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Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Sweden, Finland take key steps toward NATO; Senate nears vote on Ukraine aid

Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Sweden, Finland take key steps toward NATO; Senate nears vote on Ukraine aid

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, left, and President Sauli Niinisto announce May 15 that Finland will apply for NATO membership. (Alessandro Rampazzo/AFP/Getty Images)

Today at 1:22 a.m. EDT|Updated today at 5:31 a.m. EDT

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Russia called Finland and Sweden’s moves toward joining NATO a “mistake” that could have “far-reaching consequences” — as both Nordic nations dispatched troops to participate in large-scale exercises by the military alliance.

Finland is due to submit a report to its Parliament, and Sweden’s parliament and cabinet are expected to meet on Monday. NATO’s secretary general said their membership bids — which would abandon years of military neutrality — would be a “historic moment.” NATO member countries and partners will hold large-scale drills in Estonia and Lithuania.

Five Republican U.S. senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), visited Helsinki after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky over the weekend. The U.S. Senate is expected to advance the approval of a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine on Monday, with a final vote as soon as Wednesday. The remaining authorized aid is set to run out Thursday.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the war in Ukraine “is not going as Moscow had planned,” citing Russia’s failure to take Kyiv, its pullback from around Kharkiv and a stalled offensive in the eastern Donbas region. Yet the presence of Belarusian forces near the border with Ukraine is likely to tie up Kyiv’s troops so they are unable to support operations in Donbas, British defense officials said Monday. Russia is continuing attacks elsewhere in the east as it seeks full control of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Here’s what else to know

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described broad support for Swedish and Finnish membership in NATO among foreign ministers. But all NATO countries must agree on new members, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the Nordic nations.
  • Britain’s Defense Ministry said Russia appears to have lost a third of the ground combat force it committed in February.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

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