Ukraine live news: Russia claims full control of Mariupol | War news between Russia and Ukraine

Moscow says it has taken control of the steel plant and completely taken the port city after months of Ukrainian resistance.

  • Washington says it is “confident” that Turkey’s concerns about Sweden and Finland’s admission to NATO will be addressed.
  • Russia’s defense ministry says the last group of Ukrainian troops holed up at Mariupol’s steel plant in Azovstal has surrendered.
  • A Russian missile has hit a cultural center in the Kharkov region, the Ukrainian government says.
  • An American consular officer visited the arrested American basketball player Brittney Griner in Russia, the US State Department confirmed.

Here are all the latest updates:

Russian missile hits cultural center in Kharkov region, Ukraine says

A Russian missile hit a Ukrainian cultural center in the Kharkiv region, injuring seven people, including an 11-year-old child, Kiev said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s social media channel released a video of a major explosion that hit the recently renovated Palace of Culture in Lozova. The building was partially destroyed and the roof caught fire, Ukrainian emergency services said.

“The occupiers identified culture, education and humanity as their enemies,” Zelenskyy wrote. “What goes on in the minds of people who choose such goals? Absolute evil, absolute stupidity.”

US says basketball start detained in Russia received consular visit

A US consular officer has visited detained basketball star Brittney Griner in Russia, the US State Department said, while urging Moscow for more regular consular access.

Griner, 31, a two-time Olympic champion and member of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on charges of carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

“I can confirm that a consular officer visited Brittney Griner in detention yesterday on Thursday 19 May. The consular officer felt she still did as well as could be expected under these extremely challenging circumstances,” Price said in a briefing.

“But again, our message is clear and simple. We continue to urge Russia to provide consistent and timely consular access to all detainees of US citizens. One-time visits are not enough.”

Brittney Griner
Brittney Griner has been detained in Russia since February [File: Rick Scuteri/AP Photo]

Germany to send anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine: report

The German news agency DPA has reported that the country will ship the first 15 Gepard anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine in July.

DPA reported that the delivery, which includes training and nearly 60,000 ammunition, was agreed after talks between the German defense minister and her Ukrainian counterpart.

Gepard – German for “cheetah” – is considered highly effective against low-flying aircraft and lightly armored ground targets. It was withdrawn from service by the German army in 2012, but about 50 decommissioned units are being restored by manufacturer KMW for use by Ukraine.

US concerns about NATO enlargement about NATO enlargement will be addressed

The US State Department has said Washington is “confident” that Turkey’s concerns over Sweden and Finland’s admission to NATO will be addressed.

“Turkey is a long-standing, valued NATO ally,” said spokesman Ned Price. “We understand Turkey’s longstanding concerns and we will continue to work together in our efforts to end the scourge of terrorism.”

Turkey has accused Finland and Sweden of harboring “terrorists”, citing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement, the latter of which accuses Ankara of being behind a failed 2016 coup against the government.

Last Ukrainian fighters at Mariupol steel factory surrender: Russia

Russia’s defense ministry has said the last group of Ukrainian troops holed up at Mariupol’s steelworks in Azovstal have surrendered, ending a weeks-long siege.

“The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant … has been completely liberated,” the ministry said in a statement.

A Russian soldier is seen on patrol in Mariupol
A Russian soldier patrols a destroyed part of the steel factory in Mariupol, May 18 [AP Photo]

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s ongoing coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Read all updates from Friday 20 May here.

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