In July, the Eastern Finnish city of Imatra began playing the Ukrainian national anthem at a prominent tourist site every evening, to protest the Russian invasion.
Imatra is home to the Imatrankoski rapids, one of the Nordic country’s most well-known natural attractions that is popular especially with Russian tourists, who are now greeted with Ukraine’s anthem when they visit the beauty spot, AFP reports.
Finland, which shares 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) eastern border with Russia and for the time being remains Russia’s only EU neighbour without restrictions on tourist visas to Russian citizens, is preparing to limit tourist visas for Russians soon.
In the nearby city of Lappeenranta, the Ukrainian national anthem is also played every evening above its city hall, overlooking shopping centres popular with Russian tourists.
“The aim is to express strong support for Ukraine and to condemn the war of aggression,” Lappeenranta’s mayor Kimmo Jarva told AFP.
Many Russians visit Lappeenranta to shop for clothes and cosmetics, for example, and Russian number plates can be seen on numerous cars.
But tourism from its eastern neighbour has caused discontent in Finland due to the war in Ukraine, with a recent poll showing that 58% of Finns are in favour of restricting Russian tourist visas.
As flights from Russia to the EU have been halted, Finland has become a transit country for many Russians seeking to travel further into Europe.
“Many saw this as a circumvention of the sanctions regime,” Finland’s foreign minister Pekka Haavisto told AFP.
Although the Schengen regime and Finnish law do not allow for an outright ban on visas based on nationality, Finland can reduce visa numbers issued based on category, Haavisto noted.
“[The] tourism category can be restricted in terms of how many visas can be applied for in a day,” Haavisto said, adding he believed the final decision to adopt the plan could be taken by the end of the month.
In late June, Russian president Vladimir Putin issued fresh warnings that Russia would respond in kind if Nato set up military infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after they joined the US-led alliance.
The UK ministry of defence says in its latest update that Russia has probably prioritised reorganising its forces over the past week to reinforce southern Ukraine, but that in the Donbas region in the east, Russian-backed forces have continued to attempt attacks on the north of Donetsk city.
Hungary says Russia has started delivering additional gas to the country following a July visit to Moscow by its foreign minister.
Hungary’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that trade negotiations with Moscow “led to an agreement”, resulting in Russia’s Gazprom starting to deliver “above the already contracted quantities” on Friday to the European Union member, Agence France-Press reported.
Ministry official Tamas Menczer said on his Facebook page:
It is the duty of the Hungarian government to ensure the country’s safe supply of natural gas, and we are living up to it.
In the first phase, an additional volume of 2.6m cubic meters a day would arrive from the south through the TurkStream pipeline until the end of August, Menczer said, adding that negotiations were under way for September deliveries.
As Ukraine and Russia have continued to accuse each other of striking the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, it had been shelled repeatedly over the past week.
Ukraine’s nuclear agency, Energoatom, said on Saturday as it shared a message from a local chief in Energodar city in southern Ukraine, where the plant is located:
Limit your presence on the streets of Energodar! We have received information about new provocations by the [Russian] occupiers.
Agence France-Presse also reported the message on Telegram as saying:
According to residents, there is new shelling in the direction of the nuclear plant … the time between the start and arrival of the shelling is 3-5 seconds.
But pro-Moscow officials in the occupied areas in Zaporizhzhia region blamed Ukrainian forces for the shelling.
Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Moscow-installed administration, said:
Energodar and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant are again under fire by [Ukrainian president Volodymyr] Zelenskiy’s militants.
The missiles fell “in the areas located on the banks of the Dnipro river and in the plant”, Rogov said, without reporting any casualties or damage.
Ukraine said the first strikes on 5 August damaged a power cable and forced one of the reactors to stop working. Then strikes on Thursday damaged a pumping station and radiation sensors.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s ongoing coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war. These are the latest developments at it approaches 9.30am in Kyiv on this Sunday 14 August 2022.
Ukraine says it will target Russian soldiers who shoot at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant or use it as a base to shoot from, as both sides again accused the other of shelling the facility. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday that Russian soldiers who shot at the plant or used it as cover would become a “special target”, Reuters reported. He repeated accusations that Moscow was using the plant – Europe’s largest – as nuclear blackmail. The exiled mayor of the town where the plant is located in south-eastern Ukraine said it had come under fresh shelling.
An explosion was heard in the north-eastern part of Melitopol, the mayor of the city, Ivan Fedorov, Melitopol, posted on Telegram. “We’re waiting for good news about Russian losses,” he added. The city, which is east of the Dnipro river and north-east of the Crimean peninsula, has been occupied since March.
The two primary road bridges giving access to the pocket of Russian-occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnipro in Ukraine’s Kherson region are now probably out of use for the purposes of substantial Russian military resupply, British military intelligence said on Saturday, which the UK’s defence ministry has described as a key vulnerability.
The number of fatalities after a Russian missile strike on Kramatorsk, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, has grown to three, the Kyiv Post reports. It cites a report by Ukrinform giving the Kramatorsk mayor, Oleksandr Honcharenko, as the source.
The US has said it is concerned by reports of British, Swedish and Croatian nationals being charged by “illegitimate authorities” in eastern Ukraine. “Russia and its proxies have an obligation to respect international humanitarian law, including the right and protections afforded to prisoners of war,” the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said.
Russia has warned the US that potentially placing Russia on the US State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism could be a diplomatic “point of no return”, and trigger a total breakdown of relations between the two countries.
The Ukrainian military has reportedly shot down a Russian fighter jet, as well as four Russian drones, over the past day, according to Ukrainian media.
Two Russian missiles hit Kharkiv overnight on Saturday, the region’s governor, Oleh Synehubov, said on national television. He said there were no casualties but one missile damaged a technical college while the other landed in a residential area, Reuters reported.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Saturday the war could only end with the return of the Crimea peninsula and the punishment of the Russian leaders who ordered the military invasion.
Russian forces have taken full control of Pisky, a village on the outskirts in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Interfax cited the Russian defence ministry as saying on Saturday. Ukraine’s military command said later that “fierce fighting” continued in the village.
Ukraine’s health minister has accused Russian authorities of committing a crime against humanity by blocking access to affordable medicines and hospitals in occupied areas.
The Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, has again complained that the lack of comprehensive Schengen zone travel restrictions for Russians puts an “unfair” burden on countries neighbouring Russia, reiterating calls on the European Union to introduce visa bans for Russian nationals.