For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:
2:15 a.m.: U.S. President Joe Biden hosts Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö and Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson for talks Thursday at the White House about their applications to join NATO, support for Ukraine and European security.
Biden on Wednesday praised what he called Sweden and Finland’s “important decision” after they formally applied for membership in the NATO military alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I warmly welcome and strongly support the historic applications from Finland and Sweden for membership in NATO and look forward to working with the U.S. Congress and our NATO allies to quickly bring Finland and Sweden into the strongest defensive alliance in history,” Biden said.
At a Wednesday meeting at the Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told his Swedish counterpart, Peter Hultqvist, “We look forward to your contributions to the NATO alliance.” VOA’s Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
1:40 a.m.: Amnesty International continues to call for the rights of the Ukrainian soldiers to be respected as reports of soldiers surrendering surfaced after the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol fell under Russian control.
“Prisoners of war must not be subjected to any form of torture or ill-treatment,” Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said in a statement posted Tuesday.
Prisoners “should be given immediate access to the International Committee of the Red Cross,” he said. “The relevant authorities must fully respect the rights of prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva conventions.”
12:50 a.m.: RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty shares an interview with the mother of a Ukrainian National Guardsman based in Mariupol.
During the May 11 interview in Kyiv, Inna Zatoloka shares some of the texts her 20-year-old son sent her since Russia invaded Ukraine. “Mother, I’m alive,” he once texted. “Love you.”
Mark Zatoloka was one of hundreds of soldiers defending civilians sheltering in the Azovstal steel plant while Russia attacked. Inna does not know whether he made it out alive.
12:30 a.m.: The U.S. Senate is set to vote Thursday on a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine.
The measure includes money for military equipment, training and weapons for Ukraine, replenishing stocks of U.S. equipment sent to Ukraine and financing to help other countries that aid Ukraine.
It also includes billions of dollars in humanitarian aid, including helping to address global food shortages caused by the conflict. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly gave its approval to the package last week.
If the Senate approves the measure, it would go to President Joe Biden for his signature.