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U.S. seeks clarity after Turkey signals opposition to Sweden, Finland joining NATO

A Ukrainian court held a hearing on May 13 for Vadim Shishimarin, 21, starting the first war crimes trial of the conflict with Russia. (Video: Reuters)
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The United States is seeking clarification after Turkey’s president suggested Friday that he was reluctant about Sweden and Finland potentially joining the NATO defense alliance. The Turkish warning came a day after a landmark recommendation from Finland’s leaders that the country join NATO and as Swedish leaders appeared ready to follow their lead this weekend.

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“Certainly this will be a conversation that will continue over the weekend,” a U.S. official said as Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to travel to Germany on Saturday for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers that will include the top diplomats of Finland, Sweden — and Turkey.

On Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for the first time since the war began, urging an immediate cease-fire. Britain announced new sanctions against the family of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while in Kyiv the first trial of a Russian soldier for alleged war crimes began. Shelling across Ukraine continued to claim lives.

Here’s what else to know

  • Ukrainian forces are “frustrating” Russian attempts to make gains by preventing Russian groups from crossing the Siverskyi Donets River to fully consolidate their forces, the Pentagon said.
  • A Russian-owned energy company, citing nonpayment, said it planned to halt electricity sales to Finland on Saturday in what appeared to be Russian blowback over the NATO plans.
  • Ukraine is entering a “new, long phase of the war” as weapons supplies from Western allies gradually increase, the country’s defense minister said.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.