Finland to apply for Nato membership: president, PM – World

Finland confirmed on Sunday its offer for NATO members as a bulwark to Russia, redrawing Europe’s balance of power after decades of military non-alignment.

In Helsinki, President Sauli Ninisto called the move “historical”.

“A new era is Serbing,” he said before the decision was approved by Congress.

Finland’s move, expected to be followed by neighboring Sweden, angered the Kremlin, and the Nordic countries have claimed they have nothing to fear and have promised retaliation.

Russia has already unplugged its electricity supply to Finland, which shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border, and the Grid Boss has asked Sweden to back up.

The announcement comes after Western intelligence alleges that Russia has suffered massive military losses in Ukraine, and that Russia will face strong resistance and be bogged down in the east of its strategy.

And avoiding conflict, Ukraine was honored with a boost of motivation by entering the world’s largest live music event, the Eurovision Song Contest.

‘Lost momentum’

On the battlefield, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed to have carried out “high-precision” missile strikes against four artillery ammunition depots in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

Two missile launch systems and radars were also destroyed in the airstrikes, and 15 Ukrainian drones were removed around Donetsk and Lugansk, he added.

The claim comes after the British defense minister said the Russian offensive in the Donbass region had “lost the trend”.

UK Defense Intelligence said in an update that the demotivated Russian army did not reap significant gains and that Moscow’s battle plan was “significantly behind schedule”.

Also read: Moscow warns Finland about NATO design

“Russia is now likely to have lost a third of the ground combat force it deployed in February.

“Under the current circumstances, it is unlikely that Russia will accelerate its pace of advance dramatically over the next 30 days.” Ukraine and Russia regularly issue claims of enemy deaths, making it difficult to obtain accurate and reliable casualty figures.

Kyiv said the army killed nearly 20,000 Russians. Moscow said on March 25 that Ukrainian forces had killed at least 14,000 Ukrainian soldiers.

However, both figures are widely suspected to be inflated and have not been confirmed by AFP or independent crash monitors.

The Kremlin said about 1,351 troops had been killed at the end of March.

A senior NATO military official estimated that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers at the same time may have been killed in combat up to that point.

Eastern Push

After the failed capture of Kyiv, Russia is increasingly turning its attention to eastern Ukraine.

Western leaders had predicted that the war would last until next year, but Ukrainian commanders were more optimistic, heralding a turning point by August.

According to the governor of the eastern region of Lugansk, Russia is trying to cross the river and besieged the city of Severdonetsk.

But Serhi Gaidai said the Ukrainian forces had repelled the pressure.

Aerial photos showed dozens of destroyed armored vehicles and broken iron bridges on the banks of the river.

Local officials in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city to the north, say Russian troops are withdrawing and Ukrainian forces are counterattacking.

Ukrainian troops engage in a rear-end battle in a network of underground tunnels and bunkers inside an ironworks in the dilapidated southern port city of Mariupol.

Families of an estimated 600 men are still hiding in the Azovstal plant and are facing heavy shelling and have appealed to China to intervene to secure their release.

The United Nations and the Red Cross helped evacuate women, children and the elderly from a whey plant there earlier this month.

City mayor’s advisor, Petro Andryushchenko, told Telegram that a “giant convoy” of 500 to 1000 cars had arrived in the city of Zaporizhzhia.

Eurovision win

In war-weary Kyiv, news of the success of Ukraine’s runaway Eurovision was fueled by joy and relief, and a break from the gloomy reports of the war pouring in every day.

“It’s a little happiness. It is very important to us right now,” said 35-year-old entrepreneur Iryna Vorobey. She also adds that the support she has shown across Europe is “unbelievable”, she added. “We are very pleased,” said Andriy Nemkovych, 28-year-old project manager.

“This win is great for our mood.” The rap lullaby that combines folk and modern hip-hop rhythms, ‘Stephania’ of the Kalusi Orchestra, received enthusiastic support from viewers and took the UK 2nd place.

Chairman Volodymyr Zelensky praised the group for making the housekeeping song even more heartbreaking, with 6 million Ukrainians now displaced abroad.

“Our courage moves the world and our music conquers Europe!” He wrote on Facebook. Others, however, met the victory with a more sober emotion.

“It’s not the most important thing now,” said 61-year-old Vadym Zaplatnikov, who argued that “taking back the Crimea” would be a much more welcome announcement.