Leaders of the European Union have warned that Russia poses the “most direct threat” to world order and called Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine “barbaric” as heavy fighting in the east and south of the country continues.
Finland, meanwhile, is set to announce its highly awaited position on whether to join NATO — a first step toward a formal decision after Moscow’s invasion prompted a swift turnaround in public opinion in the neutral Nordic country that shares a 1,340-kilometer border with Russia.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who is in Japan together with European Council President Charles Michel, held talks on May 12 with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that have touched on Moscow’s invasion.
Russia “is today the most direct threat to the world order with the barbaric war against Ukraine, and its worrying pact with China,” von der Leyen said after meeting Kishida.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Prime Minister Sanna Marin will publish in a joint statement at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT/UTC) their highly awaited positions on whether to join NATO.
Diplomatic sources quoted by Reuters said Finland was expected to announce its intention to join NATO with Sweden likely to follow soon after as Russia’s aggression reshapes the European security architecture and the Atlantic military alliance.
On May 11, Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter after Kyiv announced it would stop Russian shipments through its Novopskov hub in the east, blaming interference by Russian forces in the region.
It was the first time exports have been disrupted since Moscow launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, but the immediate effect is likely to be limited, because Russia can divert the gas to another pipeline and because Europe relies on a variety of suppliers.
Later on May 11, Russia announced sanctions against units of Gazprom Germania, which was placed under German state control in early April, and other former Gazprom subsidiaries.
In Kyiv, Ukraine’s top prosecutor on May 11 disclosed plans for the first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian.
Ukrainian officials said an area around Zaporizhzhya was among those targeted in fighting on May 11. A Russian rocket attack destroyed unspecified infrastructure, but there were no reports of casualties. The southeastern city has been a refuge for civilians fleeing Mariupol.
Russian forces continue to pound a steel plant in Mariupol that is the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance, its defenders said.
Ukrainian forces also targeted Russian air defenses and resupply vessels on Snake Island in the Black Sea in an effort to disrupt Moscow’s efforts to expand its control over the coastline, according to the British Defense Ministry.