Day 79 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Finland wants NATO Membership, Russia threatens to Cut Off Gas to Europe
Here are the highlights of events related to the war in Ukraine over the past 24 hours:
Finland seeks NATO membership
The President and Prime Minister of Finland have stated that they want their country to join NATO after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
"NATO membership would strengthen Finland's security," said President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sasna Marin.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has promised that the membership process - which the US Senate, Germany and France also support - will be "smooth and fast".
Russian warning to Finland
Russia, outraged by NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe, says it will be forced to take "military-technical" measures if Helsinki continues to apply for NATO membership.
"Helsinki must realize its responsibility and the consequences of such a step," the foreign ministry said.
Escalation of the gas dispute
Russia's energy giant Gazprom has said it will cut off gas supplies to Western Europe via Poland in line with Russian sanctions against more than 30 energy companies from the EU, the United States and Singapore in response to Western sanctions over Ukraine.
The dispute has raised concerns about the future of gas supplies to Europe, prompting German Economy Minister Robert Habeck to accuse Russia of using energy resources as a "weapon".
Negotiations for evacuation of wounded soldiers
Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk says Kyiv is in "difficult" talks with Russia to ensure the safe evacuation of 38 severely wounded fighters from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, surrounded by Russian troops.
Earlier this week, she told AFP that there were more than 1,000 Ukrainian troops in the tunnels under the growing steel plant in the port city, which Russia claims to have control over.
UN investigates alleged Russian atrocities
The UN Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly to launch an investigation into the alleged serious violations committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, which put additional diplomatic pressure on Moscow.
The Council voted 33-2 in favor of a draft resolution tabled by Ukraine to launch an investigation into alleged crimes in the Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions in late February and March.
Ukraine will hold the first war crimes trial
Ukraine says it will prosecute a 21-year-old Russian soldier accused of shooting an unarmed civilian while riding a bicycle - the first such case to be heard out since the start of the war.
Vadim Shishimarin is accused of killing the 62-year-old man on February 28 near the central village of Chupahiva, the office of Chief Prosecutor Irina Venediktova reported.
UN urges Russia to stop school bombings
A meeting of the UN Security Council called for an end to the bombing of Ukrainian schools and condemned their use for military purposes.
"Hundreds of schools across the country have been reported to have been hit by heavy artillery, air strikes and other explosive weapons in populated areas," Omar Abdi, deputy chief executive of the UN Children's Fund, told the council.
Three killed in a strike in northern Ukraine
Ukraine says three people were killed and 12 others were injured in a Russian strike in Ukraine's northern Chernihiv region last night.
The attack comes nearly two months after Russian forces withdrew from the north to focus on the east and south.
According to the emergency services, it happened in the city of Novhorod-Siverskyi. Chernihiv Governor Vyacheslav Chaush says "critical infrastructure", including a school, has been affected.
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