Russia may be running out of crucial targeting drones; brutal siege of Mariupol steel plant ends. Follow our live updates

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Boris Johnson spoke with Turkey’s Erdogan about NATO concerns

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UK Boris Johnson spoke with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, focusing on their two countries’ cooperation and the war in Ukraine.

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Johnson raised the issue of Turkey’s opposition to Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership applications, and “encouraged” Erdogan to work with both countries and NATO leaders to address his concerns, a UK government statement said. The 30-member alliance will be meeting in Madrid in June.

Sweden and Finland have made the decision to apply for NATO membership, which would mean a significant enlargement for the alliance along Russia’s western border, as the two countries reassessed their security requirements amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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NATO requires unanimous consent to admit new members, and so far Turkey is the only state standing in the way, citing the Nordic states’ support for Kurdish groups that Ankara classifies as terrorists.

— Natasha Turak

US and other countries walk out of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting amid Russian minister’s speech

Representatives from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan walked out of a meeting of ministers during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bangkok, Thailand. The walk-out was done while Russian economy minister Maxim Reshetnikov was speaking, in protest to Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine.

The act was “an expression of disapproval at Russia’s illegal war of aggression in Ukraine and its economic impact in the APEC region,” Reuters quoted one diplomat as saying.
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— Natasha Turak

Russia is using Syria-style ‘reconnaissance strike’ tactics, but may not have enough drones for it: UK MoD

Russia is using ‘reconnaissance strike’ tactics which it previously used in Syria, finding targets via reconnaissance drones and then striking them with aircraft or artillery.

But Russia is “likely experiencing a shortage of appropriate reconnaissance UAVs for this task, which is exacerbated by limitations in its domestic manufacturing capacity resulting from sanctions,” the UK’s Ministry of Defense wrote in its daily intelligence update on Twitter.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have played a key role for both sides of the Russia-Ukraine war but suffer a high rate of attrition, the ministry wrote, as they are frequently shot down or electronically jammed.

“If Russia continues to lose UAVs at its current rate, Russian forces intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability will be further degraded, negatively impacting operational effectiveness,” the ministry wrote.

— Natasha Turak

Siege ends at Ukraine’s Mariupol steelworks, Russia seeks control of Donbas

The last Ukrainian forces holed up in Mariupol’s smashed Azovstal steelworks surrendered, Russia’s defense ministry said, ending the most destructive siege of the war as Moscow fought to cement control over the Donbas region.

Hours before Russia’s announcement on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the last defenders at the steelworks had been told by Ukraine’s military that they could get out and save their lives.

Russia said there were 531 members of the last group that had given up. “The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant… has been completely liberated,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that a total of 2,439 defenders had surrendered in the past few days.

The Ukrainians did not immediately confirm those figures.

Russia also launched what appeared to be a major assault to seize the last remaining Ukrainian-held territory in the province of Luhansk, one of two southeastern Ukrainian provinces Moscow proclaims as independent states.

— Reuters

US State officials urge Russia to grant access to detained US citizens

The State Department called on the Kremlin to grant “consistent and timely consular access” to all US citizens detained in Russia.

“One off visits are not sufficient, and we will continue to call on Moscow to uphold its commitments under the Vienna Convention for consistent and timely access as well,” State Department, Ned Price said during a daily press briefing.

Price said that a US consular officer was granted permission to visit detained WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday.

“The consular officer found her continuing to do as well as could be expected under these exceedingly challenging circumstances. But again, our message is a clear and simple one we continue to insist that Russia allow consistent and timely consular access to all US citizen detainees, “Price added.

In February, the Olympian was arrested on drug charges after a search of her luggage at the Sheremetyevo International Airport near Moscow allegedly turned up vape cartridges with cannabis oil, Russian authorities said.

The offense could carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

— Amanda Macias

Finnish gas supplies from Russia to be cut from Saturday

Gasum, Finland’s state-owned gas wholesaler, said in a statement that natural gas imports from Russia will be halted on Saturday.

“Starting from tomorrow, during the upcoming summer season, Gasum will supply natural gas to its customers from other sources through the Balticconnector pipeline. Gasum’s gas filling stations in the gas network area will continue in normal operation,” Gasum’s CEO Mika Wiljanen said in a statement.

“It is highly regrettable that natural gas supplies under our supply contract will now be halted. However, we have been carefully preparing for this situation and provided that there will be no disruptions in the gas transmission network, we will be able to supply all our customers with gas in the coming months.”

Gasum gave no reason for the move, but Finland has also reportedly refused to pay for Russian gas in rubles. It also comes just two days after Finland formally applied to join NATO.

Read the full story here.

—Matt Clinch

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

Finnish gas supplies from Russia to be halted; Russia considers bill to let over-40s into military


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