Live updates | Russia says Mariupol port is working again
MOSCOW — The Russian military says the key Ukrainian port of Mariupol is functioning again after three months of fighting.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday that the military has finished clearing the port of mines and it is now fully operational.
The Russian forces took control of Mariupol, the strategic port on the Sea of Azov, after the last Ukrainian defenders at the giant Azovstal seaside steel plant laid down their weapons.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:
— Scars of war seem to be everywhere in Ukraine after 3 months
— Saving the children: War closes in on eastern Ukrainian town
— Sweden, Finland delegations go to Turkey for NATO talks
— US to end Russia’s ability to pay international investors
— UK approves sale of Chelsea soccer club by sanctioned Abramovich
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
POKROVSK, Ukraine — Russian strikes are hitting the eastern Ukrainian town of Pokrovsk, in the Donetsk region, causing at least some injuries.
Pokrovsk administration head Ruslan Trebushkin said in a Facebook post that the damage and the number of injured people in the strikes early Wednesday were still being assessed.
One strike left a crater at least 3 meters (10 feet) deep, with the remnants of what appeared to be a rocket still smoldering. A row of low terraced houses near the strike suffered significant damage, with roof tiles blown off, door frames ripped from walls and pieces of concrete scattered around.
“There’s no place left to live in, everything is smashed,” said Viktoria Kurbonova, a mother-of-two who lived in one of the terraced houses.
The windows had been blown out by an earlier strike about a month ago and were replaced with plastic sheeting. That, she said, probably saved their lives because no glass flew around.
LONDON — British military authorities say Ukraine’s overland export routes are “highly unlikely” to offset the problems caused by Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea port of Odessa.
And that will put further pressure on global grain prices.
The U.K. Ministry of Defense, in an update posted Wednesday morning, says there has been no “significant” merchant shipping in or out of Odessa since the start of the Russian invasion.
The ministry says that the blockade, combined with the lack of overland routes, means that significant supplies of grain remain in storage and can’t be exported.
“While the threat of Russia’s naval blockade continues to deter access by commercial shipping to Ukrainian ports, the resulting supply shortfalls will further increase the price of many staple products,” the ministry said.
KYIV, Ukraine — A regional governor in eastern Ukraine says at least six civilians have been killed by the latest Russian shelling.
Luhansk region Gov. Serhiy Haidai said Wednesday that another eight people were wounded in the shelling of the town of Sievierodonetsk over the previous 24 hours.
Sievierodonetsk is at the epicenter of fighting in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland of Donbas, where the Russian forces have been pressing their offensive despite stiff Ukrainian resistance.
Haidai accused the Russians of deliberately targeting shelters where civilians were hiding.
ANKARA, Turkey — Delegations from Sweden and Finland are scheduled Wednesday to hold talks in Ankara with senior Turkish officials, aiming to overcome Turkey’s objections to their historic bids to join NATO.
Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join the alliance last week in a move that marks one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s war in Ukraine — and which could rewrite Europe’s security map.
Turkey has said it opposes the two Nordic countries’ membership in the military alliance. It cites grievances with Sweden’s — and a to a lesser extent Finland’s — perceived support to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other entities that Turkey views as a security threat. It also accuses the two of imposing arms exports restrictions on Turkey and refusing to extradite suspected “terrorists.”
Turkey’s objections have dampened Stockholm’s and Helsinki’s hopes for quick NATO membership amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and puts the trans-Atlantic alliance’s credibility at stake. All 30 NATO members must agree to admit new members.
BERLIN — Germany’s foreign minister says Russia left Sweden and Finland “no choice” but to join NATO.
Annalena Baerbock said Germany would support the two countries’ membership and called it “a real gain” for the military alliance.
She spoke late Tuesday ahead of her visit to Norway for a meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.
Baerbock said Germany will use its presidency of the group, starting in July, to promote the use of offshore wind power in the Baltic to help countries wean themselves off Russian energy imports.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. will close the last avenue for Russia to pay its billions in debt back to international investors on Wednesday, making a Russian default on its debts for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution all but inevitable.
The Treasury Department said in a notification that it does not plan to renew the license that allowed Russia to keep paying its debtholders through American banks.
Since the first rounds of sanctions, the Treasury Department has given banks a license to process any dollar-denominated bond payments from Russia. That window expires at midnight May 25.
LONDON — Roman Abramovich’s 19-year ownership of Chelsea is ending after the British government approved the sale of the Premier League club by the sanctioned Russian oligarch to a consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.
The government had to be sure that Abramovich, who was sanctioned over his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin after the invasion of Ukraine, did not profit from the enforced sale of the club that his investment turned into one of the most successful in European football.
The reigning FIFA Club World Cup winners and 2021 European champions will be sold for 2.5 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) — the highest price ever for a sports team — with Premier League approval already granted on Tuesday.
Chelsea has been operating under a government license since Abramovich’s assets were frozen in March and it expires on May 31.