What happened today in the Russia-Ukraine conflict

Here are the major events of the day in Kyiv and Moscow as Monday draws to a close:

Over 260 Ukrainian fighters were evacuated from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel facility. The troops have been hiding behind the facility for weeks, fending off a Russian siege. Russia announced that wounded Ukrainian forces would be evacuated from the factory. According to Reuters, buses were used to transport Ukrainian fighters out of Mariupol, and a witness saw evacuees arrive in Novoazovsk, controlled by Russia-backed rebels. The soldiers would return home as part of a prisoner exchange, according to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar. In a video message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed that foreign groups assisted their release and that “Ukraine needs its heroes alive.”

According to the Pentagon, Ukrainian forces continued to gain territory in the northeast city of Kharkiv, pushing Russian troops close to the Russian border. Russian troops were pulling back from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and the battle was entering a new, long-term phase, according to the Ukrainian military. According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Russia was “not accomplishing its strategic aims,” and Ukraine may win the war. Intense combat raged in the southern and eastern parts of the country.

Sweden and Finland both applied to join NATO, the transatlantic military alliance. The move upends more than two centuries of Swedish policy and overturns decades of Finnish neutrality. Sweden has eschewed all military alliances but has drawn closer to NATO over time, much like Finland.

McDonald’s is leaving Russia after 32 years, with plans to sell its entire restaurant portfolio to a Russian bidder. Days after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February; the fast-food behemoth halted operations in the nation. McDonald’s will now begin “de-arching” its Russian locations, removing its trademark signs, menus, and branding in preparation for a sale.

The Kalush Orchestra of Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest this past weekend. The folk-rap group concluded their concert by pleading for assistance for Ukraine, Mariupol, and Azovstal. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy celebrated the victory by promising to hold Eurovision in the bombed-out city of Mariupol one day.

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