Antonio Guterres says he is ‘hopeful’ talks to resume Ukrainian grain, Russian fertiliser exports can avert shortages.
- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned of a “global food shortage” in the coming months, but says talks can avert a crisis.
- Washington reopens its embassy in Kyiv after abandoning the diplomatic post shortly before the Russian invasion.
- President Joe Biden’s national security team “emphatically” support bids by Sweden and Finland to join NATO, says top US official.
- Mariupol’s fall appears near as Ukraine declares an end to the Azovstal steelworks operation, where its soldiers held out for months.
Here are all the latest updates:
US national security officials ’emphatically’ support NATO expansion: Sullivan
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has said President Joe Biden asked his national security team and cabinet members about the risks and benefits of Finland and Sweden joining NATO.
He said the team “emphatically supported the entry of Finland and Sweden”.
Sullivan said Finland and Sweden will not be covered by NATO’s mutual defence agreement until all 30 members have ratified their accession, but US and European allies are prepared to send the message “that we will not tolerate any aggression against Finland or Sweden during this process”.
US in talks with Sweden, Finland: Defence official
A senior US defence official has said the Pentagon is having discussions with Sweden and Finland on their security needs, as both move towards NATO membership amid the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
The official said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist and spoke about the interim period between when the country’s NATO application is formally submitted and when it is approved, the Associated Press reported.
There have been concerns about threats from Russia during that period, in which Sweden and Finland would not formally be covered by NATO’s Article 5, which states that an attack against one member is an attack against all and calls for collective defence.
UN chief ‘hopeful’ about averting global food shortage
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned of a “global food shortage” in the coming months due to issues linked to the war in Ukraine, but said he is “hopeful” the crisis can be averted.
Guterres said he is in “intense contact” with Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, the US and the European Union to try and resume Ukrainian grain shipments and revive Russian fertiliser exports.
“I am hopeful, but there is still a way to go,” he said during a food security meeting at the UN hosted by Blinken. “The complex security, economic and financial implications require goodwill on all sides.”
US, Turkey affirm support for ‘solution to end the war’
The US and Turkey have affirmed their support for finding a solution to end the war in Ukraine, reasserting that they back the country’s “sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
After a meeting between Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, Ankara and Washington released a joint statement pledging to “intensify consultations on a range of regional issues”.
“They also reiterated their support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russia’s unacceptable war. Within this framework, the United States and Turkey reaffirmed their support to find a solution to end the war,” the statement said.
US reopens embassy in Ukraine’s capital
The United States has reopened its embassy in Kyiv after abandoning the diplomatic post shortly before the Russian invasion began three months ago.
“Today we are officially resuming operations at the US Embassy in Kyiv,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia’s unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the Embassy once again,” he added, referring to the American flag.
Ukrainian forces had fended off a Russian offensive to capture the capital in the first weeks of the war.
The Stars and Stripes fly again over Embassy Kyiv. I can announce that we have officially resumed Embassy operations in Ukraine’s capital. We stand proudly with the government and people of Ukraine as they bravely defend their country from Putin’s brutal invasion. Slava Ukraini! pic.twitter.com/lGRdzqbVbG
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) May 18, 2022
Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Read all the updates from Wednesday, May 18 here.