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Ukraine war: Sweden's ruling party to decide on NATO entry — live updates

Sweden, along with Finland, has long had close relations with NATO and regularly takes part in exercises and its high-level meetings

Sweden, along with Finland, has long had close relations with NATO and regularly takes part in exercises and its high-level meetings

  • Sweden's ruling Social Democrats to decide on NATO membership

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signs ban on pro-Russian parties

  • Zelenskyy praises Kalush Orchestra for its Eurovision win

  • Ukraine says strike hit military infrastructure in Lviv

This article was last updated at 07:23 UTC/GMT

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Airstrike hits military infrastructure in Lviv: Ukraine official

Russian forces launched a missile strike that hit a military infrastructure in Lviv, western Ukraine, said the head of the Regional Military Administration Maxim Kozytsky.

"As of now, there is no information about the dead and injured. The extent of the destruction is being clarified," he wrote on Telegram.

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

Lviv 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.

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.

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.

"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.

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.

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.

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.

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