Day 83 of the Invasion of Ukraine: 260 Azovstal Fighters Evacuated, Dozens Killed in North Donetsk Shelling
260 Azovstal fighters evacuated, McDonald's leaving Russia, dozens killed in North Donetsk shelling. Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Sweden announces its candidacy for NATO
A day after Finland, Sweden announced that it would also apply for NATO membership. The move marks a dramatic end to decades of military neutrality on both sides.
The parliaments of Stockholm and Helsinki have begun debating their NATO bids
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said their decision to seek NATO protection does not pose a "direct threat" to Russia. But he warned that any step to expand NATO's military infrastructure to the Nordic countries "will certainly provoke our response".
And Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey's opposition to Finland and Sweden's NATO membership, again accusing them of not taking a clear stand against terrorism.
Wounded Mariupol fighters evacuated
Russia has confirmed that it has agreed to allow wounded soldiers hiding in the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol to be evacuated. "An agreement has been reached with representatives of the Ukrainian military blocked in Azovstal in Mariupol to evacuate the wounded," the defense ministry said, adding that they would observe a truce until the fighters were taken to safety.
More than 260 Ukrainian soldiers have been evacuated from the plant, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Anna Malyar said. "53 severely wounded (soldiers) were evacuated from Azovstal to a hospital near Novoazovsk for medical treatment," Malyar said.
Another 211 were taken out of the humanitarian corridor agreed between Moscow and Kyiv, she added.
McDonald's leaves Russia
Two months after closing its restaurants in Russia due to the war in Ukraine, the American fast food giant McDonald's has announced that it is withdrawing entirely from the country.
McDonald's cites the "humanitarian crisis caused by the war" and "the unpredictable operating environment" as its decision and says it wants to sell its Russian business.
McDonald's closed all 850 restaurants in Russia in March, but said at the time that it would keep its 62,000 employees there.
Other multinational companies that withdrew from Russia in February include H&M, Starbucks and Ikea.
Ten killed in Sievierodonetsk
At least ten people were killed in the latest shelling in Sievierodonetsk in eastern Ukraine. The city is almost surrounded by Russian troops, Luhansk Oblast Governor Sergei Gaidai said.
Russian troops "fire on Sievierodonetsk without stopping," Gaidai said in a statement on Telegram.
Belarus can "slow down" Ukrainian troops
British military intelligence warns that the success of Ukrainian forces in the eastern part of the country, where they pushed Russian forces out of Kharkiv, could be delayed by Russia's ally Belarus, which is mobilizing special forces along Ukraine's northern border.
"The presence of Belarusian forces near the border is likely to fix Ukrainian troops in one place, so they cannot deploy support of operations in Donbas," the British Ministry of Defense said in a note.
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