisations”. 

Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has swung political and public opinion in Finland and neighbouring Sweden in favour of NATO membership as a deterrent against Russian aggression.

– Putin warns Finland over neutrality –

President Putin tells his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto that Finland scrapping its military neutrality would be a “mistake” since there is no threat to Finland’s security,” the Kremlin says in a statement after a phone call between the two leaders.

– Zelensky urges support to prevent world famine –

President Zelensky warns that the war in his country risked triggering global food shortages as he calls for more international backing.

“Now support for Ukraine — and especially with weapons — means working to prevent global famine,” Zelensky says.

“The sooner we liberate our land and guarantee Ukraine’s security, the sooner the normal state of the food market can be restored,” he adds.

Before the invasion, Ukraine exported 4.5 million tonnes of agricultural produce per month through its ports -– 12 percent of the planet’s wheat, 15 percent of its corn and half of its sunflower oil.