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An image taken from a video released by the Russian defence ministry shows what it claims are service members of Ukrainian forces, who left the besieged Azovstal steel plant, being searched in Mariupol, Ukraine. Picture: RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY/REUTERS
An image taken from a video released by the Russian defence ministry shows what it claims are service members of Ukrainian forces, who left the besieged Azovstal steel plant, being searched in Mariupol, Ukraine. Picture: RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY/REUTERS

May 19 — Moscow said that 1,730 Ukrainian fighters had surrendered in Mariupol over three days, including 771 in the past 24 hours, claiming a surrender on a far bigger scale than Kyiv has acknowledged since ordering its garrison to stand down.

FIGHTING

* Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called for an urgent ceasefire in Ukraine so that serious negotiations can begin to end the war and said Italy would continue supporting Ukraine, without ruling out the supply of weapons.

* Ukraine’s territorial defence force said its fighters had blown up an armoured train carrying Russian troops, but an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky later said the attack had been confined to rails near the train.

* More than half the Ukrainian fighters in the bunkers below the Azovstal steel plant have surrendered, the leader of the Russian-backed rebel Donetsk region said on Thursday, and the International Committee of the Red Cross said it was registering them.

* The head of the World Health Organisation urged Russia to ensure safe access to places in Ukraine that its troops control or are besieging to allow health care to be delivered.

* A 21-year-old Russian soldier asked a Ukrainian widow to forgive him for the murder of her husband, as a court in Kyiv met for a second hearing in the first war crimes trial arising from Russia’s February 24 invasion.

DIPLOMACY

* G7 financial leaders are likely to agree on Thursday and Friday to help Ukraine pay its bills in coming months.

* US President Joe Biden met the leaders of Sweden and Finland on Thursday after the nations set aside their long-standing neutrality and moved to join the Nato alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

* Finland does not want Nato to deploy nuclear weapons or set up military bases on its territory even if Finland becomes a member, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin told an Italian newspaper in an interview.

* Turkey has told allies that it will reject Sweden and Finland’s membership to Nato, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in a video posted on his Twitter account.

* The European Parliament urged that former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder be blacklisted if he does not quit the board of Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft in a move also meant to dissuade him from taking a top job at Gazprom.

ECONOMY

* UN secretary-general António Guterres said he is in “intense contact” with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the US and the EU in a bid to restore Ukrainian grain exports as a global food crisis worsens.

* Britain said it was introducing new sanctions against the Russian airline sector to prevent state-owned Aeroflot, Ural Airlines and Rossiya Airlines from selling their unused landing slots at British airports. 

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