May 17, 2022 Russia-Ukraine news

By Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Rhea Mogul, Lianne Kolirin, Sana Noor Haq and Matias Grez, CNN

Updated 12:00 a.m. ET, May 18, 2022
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8:23 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022

Ukraine declares "combat mission" over in Mariupol amid evacuation

From CNN's Tim Lister, Taras Zadorozhnyy, Victoria Butenko and Jack Guy

A wounded service member of Ukrainian forces from the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol is transported on a stretcher out of a bus, which arrived under escort of the pro-Russian militayt in Novoazovsk, Ukraine, on Monday.
A wounded service member of Ukrainian forces from the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol is transported on a stretcher out of a bus, which arrived under escort of the pro-Russian militayt in Novoazovsk, Ukraine, on Monday. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

Ukrainian forces have completed their “combat mission” in the besieged city of Mariupol, according to a statement by the country’s military.

Commanders of units stationed at the city’s massive Azovstal steelworks plant have been ordered “to save the lives of their personnel,” the statement by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also said.

Hundreds of people were evacuated on Monday from the steel plant, the last holdout in a city that had become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance under relentless Russian bombardment.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar described the evacuation operation in a separate video statement, noting that some Ukrainian forces remain at Azovstal.

“Fifty-three seriously injured people were evacuated from Azovstal to a medical facility in Novoazovsk for medical care,” she said. “Another 211 people were taken to Olenivka through the humanitarian corridor.”

An “exchange procedure” will see the evacuees eventually brought home, Malyar also said.

“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday in a statement about the evacuation, thanking the Ukrainian military and negotiators, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations.
“The 82nd day of our defense is coming to an end. A difficult day. But this day, like all others, is aimed precisely at saving our country and our people,” Zelensky said.

The Russian Defense Ministry had earlier said that a ceasefire had been established to allow the passage of wounded Ukrainian servicemen, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.

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8:22 a.m. ET, May 17, 2022

Erdogan says he will not approve Sweden and Finland's NATO membership if they sanction Turkey

From CNN's Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul and Zahid Mahmood in London

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a welcoming ceremony for his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in Ankara, Turkey on May 16.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a welcoming ceremony for his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, in Ankara, Turkey on May 16. (Burhan Ozbilici/AP)

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that he would not approve Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership if they sanction Ankara. 

“First of all, we would not say ‘yes’ to those who impose sanctions on Turkey joining NATO, which is a security organization. Because then NATO would not remain a security organization anymore, it becomes a place where representatives of the terror concentrate,” Erdogan said. 

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Erdogan said Swedish and Finnish delegations should not bother coming to Turkey to try to convince Turkey to approve the country’s NATO membership. 

Turkey’s foreign minister held “some” meetings with Swedish and Finnish counterparts, Erdogan said, adding that none of the two countries had a clear stance against terror organizations.

“Even if they say ‘we are against them,’ on the contrary they have statements saying that they do not hand over the terrorists that they need to hand over to Turkey,” he said. 
He added that Sweden is a “nest” for terror organizations, saying it allows terrorists to speak in parliaments. 
“They have special invitations to terrorists. They even have pro PKK MPs in their parliaments. How are we going to trust them?”

Erdogan reiterated the same stance last week when he told a news conference in Istanbul that he was not looking at the prospect of Finland and Sweden joining NATO “positively,” accusing both countries of housing Kurdish “terrorist organizations.”

The PKK, or Kurdistan Worker's Party, which seeks an independent state in Turkey, has been in an armed struggle with Turkey for decades and has been designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and European Union.