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What Happened on Day 86 of the War in Ukraine

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A Russian-backed soldier standing guard over a bus carrying Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol on Friday.Credit...Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

BERLIN — Russia took new steps on Friday to gird for an escalating struggle with the West over the war in Ukraine, moving to expand military recruitment to older citizens and severing gas supplies to Finland in apparent retaliation for its Nordic neighbor's application to join the NATO alliance.

The two developments reflected the mounting pressure on Russia because of its three-month-old invasion of Ukraine, which has evolved into something of a stalemate that has seriously depleted the Kremlin's conventional war capabilities, even as Russia has made some incremental gains.

The conflict also has left Russia increasingly vulnerable economically and energized Western opposition in ways that President Vladimir V. Putin had sought to prevent. Both Finland, which border Russia, and Sweden, which shares a sea border, broke with their longstanding policies of neutrality and applied to join NATO over the past week, a vote of confidence in the unity of an alliance that has been cemented by the conflict.

Russia said Friday that it was suspending gas shipments to Finland because the Finnish gas company had failed to make payments in rubles. But the Kremlin has used Russia's energy supply as a political weapon in the past, and previously threatened "retaliation" against Sweden and Finland should they move to join NATO. Last weekend, Moscow suspended electricity exports to Finland after the country's intention to join the alliance had become clear.

The Finnish company, Gasum, called the latest move from the Russian gas giant Gazprom "highly regrettable," but said that it did not expect disruptions.


Pipelines at the Gasum plant in Raikkola, Finland, earlier this month.Credit...Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

"It is very unfortunate that the supply of natural gas under our supply contract will now run out," the chief executive of Gasum, Mika Wiljanen, said in a statement. "However, we have prepared carefully for this situation and if there are no disruptions in the gas transmission network, we will be able to supply gas to all our customers in the coming months."

Gas exports are vital to Russia's economy. They also give Moscow a potent diplomatic tool: Last month, Russia halted natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, two NATO countries that are dependent on Russian gas but have strongly opposed the war in Ukraine. Poland and Bulgaria also had balked at making payments in rubles.

Russia's reaction underscored the geopolitical fallout from the war in Ukraine as it spurs what could become one of the most radical redrawings of Europe's security order in decades.

That fallout spread further on Friday as the state-controlled Russian oil giant Rosneft announced that Gerhard Schröder, the former chancellor of Germany and one of Mr. Putin's last prominent Western cheerleaders, would be stepping down as chair of the board.

Moscow is increasingly mired in difficulties on the ground in Ukraine, the former Soviet republic that Mr. Putin does not consider a legitimate country. His plan for a quick subjugation of Ukraine after the Feb. 24 invasion has been upended by a series of bruising battles that have forced him to reduce his territorial ambitions and have left Russia's forces exhausted and its equipment diminished.

Under pressure to score victories and to shore up its forces for an intensifying battle in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, Moscow on Friday moved to expand the pool of potential recruits to its military by eliminating the age limit for service.


A destroyed Russian tank beside a heavily damaged home in Velyka Dymerka, near Brovary, Ukraine, earlier this week.Credit...Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

An amendment introduced by senior lawmakers in Russia's Parliament would allow Russians older than 40 to sign first-time military service contracts. Under the current law, Russian citizens must be aged 18 to 40 to sign a first-time contract.

The law would bring in more service members with specialties, such as medical workers and engineers, a statement from the lower house of Parliament said.

"Highly professional specialists are needed" to operate military equipment, the statement said.

It made no mention of a manpower shortage in the field. But experts say that Russia suffers that shortage and is under strain, particularly after a series of humiliating setbacks in trying to capture Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and more recently in failing to seize the country's second-largest city, Kharkiv.

Mr. Putin has resisted ordering a large-scale military draft, apparently fearing domestic backlash, and is instead stepping up recruitment.

The lack of reserve troops is forcing Russian commanders to consolidate depleted battalion tactical groups, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based research group that has been monitoring the conflict.

The institute quoted an unidentified U.S. defense official as saying that Russian forces have had to disband and combine some battalion tactical groups in Ukraine to compensate for casualties and other losses.

At the same time, the institute said that some Russian troops who had been withdrawn from around Kharkiv, in the northeast of the country, have been redeployed toward the Donetsk region in Donbas.


Artillery vehicles of Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region preparing to fire on Ukrainian positions Friday.Credit...Alexei Alexandrov/Associated Press

Even as Russia's war aims have narrowed, it was fortifying control over parts of Ukraine this week.

After the near-total conquest of the southeast port city of Mariupol, Russian officials appeared to be laying the groundwork for annexing swaths of southeast Ukraine. They have already made changes in some areas, introducing the ruble currency, installing proxy politicians and cutting the population off from Ukrainian broadcasts.

Units that fought in Mariupol can now be sent elsewhere following the surrender of Ukrainian fighters defending a large steel plant. A Russia Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said Friday its forces had full control of the plant, which has been "completely liberated."

The focus has shifted to the eastern battlefield. In the Donbas region, which Russia has vowed to capture after having abandoned more ambitious goals of toppling the central government, Russian troops carried out 13 attacks on Ukrainian positions, the Ukrainian military said.

A weekslong fight around the city of Sievierodonetsk, in the Luhansk region, has intensified in the past day, with Russian forces on Friday firing artillery at a school where more than 200 people were sheltering, killing three of them, a regional military official said.

Russian artillery fire into the city and nearby areas killed 12 civilians and damaged more than 60 buildings over the past day, said the governor of Luhansk Province. The Ukrainian military said in its regularly published morning assessment of the war on Friday that its forces had repelled a Russian attempt to storm defensive positions near Sievierodonetsk.


Residents of the Brobovitsa district of Chernihiv, Ukraine, lining up for humanitarian aid on Friday.Credit...Nicole Tung for The New York Times

To help keep the Ukrainian war effort running, the Group of 7 economic powers on Friday agreed to provide nearly $20 billion in grants and loans to support Ukraine's economy over the coming months.

Ukraine needs approximately $5 billion per month to maintain basic government services, according to the International Monetary Fund. The G-7 financing was agreed on after the United States, which is contributing more than $9 billion in short-term financing, pressed allies to do more to help secure Ukraine's future.

While Ukraine's government has expressed gratitude for Western economic and military aid, it has been critical of NATO over what Ukrainian officials have called the alliance's lack of support since the Russian invasion.

"Could you name at least one consensus decision made by NATO over the past three months that would benefit and help Ukraine?" Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister, said on Thursday night during a nationwide telethon to raise funds for the country.

Under NATO's treaty, an attack on one of its 30 members is an attack on all — a provision that has amplified the risk of an escalation with Russia, including the possibility, however remote, of a nuclear war.

While NATO officials have expressed strong support for Ukraine, they have balked at taking any steps that could provoke a Russian attack on any alliance member — rejecting, for example, the Ukrainian government's repeated pleas to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine.


A funeral for Denys Ponomarenko, a 25-year-old Ukrainian medic who was killed in March, at St. Catherine's Cathedral in Chernihiv, Ukraine, on Friday.Credit...Nicole Tung for The New York Times

Individually, many NATO countries have provided Kyiv with weaponry and missiles — aid that Mr. Kuleba acknowledged.

"Yes, it is true that the alliance members, individually or in small groups, are really doing awesome and important work, providing vital assistance," Mr. Kuleba said. "But NATO as an institution has done nothing during this time."

The latest tests for NATO unity are the accession bids by Finland and Sweden, which still face opposition from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has complained of what he calls their tolerance toward Kurdish militant separatist groups that are considered terrorist organizations in his country.

The Biden administration, which has strongly endorsed the applications of Finland and Sweden, has repeatedly expressed confidence that Turkey's objections will be resolved.

Katrin Bennhold reported from Berlin, Matthew Mpoke Bigg from Krakow, Poland, and Andrew E. Kramer from Kyiv, Ukraine. Reporting was contributed by Alan Rappeport from Königswinter, Germany; Safak Timur from Istanbul; Erika Solomon from Lviv, Ukraine; and James C. McKinley Jr. and Rick Gladstone from New York.

May 20, 2022, 11:23 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 11:23 p.m. ET

Zolan Kanno-Youngs

Reporting from Seoul

The White House has directed an aide to bring a physical copy of legislation authorizing emergency assistance for Ukraine to South Korea so that it can be signed by President Biden during his five-day diplomatic trip to the region, an administration official said. The aide planned to take a commercial flight, the official said. The $40 billion package of military and humanitarian aid was passed by Congress this week.

May 20, 2022, 8:38 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 8:38 p.m. ET


A bus on Thursday carrying Ukrainian fighters who surrendered to Russian forces at the besieged Azovstal steel complex.Credit...Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

The Kremlin has long orchestrated Russia's court system as an instrument for oppression and propaganda, using a veneer of legality to silence critics and to impose its version of events.

Last December, for example, Russia's Supreme Court liquidated the country's most prominent human rights group, Memorial, ruling that its work chronicling Stalin-era brutality had distorted the Soviet Union's historical image.

Months earlier, a Moscow court had condemned the political and anti-corruption organizations founded by Aleksei A. Navalny as "extremist," eventually sentencing the opposition leader to nine years in prison.

In 2020, Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, received a 16-year sentence on espionage charges in a case widely seen as Russia grabbing a hostage. "Sham Trial!" Mr. Whelan, who remains incarcerated, wrote on a piece of paper that he held up in court.

The common thread in all these cases, analysts and opposition figures say, is that the verdict was stage-managed to deliver to President Vladimir V. Putin a coveted goal, like diminishing an opponent or buttressing a propaganda point.

Now, with nearly 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers from the besieged steel plant in Mariupol in Russian custody, the prospect of so-called show trials has emerged again.

The fighters have been leaving the plant this week after maintaining the last line of defense in Mariupol, at a Soviet-era steel facility. The Ukrainian government said it had negotiated a deal for the fighters' exchange, but Moscow has not confirmed this.

At the same time, some Russian officials have pushed to label one group of the soldiers — members of the Azov battalion — as terrorists, and to try them on war crimes charges. The Russian position has raised the prospect that it is laying the groundwork for high-profile trials of the fighters that would advance its narrative of the war.

"Every single case which Putin or his allies would like to manipulate will be manipulated," said Ilya Novikov, a former Moscow lawyer who relocated to Kyiv three years ago. "You should not start by asking what are the charges, you should start by asking what is the outcome."

May 20, 2022, 7:58 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 7:58 p.m. ET

In March and April, the photojournalist Paolo Pellegrin made a 4,000-mile journey through war-torn Ukraine with the writer James Verini for an article about Kharkiv, the city on the country's eastern flank that has been devastated by Russian shelling. The stops along the way were grim. A shopping mall in a suburb of Kyiv, destroyed. A mother comforting a daughter with a bullet wound in a hospital. Mass graves in the town Bucha.

Less than a year ago, Pellegrin and Verini had traveled to Ukraine to tell the story of the long-running conflict in the country's eastern separatist regions. But Russia's invasion in February scrambled the map. There was a crisis now on the Polish border, where Pellegrin documented scenes of the chaotic crossing station in Medyka as thousands of families fled. From there, he took a circuitous route through the country's highways, now threaded with checkpoints, passing through Lviv, Zaporizhzhia, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Kyiv and Kharkiv.

In Kharkiv, the men found a ghost town, where monuments and churches kept watch over empty streets. "Those who had stayed behind were either in basements and subway stations," Pellegrin said, "or in areas that they thought were less affected, even though everything was affected."

Russia's strategy of targeting civilians was something Pellegrin had not witnessed on that scale in past conflicts he covered in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon. "Lines are often blurred in conflict areas — in Ukraine it felt even more so. There was this sense here that everything could have been hit," he said. "It was indiscriminate."

May 20, 2022, 7:07 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 7:07 p.m. ET

Lauren McCarthy

Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey agreed in a phone call on Friday evening to seek to unlock vital supply routes for Ukrainian grain stocks, as food prices rise across the globe. Turkey objects to Finland's and Sweden's NATO bids, but, according to a British government statement, Johnson encouraged Erdogan to work with those countries and NATO to address concerns ahead of a summit in Madrid next month.

May 20, 2022, 5:46 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 5:46 p.m. ET


Service members of the Ukrainian armed forces, who surrendered at the Azovstal steel plant, arrive under escort of the pro-Russian military in the settlement of Olenivka in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Friday.Credit...Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

The Russian Defense Ministry said Friday that its forces had seized full control of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces' monthslong holdout became a symbol of Ukraine's resistance to the invasion.

The statement, which would signal the end of the most protracted and bloody siege of the war, could not be immediately verified. Senior Ukrainian officials reached late Friday said they were not able to confirm the Russian claim.

Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov of Russia's Defense Ministry said that the plant had been "completely liberated." He also said that the commander of the Azov regiment, a Ukrainian unit with roots as a far-right militia, had been captured and taken away from the plant in an armored car.

Moscow has used the Azov regiment's presence among the military units defending Mariupol to give a veneer of truth to President Vladimir V. Putin's false claim that he invaded Ukraine to root out "Nazi" groups.

Earlier on Friday, the Azov commander, Denis Prokopenko, issued a video statement noting that the Ukrainian military's command had ordered them to surrender and urging proper burials for the fighters who had died at the plant. That order was given on Tuesday.

General Konashenkov said that 2,439 Ukrainian soldiers, including members of the Azov regiment and other military units, had laid down their arms and surrendered. The last 500 or so surrendered on Friday, he said.

Full Russian control of the steel complex would mean the end of one of the bloodiest and protracted battles of the war. Mariupol's defenders fought for months while Russian bombardments reduced the seaside port city to rubble, killing thousands of civilians, according to local authorities.

Slowly, Ukraine's forces were forced back, until they controlled only the sprawling steel complex and the bunkers beneath it. Negotiations brokered by the International Committee for the Red Cross and the United Nations led recently to the release of hundreds of civilians who were trapped there with the fighters.

The fighters held out, despite having no hope of reinforcement or rescue. They vowed to make a last stand, and officials in Kyiv said their resistance had derailed Russia's war plans. One presidential adviser compared them to the Spartan defenders of the ancient world who gave their lives to hold back the Persians at Thermopylae.

Then on Tuesday, Ukraine's commanders ordered the fighters to lay down their arms, saying there had been secret negotiations with Russia aimed at saving them. Ukraine said they expected Azovstal's defenders to be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war, but after hundreds had surrendered, the authorities in Moscow said they would investigate some for war crimes, raising questions about their fate.

The Kremlin's media outlets have been citing the Azov regiment's links with far-right movements as proof of President Vladimir V. Putin's false claim that Ukraine is ruled by a Nazi government. Mr. Putin used the claim as one of his prime justifications for the decision to invade Ukraine.

The Russian Supreme Court has said it will hold a hearing next week on whether to declare the Azov regiment a terrorist organization.

May 20, 2022, 4:50 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 4:50 p.m. ET

Nicole Tung

Yulia Mudrytska, 28, used a wheelbarrow to dispose of rubble from her grandmother's damaged home in the village of Novoselivka, Ukraine, on Friday. Other residents wait for humanitarian aid to the village. Many of the approximately 900 people who lived there before the Russian invasion fled, and only a few have returned. A local doctor estimated that 80 percent of the village's residences were damaged or destroyed.


Credit...Nicole Tung for The New York Times


Credit...Nicole Tung for The New York Times

May 20, 2022, 4:35 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 4:35 p.m. ET

The Interpreter


The Alcoa and Arconic headquarters in Pittsburgh in January. Arconic is a Fortune 500 company that is one of America's largest metalworking firms.Credit...Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The Samara Metallurgical Plant, a sprawling complex in southwestern Russia that spans an area the size of a dozen city blocks, is a cornerstone of Russian industry. It is the country's largest supplier of aluminum commercial and industrial products.

It is also a source of critical parts for the Russian warplanes and missiles that are now tearing through Ukraine. And atop its edifice, spelled out in giant blue letters, is the name of its American owner: Arconic, a Pittsburgh-based, Fortune 500 company that is one of America's largest metalworking firms even after splitting out from the industrial giant Alcoa in 2016.

Arconic does not make weapons. But its sophisticated forges are among a handful of machines in Russia that can form lightweight metals into large aerospace parts like bulkheads and wing mounts.

Under an agreement with the Russian government, the company has from the start of its operations at Samara, in 2004, been legally required to supply the country's defense industry as a condition of operating a plant whose mostly nonmilitary output has proved tremendously lucrative.

Even as Russia turned its military toward ever more aggressive ends around the world and the relationship between the United States and the Kremlin soured, Arconic maintained the Samara operation, despite the growing legal and political complications of operating there.

Now, however, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine polarizing the world, Arconic's leadership has found that its business at Samara is, finally, unsustainable.

Though there is no indication that Arconic is in breach of American or other Western sanctions, those penalties have made it difficult to keep the plant supplied and operating. But shutting down production could expose its employees there to jail time under Russian laws on maintaining strategic production. And Russia has already cut off Arconic's access to profits from the Samara plant.

"The conflict in Ukraine has made our continued presence in Russia untenable, which led to our decision to pursue a sale," Timothy Myers, Arconic's chief executive, said in a written statement on Friday.

Company documents acquired by The New York Times, along with financial filings and other public materials, reveal Arconic's struggles to keep the plant running. The documents were provided by a whistleblower employee who objected to Arconic's continued involvement in Russia even after the invasion of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the day after The Times approached Arconic with details of its work in Russia, its board approved a plan that, according to internal documents, had been under internal consideration for weeks: to sell the plant outright. The company announced this decision on Thursday.

But any sale remains hypothetical, as the company does not yet have a buyer. And finding one would require regulatory approval at the highest levels from both the United States and Russia.

That is perhaps fitting, as those governments had cooperated to pave the way for Arconic's ownership of Samara in the first place.

Now, the long-coming divorce, accelerated by the war in Ukraine, is proving costly, with European energy consumers and companies like Arconic caught between now-hostile powers.


Clearing away debris the morning after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, in April. The Samara Metallurgical Plant is a source of critical components for the Russian warplanes and missiles that have devastated Ukrainian cities.Credit...Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

"The era in which the United States and Russia saw each other as an enemy or strategic threat has ended," Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir V. Putin announced at a 2002 summit meeting in Moscow. Now, they said, "We are partners," praising each other as like-minded allies in the war on terrorism.

Mr. Bush encouraged American companies to buy up Russian industries that had fallen into disrepair. Economic integration, it was widely thought, would bind Russia and the West for good.


President Vladimir V. Putin and President George W. Bush in Moscow outside the Kremlin in 2002.Credit... Konstantin Zavrazhin/Getty Images

American corporations snapped up whole factory compounds, once the engines of Soviet power. Moscow welcomed this, believing American financing and know-how might reconstitute Russian industrial might.

The American industrial giant Alcoa joined the gold rush in 2004, buying two complexes in Russia, including the one at Samara. It purchased both factories for $257 million but spent twice that rebuilding Samara, which it found running at one-third capacity.

Within the facility was a nine-story metal behemoth: a huge forge press that had been built right into the foundation, able to form the parts that make up the largest airplanes and missiles. It is one of only a handful like it in the world, including just two in Russia.

"These machines are essential to the defense industry," Martino Barbon, a representative of the manufacturing firm Gasparini Industries, said, calling them "the backbone" of production.

In an interview, Mr. Myers said that Samara's giant press had seen little use in recent years. Still, its presence, along with a number of smaller forges, underscores that Samara, like many Soviet-era facilities, had been designed to combine commercial and military work.

When it bought the Samara plant, Alcoa — which split part of its operations, including those in Russia, into the name Arconic in 2016 — did not explicitly seek to become a Russian military supplier. Rather, this was Moscow's condition for the sale.

That condition remains in force, according to company documents that describe a legal obligation to "manufacture aerospace and defense products" for sale to Russia's weapons industry.

Mr. Myers — who is now the chief executive and had been among the first employees to visit Samara in the early 2000s — said that the U.S. government knew about Moscow's terms when it approved Alcoa's purchase. The company's Russian subsidiary sells most products through other distributors and therefore Arconic cannot control how those products are used, he said.

But company documents show that Arconic has known throughout that the Samara operation was supplying Russia's military, even if it was only a small part of the company's overall business.

Moscow required the company to sign an agreement, as a condition of purchase, that it would pledge to indefinitely supply programs that it deemed essential. Mr. Myers acknowledged these terms in an interview with a Russian news outlet just last year.

"The main condition of the deal," Mr. Myers said, "was the obligation to ensure uninterrupted supplies" for "state defense and aerospace programs."

The agreement included a supplemental document, a copy of which The Times acquired, detailing mandatory production contracts.

The file lists more than a half-dozen of Russia's largest weapons-makers, such as N.P.O. Novator and Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant. Altogether, the companies provide the bulk of Russia's cruise missiles, ICBMs, attack helicopters, strategic bombers and other hardware.


Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin of Russia, center in black mask, visiting the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant, which manufactures Sukhoi aircraft, in July.Credit...Dmitry Astakhov/Sputnik/Via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The file applied to both plants, the second of which Alcoa later sold. But it underscores Russia's insistence on steady military supplies — and the American company's willingness to comply.

For Moscow, the greatest benefit may have been modernization: Western financing and know-how brought the plant from derelict to state-of-the-art.

For Alcoa/Arconic, this was the cost of admission to Russia. In financial terms, it paid off handsomely.

Last year alone, Samara brought in nearly $1 billion, accounting for 16 percent of Arconic's third-party sales worldwide, according to financial filings.

Before long, a string of Russian military interventions, chiefly its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its entry to the Syrian war the next year, transformed Western views of Russia.

Arconic found itself supplying, however indirectly, a Russian military that was now seen as a global threat.

Still, the company remained in Russia.

Moscow was no longer so welcoming. It codified sweeping "antimonopoly" laws allowing it to restrict or expel foreign companies involved in sensitive industries.

American companies became especially likely to face official investigation. This often came with supposedly temporary injunctions that make doing business difficult.

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace industry consultant, said that Russia has since effectively seized control of many foreign-owned plants through what he termed "oligarchization."

Rather than outright nationalize those businesses, Moscow coerces them into selling themselves off to Kremlin-linked firms, sometimes for pennies on the dollar. Just this week, the French automaker Renault sold a factory in the country to a Russian government-linked firm for one ruble.


Russian soldiers guarding a Ukrainian military base in the Crimea region of Ukraine, in 2014. Russia's annexation of Crimea and its involvement in the Syrian war transformed Western views of Russia.Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

In 2020, Arconic was hit with one such investigation. Russian officials barred Arconic from disbursing its profits from Samara or even restaffing leadership at the Russian subsidiary that runs the plant.

Richard Connolly, a University of Birmingham economist who advises companies on doing business in Russia, called it "very surprising" that Arconic, unlike many other American companies, had not yet been forced out of Russia.

From the Kremlin's point of view, coercing Samara's owners to sell the plant, as it has with several other American-owned business over the years, does carry some risk. It could disrupt production at a time when Russia already faces battlefield setbacks. But tolerating Arconic would mean leaving critical infrastructure in the hands of an American corporation.

Dr. Connolly suggested that Russian leaders may still see American knowledge and technology as too critical to lose at Samara, especially as battlefield losses wipe out advanced weapons that, because of sanctions, Russia may struggle to replace.

"They realize they might not be able to produce everything themselves," he said.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in February, forced difficult conversations within Arconic, according to internal documents and the account of a whistleblower employee who asked not to be named because the employee did not have the company's permission to speak.

At the end of 2021, amid Mr. Putin's buildup to war with Ukraine, Samara's forging division had its best quarter on record, reporting an 82 percent increase in production from the prior year. An internal presentation touting the rise listed it under the heading "Aerospace."

That constituted roughly one percent of the plant's overall output, making it something of a financial afterthought compared with the rest of the company's business.

Still, with Russian warplanes and missiles employed in shocking attacks in Ukraine considered to constitute possible war crimes, ethical considerations weighed heavily, according to the employee.

By March, even as sales poured in, Arconic's leadership was exploring ways to leave Russia entirely, according to internal memos.

But any purchase would require the approval of the Russian government, as well as VSMPO-Avisma, the Kremlin-linked firm with which Arconic had formed a joint partnership.

Selling would also require a license from the Treasury Department to avoid violating sanctions.

Even as Arconic sought an exit, internal documents show that the company went to some lengths to keep Samara running.


Rogachov Vladimir Petrovich, a local resident, at the scene of a Russian strike in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in April. Russia has frequently conducted attacks on civilian targets during the war.Credit...Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

As early as March, with shipping companies ceasing operations in Russia, the company began seeking new ways to supply the plant with production materials.

A few weeks later, the company concluded that, because of new sanctions, U.S.- and Europe-based employees could no longer work on efforts to supply the plant with materials, even from abroad.

The company shifted this work to its division in China, where employees were thought to be unconstrained by Western sanctions.

By early May, an internal presentation reported, Samara was hitting "numerous production volume records." And sales were up: $233 million in the first quarter of 2022, from $195 million the year before. This likely reflected the commercial work that makes up most of Samara's output, rather than military projects, but it underscored Arconic's success in keeping the plant spinning at full speed.

Still, the company concluded around the same time, according to Mr. Myers, its chief executive, that the war would continue for a long stretch, and with it both the sanctions and Russian government restrictions constraining Arconic's ability to operate. Mr. Myers said that moral considerations also factored into Arconic's decision to seek to leave Russia.

That the partnership between Arconic and Russia ever seemed workable underscores how far the world has moved on from the notion that first brought them together: that economic integration would end a century of Russian-Western enmity and finally secure lasting peace.

Mr. Connolly, the economist, compared Arconic's stake in Russia to Europe's decision to build its energy grids atop Russian gas pipelines and oil shipments, which was thought to make conflict unthinkable.

Instead, European energy consumers are effectively funding Russia's government even as they punish it with sanctions, much as Arconic appears caught up in Russian militarism that Washington had once hoped American investment might temper.

"It's a really graphic illustration," Dr. Connolly said, "of the dashed hopes of that era."

May 20, 2022, 4:32 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 4:32 p.m. ET

Beatrice Loayza

Critic's Notebook


In the documentary "Babi Yar: Context," Sergei Loznitsa repurposes Soviet propaganda to examine cycles of violence in Ukraine.Credit...via Film Forum

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, my social media feeds filled with denunciations of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, and listicles recommending how best to support Ukraine. This all made me feel a bit sheepish. Suddenly, Ukrainian cinema was relevant, and a familiar, woozy feeling returned: What use is any of this against the blunt reality of war? What might be achieved by engaging with Ukrainian art and film beyond the flaccid goal of raising awareness?

At the time, I was on my way to the True/False Film Festival in Columbia, Mo., where "Mr. Landsbergis," the Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa's muscular four-hour documentary epic about the Lithuanian independence movement, was making its American premiere. Unless you were an art-house cinema enthusiast, or perhaps someone who was interested in Eastern Europe, Loznitsa's films were considered obscure. This, despite the fact that he is a prolific and highly acclaimed director, and possibly the pre-eminent chronicler of post-Soviet history.


Loznitsa's fictional "Donbass" is a grim satire of corruption in separatist regions in Ukraine.Credit...via Film Movement

In the months since, two of Loznitsa's films, the fictional "Donbass" and the documentary "Babi Yar: Context," have received commercial releases in the United States, and dozens of interviews with him have been published, including one with The Times.

In the face of these newest features, however, my churlish initial reactions began to feel beside the point. To watch a Loznitsa film is anything but a passive activity. Consider his documentaries: They are often assembled from archival footage and avoid (or very sparingly employ) the use of obvious editorializing methods like voice-over, interviews and title cards. Instead of providing background information, Loznitsa relies on loaded images carefully selected and organized into montages, which is why his films can sometimes feel like being thrown into the deep end of history without a life vest.

His works are also straightforward examples of the entwinement of real-world politics and film production processes. In "Babi Yar: Context," Loznitsa repurposes World War II footage, much of it originally intended as Nazi and Soviet propaganda, to reveal the cycles of violence that unfolded in the Ukrainian city of Kyiv after the slaughter in 1941 of nearly 34,000 Jews by Nazis and their Ukrainian allies.


In "Babi Yar: Context" and other films, Loznitsa takes a cool, impersonal approach.Credit...via Film Forum

Yet Loznitsa's is a deeply cynical outlook, one that is most apparent in his narrative features, like "Donbass," a grim satire about corruption and propaganda in the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In the film, Loznitsa swings between farce and horror, weaving together local vignettes: an egregious demonstration by a Russian crony who parades medical staff members around an office to expose a doctor's supposed theft of supplies (the materials are very obviously planted); a Ukrainian soldier taken hostage, and then practically tarred and feathered by sadistic civilians; the killings of a crew of pro-Russia propaganda actors, whose deaths are pinned on Ukrainian nationalists. But the incessant gallows humor, cruelty and chaos eventually feel like a surrender to total nihilism.

The sweep and import of Loznitsa's films make him a formidable spokesman for Ukrainian cinema, but I wonder if his cool, impersonal approach — concerned as it is with structures of power and the complex ramifications of historical events — might also promote a kind of distance.

What does life in Ukraine feel like and how do everyday people carry on amid perpetual violence and escalating militarization? What does it mean to live in the cross hairs of Russian imperialism and Ukrainian nationalism? A number of recent and upcoming films by Ukrainian filmmakers, born of the continuing conflict, try to articulate these tensions, some more directly in conversation with the brutalities of war than others.

Maksym Nakonechnyi's "Butterfly Vision," premiering at Cannes in the coming days, follows a Ukrainian reconnaissance expert struggling to adjust to normal life after being raped and detained as a prisoner of war. Natalya Vorozhbit's (questionably bleak) omnibus film "Bad Roads" (streaming on Film Movement Plus) loosely connects four stories that take place around the Donbas, exploring the fraught relationships between vulnerable women and the soldiers stationed around the region.


In "Reflection," a Ukrainian surgeon (Roman Lutskyi), left, struggles to cope with life after release from Russian captivity.Credit...via Film Movement

In Valentyn Vasyanovych's austere drama "Reflection" (in select theaters), a Ukrainian surgeon, Serhiy, is captured by Russian soldiers and forced to help dispose of the bodies of Ukrainian soldiers who died while being tortured. The nightmarish first half — set in a sludge-gray, off-the-grid prison with a portable human incinerator — unfolds with unnerving levels of patience. We practically witness the trauma seeping into our hero's bones. Then, in the second half, Serhiy is released in a prisoner swap, and everything about his life, including his chic, high-rise apartment and his relationship with his angsty young daughter, takes on a zombified state, enveloped in a dissociative haze even as he tries to repair himself.

It's true that art provides us with the opportunity to confront uncomfortable truths, and yet the most severe and somber examples are typically upheld as the most significant, the most hard-hitting, informative and worthy of our time. But the experience of living through war doesn't start and stop with the raising of weapons or the exhibiting of its worst victims. Understandably, we are more easily roused by these extremes, but perhaps a different kind of sensibility is warranted, one that communicates not just the worst of life under war, but the breadth and peculiarity of everyday resilience.

That's why two films in particular stand out, and they're not interested in making monumental statements about history and violence and terror, even though these realities undeniably lurk all around.

First, there is Kateryna Gornostai's tender teen romance, "Stop-Zemlia" (available on major digital platforms), set in Kyiv around 2019. It is a meandering film, much like the three fumbling youngsters at its center — self-described "weirdos" who grapple with their sexuality, pine for aloof crushes, smoke cigarettes, have sleepovers and text anonymous admirers.

Like the others in their class, Masha, Senia and Yana are played by nonprofessional actors whom Gornostai allowed considerable leeway to improvise. At the same time, interviews in talking head style punctuate the drama and forge connections between the performers — actual Ukrainian teenagers — and their roles. Senia, whose family used to live in a violent part of the country, struggles with PTSD, and we see the kids, briefly, in helmets and wielding weapons as they participate in a combat training class. But these are simply threads in a larger web of experience. Though we're able to predict what will come for many of these young adults in a few years, we can't imagine them, given the richness of their inner lives, as only victims.


From left, Stanislav Gladky, Anastasiia Trofymchuk, Myroslava Trofymchuk, Vladyslav Trofymchuk and their mother, Ganna Gladka, are the subjects of "The Earth Is Blue as an Orange."Credit...via Film Movement

And in Iryna Tsilyk's metatextual documentary, "The Earth Is Blue as an Orange" (in select theaters), the war is right outside one family's window, yet they not only endure, they live and create. Tsilyk follows a single mother and her children, the Trofymchuks-Gladkys, who live in an apartment in the tumultuous Donbas region. Constant shelling in the distance provides surreal background noise, though the gang is oddly blasé about their situation. There are certainly moments of grief and terror, but they are matched by pleasures and triumphs: the revelation of a full-ride scholarship for the eldest daughter, a joyous birthday celebration, the smaller kids always zipping around the room.

The family members are also making a film about their lives, which means they are hyper-aware of certain cinematic tropes. "It should be tragic," one child says as she tries to stifle her laughter before delivering an on-camera testimony. In the end, the family project is screened for a small local audience, the camera cutting to each captivated gaze. One wonders if and how the film resonates with these spectators — and what would they have to say for themselves?

May 20, 2022, 3:41 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 3:41 p.m. ET

Jim McKinley

A spokesman for Russia's Defense Ministry says Moscow's forces have taken full control of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces held out for months. The claim that the plant had been "completely liberated," which could not be immediately verified, would signal the end of the most protracted and bloody seige of the war. The official, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, also said that the commander of the Azov regiment had been captured and taken away from the plant in an armored car.

May 20, 2022, 3:27 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 3:27 p.m. ET


Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has made a point of pushing back against isolationist voices in his party, including the "America First" policy championed by former President Donald J. Trump.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — When former President Donald J. Trump came out against the $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine, casting it as a misguided act of charity, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky feared the Republican votes against the bill could pile up.

So Mr. McConnell, the Republican leader, intensified his efforts to tamp down on the anti-interventionist strain in his party and to make the case that it was in the United States' security interest to aid a young democracy standing between Russian aggression and the West.

He made his most forceful appeal during stops last weekend in Ukraine, Sweden and Finland, in a secretly arranged trip that he said was aimed at showing the Europeans that Mr. Trump's "America First" views on military aid and alliances did not hold sway over Senate Republicans.

Mr. McConnell has made a point of pushing back against isolationist voices in his party, including during Mr. Trump's presidency, when the senator broke sharply with him on drawing down troops from Syria and plans to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan.

But the Kentucky Republican also spent four years enabling and protecting Mr. Trump, clearing the way for him to install three conservative justices on the Supreme Court, engineering Mr. Trump's acquittal in his first impeachment trial and indulging his refusal to concede the 2020 election until the last possible moment.

Now that Mr. Trump is gone, Mr. McConnell's drive to rally sustained support in Congress for investing huge sums of American money in Ukraine's war effort has become a kind of proxy fight with the former president over where the party will land on foreign policy.

The Senate leader emerged from a major skirmish on Thursday feeling vindicated: Only 11 Republicans voted to oppose the $40 billion aid measure, even in the face of opposition from right-wing organizations.

Mr. McConnell pointed to that vote as evidence that the isolationist impulse in his party had waned. He even praised Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, with whom he has frequently clashed, for having the "courage" to speak in favor of the bill. But polling has shown that Republicans continue to be drawn to Mr. Trump's "America First" doctrine, and it is an open question whether the energy behind it will subside.

Mr. McConnell spoke to The New York Times after the vote about the strength and staying power of "America First" in his party, why the Senate should quickly ratify Finland's and Sweden's accession to NATO, and the definition of victory in Ukraine.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Why did you decide to make the trip to Europe last weekend?

One was to try to convey to the Europeans that skepticism about NATO itself, expressed by the previous president, was not the view of Republicans in the Senate. And I also was trying to minimize the vote against the package in my own party.

We have sort of an isolationist wing, and I think some of the Trump supporters are sort of linked up with the isolationists — a lot of talk out in the primaries about this sort of thing. And I felt this would help diminish the number of votes against the package. I think that worked out well.

I'd had a private dinner with the president of Finland back in March, right after the invasion, so we'd sort of developed a relationship. So we decided to head up to Stockholm and Helsinki. These are incredibly important admissions to NATO. They both have great militaries. They're both independent of Russian energy. If anybody's ready to be a part of NATO, these two countries are, so it was exciting to be there.

I think the trip helped convince Europeans that Republicans are the way we used to be on NATO.

Did you personally lobby individual senators to try to allay some of their concerns about the aid bill?

I certainly was talking about it for the last two weeks to my own colleagues. I said, No. 1, this is a pittance compared to the $2 trillion the Democrats dumped on the economy last year, producing 40-year-high inflation. If ever there were a reason where for an expenditure of this amount, this is it. And if the Russians succeeded, it would cost us a lot more. So yes, I was arguing for support for the package.

There are not many things we agree with this administration on. And that's been pretty widely on display the last year and a half. I thought they were a little bit slow to get started, a little bit too intimidated by the thought of provoking the Russians, and we did criticize the slowness. However, I think they've stepped up their game. I think they are fully engaged. And I think the administration shares my view that the outcome of this ought to be victory.

What's the definition of victory? I can tell you that [President Volodymyr] Zelensky [of Ukraine] believes victory is getting his country back. All of it.

The Ukrainians are trying to get on offense. And I believe this weapons package is crafted in such a way to give them what they need now, not only to win the ground war, but hopefully to have some impact on getting the Odessa port back open again, because the absence of Ukrainian food is going to resonate throughout the Middle East and Africa as well.

Our intelligence community says they believe that President [Vladimir V.] Putin [of Russia] is counting on American resolve flagging. As the conflict drags on, do you think it's going to be harder to maintain support from Republicans for sending aid to Ukraine?

Well, we'll see how much pain he can sustain. All indications are, they're sustaining significantly more pain than we are. He's counting on us kind of running out of interest and losing steam, not having a staying power — and I think he's wrong about that. And I think he's underestimating the amount of pain he's getting.

You probably can't fool the Russian people, like the mothers of the people who've been killed and maimed. They lost more people in the first two weeks of this war than we lost in Afghanistan plus Iraq in 20 years. We'll see how long he can sustain it.

You've noted that isolationism among Republicans is nothing new. But does what we're currently seeing in some corners of your party feel different or more dangerous to you than what we've seen in the past?

I don't feel it's dangerous. You know, I've been here a long time, and I've watched a lot of campaign rhetoric that seems to disappear once you're sworn in, and you actually are responsible for governing and confronted with the facts and reality. So I have a tendency not to get overexcited about what A or B may be saying in some primary somewhere in America. I think this is one of those issues where, right and wrong — it's pretty clear.

And of course, the best salesman against isolationism in America is President Zelensky. As you heard others say, Winston Churchill in a T-shirt. He's an inspiration, not only to his own people, but to us as well.

For a lot of younger people in America, this is the first time they've ever seen a clear battle between right and wrong. To a lot of people, Afghanistan was murky. Iraq was murky. It just didn't seem like a clear choice. I thought both those wars were necessary, by the way, but it was confusing to people. I don't think anybody's confused about this.

We've seen the bodies, we've seen the destroyed buildings. I don't think anybody's confused about who the bad guys are and who the good guys are, and whether or not America really ought to play that kind of role it has traditionally since World War II: being the leader of the free world in opposition to this kind of authoritarianism.

How important do you think the China factor was in all of this?

Huge. You've got both the prime minister of Japan and the defense minister of Japan saying if you want to push back against the Chinese, the single most important thing to do is beat Putin in Ukraine. That's from the Japanese, whose biggest worry is not Putin but Xi [Jinping, China's leader].

Senator Ted Cruz's vote for the aid bill was interesting. He gave a very long speech explaining why, and one of the reasons was to counter China.

It was an excellent speech, I thought. And since he is among our most conservative members, I thought it was courageous and correct for him to say what he did, to people who follow him carefully. And in fact, I mentioned to him today, I thought it was really excellently crafted and an important message for someone like him to say. He's clearly chosen a different path from another of our members who has presidential aspirations.

You said it was courageous — why?

Well, if you think of the brand of Republicans that you would typically think Senator Cruz would appeal to, this is not what they want to hear. That's why I applied the word "courage" to it, because I think he was educating his supporters rather than mirroring them.

You seem confident that the Senate will ratify adding Sweden and Finland to NATO. Is there any concern about the level of risk that would entail for the United States and our allies, particularly given that Finland has 800 miles of shared border with Russia?

Did you read or hear about what the Finns did to the Russians in 1939? They had a hell of a war. The Soviets tried to take over Finland, and the Finns fought them to a draw.

I don't think the Russians want to mess with the Finns. They've got a great military; they already spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense. Sweden will be up to 2 percent shortly but already has a good military. So I'm not worried about it.

Their concern was, how long will it take for us to ratify? Chuck [Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader] feels the same way I do: We're trying to expedite this process and get this treaty or treaties — however they decide to send it up to us — approved as quickly as possible.

May 20, 2022, 3:02 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 3:02 p.m. ET

PRUDYANKA, Ukraine — Ukrainian troops sat on a bench under the trees cracking jokes. One hopped on a bicycle and cycled off down the empty road. This was the safest part of Prudyanka, a village north of the city of Kharkiv, their commander said.

Ukrainian soldiers are in good spirits in this northeastern region of Ukraine. They were part of a Ukrainian counterattack force that pushed Russian troops back from Kharkiv two weeks ago, putting an end to months of shelling of the city, Ukraine's second-largest.

In the ensuing euphoria over dealing that setback to the Russian forces, there was talk of Ukrainian troops marching on to the Russian border only 25 miles away. But that seems to have been premature, with some Russian troops north of Kharkiv holding on and digging in, becoming much harder to drive back.

While the Russians did withdraw from the immediate outskirts of Kharkiv, they are still close enough to shell the city and heavy fighting continues within earshot of a ring of villages to the east that they recently abandoned, Ukrainian troops and villagers said in interviews.

"We are afraid they will come again," said Olha, 66, who was collecting freshly laid eggs in her village of Vilkhivka, east of Kharkiv, as the bombardment sounded from across the hills. "God help us that it does not happen."

May 20, 2022, 2:36 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 2:36 p.m. ET

Jim McKinley

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the BBC on Friday that her alarm over looming food shortages around the world being caused by Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports had reached "level 10." "This crisis has exacerbated what is already a serious food insecurity issue," she said. Her comments echoed those of the U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, who said at a U.N. Security Council meeting this week that the world's food supply "has quite literally been held hostage by the Russian military."

May 20, 2022, 2:01 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 2:01 p.m. ET


Daniil Medvedev of Russia during a fourth-round match at Wimbledon last summer. Russian and Belarusian players are barred from this year's event.Credit...Adrian Dennis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

PARIS — The men's and women's tennis tours responded to Wimbledon's ban on Russian and Belarusian players on Friday by stripping the event of ranking points this year, the most significant rebuke to date of efforts by global sports organizations to ostracize individual Russian athletes as punishment for their country's invasion of Ukraine.

It is a move without precedent in tennis, and without the points, Wimbledon, the oldest of the four Grand Slam tournaments, will technically be an exhibition event, bringing no ranking boost to those who excel on its pristine lawns this year.

"The ability for players of any nationality to enter tournaments based on merit, and without discrimination is fundamental to our Tour," the ATP said in a statement, saying that the ban undermined its ranking system.

The International Tennis Federation, a governing body that operates separately from the tours, also announced it would remove ranking points from the junior and wheelchair events at Wimbledon this year.

Though Wimbledon, for now, is the only one of the four major tournaments to ban Russians and Belarusians, the power play by the tours could lead to countermeasures, including the possibility of Grand Slam events considering an alternative ranking system or aligning to make more decisions independently of the tours.

Organizers of Wimbledon, a grass-court tournament and British cultural institution that begins on June 27, announced the ban on Russian and Belarusian players last month in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which was undertaken with the support of Belarus. Other British grass-court tournaments that are staged in June, including the Wimbledon prep events at Eastbourne and at Queen's Club in London, have announced similar bans.

So have sports as diverse as soccer, auto racing, track and field and ice hockey. Russia has been stripped of the hosting rights to events and has seen its teams ejected from major competitions like soccer's World Cup. But only a few sports, notably figure skating and track and field, have barred individual athletes from Russia and Belarus from competing.

Both tours condemned the invasion of Ukraine but argued that individual athletes should not be prevented from competing, in the words of WTA chief executive Steve Simon, "solely because of their nationalities or the decisions made by the governments of their countries."

But Sergiy Stakohvsky, a recently retired Ukrainian men's player now in the Ukrainian military, expressed bitterness at the decision, calling it a "shameful day in tennis" in a post on Twitter.

Standing by its ban, Wimbledon expressed "deep disappointment" and said stripping points was "disproportionate" in light of the pressure it was under from the British government.

The ATP's and WTA's move was made after extensive internal debate and despite considerable pushback from players. A sizable group of men's and women's players was gathering support for a petition in favor of retaining Wimbledon's points before the tours made their announcements. But removing the points is expected to have little effect on the tournament's bottom line.

The world's top players who are not from Russia and Belarus are still expected to participate. Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 men's player from Serbia and a six-time Wimbledon champion, made it clear on Sunday after winning the Italian Open in Rome that he would not support skipping the event in protest even if he remained against the decision to bar the Russian and Belarusian players.

"A boycott is a very aggressive thing," Djokovic said. "There are much better solutions."

This year's Wimbledon champions will still play in front of big crowds, lift the same trophies hoisted by their predecessors and have their names inscribed on the honor roll posted inside the clubhouse of the All England Club. They will be considered Grand Slam champions although it remains unclear whether Wimbledon will maintain prize money at its usual levels.

Stripping points will have consequences on the sport's pecking order. Daniil Medvedev, a Russian ranked No. 2, is now in excellent position to displace No. 1 Novak Djokovic after Wimbledon because Djokovic's 2,000 points for winning Wimbledon last year will come off his total without being replaced. Medvedev, who reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon last year, will only lose 180 points.

The leadership of the ATP, including its player council, which includes stars like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, ultimately decided that it was important to dissuade tournaments from barring players — now or in the future — based on political concerns.

"How do you draw the line of when you ban players and when you don't?" Yevgeny Kafelnikov, a Russian and a former No. 1 singles player, said in a telephone interview from Moscow.

Unlike Wimbledon, the lead-in events in Britain have retained their ranking points despite being formally part of the tours. Wimbledon, as a Grand Slam event, operates independently but does have agreements with the tours on many levels. But the ATP and WTA chose not to strip points from the British lead-in events because other European tournaments were still open to Russian and Belarusian players during those three weeks of the season. The WTA did announce that it was putting the British tour events in Nottingham, Birmingham and Eastbourne on probation because of the ban.

There was also concern that without ranking points on offer, players would choose to withdraw from the British grass-court tournaments. Wimbledon, with its huge prize money and prestige, is unlikely to experience such withdrawals even without points, but there could still be some attrition.

Wimbledon opted for a ban after rejecting the British government's suggestion that Russian and Belarusian players provide "written declarations" that they were not representing their countries; that they were not receiving state funding or sponsorship from companies with strong links to the Russian state; and that they had not and would not express support for the invasion of Ukraine or their countries' leadership.

A few Russian men's players had expressed willingness to Wimbledon to sign such a declaration and even donate their prize money to Ukrainian causes, but that was only a small number of the players concerned and Wimbledon was still worried that signing such a declaration could put players or their families at risk . It also expressed concern that Russian players taking part in Wimbledon might "benefit the propaganda machine of the Russian regime."

However, some Russian and Belarusian nationals could still receive accreditation at Wimbledon this year as player guests or members of player support teams if they sign a declaration and meet other criteria such as not having a high media profile that could be used for propaganda purposes.

For now, Wimbledon and the British grass-court events remain outliers. No other tour event has followed their lead. Russian and Belarusian players, including tMedvedev and the women's No. 7, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, are set to take part in the French Open, the next Grand Slam tournament on the schedule, when it starts on Sunday. The United States Tennis Association, which runs the U.S. Open that will be played after Wimbledon, called for the tours to reconsider and reinstate Wimbledon's points but has made no move on banning Russians and Belarusians, whose citizens, it should be noted, continue to play for clubs in the National Hockey League.

After the war in Ukraine began in February, professional tennis moved quickly to bar Russia and Belarus from team events such as the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup, both of which were won by Russia in 2021. The tours and the International Tennis Federation also canceled tournaments scheduled to be played in Russia and Belarus later this year, including the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The I.T.F. suspended the countries' tennis federations from its membership as well.

But Russian and Belarusian players were allowed to keep competing on tour as individuals, albeit without any national identification. There are no flags or countries listed next to their names on scoreboards, in draws or in the tour's official computer rankings.

No Russian or Belarusian player has indicated publicly that they intend to take legal measures against Wimbledon to seek entry into the tournament. Medvedev made it clear that he would not even though he agreed that there might be room for such an appeal.

"I'm not going to go to court for this one," Medvedev said.

But legal action by other players cannot be ruled out even if Wimbledon officials carefully studied the legal options before announcing the ban.

May 20, 2022, 1:51 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 1:51 p.m. ET

Cassandra Vinograd

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said a missile strike on a cultural center in the northeast Kharkiv region has wounded seven people, including an 11-year-old. "The occupiers have chosen as their enemies culture, education, and humanity," he said in a Telegram post, with a video purportedly of the strike in the city of Lozova. "What's going on in the minds of people who chose such targets? Absolute evil, absolute idiocy."

May 20, 2022, 1:30 p.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 1:30 p.m. ET

Diego Ibarra Sanchez

Reporting from Lviv

Oksana, 70, worked at a center for volunteers on the outskirts of Lviv in western Ukraine on Friday. Aid donations and volunteers have declined significantly since she started supporting the center in early March. "I just can't sit at home," she said. "I need to do something, just need to do something good."


Credit...Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times


Credit...Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

May 20, 2022, 11:56 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 11:56 a.m. ET


The Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol this week.Credit...Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

The head of the Azov battalion issued a video statement on Friday urging proper burials for the fighters who died at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a move that came amid questions about the fate of hundreds who have surrendered to Russia and how many still remain at the sprawling facility.

Denis Prokopenko, the leader of Azov, noted that the military's supreme command had ordered the battalion, a unit of the National Guard, to preserve the lives and health of servicemen and "to stop the defense of the city."

On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that nearly 2,000 Azovstal fighters, with the Azov battalion making up their core, had surrendered, but that could not be independently verified. It was not clear how many fighters remain holed up at the plant.

Questions have swirled about the whereabouts of Mr. Prokopenko and other commanders. It was not possible to tell where he was speaking or when the video was filmed, but it came a day after the battalion's deputy commander released a video in which he said that commanders remained on the territory of the plant. That contradicted reports that some may have surrendered.

Capt. Svyatoslav Palamar sent the video to news outlets, including to a reporter with The New York Times. In a separate message on WhatsApp, he said that he could not disclose how many fighters remained on the territory of the plant. It was impossible to independently verify information about any fighters who remained.

In the video released Friday, the commander, Mr. Prokopenko, said that the Azov regiment suffered from "lack of supplies while waging tough battles and being surrounded from all sides," he said.

"The civilians were evacuated, the severely wounded received necessary assistance and have been evacuated with their eventual exchange and transfer to Ukrainian territory," he said in the statement. "As far as dead heroes, the process is ongoing. I hope soon their relatives and the whole of Ukraine could bury them with honor."

Ukrainian officials, as well as fighters at the plant, have declined to disclose details about negotiations with Russian forces over the surrender and departure of troops from Azovstal. The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday that it had registered hundreds of prisoners of war, including wounded combatants, who had left the plant.

The Red Cross said that it was not involved with transporting the fighters but that registration, which started Tuesday, allowed the organization to "track those who have been captured and help them keep in touch with their families." It added that "it must have immediate access to all P.O.W.s in all places where they are held."

The Kremlin's media outlets have been citing the Azov Battalion's links with far-right movements as proof of their false claim that the entirety of Ukraine has been infected with Nazism. The claim was used by President Vladimir V. Putin as one of the prime justifications for his decision to invade Ukraine. The Russian Supreme Court has said it would hold a hearing next week on whether to declare the group a terrorist organization.

Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Valerie Hopkins contributed reporting.

May 20, 2022, 10:42 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 10:42 a.m. ET

Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Reporting from Krakow, Poland

Russian forces fired artillery on Friday at a school in Sievierodonetsk, in the Luhansk region, where more than 200 people were sheltering, a regional military official said. Three people died in the attack, the official said. A battle has raged for weeks around the city in east Ukraine and officials said earlier on Friday that 12 civilians had been killed over the past day.

May 20, 2022, 10:11 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 10:11 a.m. ET


A Gasum plant in Imatra, Finland, this month.Credit...Vesa Moilanen/Lehtikuva, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Russia will cut natural gas supplies to Finland on Saturday, according to Finland's state energy provider, the latest salvo in a growing confrontation between the two countries over the war in Ukraine.

Finland this week applied to join NATO, reversing a longstanding policy of military neutrality and angering Russia, which sees the eastward expansion of the alliance as a threat to its national security. Moscow had previously threatened "retaliation" if Finland joined NATO. The two countries share an 830-mile border.

The ostensible reason for the halt in Russian gas exports, though, was a dispute over payments that had been rumbling for weeks.

Gasum, the Finnish energy provider, said on Friday that Russia was suspending the supply of natural gas to Finland starting at 7 a.m. the next morning because the country had failed to comply with Moscow's demand to make payments in rubles. The move comes just days after Moscow also suspended electricity exports to Finland, citing payment issues.

"It is very unfortunate that the supply of natural gas under our supply contract will now run out," the chief executive of Gasum, Mika Wiljanen, said in a statement on Friday. "However, we have prepared carefully for this situation and if there are no disruptions in the gas transmission network, we will be able to supply gas to all our customers in the coming months."

A spokeswoman for Gasum, Olga Väisänen, said Russia's state energy company, Gazprom Export, had said in April that it required payment in rubles instead of euros.

Following negotiations, Gasum this week decided to take the matter to arbitration in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, under the terms of its contract, Ms. Väisänen said, and the deadline for the ruble payment was on Friday.

"Of course, it is very difficult to say what is in the back of the decision, but the timing is linked to the ruble payments," she added.

Gasum supplies about 60 percent of Finland's domestic market and gets all of its supplies from Russia. Ms. Väisänen said that during the next few summer months, when demand is lower, Gasum will be able to source adequate supply from Estonia using the Balticconnector pipeline and, after that, it will turn to other sources to meet demand.

Gas exports are vital to Russia's economy. They also give Moscow a potent diplomatic tool: in April, Russia halted natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, two NATO countries dependent on the Russian energy who have strongly opposed the war in Ukraine. Poland and Bulgaria had also balked at making payments in rubles.

May 20, 2022, 9:48 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 9:48 a.m. ET

Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Reporting from Krakow, Poland

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday demanded full access to people who have become prisoners of war and civilian internees as a result of the war in Ukraine to provide families with answers about their loved ones. The Red Cross said that it was visiting prisoners on all sides of the war in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

May 20, 2022, 8:55 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 8:55 a.m. ET

ROME — The Italian authorities said on Friday that they were investigating a claim of responsibility by pro-Russia hackers as part of a broad attack on the websites of several Italian institutions and government agencies.

The attack, which began Thursday evening, was claimed by a hacker cooperative called "Killnet" and its affiliate "Legion." The police said they believed the claim was legitimate and was significant in the cases of two crashed sites: the Italian foreign ministry's and the national magistrates association's.

The foreign ministry's website was still not working at 1 p.m. local time on Friday. The authorities said that other attacks were less worrisome and that they had thwarted another attempted attack last week, by the same cooperative, targeting the Eurovision Song Contest. The contest, which took place in Turin, was won by the Kalush Orchestra, a folk rap group from Ukraine.

The police said Telegram channels used to plot and claim responsibility for the attacks were the same in both cases.

Tensions have increased between Russia and Italy after years of warm relations. In 2018, the formation of a Russia-friendly government made Italy a chief target for Moscow's attempts to divide and weaken the European Union and its sanctions regimes against Russia.

But under Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who came to power in early 2021, Italy has toughened its position amid Russian aggression in Ukraine and vigorously backed sanctions against President Vladimir V. Putin and his inner circle. The Italian government has impounded villas and yachts owned by Russians on the sanctions list.

Mr. Draghi last week met with President Biden in Washington, and he told the Italian Parliament on Thursday that the White House shared the desire of Italy and the European Union to seek a cease-fire as soon as possible.

"But Ukraine will decide what peace to accept, no one else," Mr. Draghi said.

May 20, 2022, 8:42 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 8:42 a.m. ET


Some of the Group of 7 leaders during a NATO summit in Brussels in March. Finance ministers from these countries also discussed ways to keep pressure on Russia while minimizing the blowback to their own economies.Credit...Pool photo by Doug Mills

KÖNIGSWINTER, Germany — The Group of 7 economic powers agreed on Friday to provide nearly $20 billion to support Ukraine's economy over the coming months to help keep the country's government running while it fights to repel a Russian invasion.

In a joint statement after two days of meetings, finance ministers from the Group of 7 affirmed their commitment to help Ukraine with a mix of grants and loans. Ukraine needs approximately $5 billion per month to maintain basic government services, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The $19.8 billion of financing was agreed on after the United States, which is contributing more than $9 billion in short-term financing, pressed its allies to do more to help secure Ukraine's future. The statement did not break down how much the other Group of 7 nations will contribute.

The European Commission, however, previously agreed to provide up to 9 billion euros of financial assistance. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation plan to provide an additional $3.4 billion to Ukrainian state-owned enterprises and the private sector.

"We will continue to stand by Ukraine throughout this war and beyond and are prepared to do more as needed," the statement said.

The economic policymakers also acknowledged that more fallout from the war lies ahead, and they pledged on Friday to keep markets open as they combat rising food and energy prices around the world. They also said that their central banks would be closely monitoring inflation measures and the impact that rising prices are having on their economies.

"We are very concerned about crises and macroeconomic developments," Christian Lindner, Germany's finance minister, said during a closing news conference on Friday, according to an English translation.

The two-day summit on the outskirts of Bonn came at a pivotal time for the world economy, with concern mounting that a combination of war, supply chain problems and the lingering effects of the pandemic could lead to a contraction in global output. Finance ministers discussed ways to keep pressure on Russia while minimizing the damage to their economies as they debated the merits of a European embargo on Russian oil and whether seized Russian assets could be used to pay for Ukraine's reconstruction.

"The values of the international community have been totally discarded by Russia," Mr. Lindner said.

Officials from the world's leading advanced economies discussed other areas for possible collaboration, such as combating climate change and making progress on a global tax agreement that was reached last year but faces implementation problems.

But the complicated mix of foreign policy challenges and economic headwinds dominated the meetings.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned this week that Europe could be vulnerable to a recession because of its exposure to Russian energy. She does not expect a recession in the United States but said on Thursday that a "soft landing" was not guaranteed as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to tame inflation.

"I think it's conceivable there could be a soft landing, that requires both skill and luck," Ms. Yellen told reporters on the sidelines of the Group of 7 summit. "It's a very difficult economic situation."

May 20, 2022, 8:13 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 8:13 a.m. ET


A destroyed Russian armored vehicle in the previously occupied village of Malaya Rohan outside the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Tuesday.Credit...Finbarr O'Reilly for The New York Times

Russia's military is under pressure after a series of bruising battles left its forces exhausted, and it may not have adequate time to re-equip and refurbish them for its push in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, analysts say.

In particular, a lack of reserve manpower is forcing Russian commanders to consolidate depleted battalion tactical groups, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

The Institute quoted an anonymous U.S. defense official as saying that Russian forces have had to disband and combine some of their battalion tactical groups in Ukraine to compensate for casualties and other losses.

At the same time, the Institute said that some Russian troops who were withdrawn from around Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, in the northeast of the country, have been redeployed toward the Donetsk region in Donbas.

And units that fought in the southern port city of Mariupol can now be sent elsewhere after the surrender of Ukrainian fighters defending a large steel plant effectively subdued the city.

Those forces need to be re-equipped and refurbished before they can be redeployed but Russian commanders are under pressure to demonstrate tangible success, according to a British intelligence report.

"Russia will probably redistribute these forces without adequate preparation, which risks further attrition," the report, from Britain's defense intelligence agency, said.

Refurbishing units after combat and giving them a break before they are redeployed is necessary in wars, said Ben Barry, an expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Mr. Barry described combat as akin to a "dangerous, contact sport" and said that, in effect, a team needed to regroup between each encounter.

May 20, 2022, 7:53 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 7:53 a.m. ET

Safak Timur

Reporting from Istanbul

Turkey will keep talking to European leaders, but it still objects to Finland's and Sweden's NATO bids, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday after a phone call with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands. Erdogan also repeated his concerns to reporters about the two Nordic countries' support for groups that Turkey considers terrorists.

He will talk to Britain and Finland on Saturday, Erdogan said, as well as with NATO's general secretary, Jens Stoltenberg. He did not mention whom he would talk to in Finland and Britain.

May 20, 2022, 7:48 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 7:48 a.m. ET


Gerhard Schröder at his home in Hanover, Germany, last month.Credit...Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

Gerhard Schröder, the former chancellor of Germany and personal friend of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, is stepping down as chair of the board of the state-controlled Russian oil giant Rosneft, the company announced Friday, according to the Interfax news agency.

The announcement came a day after Germany's parliamentary budget committee voted to strip the former leader of more than 400,000 euros worth of privileges after he refused to distance himself from Mr. Putin and relinquish his links to Russian energy companies even as Russia is waging a brutal war in Ukraine.

Mr. Schröder had presided over the Rosneft board since 2017, being paid $600,000 a year. He remains chairman of the shareholder committee of Nord Stream, the company that operates a gas pipeline directly connecting Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, reportedly being paid about $270,000 a year.

He also served as head of the supervisory board of Nord Stream 2, which built a second pipeline, until it was shuttered before the war.

Gazprom, which owns 51 percent of Nord Stream and all of Nord Stream 2, had announced three weeks before Russia launched its attack on Ukraine that Mr. Schröder would join its board, too.

May 20, 2022, 7:38 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 7:38 a.m. ET

Katrin Bennhold

Reporting from Berlin

Gerhard Schröder, the former chancellor of Germany and personal friend of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, is stepping down as chair of the board of the state-controlled Russian oil giant Rosneft, the company announced Friday, according to the Interfax news service.

May 20, 2022, 7:27 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 7:27 a.m. ET

Cassandra Vinograd

Russia will cut natural gas supplies to Finland on Saturday, according to Finland's state energy provider. The company, Gasum, called the move from Gazprom "highly regrettable," saying in a statement that it would supply customers through other sources and that it did not expect disruptions. The move comes a week after Russia suspended electricity exports to Finland in apparent retaliation for Helsinki's decision to pursue NATO membership.

May 20, 2022, 6:59 a.m. ET

May 20, 2022, 6:59 a.m. ET

Russia will cut natural gas supplies to Finland on Saturday, according to Finland's state energy provider, underscoring the geopolitical fallout as Russia's invasion of Ukraine spurs one of the most radical redrawings of Europe's security order in decades.

Russia said Friday that it was suspending gas shipments because Finland had failed to make payments in rubles. But the Kremlin has used Russia's energy supply as a political weapon in the past, and Russian officials have expressed dismay over moves by Finland and Sweden to join NATO. Last weekend, Moscow suspended electricity exports to Finland as that country's aims to join the military alliance became clear.

The political repercussions of the war also spread as the state-controlled Russian oil giant Rosneft announced Friday that Gerhard Schröder, the former chancellor of Germany, would be stepping down as chairman, according to the Interfax news agency.

Mr. Schröder is a friend of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and has been criticized for maintaining the relationship even as Russia wages its brutal war. Germany's parliamentary budget committee voted Thursday to strip the former leader of more than 400,000 euros worth of privileges after he refused to distance himself from Mr. Putin and relinquish his links to Russian energy companies.

Under pressure to score battlefield victories and shore up its forces for an intensifying battle in the east, Russia moved Friday toward eliminating age limits for military service — an apparent effort to expand the pool of potential recruits. Mr. Putin has resisted ordering a large-scale military draft, apparently fearing domestic backlash.

In other developments:

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