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Live updates | Turkey: No to Sweden, Finland joining NATO

17/5/2022 4:25
        Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday ratcheted up his objection to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Erdogan accused the countries of failing to take a clear stance against Kurdish militants and of imposing military sanctions on Turkey. “Neither country has an open, clear stance against terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said at a joint news conference with the visiting Algerian president. “We cannot say ‘yes’ to those who impose sanctions on Turkey, on joining NATO which is a security organization.” The Turkish leader described Sweden as an “incubation center for terrorist organizations,” claiming some members of its parliament supported the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The group has waged an insurgency against Turkey since 1984, costing tens of thousands of lives. Erdogan said Swedish and Finnish officials — who are expected in Turkey next week — should not bother to come if they hope to convince Ankara into relaxing its objections to their membership.
        
        A senior U.S. defense official said Monday that Russian long-range strikes near Lviv appeared to target the Ukrainian military training center in Yavoriv, which is less than 25 kilometers from the border with Poland. The official said the U.S. military assessment, at this point, is that there were as many as a half-dozen missiles fired and that a few small buildings were damaged. There are no reports of casualties yet, adding that the missiles were fired from the Black Sea and likely came from a Russian submarine. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the U.S. military assessment, said Howitzers provided by the U.S. and others have helped Ukrainian forces hold off or gain ground against Russian troops, particularly in the Donbas region.
        
        Poland’s agriculture minister said Monday that Ukraine’s grain exports could be routed through Poland as long as Russia's war prevents them from departing Black Sea ports. Ukraine is a bread basket whose exports to world markets have been disrupted, threatening to exacerbate food shortages, hunger and inflation across the world. Ukrainian officials denounced Russia’s theft of Ukraine’s grain and its use of hunger as a tool of war.
        The U.S. would do what it could to prevent Russia from profiting from the theft. Poland’s ports on the Baltic Sea are prepared to be put to use to transport Ukraine’s grain abroad.
        
        
        A Ukrainian singer and former Eurovision song contest winner appealed to Turkey’s president to save Ukrainian fighters from the besieged city of Mariupol. Ruslana — whose song ‘Wild Dances’ catapulted her to number one in the music contest in 2004 — spoke in Istanbul Monday flanked by mothers and wives of the so-called Mariupol defenders, Ukrainian fighters defending the city’s steel mill. “Stand with Ukraine. Unite for Ukraine. Help Mariupol. Help Azovstal. Help our brave Ukrainian soldiers,” she said. “I truly believe that today Turkey’s leader President Erdogan, who has an international role and presence, will help our citizens in need.”
        Hundreds of Ukrainian fighters are estimated to be holed up at the sprawling Azovstal steelworks plant, the last pocket of resistance in a city largely reduced to rubble over the past two months. ___
        



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