War Between Russia and Ukraine: What We Know on Day 81 of the Invasion | Ukraine

  • A large convoy of hundreds of cars and vans carrying refugees from the ruins of Mariupol arrived in the Ukrainian-controlled city Zaporizhzhya on Saturday night after days of waiting for Russian troops to leave, Reuters reports. Ukraine has been evacuating civilians from the destroyed city for more than two months.

  • Ukraine has received a wave of emotional support from Europeans to win the 66th Eurovision Song Contest, which was held on Saturday evening in Turin, Italy. Stefania from Kalush Orchestra finished first after strong performances from the UK, Spain and Sweden in the early voting. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised the win and promised to hold the final one day in a “free, rebuilt” Mariupol.

  • US Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell joined the growing list of US politicians visiting Kiev. Zelenskiy welcomed McConnell’s visit as a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine.

  • Zelenskiy also thanked President Joe Biden for signing into law this week an update of the World War II Lend-Lease Act, enabling faster US production and delivery of arms and ammunition to allies involved in conflicts in which it is not a direct participant.

  • Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov says his country’s diplomats in Washington DC are being threatened with violence and harassed by US intelligence agencies. Reuters reported this, citing the Russian news agency Tass.

  • Finnish president Sauli Niinistö, told Vladimir Putin Helsinki plans to join NATO. Niinistö broke the news during a telephone conversation with the Russian leader.

  • Putin said giving up neutrality would be a mistake and there are currently no threats to Finland’s security. Russia has described Helsinki’s bid to join NATO as a hostile move that would “definitely” pose a threat — to which Moscow will respond.

  • Ukraine says Moscow plans to hold a referendum, perhaps as early as Sunday, on whether Mariupol wants to join Russia. It follows news of a similar poll in the breakaway region of Georgia, South Ossetia and accusations by Western allies that Russia is planning mock referendums to justify military actions.

  • Russian troops have withdrawn from the Kharkov urban area, the mayor, Ihor Terekhov, said. He said that, “through the efforts of the territorial defense of Kharkov and the Ukrainian armed forces, the Russians have withdrawn far from the city area towards the Russian border”.

  • The war will be over by the end of 2022, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service said. Major General Kyrylo Budanov claimed Moscow suffered heavy casualties and predicted a turning point in mid-August – adding that “most active combat operations will be completed by the end of this year”.

  • Moscow is failing to achieve its political goals in Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) said. The fact that Russia has only succeeded in imposing pro-Russian local leadership in the city of Kherson “emphasizes the failure of the Russian invasion to make progress towards its political objectives,” the latest update said. of the intelligence service.

  • “Very difficult negotiations” about the next phase of evacuations from Mariupol were underway, Zelenskiy said. The last remaining Ukrainian defenders of the city are hidden in the steel factory of Azovstal.

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