A Ukraine soldier on the front near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in the east of the country (CNN)

Friday’s Coverage: Russian Defense Ministry — Prigozhin is Lying About Bakhmut Defeat

Map: Institute for the Study of War


Russian outlets report that five of Moscow’s warplanes and helicopters have crashed in the past two days.

According Kommersant, a Su-34 fighter-bomber, a Su-35 fighter, and two Mi-8 helicopters were downed in the Bryansk region near the Ukraine border on Saturday. The “raiding party” had been “shot down almost simultaneously” in a Ukrainian ambush.

The newspaper said the fighter jet were supposed to attack targets in the Chernihiv region in northeast Ukraine. The helicopters were to pick up the crews of the fighter jets if they were shot down.

On Friday, two pilots were killed when their Mi-28 military helicopter crashed in Russian-occupied Crimea.


Ukraine President Vladimir Zelensky has posted about his meeting with the Pope at the Vatican.


Facing widespread criticism, French spirits company Pernod Ricard has announced its complete withdrawal from the Russian market.

Pernod Ricard said in a statement that since April it has not supplied any products to Russia. Supplies already in the country will be sold out “within a few months”.

Soon after the start of Vladimir Putin’s invasion, Pernod Ricard said it was halting supply of its products. But in April, it was revealed that deliveries of the company’s Absolut Vodka had resumed. Following protests in Sweden, Pernod Ricard said it was halting any deliveries.

The company also owns Martell cognac; Chivas Regal, Jameson and Ballantineʼs whiskeys; Beefeater gin; and Olmeca tequila.

A spokesman said the departure from Russia will lay off about 300 employees. Pernod Ricard will “maintain a small presence” Russia so it can return to the Russian market “when circumstances change”.


Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says he has spoken with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about American supply of F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv.

So far Washington has resisted any commitment, leaving Poland and Slovakia to provide Soviet-made MiG-29s to Ukraine.


Two US officials say Russia tried to destroy a US-made Patriot air defense system in Ukraine last week with a hypersonic Kh-47 Khinzal missile.

The Ukrainian military used the Patriot to intercept the missile, the officials said, in the first successful use of the US system since it was delivered weeks earlier.

The American sources noted that the Ukrainian defenders fired multiple missiles from the Patriot at different angles, showing how quickly they have acquired capability in using the advanced system.


The Ukraine military says it downed 17 of 21 Iranian-made attack drones launched by Russia overnight.

Officials in Kyiv said all drones over the capital were downed.

However, 21 people were injured in the Khmelnytskyi region in western Ukraine.


Neutral for more than 200 years, Switzerland is on the verge of providing military aid to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

The Swiss Parliament has voted for amendments allowing Swiss-made weapons to be delivered. The final decision will be made in a referendum.


Germany is set to provide its largest package of military aid to Ukraine during Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Der Spiegel reports that the €2.7bn (£2.4bn) package includes 20 Marder infantry fighting vehicles, 30 Leopard 1 tanks, 15 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks, 200 reconnaissance drones, four IRIS-T anti-aircraft systems, artillery ammunition, and more than 200 armored combat and logistics vehicles.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said, “We all wish for a speedy end to this terrible and illegal war….Unfortunately, this is not yet foreseeable. Therefore, Germany will provide any help it can – as long as it takes.”


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has arrived in Italy for separate meetings with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, President Sergio Mattarella, and Pope Francis.

The trip is Zelenskiy’s first to the country during Vladimir Putin’s invasion. He will then head to Germany.


UK military intelligence reinforces the description of a chaotic Russian retreat near Bakhmut.

The analysts assess that since Tuesday, elements of the 72nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade — the unit which the Wagner Group’s Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Tueday had been “routed” — “likely withdrew in bad order” to the south of Bakhmut.

The area has “tactical significance” because it was a Russian bridgehead on the western side of the Donets-Donbas Canal.

THe analysts add that the deployment of the 72nd Brigade, “dogged with allegations of poor morale and limited combat effectiveness”, highlights “Russia’s severe shortage of credible combat units”.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia’s retreat in its year-long assault on Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine has been confirmed — including by the Russian Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry began Friday with the insistence that Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose mercenaries have led the assault on the city since November, was lying when he said that a Ukrainian counter-attack had advanced 2.6 km (1.6 km) near Bakhmut and that a Russian brigade had been decimated.

Statements circulated by individual Telegram channels about [Ukraine] “defense breakthroughs” that took place in different areas along the line of military contact do not correspond to reality.

The Ministry maintained that the situation was “under control”.

But by Friday afternoon, Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said some Russian forces had fallen back “to more advantageous defensive positions” near the Berkhivka reservoir northwest of the city.

Prigozhin snapped that the Ministry was still being deceptive: “Comrade Konashenkov lied: there was no tactical retreat. There was simply a flight.”

Geolocated footage confirmed that the Ukrainians have advanced both to the north and south of Bakhmut since Tuesday. Russian forces fled from artillery fire in the area between Bohdanivka and Berkhivka — including from the southern bank of the Berkhivka Reservoir — and a Russian military blogger said a brigade had lost positions between Hryhorivka and Dubovo-Vasylivka, about 6 km (3.7 miles) northwest of Bakhmut.

Prigozhin said the Ukrainians have regained some positions with 500 meters of Bakhmut’s northwest city limits. He warned that they are trying to surround his mercenaries, who hold more than 80% of the city center.

Russian milbloggers also reported Ukrainian counter-attacks to the west and southwest of Bakhmut.

Despite the advance, Ukrainian officials reinforced President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s general statement that their anticipated counter-offensive has not yet begun.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said the focus is still on “defensive operations”, which sometimes include counter-attacks. Beyond Bakhmut, A senior US military official and a senior Western official said Ukrainian forces have started “shaping” operations, with strikes on Russian oil and ammunition depots, supply lines, and logistical positions.