MOSCOW — The Kremlin said Ukrainian soldiers at a giant steel plant in the port of Mariupol were surrendering.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that 959 Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered since Monday.
Ukrainian authorities said they ordered the fighters to save their lives and said the mission to pin down Russian forces defending the Azovstal plant was complete.
But they avoided describing the action of those who left the factory as a surrender.
Asked about the conflicting Russian and Ukrainian accounts, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “There can be only one interpretation: the troops entrenched in Azovstal are laying down their weapons and surrendering.”
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR:
– Ukraine hopes to exchange steel fighters for Russian prisoners of war
— Will Turkey disrupt NATO expansion? US officials seek clarification
– NATO chief hails ‘historic moment’ as Finland and Sweden apply
— In Ukraine, limbs lost and lives devastated in an instant
— Europe’s push to cut Russian gas faces a race against winter
— Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
BERLIN — The United States has mobilized around three times as much support for Ukraine as the European Union, according to figures compiled by a German think tank.
The Kiel Institute for the World Economy said Wednesday that a new aid package passed by the U.S. House of Representatives brings U.S. military, financial and humanitarian support to Ukraine to nearly $43 billion. euros (more than 45 billion dollars) between January 24 and May 10.
The institute found that EU aid amounted to just under 16 billion euros ($16.8 billion) over the same period. However, some countries in the 27-nation bloc have been reluctant to give the value of their aid to Ukraine, especially for arms supplies.
Relative to their gross domestic products, Estonia, Latvia and Poland provided the most support, ahead of the United States, according to the think tank’s calculations.
BERLIN — The Austrian government says it has no intention of following Sweden and Finland into NATO.
Austria joined the European Union at the same time as the two Nordic countries in 1995. The Swedish and Finnish NATO candidacies will probably make Austria one of the few EU countries not to be equally member of the transatlantic military alliance. .
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told German radio station Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday that “we decided on neutrality in 1955 and it is still true that a very, very large majority of the population sees that positively.” .
He said that did not stop Austria from backing EU sanctions against Russia and providing non-lethal support to Ukraine.
Schallenberg said he ‘takes note’ of Sweden and Finland’s decision to make a ‘massive change’ to their security policy – ‘but the situation looks a bit different here: we will, like Ireland and Malta – there are three states in all in the (European) Union – remain neutral.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The Danish Defense Intelligence Service on Wednesday raised the cyber activism threat level against Denmark due to recent attacks by pro-Russian cyber activists against NATO countries in Western Europe.
The Danish Center for Cyber Security, part of the Scandinavian country’s foreign intelligence service, raised the threat level from low to medium – the third level on a five-step scale.
The National IT Security Authority said that in the initial phase after Russia invaded Ukraine, attacks by cyber activists mainly targeted Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
However, “in recent weeks, cyber-activists have also hit targets in Western European NATO countries.” He added that attacks by cyber-activists have affected “targeted countries in the immediate vicinity of Ukraine” in recent weeks. Pro-Russian activist groups have attacked businesses and authorities, for example in the Czech Republic, Poland and Estonia.
KYIV, Ukraine – The Russian military said nearly 1,000 Ukrainian troops left Mariupol’s last stronghold this week. Ukraine has not confirmed.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday that 694 Ukrainian troops from the Azovstal Steel Plant have surrendered to Russian troops in the past 24 hours, bringing to 959 the total number of Ukrainian soldiers who have surrendered since Monday.
Konashenkov’s claim could not be independently verified.
The Ukrainian authorities avoided mentioning the numbers of the troops who left the factory.
LONDON — British military officials say Russia relied heavily on auxiliary forces, including Chechen fighters, to defeat Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol, pointing to manpower and command issues hampering operations Russians.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence, in a briefing released on Wednesday morning, said ‘firm’ Ukrainian resistance has delayed Russia’s ability to take full control of the strategic port city and inflicted ‘costly personnel casualties’ to Russian forces.
The ministry says the Kremlin made extensive use of auxiliary personnel, including thousands of Chechen fighters concentrated around Mariupol and in the Luhansk region.
These forces include individual volunteers and National Guard units that are usually dedicated to securing the rule of Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Chechen Republic.
“The combat deployment of such disparate personnel demonstrates Russia’s significant resource problems in Ukraine and likely contributes to a disunited command that continues to hamper Russia’s operations,” the ministry said.
BRUSSELS – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Finland and Sweden have asked to join the world’s largest military alliance, a move prompted by security concerns over Russia’s war in Ukraine .
“I warmly welcome Finland’s and Sweden’s applications for NATO membership. You are our closest partners,” Stoltenberg told reporters on Wednesday after receiving application letters from the ambassadors of the two Nordic countries.
The bid now has to be weighed by the 30 member countries.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed reservations about Finland and Sweden joining.
If his objections are overcome and membership talks go as planned, the two could become members within months. The process usually takes eight to 12 months, but NATO wants to act quickly given the Russian threat hanging over the Nordic countries.
KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman said the Russian military is detaining more than 3,000 civilians from Mariupol in another former penal colony near Olenivka, in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. Ukraine.
Seven buses carrying an unknown number of Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from the Mariupol steelworks were seen arriving at the former penal colony No. 120 near Olenivka on Tuesday.
Ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova said on Telegram on Tuesday that the civilians were being held in the former penal colony No. 52, also near Olenivka.
She said most civilians are detained for a month, but those considered “particularly unreliable”, including former soldiers and police, are detained for two months.
Denisova said the detainees include around 30 volunteers who delivered humanitarian supplies to Mariupol as it was besieged by Russia.
MELITOPOL, Ukraine — Ukrainian guerrilla fighters reportedly killed several high-ranking Russian officers in the southern town of Melitopol, the regional administration said on Telegram.
Russian forces have occupied the city since the start of the war.
According to the regional administration, the occupiers are trying to cover up the situation but Russian troops were more actively checking private cars in the city on Tuesday, most likely looking for the guerrillas.
No details of the killings were given and the report could not immediately be confirmed.
Throughout the war, the Ukrainians claimed to have killed many generals and other Russian officers. A few of the deaths have been confirmed by the Russians.
KYIV, Ukraine – The fall of Mariupol seems imminent as Ukraine prepares to abandon a sprawling steelworks where its soldiers had stood under relentless bombardment for months, making it the largest city to fall to the Russians.
Much of the steelworks was reduced to rubble.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine was working to get its remaining troops safely out of the Azovstal steelworks.
In his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskyy said the evacuation mission was overseen by Ukrainian military and intelligence officers and “the most influential international mediators are involved.”
However, hundreds of Ukrainian fighters left the Azovstal steelworks and surrendered into Russian hands.