As Monday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day:
Some Ukrainian fighters appeared to be evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Russia said it had agreed to evacuate wounded Ukrainian fighters from this last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the southern city, and Reuters cited a witness as seeing evacuees arrive in Novoazovsk, an area controlled by Russia-backed separatists. Without specifics, the Azov Regiment of the Ukrainian armed forces said on social media that Mariupol troops were following an approved decision "in order to save lives." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message that International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations helped negotiate. "We have hope that we will be able to spare the lives of our soldiers," he said. "Ukraine needs its heroes alive."
Ukrainian forces continued to gain ground around the northeast city of Kharkiv, pushing Russian troops close to the Russian border, according to the Pentagon. The Ukrainian military previously said Russian troops were pulling back from Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, and the war was entering a new, long-term phase. NATO's secretary-general said Russia was "not achieving its strategic objectives" and Ukraine could win the war. Intense fighting continued in the southern and eastern regions.
Sweden joined Finland in seeking membership in NATO, the trans-Atlantic military alliance. The move changes decades of Finnish policy of neutrality and upends more than two centuries of Swedish policy. Sweden has avoided all military alliances, but like Finland, has also grown closer and closer to NATO over time.
McDonald's is exiting Russia after 32 years, planning to sell its full slate of restaurants to a Russian buyer. The fast-food giant had previously paused its operations in the country days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February. Now, McDonald's will start "de-arching" its Russian restaurants — stripping them of its trademark signs, menus and branding to prepare for a sale.
Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra returned home as winners of this weekend's Eurovision Song Contest. The folk-rap group ended their performance with a plea to help Ukraine, Mariupol and Azovstal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked the victory with a vow to one day host Eurovision in the bombed-out city of Mariupol.
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