Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the gala opening ceremony of the 75th Cannes Film Festival as a surprise guest by video link from Kyiv, asking for the cinema world’s solidarity with his people in the face of the Russian invasion. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
8:04pm: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Cannes Film Festival
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise video address at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday.
“Hundreds of people are dying every day. They won’t get up again after the clapping at the end,” he told the audience, which had reacted with surprise when the pre-recorded message was introduced.
“Will cinema keep quiet, or will it speak up? If there is a dictator, if there is a war for freedom, once again, everything depends on our unity. Can cinema stay outside of this unity?” Zelensky added.
Zelensky referred to the power of cinema during World War II, including the 1940 Charlie Chaplin film “The Great Dictator” which mocked Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“Chaplin’s dictator did not destroy the real dictator, but thanks to cinema, thanks to this film, cinema did not stay quiet,” Zelensky said.
“We need a new Chaplin to prove today that cinema is not mute. Will cinema keep quiet, or will it speak up? Can cinema stay outside of this?”
His speech received a standing ovation from the crowd in the southern French resort town’s Palais des Festivals.
7:52pm: US considering move on Russian debt payments
The United States is considering a move to block Russia’s ability to pay US bondholders after a deadline expires next week, a US administration official said on Tuesday.
Bloomberg News said the Biden administration is poised to make the move and that it could bring Moscow closer to the brink of default.
“It’s under consideration but I don’t have a decision to preview at this time,” the official told Reuters. “We are looking at all options to increase pressure on Putin.”
7:15pm: Macron tells Zelensky that French arms deliveries to Ukraine will intensify
French President Emmanuel Macron told his Ukrainian counterpart on Tuesday that French arms deliveries to Ukraine would intensify in coming days and said France was ready to respond to additional demands for help, the Elysee said in a statement.
“He confirmed that arms deliveries by France would continue and would increase in intensity in the days and weeks to come, the same as for the supply of humanitarian equipment,” the statement said.
6:23pm: Zelensky and Macron discuss Ukraine’s war with Russia in phone call
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday he had a “long and meaningful” phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron about the war in Ukraine.
“Told about the course of hostilities, the operation to rescue the military from Azovstal and the vision of the prospects of the negotiation process. Raised the issue of fuel supply to Ukraine,” Zelensky said on Twitter.
“We also discussed defence support from France, preparation of the 6th package of (European Union) sanctions (against Russia), possible ways to export Ukrainian agricultural products. Held a substantive discussion of our application for the status of a candidate for EU membership,” Zelensky tweeted.
6:00pm: Russia may cut gas to Finland soon, says energy group
Russia may cut gas supplies to Finland soon over the Nordic country’s refusal to pay Gazprom in rubles, Finnish state-owned Gasum said on Tuesday.
Gasum said it would take its dispute with Gazprom Export to arbitration, a move that risks angering neighbouring Russia further as Helsinki prepares to submit its NATO membership bid on Wednesday.
“Gasum considers there to be an increased risk of the natural gas supply … being halted, and consequently the import of natural gas from Russia to Finland might end,” it said in a statement.
5:42pm: Russian prosecutor asks court to declare Ukraine’s Azov Regiment ‘terrorist organisation’, says Russian news agency
The office of Russia’s prosecutor general has asked the Supreme Court to recognise Ukraine’s Azov Regiment as a “terrorist organisation”, Interfax news agency reported Tuesday citing the ministry of justice website.
Russia’s Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on May 26, Interfax reported.
5:17pm: Azovstal siege ends as hundreds of Ukrainian fighters are evacuated
“There has clearly between a deal between Ukraine and Russia over these fighters from Azovstal because they have been transferred alive to the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine,” FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reports from Chernihiv.
5:02pm: The EU will not let Ukraine run out of equipment, says EU’s Borrell
The European Union’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Tuesday that the bloc will not let Ukraine without military equipment as the war against Russia continues on its territory.
“The European Union will not let Ukraine run out of equipment,” the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels after a meeting of the bloc’s defence ministers on Tuesday.
3:17pm: Biden to host leaders of Sweden, Finland amid NATO bids
President Joe Biden will host Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland at the White House for a meeting Thursday amid their push to join NATO in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sweden and Finland will on Wednesday hand in their respective applications to NATO to join the organisation, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Tuesday.
The White House said they would discuss the two countries’ applications to join the mutual defense alliance, as well as European security broadly. The requests by the long-neutral nations to join NATO have been widely lauded within the alliance as a rebuke of Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, though Turkey has expressed reservations.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu told reporters in Berlin that Finland and Sweden had also imposed restrictions on defense sales to Turkey that were “unacceptable.”
But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said his understanding is that Turkey wants to have its concerns over Finland and Sweden addressed but does not intend to block their membership.
3:05pm: ICC sends ‘largest ever’ team of investigators to Ukraine
The International Criminal Court on Tuesday deployed a team of 42 investigators, forensic experts and support staff to Ukraine to probe war crimes and crimes against humanity, its prosecutor said.
“This represents the largest ever single field deployment by my office since its establishment,” ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement.
2:45pm: Finnish parliament votes overwhelmingly in favour of NATO membership
Lawmakers in Finland on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in favour of joining NATO as a deterrent against Russian aggression, paving the way for an application to be submitted in the coming days.
A total of 188 of 200 members of parliament voted in favour of NATO membership, a dramatic turnaround from Finland’s military non-alignment policy dating back more than 75 years, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland spent more than a century as part of the Russian empire until it gained independence in 1917.
2:13pm: German’s Scholz confident Turkey will back Finland, Sweden joining NATO
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday he was confident that Turkey would support Finland and Sweden in their bid to join the NATO defence alliance, adding Germany would push for a swift accession.
The EU is already committed to support Finland and Sweden, said Scholz at a news conference with Liechtenstein’s prime minister, adding that Germany would strengthen its military contacts with the two Nordic countries, which have been neutral.
“We will intensify our military cooperation especially in the Baltic Sea region and through joint exercises”, Scholz said amid concern for the two candidates’ security during the transition period to NATO accession.
“Both countries can always rely on our support, especially in this very special situation,” he added.
1:48pm: Appears ‘all’ Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from Azovstal are wounded
“It seems 264 Ukrainian soldiers have been evacuated” from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, noted FRANCE 24’s Chief Foreign Editor Robert Parsons. “It appears that all of them have been wounded to various degrees of severity.”
1:10pm: Russian air strike kills eight in northern Ukraine, emergency service says
Eight people were killed and 12 wounded in a Russian air strike on the village of Desna in the northern Ukrainian region of Chernihiv on Tuesday, the regional emergency service said.
The Chernihiv region’s governor, Viacheslav Chaus, said earlier on Tuesday: “Yes, there are no more occupiers in Chernihiv region but it is easy for them to reach us. Don’t ignore air raid warnings!”
1:08pm: Finnish president optimistic Turkey’s NATO objections can be overcome
Finland and Sweden should be able to reach an agreement with Turkey over Ankara’s objections to the two Nordic countries joining the 30-nation NATO alliance, Finland’s president said on Tuesday.
Turkey surprised many NATO allies on Monday by saying it would not support membership for Sweden and Finland after the two countries took the widely anticipated step of agreeing to apply to join the US-led alliance this week.
“Statements from Turkey have very quickly changed and become harder during the last few days,” President Sauli Niinisto said during an address to Sweden’s parliament. “But I am sure that, with the help of constructive discussions, we will solve the situation.”
11:53am: Russia to expel two Finnish diplomats in tit-for-tat move
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it was expelling two diplomats from the Finnish embassy in Moscow in retaliation against Helsinki’s decision to expel two of its diplomats.
In a statement, it also said it protested against what it said was “Finland’s confrontational course towards Russia”, apparently referring to Finland’s bid to join NATO.
11:03am: Finland’s parliament likely to vote on NATO application on Tuesday
The Finnish parliament is likely to vote on Tuesday on a proposal to apply for membership of the NATO military alliance, in a historic policy shift prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
President Sauli Niinisto and the government decided officially on Sunday that Finland would apply for membership but the decision is pending Parliament’s approval, which is expected with an overwhelming majority.
Debate in the legislature began on Monday and the first session finished more than 14 hours later, after midnight, after members gave 212 addresses on the topic, the vast majority in favour of joining.
11:01am: Russian ministry says 265 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered at Azovstal
Russia’s defence ministry said Tuesday that 265 Ukrainian soldiers, including several dozen wounded, surrendered at the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Ukraine’s port city of Mariupol.
“Over the past 24 hours, 265 militants laid down their arms and surrendered, including 51 heavily wounded,” the ministry said in a briefing, adding that those in need of medical care were transferred to a hospital in the town of Novoazovsk.
10:56am: Ukraine working on ‘further stages’ of Azovstal evacuation, deputy PM says
Ukraine is working on “further stages” of the evacuation of fighters defending the Azovstal steel plant in the southern city of Mariupol, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Tuesday.
She gave no other details in a post on the Telegram messaging app but wrote: “God willing, everything will be fine.”
On Monday, more than 50 wounded troops were taken from Azovstal to a hospital in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk, and more than 210 others were taken to the town of Olenivka in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists.
10:44am: Ukraine effectively ‘abandoning Mariupol’
“It sounds as though – from a decision that came from above – the decision was taken to leave the Azovstal steel works, which effectively means abanonding Mariupol and giving it up to the Russians,” FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg reported from just outside Chernihiv in northern Ukraine. “But that’s after a period of Ukrainian defence of this port city that went on for far longer than most people thought the Ukrainian forces would be capable of.”
9:12am: UN warns of ‘catastrophic’ child malnutrition due to price hikes, Ukraine war
The cost of life-saving treatment for the most severely malnourished children is set to jump by up to 16% due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pandemic disruptions, according to the United Nations’ children’s agency.
The raw ingredients of the ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) have leapt in price amid the global food crisis sparked by the war and pandemic, UNICEF said.
Without further funding in the next six months, 600,000 more children may miss out on the essential treatment, which is a high-energy paste made of ingredients including peanuts, oil, sugar and added nutrients.
UNICEF said a carton of the specialised nutrition containing 150 packets – enough for 6 to 8 weeks to bring a severely malnourished child back to health – cost about $41 on average before the up to 16% price rise. It will need about $25 million to cover the added cost, the agency said.
9am: EU clarifies how companies can legally pay for Russian gas
The European Commission has explained how EU companies can pay for Russian gas without breaching the bloc’s sanctions against Russia, in an updated guidance on the issue seen by Reuters.
The Commission told countries last month that European companies may be able to pay for Russian gas but only if they followed certain conditions, after Russia demanded foreign buyers start paying for gas in roubles or risk losing their supply.
In updated guidance, shared with EU countries on Friday, the Commission confirmed its previous advice that EU sanctions do not prevent companies from opening an account at a designated bank, and companies can pay for Russian gas – so long as they do so in the currency agreed in their existing contracts and declare the transaction completed when that currency is paid.
Nearly all of the supply contracts EU companies have with Russian gas giant Gazprom are in euros or dollars.
3:30am: Zelensky calls evacuated soldiers ‘heroes’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the evacuation to separatist-controlled territory was done to save the lives of the fighters who endured weeks of Russian assaults in the maze of underground passages below the hulking Azovstal steelworks. He said the “heavily wounded” were getting medical help.
“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes to be alive. It’s our principle,” he said. An unknown number of fighters stayed behind to await other rescue efforts.
The steel mill’s defenders got out as Moscow suffered another diplomatic setback in the war, with Sweden joining Finland in deciding to seek NATO membership. And Ukraine made a symbolic gain when its forces reportedly pushed Russian troops back to the Russian border in the Kharkiv region.
12:15am: More than 260 Ukrainian soldiers evacuated from Azovstal: defence ministry
More than 260 Ukrainian soldiers were evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the port city of Mariupol, Ukraine’s Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar said Monday.
“53 heavily wounded (soldiers) were evacuated from Azovstal to the medical mortgage near Novoazovsk for medical aid,” Malyar said in a statement.
Another 211 were taken out through the humanitarian corridor, she added.
The Azovstal plant has become a symbol of resistance, with hundreds of troops continuing to fight on there even after the rest of the city had fallen to Russian forces.
9:15pm: Ukraine says 20 civilians killed in shelling in Luhansk, Donetsk regions
Ukraine’s Joint Forces Task Force said late on Monday that 20 civilians, including a child, were killed in Russian shelling in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The military task force said in a statement on its Facebook page that 25 communities in the regions were fired at, with 42 residential buildings and a school among locations hit.
FRANCE 24 was not able to independently verify the report.
There was no immediate response from Russia to the report.
8:53pm: Finland, Sweden should integrate into NATO ‘as soon as possible’, says UK
Britain on Monday welcomed Sweden and Finland announcing they will apply for NATO membership, saying the Nordic countries should be integrated into the alliance “as soon as possible”.
“The UK strongly supports applications for NATO membership from Finland and Sweden,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement, adding “their accession will strengthen the collective security of Europe”.
8:02pm: West will not allow Russia a ‘diktat peace’ in Ukraine, says Germany’s Scholz
Russia will not get away with trying to redraw Ukraine’s borders by creating facts on the ground and waiting out Kyiv and its allies, Olaf Scholz said, insisting that the West would not stand for a “diktat,” or dictated, peace forced on the country.
Ukraine’s President Voldomyr said last week that Kyiv would not trade territory for peace with Russia, telling Italy’s RAI television that he had been asked by French President Emmanuel Macron to consider doing so.
The French government has denied that any such suggestion had been made. On Monday, Scholz said that such stealth border changes would not be accepted by the West if Ukraine objected to them.
“There is only one way out of this for Russia and that is reaching an agreement with Ukraine,” he told RTL television. “And that doesn’t mean a diktat peace, taking a bit of territory and then saying ‘sign here’.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)
Originally published on France24