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World News Today - Finland, Sweden poses no threat but will cause Russia's reaction - Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting on an integrated development of the Arctic at a military base in Alexandra Land in remote Arctic islands of Franz Josef Land. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting on an integrated development of the Arctic at a military base in Alexandra Land in remote Arctic islands of Franz Josef Land. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Published May 16, 2022

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Sweden officially applies to join Nato

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Monday announced the official decision to start the process of the country's application to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato).

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“It is clear that there is a broad majority in Sweden's parliament for Sweden to join Nato,” Andersson said during a press conference.

“We leave one era and go into another. We will inform Nato that we want to become a member of the alliance,” she said.

The government has also decided on a bill that will make it possible for Sweden to receive military support from all European Union (EU) and Nato countries, she added.

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(Source: Xinhua News Agency)

Mourners carry the body of veteran Al Jazeera Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh (Akleh), who was shot dead as she covered a raid on the West Bank's Jenin refugee camp, on May 11, 2022 before it is transferred for burial from a hospital in Jenin. (Photo by JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Churches condemn Israeli police charge at Al Jazeera reporter's funeral

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An organisation representing 12 Christian denominations on Monday condemned an Israeli riot police charge at the funeral of a Palestinian Christian Al Jazeera journalist, describing the actions as a violation of freedom of religion.

Mourners, some carrying Palestinian flags, were escorting the coffin of Shireen Abu Akleh, a dual US citizen, from the convent-run Saint Joseph Hospital to the Greek-Melkite Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin when police charged.

Friday's incident, during which baton-wielding officers beat Abu Akleh's pallbearers, was broadcast live globally and renewed the anger at the reporter being shot dead during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank.

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The police actions constituted an "invasion and disproportionate use of force... (and) a severe violation of international norms and regulations, including the fundamental right of freedom of religion", a hospital statement quoted the Christian Churches of the Holy Land group as saying.

Read more here.

Nato accession by Finland, Sweden poses no threat but will cause Russia's reaction - Putin

Russia has no problems with Finland and Sweden that are willing to join Nato, their accession to the alliance poses no threat but will trigger Moscow's response reaction, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.

“As for the [Nato] expansion, including through the new members of the alliance — Finland, Sweden — Russia... has no problems with these states, and therefore, in this sense, the expansion through these countries does not create any immediate threat for Russia, but the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory will certainly provoke our response,” Putin told the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Moscow.

(Source: Sputnik News)

French President Emmanuel Macron attends a political rally in Paris. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

French President Macron backs Sweden's decision to join Nato

French President Emmanuel Macron fully supports Sweden's decision to join the North Atlantic Nato military alliance, the Elysee presidential office said on Monday.

Sweden's Social Democrat minority government on Monday took the formal decision to apply for Nato membership, following in the footsteps of its neighbour Finland in a move that will redraw the geopolitical map of northern Europe.

(Source: Reuters)

Why Turkey dissents on Finland and Sweden joining NATO and why it matters

Finnish and Swedish officials have declared in recent days their intention to join Nato, citing Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

But their acceptance to the alliance requires unanimous consent among members, and the leader of one such state — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey — has voiced hesitation about the two nations.

Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey was not “favorable” toward the possibility of Finland and Sweden joining Nato, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“We are following the developments with Sweden and Finland, but we don't have favorable thoughts,” he told reporters. Sweden and Finland could move formally to join the group as soon as this week.

Russia closely following progress of Finnish, Swedish Nato

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday said Russia was closely following Finland and Sweden's bids to join the US-led Nato military alliance and was convinced that their accession would in no way strengthen Europe's security architecture.

Earlier on Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying the West should not think Moscow would simply put up with the expansion of Nato, casting it as a mistake that would stoke military tension.

(Source: Reuters)

US could ratify Finnish Nato membership before August

The US Congress will seek to ratify Finland's application to join the Western military alliance Nato before going on holiday in August, US Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said in Helsinki after meeting with Finland's President Sauli Niinisto.

“Certainly we hope to achieve it before the August recess when Congress typically goes out of session,” he told reporters on Monday.

President Niinisto confirmed on Sunday that Finland would apply for Nato membership, in a historic policy shift prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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Johnny Depp defamation trial resumes Monday with ex-wife Heard on stand

Johnny Depp's ex-wife, Amber Heard, will return to the witness stand on Monday in a defamation trial filled with graphic allegations of physical and emotional abuse from both sides.

Jurors in the case have listened to explicit recordings of the couple's arguments and testimony about a severed finger, feces in a bed and an alleged sexual assault with a bottle.

Depp, 58, is suing Heard, 36, for $50 million, saying she defamed him when she claimed she was a victim of domestic abuse. Heard has counter-sued for $100 million, arguing Depp smeared her by calling her a liar.

UN chief appalled by racist shooting in Buffalo, New York

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was appalled by Saturday's killing of 10 people in a vile act of racist violent extremism in Buffalo, New York, his deputy spokesman said Sunday.

Guterres extended his deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and hoped justice will be served swiftly, said Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman, in a statement.

“The secretary-general condemns in the strongest terms racism in all its forms and discrimination based on race, religion, belief or national origin. We must all work together toward building more peaceful and inclusive societies,” said the statement.

A heavily armed 18-year-old white man shot and killed 10 people and injured three others at a supermarket in Buffalo of New York State on Saturday.

The US authorities said the shooting is being investigated as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.

People take part in a candelight vigil outside the UN ESCWA building to denounce the killing of Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, in Beirut, Lebanon, on May 12, 2022. Abu Akleh, 51, a prominent figure in the Arabic news service of Al-Jazeera channel, was shot dead on 11 May during a confrontation between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jenin. Picture: Reuters

#ICYMI - WATCH: Fellow journalist recalls last moments with murdered Al Jazeera colleague

Fellow journalist Mujahid Al Saadi recalled the moment when Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and said she had been wearing a helmet, but the bullet was aimed under her ear.

Read the full story here.

UN stands with Sri Lanka, hopes for peaceful recovery from current crisis

Admiring the resilience shown by the Sri Lankan people, the United Nations said that it stands with the people and hopes for a peaceful recovery from the current crisis, local media reported.

“Today the United Nations stands with Sri Lanka, we admire the resilience shown by her people, and are hopeful of a peaceful recovery from the current crisis,” UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy said.

Sweden, Finland Nato membership would increase Baltic security

"When we see that in our neighbourhood also other democratic countries belong to Nato, it would mean that we could have broader joint exercises and also ... more defence cooperation," Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets told Reuters in Berlin where she joined a meeting with other Nato counterparts on Saturday.

Liimets said she hoped Sweden, Finland and Turkey would overcome differences on the Nordic states joining the alliance, adding that the Berlin meeting atmosphere was very supportive.

Former United Arab Emirates' President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan attending the opening session of the thirteenth Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit at Bayan Palace in Kuwait City. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee/File Photo

Russian government delegation to attend mourning events following death of UAE leader

Russia will send a government delegation to the UAE on Monday to attend mourning events in connection with the death of Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Arab country's late president, a diplomatic source told Sputnik.

“The delegation leaves today [on Monday]. Its composition will be announced later,” the source said.

The former president of the UAE, who was in office since 2004, died at the age of 73 after a long illness on Friday. He was buried at the Al Bateen cemetery in Abu Dhabi on the same day, with members of the ruling Al Nahyan family taking part in the mourning procession.

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

A Ukrainian counter offensive was underway near the Russian-held town of Izium, but Ukraine's military said Russian forces were advancing elsewhere in the key Donbas region.

* British military intelligence said Russia's offensive in the Donbas "has lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule", with a dramatic acceleration unlikely over the next 30 days.

* Russia said its forces had hit Ukrainian command posts, ammunition depots and other military equipment including in the Donbas, killing at least 100 Ukrainian "nationalists".

* Sweden's ruling Social Democrats were poised to come out in favour of joining Nato, paving the way for an application soon after and abandoning decades of military non-alignment.

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(Source: Reuters News)

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