NEWS DIGEST 14.05.2022: Winning the battle of Kharkiv, North Korea’s COVID disaster and Turkey’s opposition to new NATO hopefuls

Good morning. Today’s news is from Google News – World section.

Ukrainian forces “appear to have won the battle of Kharkiv”, according to a US defence thinktank, in what appears to be their fastest advance since Russian troops pulled away from Kyiv and the north-east over a month ago. In another apparent setback to Vladimir Putin’s war aims, analysts said on Saturday that Russian units had not attempted to hold their lines against counterattacking Ukrainian troops around the city. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and only 31 miles from the Russian border, has been under enemy bombardment since the war began in February. The US-based Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment of the conflict that the Russians appeared to be dropping back and aimed to replace their own troops with proxy forces or mercenaries. Analysts believe Russian attempts to gain territory in the Donbas are increasingly focused on Severodonetsk, the easternmost town held by Ukrainian forces – and the Russian forces were trying to cross the river in an attempt to cut off the town – Ukraine has won the battle of Kharkiv, analysts say, as Kyiv warns of ‘long phase of war’ (The Guardian UK edition ~ World – Europe – Russia)

Battle Tank (Matte Painting) by Jean Ehrat is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said “a great disaster” had fallen on his country after it was reported there had been 21 new deaths of “unidentified origins” from people with fevers. The state news agency KCNA said about 280,810 people were being treated and 27 had died since a fever started to be reported in the country since late April. On Thursday, North Korea did announce one death from coronavirus – and the country’s leader ordered a strict national lockdown. The tentative public admission of COVID infections highlights the potential for a major crisis in a country that has refused to accept international help with vaccination and shut down its borders. The outbreak could have serious consequences because of the country’s poor health care system and its 26 million people are believed to be mostly unvaccinated – COVID-19: ‘Great disaster’ for North Korea as leader announces 21 ‘fever-related’ deaths (Sky News ~ World)

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has declared the country’s first Covid-19 outbreak a “great disaster” as it reported 21 more deaths. State media said 174,440 people were newly found with fever symptoms on Friday alone as the country scrambles to slow the spread of Covid-19 across its unvaccinated population. North Korea said on Saturday 27 people have died and 524,440 fell ill amid a rapid spread of fever since late April. The country imposed nationwide lockdowns on Thursday after confirming its first Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic. State media said tests of virus samples collected Sunday from an unspecified number of people with fevers in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, confirmed they were infected with the Omicron variant – North Korea: Kim Jong-un declares Covid outbreak a ‘great disaster’ (The Guardian UK edition ~ News – World – North Korea)

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pushed back against Finland’s decision to apply for Nato membership, claiming it and neighbouring Sweden were “home to many terrorist organisations”. “We are following the developments regarding Sweden and Finland, but we don’t hold positive views,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul, adding it was a mistake for NATO to accept Greece as a member in the past. Finland on Thursday announced it was going to apply for Nato membership, Sweden is expected to follow suit in the next few days. Finland has claimed the decision to try and join Nato has been caused by Russia’s actions. Sweden is also expected to decide on joining Nato in the coming days, and is fully predicted to follow in the footsteps of neighbouring Finland – Nato member Turkey hits out at Finland and Sweden membership bids (Independent ~ News – World – Europe)

The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has cast doubt on Finnish and Swedish membership of Nato, saying he does not have a positive opinion of the two Nordic nations joining the military alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Membership of Nato would require ratification by all existing members, and Erdoğan remarked to journalists after leaving Friday prayers in Istanbul that Turkey would not welcome either. Turkey has been a Nato member since 1952 and its membership remains a cornerstone of its foreign policy towards western countries. Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats will also decide whether to formally approve joining Nato on Sunday and are widely expected to drop decades of opposition to membership. Public support for Nato membership in Finland, which shares an 810-mile border with Russia, has more than trebled to about 76% since Russia’s onslaught on Ukraine, and has risen to about 60% in Sweden – Erdoğan: Turkey ‘not positive’ about Sweden and Finland joining Nato (The Guardian UK edition ~ News – World – Europe – Nato)

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