Soldiers evacuated from besieged Mariupol steelworks; Turkey could block NATO bids from Finland, Sweden

Turkey says it won’t approve Finland, Sweden NATO bids

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan holds a news conference during the NATO summit at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2021.

Yves Herman | Reuters

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated Ankara’s objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, saying Turkey will not approve the bids.

He claims the countries have harbored people linked to groups Turkey deems to be terrorist organizations.

Finland and Sweden have said they will send delegations to Ankara to try to convince Turkey to accept their bids; Erdogan, however, has said they “should not bother.”

“Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude toward terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said at a news conference Monday. “How can we trust them?”

Enlargement of NATO requires the unanimous agreement of the 30 current members.

Turkey accuses Finland and Sweden of harboring members of the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The PKK has clashed with Turkish security forces for years but says its aims are greater cultural and political rights for Kurds and the eventual establishment an independent Kurdish state.

CNBC has reached out to the Swedish and Finnish foreign ministries for comment.

Erdogan also said Turkey could not accept the Finnish and Swedish bids because of an arms embargo the countries imposed on Turkey after its incursion into Syria in 2019.

“First of all, we cannot say ‘yes’ to those who impose sanctions on Turkey, on joining NATO which is a security organization,” Erdogan said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine war could cause ‘catastrophic’ levels of malnutrition in children, UNICEF warns

Around 13.6 million children under five suffer from severe wasting — a condition where children are too thin for their height, leading to weak immune systems, said UNICEF.

Guido Dingemans, De Eindredactie | Moment | Getty Images

The war in Ukraine, along with other global shocks to food security, is creating conditions for a significant increase in life-threatening malnutrition for children, according to UNICEF.

The United Nations agency said in a statement that soaring food prices caused by the war is set to drive up the cost of “life-saving” therapeutic food treatment. It added that severe malnutrition in children could go to “catastrophic levels.”

Around 13.6 million children under five suffer from severe wasting — a condition where children are too thin for their height, leading to weak immune systems, the UN agency said in a press release.

The most effective treatment is a ready-to-use therapeutic food, but the price of that is expected to increase by up to 16% in the next six months due to a sharp rise in the cost of ingredients.

“For millions of children every year, these sachets of therapeutic paste are the difference between life and death,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

Around 10 million severely wasted children do not have access to the treatment, and another 600,000 children may lose access at current spending levels, Unicef added.

Before the war in Ukraine began, conflict, climate change and Covid were already making it difficult for families to feed their children, said Russell.

“The world is rapidly becoming a virtual tinderbox of preventable child deaths and child suffering,” she said.

“There is precious little time to reignite a global effort to prevent, detect and treat malnutrition before a bad situation gets much, much worse,” she added.

— Abigail Ng

Russia likely to use artillery strikes heavily in its advance on eastern Donbas region, UK’s Defence Ministry says

A car drives past a large missile crater in front of a residential apartment block damaged by a Russian missile strike on May 06, 2022 in a city in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russia will likely continue relying heavily on massed artillery strikes as it tries to regain momentum in its advance on the eastern Donbas region, said the U.K.’s Defence Ministry in its daily intelligence update.

The update added that Russia had proven it was willing to use strikes against inhabited areas.

Around 3,500 buildings were estimated to have been destroyed or damaged in the Chernihiv region north of Kyiv, during Russia’s abandoned advance towards the Ukrainian capital, the ministry said in its update, posted on Twitter. As much as 80% of the damage was caused to residential buildings.

“The scale of this damage indicates Russia’s preparedness to use artillery against inhabited areas, with minimal regard to discrimination or proportionality,” the ministry said in its update, posted on Twitter.

Russia has possibly relied more heavily on such “indiscriminate” shelling because of its “unwillingness to risk flying combat aircraft routinely beyond its own frontlines,” the ministry said.

— Weizhen Tan

More than 260 fighters evacuated from Mariupol steelworks

More than 260 Ukrainian fighters, including some who are badly wounded, were evacuated Monday from a steel plant in the ruined city of Mariupol and taken to areas under Russia’s control, the Ukrainian military said.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said 53 seriously wounded fighters were taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk, east of Mariupol. An additional 211 fighters were evacuated to Olenivka through a humanitarian corridor. An exchange would be worked out for their return home, she said.

Malyar said missions are underway to rescue the remaining fighters inside the plant, the last stronghold of resistance in the devastated southern port city.

“Thanks to the defenders of Mariupol, Ukraine gained critically important time to form reserves and regroup forces and receive help from partners,” she said. “And they fulfilled all their tasks. But it is impossible to unblock Azovstal by military means.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the evacuation of the fighters from Azovstal to separatist-controlled territory was to save their lives. He said the “heavily wounded” were getting medical help.

“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes to be alive. It’s our principle,” he said. “The work continues to bring the guys home, and it requires delicacy and time.”

Associated Press

President Putin says NATO expansion ‘is a problem’

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech as he meets Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto on August 21, 2019 in Helsinki, Finland. Russian President Putin is on a one-day visit to Finland.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

Moscow has wasted no time in making its feelings known about the likely expansion of the Western military alliance NATO, with President Putin saying Monday that it “is a problem.”

Putin claimed that the move was in the interests of the U.S., in comments reported by Reuters, and said Russia would react to the expansion of military infrastructure to Sweden and Finland, although he insisted Moscow had “no problems” with the countries.

Putin’s comments come after other top Kremlin officials deplored the future expansion of NATO, with one describing it is a “grave mistake” with global consequences.

Holly Ellyatt

McDonald’s says it will sell its Russia business

A logo of the McDonald’s restaurant is seen in the window with a reflection of Kremlin’s tower in central Moscow, Russia March 9, 2022.

Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

McDonald’s said Monday that it will sell its business in Russia, a little more than two months after it paused operations in the country due to its invasion of Ukraine.

“The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald’s to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald’s values,” the company said in a news release.

Russian forces, directed by President Vladimir Putin, have been accused of an array of war crimes during their assault on Ukraine.

McDonald’s exit from Russia is a bitter end to an era that once promised hope. The company, among the most recognizable symbols of American capitalism, opened its first restaurant in Russia more than 32 years ago as the communist Soviet regime was falling apart.

Mike Calia

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