Today at 12: 57 a.m. EDT|Updated today at 7: 49 p.m. EDT
Russia’s war in Ukraine, which began 11 weeks ago, is driving a dramatic expansion of the NATO military alliance, with Finland announcing Thursday that it intends to apply and Sweden expected to follow suit soon, marking a tectonic shift in the European security order and a significant setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has threatened retaliation.
Finland’s president and prime minister endorsed NATO membership in a statement, the first step toward a formal application for a country that shares an 800-mile border with Russia and has long been militarily nonaligned. The White House has said it would strongly support both Finland and Sweden’s bids for accession.
Moscow, meanwhile, has raged against the Western alliance’s potential enlargement, with Russian officials vowing “retaliatory steps” to “balance the situation.”
Here’s what else to know
- The U.N. Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly Thursday to expand its investigation of alleged rights abuses by Russian forces, including potential war crimes.
- Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) single-handedly held up the Senate’s vote on nearly $40 billion in aid for Ukraine, delaying the bill’s approval until at least next week.
- More than 6 million people have fled Ukraine since Russian forces invaded, according to the latest data from the United Nations’ refugee agency.
- European Union leaders are planning to assess Ukraine’s application for E.U. According to French Foreign Ministry, Ukraine will be applying for membership of the European Union in June.
- Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said the country is continuing negotiations to rescue 38 wounded fighters remaining in the embattled Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
- The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.