Ukraine war: Zelenskyy hails Eurovision victory and vows to host contest in 2023

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Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine celebrates after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 14, 2022.

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In the third month of Russia’s war against Ukraine, fighting continues in the country’s east and south, with Putin’s forces struggling to make significant progress.

Follow the latest updates in our live blog below, and watch Euronews TV coverage in the video player above.

09:50

Sunday’s key points:

    President Zelenskyy has hailed Ukraine’s Eurovision Song Contest victory and vowed that his country will host the competition next year.The frontman of winners Kalush Orchestra said they were “ready to fight” in the war with Russia once more when they return to their country.UK military intelligence says Russia has probably lost a third of the ground combat forces it committed in the February invasion.A senior NATO official says Russia’s military advance in Ukraine appears to be faltering and he expressed hope that Kyiv can win the war.Top NATO diplomats are meeting on Sunday in Berlin to discuss providing further support to Ukraine and moves by Finland, Sweden and others to join the western alliance.Finland is due to formalise its membership application, ahead of a crucial meeting of Sweden’s ruling party to discuss a possible joint membership application by the two countries.Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö formally notified Vladimir Putin of the country’s move to join NATO, in a phone call on Saturday. The Russian leader said it would be a mistake.A meeting of the G7 leading economies in Germany expressed strong support for Ukraine and warned that Russia’s blockade of grain exports from Ukrainian ports risks stoking a global food crisis.

10:39

Eurovision win shows ‘immense support’ for Ukraine — NATO deputy chief

Nato’s Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana said on Sunday that the triumph of Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra on Saturday night in Turin, Italy, at the Eurovision Song Contest showed the “immense public support” for Ukraine under attack from Russia.

“We saw yesterday (Saturday) the immense support of the public all over Europe (…) Of course the song was beautiful, it is beautiful,” he said ahead of the Western military alliance foreign ministers’ meeting in Berlin, adding that the Russians had “launched the most brutal and cynical war since the Second World War”.

Top NATO diplomats are meeting Sunday in Berlin to discuss providing further support to Ukraine. Geoana said Russia’s military advance in Ukraine appears to be faltering and he expressed hope that Kyiv can win the war.

“The brutal invasion (by) Russia is losing momentum,” he told reporters. “We know that with the bravery of the Ukrainian people and army, and with our help, Ukraine can win this war.”

The NATO meeting will also consider moves by Finland, Sweden and others to join the western alliance in the face of threats from Russia.

“Finland and Sweden are already the closest partners of NATO,” Geoana said, adding that he expected allies to view their applications positively.

(AFP/ AP)

10:25

As Ukraine celebrates Eurovision, Russia sends missiles

Four missile strikes hit military infrastructure in the Yavoriv area of western Ukraine, near to the Polish border, early on Sunday, Lviv region’s Governor Maxim Kozitsky said.

“The object is completely destroyed,” Kozitsky said in a post on the Telegram messaging app. “According to preliminary information, there are no casualties. No one sought medical help.”

Earlier, the regional “West” Air Command of Ukraine’s Air Force said in a social media post that several missiles had been fired at the Lviv region from the Black Sea in the early hours of Sunday morning. Two of the missiles were destroyed before hitting targets, it said.

Russia has been targeting rail facilities and other critical infrastructure in and around Lviv, which is near the Polish border and has been a major gateway for NATO-supplied weapons.

Western officials have said despite the attacks there has been no appreciable impact on Ukraine’s ability to resupply its forces.

(Reuters/ AP)

10:14

Russia has ‘lost a third of ground forces’ since invasion — UK intelligence

Russia has now likely lost one-third of the ground combat forces it committed in February and continues to suffer “consistently high levels of attrition” while failing to achieve any substantial territorial gains over the past month, Britain’s Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence update Sunday.

“Russia’s Donbas offensive has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule,” the ministry said on Twitter, adding that the forces are suffering “continued low morale and reduced combat effectiveness.”

“Under the current conditions, Russia is unlikely to dramatically accelerate its rate of advance over the next 30 days,” the ministry said.

10:07

Eurovision winners ready to return home and fight

The frontman of Ukrainian Eurovision Song Contest winners Kalush Orchestra said they were “ready to fight” in the war with Russia once more when they return to their country.

Oleh Psiuk spoke during a news conference in Turin after Ukraine’s victory was confirmed in the early hours of Sunday.

Currently an order from Ukraine’s government prohibits men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country, but the six members of the all-male band received special permission to go and represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture at the music contest.

One of the original members stayed to continue with the war effort, and the others will return to Ukraine in “exactly two days,” when their temporary authorisation expires, Psiuk said.

Kalush Orchestra, the bookmakers’ favorite among the 25 competing performers in the grand finale, received 439 fan votes – the highest number of televote points ever received in a Eurovision contest, now in its 66th year.

As winners of the competition, Ukraine will now host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.

Psiuk said Ukraine will be “happy to host” next year’s event in the “new integrated and happy Ukraine.”

Psiuk thanked “every Ukrainian, the Ukrainian diaspora and everyone around the world” who voted for Ukraine in the contest, adding that, “any victory is very meaningful for Ukraine these days.”

Ukraine’s song, “Stefania,’’ was written as a tribute to the frontman’s mother, but has transformed since the war into an anthem to the beleaguered nation, as lyrics take on new meaning.

“I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed,” Psiuk wrote.

Russia was excluded this year after its February 24 invasion of Ukraine, a move organizers said was meant to keep politics out of the contest that promotes diversity and friendship among nations.

(AP)

10:05

Zelenskyy hails Eurovision win and vows Ukraine will host contest

Fresh off his country’s Eurovision win, a defiant Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed early Sunday to one day host the song contest in the embattled city of Mariupol, which is almost entirely in Russian hands aside from a stalwart group of a few hundred Ukrainian fighters who continue to hold out in a steel factory.

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra won the popular contest with its song “Stefania,” which has become a popular anthem among Ukrainians during the war, and its victory was a morale booster.

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe,” Zelenskyy said on Facebook. “Next year, Ukraine will host Eurovision!”

The band made an impassioned plea during the show to help the fighters still in the Azovstal steel plant in the port city, and Zelenskyy said “one day” the contest would be held “in a Ukrainian Mariupol.”

(AP)

09:39

Good morning, this is Alasdair Sandford with Sunday’s updates on the war in Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

For a summary of Saturday’s developments, click here.

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