Finland heads for NATO membership, Ukraine claims gains against Russian troops

Russia has imposed sanctions on units of Gazprom Germania and dozens of other former subsidiaries in countries that imposed sanctions on Russia after kyiv halted the use of a major transit route for Russian gas .

Live briefing: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

RFE/RL Live briefing gives you all the major developments on the invasion of Russia, how kyiv is fighting back, the plight of civilians and the Western reaction. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.

The May 11 movements came amid continued heavy fighting in eastern and southern Ukraine and as Germany announced it had started training Ukrainian soldiers to use a powerful artillery system.

Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter after kyiv announced it would halt Russian shipments through its Novopskov hub in the east, blaming Russian forces’ interference in the region.

This is the first time exports have been halted since Moscow launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, but the immediate effect will likely be limited because Russia may divert gas to another pipeline and because Europe relies on a variety of vendors.

Later on May 11, Russia announced its sanctions against units of Gazprom Germania, which was placed under German state control in early April, and other former Gazprom subsidiaries.

The 31 companies listed by the Russian government are banned from entering into transactions with Gazprom and their ships are banned from entering Russian ports.

Germany’s economy ministry is reviewing the announcement, a ministry spokesman said, adding that the gas supply is constantly monitored and is currently guaranteed.

As fighting raged in southern and eastern Ukraine, around 60 Ukrainian soldiers from the German Ministry of Defense began training on the Panzerhaubitze 2000 artillery system, an advanced self-propelled howitzer. Germany has promised to send seven of the German-built systems to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed how Berlin can offer additional assistance to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion.

He said the talks were about “defensive aid, cooperation in the energy sector, increasing sanctions against the Russian aggressor”. add that kyiv appreciated “the high level of dialogue with Germany and the support in our struggle!”

Zelenskiy also briefed Scholz on the status of Ukraine’s on-and-off negotiations with Russia to end the violence, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.

Meanwhile, the US State Department said Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan had met with Russian officials to discuss “a narrow range of issues” in bilateral relations.

“These tend to be quite narrow. In many cases they tend to be centered around the operation of our embassy,” spokesman Ned Price said during a briefing.

On May 11, Ukraine’s chief prosecutor unveiled plans for the first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said the Facebook that the suspect was charged with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian who was riding a bicycle in the village of Chupakhivka, in the northeastern region of Sumy.

The prosecutor general’s office has referred the case against Vadim Shishimarin, the commander of a tank unit, to court, Venediktova said, adding that the 21-year-old, currently detained in Ukraine, could be sentenced to prison for life. if he is convicted of murder.

The Ukrainian National Police said on May 5 that since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, more than 10,000 investigations had been opened into war crimes allegedly committed by Russian troops in Ukraine.

Many alleged atrocities came to light last month after Moscow forces withdrew from towns around kyiv after breaking off their mission to capture the capital. In towns like Bucha, locals’ accounts of murders, rapes and torture have shocked the world.

In the southern Kherson region, a Kremlin-based politician said regional officials wanted Russian President Vladimir Putin to make Kherson a “full-fledged region” of Russia.

“The city of Kherson is Russia,” Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Kherson regional administration, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it would be up to “the residents of the Kherson region…to decide whether such an appeal should be made or not.” He said any decision to annex territory should be closely assessed by legal experts.

Ukrainian officials said an area around Zaporizhzhya was among the targets of the May 11 fighting. A Russian rocket attack destroyed unspecified infrastructure, but no casualties were reported. The southeastern city has been a haven for civilians fleeing Mariupol.

Russian forces continue to shell a steelworks in Mariupol which is the last stronghold of Ukrainian resistance, its defenders said. The Azov Battalion said on social media on May 11 that Russian forces had carried out 38 airstrikes in the past 24 hours on the Azovstal steelworks.

Pope Francis on May 11 met two women regimental fighters. Katerina Prokopenko and Yulia Fedosyuk told the pontiff that there was no more food or water at the steelworks.

“You are our last hope. We hope you can save their lives. Please don’t let them die,” one of the Ukrainians told the pope during a Vatican meeting.

Francis replied that he would pray for those at the Azovstal plant, according to an account of the meeting in The Insider.

Pope Francis meets the wives of the soldiers of the Azov regiment.

Pope Francis meets the wives of the soldiers of the Azov regiment.

Ukrainian forces have also targeted Russian air defenses and supply ships on Snake Island in the Black Sea in a bid to disrupt Moscow’s efforts to expand its control over the coastline, according to the UK Defense Ministry.

Ukraine said it shot down a cruise missile targeting the Black Sea port city of Odessa.

In the southeast, Serhiy Hayday, the governor of the Luhansk region, said mobile communications to the region had been cut off.

“We are working to resolve the situation, but there is little hope,” he wrote on Telegram. He also said the humanitarian situation in the area had deteriorated and there was little aid left in the warehouses, and what was there was difficult to deliver due to the shelling of the road.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff said it had recaptured Pytomnyk, a village on the main road north of Kharkiv, a town just 40 kilometers from the border with Russia.

The governor of the Belgorod region, across the border north of Kharkiv, said on May 11 that it had been bombed from Ukraine. Vyacheslav Gladkov reported at least one death and said six people were injured.

The governor and leaders of other Russian border regions have repeatedly said Ukraine has bombed Russian territory, but this was the first time they reported casualties.

With reporting from AP, Reuters, BBC and dpa