Live updates | EU: Russians have future in their hands

DAVOS, Switzerland – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says Russia could be reintegrated into the orbit of European nations if it finds its way back to “democracy, the rule of law, the respect for the international rules-based order.”

Von der Leyen spoke at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering Tuesday. Insisting on the historical and cultural links between Europe and Russia, the head of the EU’s executive arm said reconciliation is “certainly a distant dream and hope.

“But this also says that our standing up against this brutal invasion is standing up against the leadership in Russia. It is the Russian people who are the ones who decide about the future of their country. They have it in their hands. “

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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

– After 3 months, Russia still bogged down in Ukraine war

– Russian sentenced to life in Ukraine’s 1st war crimes trial

– Pentagon says more high-tech weapons going to Ukraine

– After 3 months of war, life in Russia has profoundly changed

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

ANKARA, Turkey – The leader of a Turkish nationalist party that is allied with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey should consider leaving NATO if “circumstances become inextricable” and Turkey is forced to approve Sweden and Finland membership.

Devlet Bahceli, the leader of the Nationalist Action Party, said in a speech to his party’s legislators on Tuesday that Turkey is not without alternatives and could be part of a possible security alliance that could be made up of Turkic-speaking states and Muslim nations. .

“Turkey is not without options. Turkey is not helpless. Leaving NATO should be put on the agenda as an alternative option if the circumstances become inextricable, ”Bahceli said. “We did not exist with NATO, and we will not perish without NATO.”

Turkey is objecting to Sweden’s and Finland’s historic bid to join the alliance, citing as reasons their perceived support to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other groups that Turkey considers to be terrorists.

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ANKARA, Turkey – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says a delegation made up of officials from Sweden and Finland are expected to arrive in Turkey later on Tuesday to discuss Ankara’s objection to their membership in NATO.

Cavusoglu told a group of journalists traveling with him on a two-day visit to the Palestinian territories and Israel that the delegation would meet with Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal on Wednesday.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto also confirmed the meeting.

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A Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s Kherson region says the region’s pro-Kremlin administration will ask Moscow to set up a military base there.

“There should be a Russian military base in the Kherson region,” the deputy head of the Russia-installed administration in Kherson Kirill Stremousov was quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. “We will be asking for it, the entire population is interested in it. It is vitally important and will become a security guarantee for the region and its residents. “

Russian forces took control of the Kherson region in southeastern Ukraine early on in the war and installed its own administration there. Ukrainian officials have speculated that Russia plans to stage a referendum in the region to declare its independence, similar to the ones that took place in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014. Moscow recognized the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk republics two days before invading Ukraine. and used it as a pretext to send troops to its ex-Soviet neighbor.

Stremousov denied such plans earlier this month and said the region would ask the Kremlin to make it part of Russia instead. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said it is up to the people of Kherson to decide how and where they want to live.

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LONDON – British military authorities say Russian forces have intensified efforts to encircle and capture Severodonetsk and neighboring cities, the only part of the Luhansk region that remains under Ukrainian government control.

The UK defense ministry, in a briefing posted Tuesday morning, says the northern and southern arms of the Russian operation are currently separated by about 25 kilometers (15 miles) of Ukrainian-held territory.

The ministry says Russian forces have achieved “some localized successes” despite strong resistance from Ukrainian troops that occupy well dug-in defensive positions.

The ministry says the battle for Severodonetsk is only one part of the Russian campaign to take the larger Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, and the fall of the city may cause logistical problems for the Kremlin.

“If the Donbas front line moves further west, this will extend Russian lines of communication and likely see its forces face further logistic resupply difficulties,” the ministry said.

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KYIV, Ukraine – Russian shelling of a residential building in Sievierodonetsk killed four people, Ukrainian governor of the Luhansk region Serhiy Haidai said Tuesday. He didn’t specify when the shelling took place.

The Russian forces in recent weeks have been trying – so far unsuccessfully – to take control of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk in the region, subjecting both cities to intensive shelling.

The most recent round of shelling, Haidai said, damaged six houses in each of the two cities.

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MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte sharply criticized Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the killings of innocent civilians in Ukraine, saying while the two of them have been tagged as killers, “I kill criminals, I don’t kill children and the elderly . ”

Duterte, who openly calls Putin an idol and a friend, voiced his rebuke for the first time over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in remarks aired Tuesday where he blamed the three-month old war for the spike in global oil prices that has battered many countries, including the Philippines.

While stressing he was not condemning the Russian president, Duterte disagreed with Putin’s labeling of the invasion as a “special military operation,” and said it was really a full-scale war waged against “a sovereign nation.”

Addressing Putin “as a friend” and the Russian Embassy in Manila, Duterte urged them to stop bombing and firing artillery rounds on residential areas and allow innocent civilians to safely evacuate before launching a bombardment.

“I’m on the way out and I don’t know how to solve the problem,” Duterte said. “You have to solve the war between Ukraine and Russia before we can talk of even returning to normalcy.”

Duterte, who steps down on June 30 when his turbulent six-year term ends, has presided over a brutal anti-drugs crackdown that has left more than 6,000 mostly petty suspects dead.

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UNITED NATIONS – The United States and Britain are accusing Russia of spreading disinformation online and manipulating public opinion about the war in Ukraine and vehemently rejecting Russian claims that the West is aiming to control all information flows and define what is true or not true.

Britain’s deputy ambassador James Roscoe told a UN Security Council meeting on the use of digital technologies in maintaining peace that Russia has conducted cyber-attacks and used “an online troll factory to spread disinformation and manipulate public opinion about their war.”

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the Russian government “continues to shut down, restrict and degrade internet connectivity, censor content, spread disinformation online, and intimidate and arrest journalists for reporting the truth about its invasion.”

Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused countries that call themselves a “community of democracies” of building “a cyber-totalitarianism” and along with technology giants like Meta of shutting down Russian TV channels, expelling Russian journalists and blocking access to Russian websites.

Nebenzia again accused Western governments and media of fabricating the story of the Russian military killing civilians in Bucha near Kyiv. He claimed the civilians died from injuries caused by artillery projectiles fired from outdated hardware used by the Ukrainian army.

Britain’s Roscoe countered Russia’s claims of a “staged provocation” and suggested that the Ukrainians were responsible for the civilian deaths after retaking the town, saying satellite images prove the bodies were there for several weeks when Russia controlled Bucha.

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Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai says police are continuing daily evacuations due to the war with Russia and the number of those willing to leave is increasing.

Haidai posted a video Monday on Facebook taken from a vehicle that he said was traveling along a highway near Sievierodonetsk. The vehicle is racing down the road, dodging debris, mounds of earth, barricades and destroyed vehicles as shells explode in the fields just yards away.

A photo in the post shows about a dozen civilians and their luggage packed tightly inside what appears to be the back of a vehicle.

Haidai wrote that people “are agreeing to the risk because what is happening in the cities is much worse.”

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KYIV, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia is waging “total war” on his country, and that includes inflicting as many casualties and as much infrastructure destruction as possible.

Zelenskyy made the comments in his nightly address Monday, the eve of the three-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In it, he noted that since Feb. 24, the Russian army has launched 1,474 missile strikes on Ukraine, using 2,275 different missiles. He said the vast majority hit civilian targets. There have been more than 3,000 Russian airstrikes over that period.

“Indeed, there has not been such a war on the European continent for 77 years,” he said.

Zelenskyy said an attack on the town of Desna, 55 kilometers (34 miles) north of Kyiv, resulted in 87 deaths.

The Russians have now concentrated their forces on Donbas cities like Bakhmut, Popasnaya and Sievierodonetsk, Zelenskyy said.

He called on Ukrainians who are not on the battlefield to help in whatever way they can and said his own task was working to increase international pressure on Russia. “The absolute priority is weapons and ammunition for Ukraine.”

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