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Sweden's ruling party backs NATO membership bid

May 15, 2022

Sweden's ruling Social Democrats backed the country joining NATO. It comes after Finland confirmed that it would apply for NATO membership. DW has the latest.

Swedish armoured combat vehicles and soldiers from the Gotland Regiment patrol the harbour and airport on the island of Gotland
Sweden, along with Finland, has long had close relations with NATO and regularly takes part in exercises and its high-level meetingsImage: Karl Melander/TT/picture alliance
  • Sweden's ruling party backs NATO membership bid

  • Stoltenberg says Ukraine can win war with Russia

  • UK intelligence says Russia losing momentum in Donbas

  • Zelenskyy praises Kalush Orchestra for its Eurovision win

These live updates are now closed. For more coverage on Russia's war in Ukraine, click here.

Kalush Orchestra releases new war video

Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra, released a new music video Sunday of its winning hit "Stefania'' that features scenes of war-ravaged Ukraine.

Lead singer Oleh Psiuk penned the song as a tribute to his mother, but since Russia's invasion, it has become an anthem to the motherland.

The video had already racked up millions of views on YouTube within hours of its release.

"We were trying to deliver the message of what Ukraine looks like today," Psiuk said.

The clip features women soldiers, presumably actors, carrying children out of bombed-out buildings, greeting youngsters in shelters and leaving them behind as they board trains.

The video credits said it was shot in towns such as Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka and Hostomel.

NATO assures Ukraine open-ended military support against Russia

NATO on Sunday pledged open-ended military support for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. 

At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Berlin, Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said the alliance would provide military assistance "for as long as Ukraine needs this support for the self-defense of its country."

Baerbock also criticized the Russian government for unilaterally revoking the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, arguing that this type of behavior was exactly why NATO was now strengthening its eastern flank.

In the NATO-Russia Founding Act, NATO agreed not to station "substantial combat forces" in the eastern territory of the alliance. This commitment was clearly contingent on a stable security environment, however.

NATO says Finland and Sweden will have an expedited process

NATO will do its best to make sure that Finland and Sweden will have an expedited application process, NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana told DW on Sunday.

According to Geoana, Finland and Sweden are two of the closest partners of NATO has already.

"No need to mention the superb democratic process, the way in which the militaries are high-end capabilities, and the fact that they are already very interoperable with NATO's as we speak. They would add value to their security, to our security, and in general to the transatlantic community," he said.

Geoana added that if Finland and Sweden would decide to join NATO, the alliance will do its best "to make sure that they will have an expedited process."

Sweden's ruling party backs NATO membership bid

Sweden's ruling Social Democrats said on Sunday they backed the country joining NATO creating a large parliament majority in favor of membership.

The party abandoned decades of opposition to NATO membership in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Today the Swedish Social Democratic Party took a historic decision to say yes to apply for a membership in the NATO," Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde wrote on Twitter.

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said she will go to parliament on Monday to seek broad support for an application to join NATO.

"Tomorrow I will assure that there is a broad parliamentary support in the Riksdag for a Swedish membership application and
after that we will be set to take a government decision," Andersson told a news conference.

There is already overwhelming support in parliament for a Swedish membership bid.

Earlier on Sunday, neighbour and close ally Finland confirmed that it would apply for NATO membership.

Both countries remained neutral for decades, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine shifted popular sentiment in favor of joining NATO.

Stoltenberg says Ukraine can win war with Russia

Ukraine can defeat Russia's invasion, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday after an alliance meeting in Berlin.     

"Ukraine can win this war. Ukrainians are bravely defending their homeland," said Stoltenberg.

The NATO chief said Russia is not achieving its strategic goals in Ukraine. "Russia's war in Ukraine is not going as Moscow had planned. They failed to take Kyiv," he said. "They are pulling back from Kharkiv and their major offensive in Donbass has stalled."

Stoltenberg also urged NATO to "continue to step up and sustain" its support for Ukraine.

US says Ukraine deployed new American howitzers at front lines

Ukraine has already deployed many of its new artillery systems, American M-777 howitzers, on the front lines, the US embassy in Kyiv said on Sunday.

The embassy reposted on Twitter a video of Ukraine's soldiers training to use the weapons. "M-777 Howitzers in action. Part of the United States' most recent $800 million care package for the Ukrainian Armed Forces," it tweeted.

"All but one of the 90 Howitzers sent by the United States are now in Ukraine, many now deployed on the front lines," the US embassy said.

The M-777 howitzer shipment is part of the US aid package to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion that began on February 24. The M-777 is considered particularly important because of its long range and accuracy.

Baerbock says NATO will support Ukraine as long as necessary

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday that NATO countries are ready to provide military aid to Ukraine to help it hold off the Russian invasion for as long as it is needed.

 "We agree that we must not and will not let up in our national efforts, especially in terms of military support, for as long as Ukraine needs this support for the self-defence of its country," Baerbock said at a NATO meeting in Berlin.

According to Baerbock, Russian attack on Ukraine highlighted the importance of the transatlantic alliance. "NATO as an alliance is more relevant and important than ever," the German minister said.

Stoltenberg says Finland and Sweden joining NATO "a historic moment"

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Sunday that if Finland and Sweden decide to apply for NATO membership, this would be "a historic moment."

"Their membership would increase our shared security, demonstrate that NATO's door is open and that aggression does not pay," he told reporters virtually at an alliance meeting in Berlin.

According to Stoltenberg, NATO will look at providing security guarantees for Finland and Sweden during the interim period from their application for membership to accession.

He also said that Turkey was not blocking membership bids by Sweden and Finland and voiced confidence at resolving Ankara's stated concerns.

"I am confident we'll be able to find common ground, consensus on how to move on membership issues," Stoltenberg said.

Finland's president: 'I'm prepared to have a new discussion with President Erdogan'

Finland officially announces intention to join NATO  

The Finnish government has officially announced that it will apply for NATO membership, after the decision was endorsed by the country's ruling political party. The decision is expected to be greenlit by the Finnish parliament in the coming days.   

Ukraine says more US weapons, aid 'on the way' 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Berlin, where the latter is attending an informal NATO meeting. 

"More weapons and other aid is on the way to Ukraine," Kuleba said on Twitter. 

The top Ukrainian diplomat also said he spoke with Blinken about ways to ensure that Ukraine's food exports reach consumers in Africa and Asia. 

UK intelligence: Russia's offensive in Donbas 'lost momentum'

The British Defense Ministry claimed that Russian forces failed to achieve "substantial territorial gains in Ukraine's eastern region of Donbas

"Russia's Donbas offensive has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule," the UK defense intelligence update said. 

"Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days," it added. 

DW's correspondent Mathias Bölinger said on Saturday that Russian forces had made "incremental gains" on the Donbas front amid heavy fighting, but he added that "these gains are not breakthroughs."  

Ukrainian forces seemed to be withstanding the pressure. They had prevented an attempted Russian river crossing in the Donbas region last Friday. 

The eastern Ukrainian area, comprising the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, has been a key focus of the war.

Why is the Donbas so important to Putin?

Airstrikes hit military infrastructure in Lviv: Ukraine official

Four missile strikes hit a military infrastructure in Lviv, western Ukraine, said the head of the Regional Military Administration Maxim Kozytsky.

"The object is completely destroyed," Kozitsky said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

The Interfax news agency quoted another Ukrainian official as saying that there were six explosions heard. 

A Ukrainian regional air command said the missiles had been fired at the Lviv region from the Black Sea in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Lviv, near the Polish border, has been spared most of the heavy fighting that has been reported across Ukraine, although the western city has been sporadically hit with Russian strikes. 

Germany wants to fast track Finland, Sweden NATO membership

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin has prepared for a quick ratification process if Finland and Sweden decided to join NATO. 

"NATO is an alliance that focuses on defense, and it will remain so, but it is also an open-door alliance," said Baerbock. Finland and Sweden are "welcome," she added.

The ratification period can typically take as long as a year. 

Baerbock said NATO's top diplomats agreed that the process should be fast-tracked to avoid a grey zone between the time of application and admission, during which the Nordic countries will not yet be protected by NATO's collective defense rule.

"If they decide to join, they can join quickly... We must make sure that we will give them security guarantees; there must not be a transition period, a grey zone, where their status is unclear," she told reporters on the second day of talks with her NATO counterparts in Berlin. 

NATO foreign ministers meet in Berlin

NATO deputy chief 'confident' consensus to be met over Finland, Sweden entry

Mircea Geoana, NATO's deputy secretary-general, said he was confident that the alliance could accept Sweden and Finland's membership bid if they decide to join. 

Sweden's ruling party was expected to announce its stance on the country's potential NATO membership this weekend. The Finnish government was also expected to officially announce its intention to join NATO on Sunday.

Turkey, a NATO member, has raised objections over Finland and Sweden's bids, saying they supported "terrorist organizations" such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, both of which are banned in Turkey.

But Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he was ready to discuss the matter with both countries and with other NATO nations.

"Turkey is an important ally and expressed concerns that are addressed between friends and allies," Geoana told reporters.

"I am confident if these countries decide to seek membership in NATO we will be able to welcome them to find all conditions for consensus to be met," Geoana said.

German FM: 'It wasn't NATO that convinced Finland and Sweden'

Geoana was speaking to reporters in Berlin ahead of an informal meeting of the alliance's top diplomats. He also congratulated Kyiv on Ukraine's Eurovision win, saying it showed great public support in Europe. 

"I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest and this is not something I'm making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of Ukraine," he said.

Sweden's ruling party to decide on NATO entry

Sweden's ruling Social Democrats are expected to take a decision this Sunday on whether to apply for NATO membership.

The Social Democrats have long been against NATO membership, but Russia's invasion of Ukraine has sparked a debate in Swedish society on possible membership of the alliance.

Neighboring Finland is also considering entering NATO, despite its historical military non-alignment. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto informed Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of Helsinki's intention to join the alliance on Saturday.

While Sweden and Finland's possible accession has been welcomed by a number of NATO member states, Turkey has expressed concerns over the possible membership of the two countries. Ankara has accused Sweden and Finland of supporting the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey and its associated YPG militia in Syria, both of which are banned in Turkey.

What Finland and Sweden would bring to NATO

Ukraine's Zelenskyy signs decree banning pro-Russian parties

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed into law a bill passed by Ukraine's parliament in early May that bans parties that support Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The ban will affect parties that justify or deny Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In March, Ukraine suspended the activities of almost a dozen parties that had allegedly maintained connections with Moscow.

Ukraine's Zelenskyy celebrates Eurovision win

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Kalush Orchestra after it won the Eurovision Song Contest.

"Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!" Zelenskyy said in a Facebook post.

Members of the band Kalush Orchestra pose on stage with Eurovision winner's trophy and Ukrainian flag
Ukrainian rap-folk group Kalush Orchestra won this year's Eurovision song contestImage: MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images

"Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision!" Zelenskyy said, adding that Ukraine would do all it could to ensure that Eurovision will one day be held in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Mariupol has been one of the hardest hit by the war and has been under Russian siege since the start of the invasion. Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters are currently holed up at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, while Russian forces control most of the rest of the city.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shaking hands with US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, other US lawmakers are visible
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with US lawmakers on SaturdayImage: Ukrainian Presidency/abaca/picture alliance

Summary of events in Ukraine-Russia crisis on Saturday

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest with the Ukrainian-language folk-rap song "Stefania" by Kalush Orchestra.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke with a delegation of US senators and urged them to recognize Russia as a "terrorist state."

Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) leading economies called on Russia to end a blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, warning of a global food and energy crisis threatening developing countries.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed the G7's insistence that the integrity of Ukraine's internationally recognized borders be maintained.

G7 struggles with Ukraine's grain crisis

Finland's ruling Social Democrats came out in support of joining the NATO alliance. Finnish President Sauli Niinisto spoke with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin about the country's plans to join NATO and called the discussion "direct and straightforward."

The Ukrainian military said Russian troops were withdrawing from Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, after weeks of heavy fighting.

Russian forces pulling back from around Kharkiv: Fanny Facsar reports

Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor Viktor Andrusiv said on Ukrainian television that Russia's invasion is entering its "third phase" which shows that Moscow is planning for a "long war."

According to Andrusiv, Moscow is preparing a defense of territories in the east and south of the country that are under its control and is planning to use a drawn-out war to bring Western countries to the negotiating table and push Kyiv to give concessions.

fb, sdi/sri (AP, AFP, dpa. Reuters)