Here are the latest developments on the war in Ukraine

The battle for Mariupol’s massive Azovstal steel plant appears to be nearing an end, after hundreds of the remaining Ukrainian soldiers holding out in the facility were evacuated.

The operation to evacuate Ukrainian defenders from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol was the only possible way for their rescue, said Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Malyar during a briefing at the Media Center Ukraine on Tuesday. 

“Unfortunately, military unblocking is impossible in this situation. There could be no other way to rescue them than the way it is happening now. It was the only way out,” Malyar said, adding that “the defenders of Mariupol” have fully fulfilled their combat mission.

Due to the defense of Mariupol, Russian forces were not able to transfer about 20,000 personnel to other regions of Ukraine, and thus failed to capture Zaporizhzhia, according to Malyar.

Here are more of the latest headlines from the Russia-Ukraine war:

  • ICC prosecutor announces largest field deployment of forensics and investigative team to Ukraine: The “largest ever single field deployment” of an International Criminal Court forensics and investigative team has been sent to Ukraine, ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan said in a statement Tuesday. “I can confirm that today my Office has deployed a team of 42 investigators, forensic experts and support personnel to Ukraine to advance our investigations into crimes falling into the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court … and provide support to Ukrainian national authorities. This represents the largest ever single field deployment by my Office since its establishment,” Khan said. He said the team will be able to “collect more testimonial accounts, support the identification of relevant forensic and digital materials and ensure that information and evidence is collected in a manner that strengthens its admissibility in future proceedings before the ICC.”
  • US State Department announces new program to provide “evidence of Russia-perpetrated war crimes”: The US State Department on Tuesday announced the launch of a new program “to capture, analyze, and make widely available evidence of Russia-perpetrated war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine.” The program, called the Conflict Observatory, “encompasses the documentation, verification, and dissemination of open-source evidence regarding the actions of Russia’s forces during President Putin’s brutal war of choice,” according to a media note from the State Department.
  • Finland and Sweden will submit their NATO application on Wednesday: Finland and Sweden will hand in their NATO application Wednesday, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said during a joint news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in Stockholm. “Democracy has won,” Niinistö said. “This whole spring has been a triumph for democracy in Finland” he said, referring to the overwhelming support Finland’s NATO application received in parliament today, and the support among the Finnish people. “Sweden also looks forward to cooperating together with Turkey within NATO,”  Andersson said.
  • NATO chief to meet Finnish and Swedish ambassadors: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will meet the ambassadors of Finland and Sweden on Wednesday, according to a statement from NATO. The leaders are then scheduled to meet with US President Joe Biden on Thursday.
  • France’s Macron pledges more weapons to Ukraine during call with Zelensky: French President Emmanuel Macron promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky additional weapons in the days to come in a phone call between the two leaders, according to an Elysée Palace statement. Macron confirmed that arms deliveries by France will “continue and increase in intensity in the days and weeks to come, as will the delivery of humanitarian aid,” the statement said.
  • A town in the Donetsk region was hit by a missile, Ukrainian officials say: In an indication that Russian forces may be extending the range of their attacks, Ukrainian officials say the town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region was hit by a missile Tuesday. The missile strike destroyed a five-story building in the town, according to Donetsk regional police. One person had been killed and a 9-year-old child was seriously injured. “The exact number of victims is being clarified,” police said. Bakhmut is an important hub for the Ukrainian military and its hospital treats wounded soldiers. It is roughly 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the front lines around Popasna.
  • Former Russian colonel criticizes the country’s invasion of Ukraine on state television: In rare public criticism of the conduct of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, a former senior Russian officer has warned on state television that the situation will get worse. “Let’s not drink ‘information tranquilizers,’ because sometimes information is spread about some moral or psychological breakdown of Ukraine’s armed forces, as if they are nearing a crisis of morale or a fracture,” retired Col. Mikhail Khodarenok said on Monday’s edition of Rossiya One’s 60 Minutes show. “None of this is close to reality.” Despite pushback from the show’s presenter, Khodarenok said that Ukraine could arm one million people.  
  • Russia denies US Embassy permission to visit Brittney Griner for third time in month: Russian authorities denied the US Embassy in Moscow permission to visit detained American and WNBA star Brittney Griner for the third time in a month, US Ambassador John Sullivan said in a tweet posted by the embassy. “This is unacceptable. We call on @mfa_russia to provide timely consular access, in line with Russia’s intl & bilateral obligations,” Sullivan said. The WNBA player’s pretrial detention has been extended until June. She is considered wrongfully detained by the State Department.

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