The Fort Worth Press - Finland, Sweden debate NATO bids as Ukraine braces for eastern attack

USD -
AED 3.673015
AFN 71.913174
ALL 92.41957
AMD 387.83739
ANG 1.80347
AOA 849.000261
ARS 886.778599
AUD 1.497005
AWG 1.8025
AZN 1.698703
BAM 1.800457
BBD 2.020435
BDT 117.188938
BGN 1.79877
BHD 0.376928
BIF 2866.532572
BMD 1
BND 1.346872
BOB 6.915344
BRL 5.118497
BSD 1.00069
BTN 83.345147
BWP 13.522345
BYN 3.274727
BYR 19600
BZD 2.01703
CAD 1.36243
CDF 2805.000219
CHF 0.90971
CLF 0.032344
CLP 892.460395
CNY 7.233197
CNH 7.243795
COP 3829.53
CRC 512.192652
CUC 1
CUP 26.5
CVE 101.506978
CZK 22.783003
DJF 178.165416
DKK 6.869705
DOP 58.546824
DZD 134.487027
EGP 46.669091
ERN 15
ETB 57.482119
EUR 0.920755
FJD 2.2549
FKP 0.796099
GBP 0.78768
GEL 2.749703
GGP 0.796099
GHS 14.410649
GIP 0.796099
GMD 67.897294
GNF 8601.715004
GTQ 7.775205
GYD 209.365909
HKD 7.79991
HNL 24.732361
HRK 6.979956
HTG 132.671144
HUF 355.076496
IDR 15981.05
ILS 3.706625
IMP 0.796099
INR 83.2979
IQD 1310.987959
IRR 42062.512517
ISK 138.389752
JEP 0.796099
JMD 156.348322
JOD 0.708903
JPY 155.828021
KES 131.502985
KGS 88.195505
KHR 4073.479119
KMF 452.724972
KPW 899.999697
KRW 1360.815027
KWD 0.30693
KYD 0.833947
KZT 443.799021
LAK 21358.678142
LBP 89608.689649
LKR 299.85732
LRD 193.495805
LSL 18.209978
LTL 2.95274
LVL 0.60489
LYD 4.836379
MAD 9.91586
MDL 17.666498
MGA 4431.352695
MKD 56.661266
MMK 2101.348552
MNT 3449.999773
MOP 8.039548
MRU 39.701507
MUR 45.940393
MVR 15.459692
MWK 1734.984121
MXN 16.60195
MYR 4.684959
MZN 63.497294
NAD 18.209731
NGN 1494.059868
NIO 36.831616
NOK 10.69096
NPR 133.356961
NZD 1.636375
OMR 0.384893
PAB 1.000755
PEN 3.740656
PGK 3.887472
PHP 57.907988
PKR 278.482533
PLN 3.91594
PYG 7491.140056
QAR 3.641497
RON 4.580703
RSD 107.852082
RUB 90.890184
RWF 1293.873982
SAR 3.750439
SBD 8.475946
SCR 13.609543
SDG 600.999734
SEK 10.69264
SGD 1.34687
SHP 1.26345
SLE 22.847303
SLL 20969.50094
SOS 570.999629
SRD 32.182972
STD 20697.981008
SVC 8.75649
SYP 2512.529855
SZL 18.227091
THB 36.102027
TJS 10.857836
TMT 3.5
TND 3.115011
TOP 2.356973
TRY 32.199603
TTD 6.793828
TWD 32.253499
TZS 2589.99976
UAH 39.67064
UGX 3798.284052
UYU 38.820562
UZS 12703.906912
VEF 3622552.534434
VES 36.580745
VND 25455
VUV 118.72199
WST 2.803093
XAF 603.81737
XAG 0.031996
XAU 0.000413
XCD 2.70255
XDR 0.755926
XOF 603.81737
XPF 110.350237
YER 249.897402
ZAR 18.236598
ZMK 9001.203383
ZMW 25.84158
ZWL 321.999592
  • CMSC

    -0.0360

    24.474

    -0.15%

  • RBGPF

    -2.0700

    57.63

    -3.59%

  • RYCEF

    0.0080

    5.298

    +0.15%

  • GSK

    0.1000

    44.98

    +0.22%

  • BTI

    0.0400

    31.59

    +0.13%

  • NGG

    -0.4800

    72.83

    -0.66%

  • RELX

    0.1500

    44.07

    +0.34%

  • RIO

    1.7000

    73.61

    +2.31%

  • SCS

    0.0500

    13.63

    +0.37%

  • BP

    0.3800

    37.49

    +1.01%

  • CMSD

    -0.1300

    24.17

    -0.54%

  • VOD

    -0.0100

    9.79

    -0.1%

  • JRI

    0.0000

    11.58

    0%

  • BCE

    0.0000

    34.34

    0%

  • AZN

    -0.1400

    76.9

    -0.18%

  • BCC

    -1.2400

    136.05

    -0.91%

Finland, Sweden debate NATO bids as Ukraine braces for eastern attack
Finland, Sweden debate NATO bids as Ukraine braces for eastern attack / Photo: © AFP

Finland, Sweden debate NATO bids as Ukraine braces for eastern attack

Russia warned Finland and Sweden Monday they were making a "grave mistake" in their moves to join NATO as Ukraine braced for a new push by Moscow's forces in its eastern Donbas region.

Text size:

The two Nordic countries are poised to jettison decades of military non-alignment due to fears of aggression from Russia, with which Finland shares a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) border.

Helsinki officially declared its intention to join the NATO military alliance Sunday and Sweden's ruling party has also backed membership, with the issue now being debated by both countries' parliaments.

Russia, whose invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24 has sparked global outrage, killed thousands and created millions of refugees, warned there would be consequences.

"This is another grave mistake with far-reaching consequences," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters Monday, warning "the general level of military tensions will increase".

"They should have no illusions that we will just put up with this," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Russia has already suspended electricity supplies to Finland, citing payment issues.

But Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told lawmakers: "Our security environment has fundamentally changed.

"The only country that threatens European security, and is now openly waging a war of aggression, is Russia."

- 'Dead-end' -

Ukraine's Western allies have sent weapons and money to help it resist Russia's forces, and NATO promised Sunday support for as long as it was needed.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock promised military assistance "for as long as Ukraine needs".

Since failing to take the capital Kyiv in the early weeks of the war, Moscow has focused on the eastern industrial region of Donbas, near the Russian border and home to pro-Russian separatists.

"We are preparing for new attempts by Russia to attack in Donbas, to somehow intensify its movement in the south of Ukraine," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Sunday.

But Western intelligence has predicted its campaign will stall amid heavy losses and fierce resistance.

"The occupiers still do not want to admit that they are in a dead-end and their so-called 'special operation' has already gone bankrupt," Zelensky added.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich told local television Sunday that Russian troops were being redeployed towards the Donbas region after withdrawing from Kharkiv.

The defence ministry later announced Ukrainian troops had regained control of territory near Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city near the Russian border, which has been under constant attack since the invasion.

They "drove out the Russians and claimed the state border", it said in a statement posted on social media alongside a video showing armed Ukrainian soldiers gathered around a yellow-and-blue-painted border post.

Some Russian forces remain to try and block the advance, and air sirens sounded in Kharkiv city in the early hours, according to the Ukrainian army.

Arestovich said the Russian troops that had been withdrawn were being sent towards Lugansk and "their task is to take Severodonetsk," the easternmost city still held by Ukraine.

"Well, something is not working for them."

- Waiting it out -

The fall of Severodonetsk would grant the Kremlin de facto control of Lugansk, one of two regions -- along with Donetsk -- that comprise Donbas.

But Russia's attempt to cross a river to encircle it has been repelled with heavy losses of equipment, according to Lugansk governor Sergiy Gaiday.

And Russian-occupied railway bridges leading to Severodonetsk were blown up, the Ukrainian military said on Facebook late Sunday.

Ukraine's presidency reported Monday two people were killed and nine were wounded, including a child, in shelling on a Severodonetsk hospital.

After almost three months of fighting, more than six million refugees have fled Ukraine, and another eight million have been internally displaced, according to UN agencies.

But some are trying to wait it out.

In Lysychansk, on the other side of the river from Severodonetsk, a policeman tried in vain to evacuate Angelina Abakumova and her children.

"It is dangerous here now. Then it changes and it becomes dangerous over there. What is the point of going back and forth?" she told AFP, on her way back to her basement.

But the battles here have grown in number as the Russians try to gain control of hills overlooking a road providing Lysychansk's last link to the outside world.

"The people who sit here just think that everything will be fine," said the policeman, Viktor Levchenko, of the dozens hiding in the underground corridors and intertwining basements of one of the city's more fortified buildings.

"But unfortunately, everything is not fine."

- 'Behind schedule' -

Russia's defence ministry claimed it had launched strikes overnight on two Ukrainian command posts and five weapons depots in the regions of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk.

But British defence chiefs said Russia's offensive in Donbas had "lost momentum".

Demoralised Russian troops had failed to make substantial gains and Moscow's battle plan was "significantly behind schedule", UK defence intelligence said.

It added Russia may have lost a third of the ground combat forces it committed in February and was "unlikely to dramatically accelerate" its advance in the next 30 days.

Ukrainian commanders say they expect a turning point in their favour by August, but Western powers have cautioned the conflict will turn into a war of attrition stretching into next year.

- EU meets on oil ban -

Ukraine's Western allies have levelled unprecedented economic sanctions against Moscow to punish it for the invasion, but at the same time, European nations continue to buy Russian oil and gas.

EU foreign ministers met Monday in Brussels to discuss a proposed ban on Russian oil, but Hungary is blocking the move, arguing it would hammer the Hungarian economy.

The war is taking its toll on the continent's growth. The European Commission sharply cut its eurozone growth forecast for 2022 to 2.7 percent, blaming skyrocketing energy prices.

Separately, French automaker Renault has handed over its Russian assets to the Russian government, marking the first major nationalisation since the onset of sanctions.

K.Ibarra--TFWP