Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner Group mercenaries, with Vladimir Putin at a banquet outside Moscow in 2011
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1848 GMT:
The Belgian Government is transferring €92 million ($101m), received in taxes on frozen Russian assets, to Ukraine.
Half of the funds will be used for military goods such as armored vehicles, weapons, and munitions, and the other half is earmarked for humanitarian support, reconstruction, and Belgium’s diplomatic presence in Ukraine.
UPDATE 1706 GMT:
Russia’s Defense Ministry has admitted that its forces retreated near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
Implicitly acknowledging the statement of Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin about Ukraine’s advance, the ministry said some Russian forces fell back “to more advantageous defensive positions” near a reservoir northwest of the city.
But Prigozhin was unsatisfied, berated the ministry’s spokesperson: “Comrade Konashenkov lied: there was no tactical retreat. There was simply a flight.”
UPDATE 1501 GMT:
Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin has fired another volley at the Russian Defense Ministry over the situation in and near the frontline city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
Prigozhin, responding to the Ministry’s statement that he was lying about the decimation of a Russian brigade in a Ukrainian counter-attack and advance, repeated that this was a “rout” in which troops had fled.
He said Ukraine had regained control of a crucial supply road linking Bakhmut with the town of Chasiv Yar to the west, and had seized useful higher ground.
Prigozhin said if more ground was lost, Ukrainian forces could gradually encircle Bakhmut, where the Wagner Group had claimed more than 80% of the city center.
UPDATE 0809 GMT:
The European Union’s 27 countries have unanimously supported the tightening of sanctions against Russia’s “shadow fleet” for oil transportation, say “three people familiar with the matter”.The restrictions will be part of the EU’s 11th sanctions package over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ships who secretly transport Russian oil will be banned from entering European ports, and will be fined for turning off transponders.
Russia reports exports one in three barrels, or more than 1 million barrels a day, via tankers that turn off transponders or fail to pass on information about their destination port.
Russia has increased oil exports, thanks in large part to purchasers in China and India, with more than 4 million barrels per day in April. However, Russian revenues are down by an estimated 40% because of global price caps adopted in December.
At the end of April, the US punished Gatik Ship Management, the largest carrier of Russian oil to India, with its $1.5 billion fleet of 48 tankers with a total capacity of more than 30 million barrels.
Gatik has lost international insurance because of its violation of the price cap of $60 per barrel for crude oil.
UPDATE 0757 GMT:
The Russian Foreign Ministry has blasted “allies” Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan for permitting the publication of an article by Ukraine Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak.
Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a statement:
The fact that our allies are providing platforms for a high-ranking representative of the Nazi authorities in Ukraine to distort the essence of our relations is certainly baffling.
We know that the collective west, not hiding its intentions to inflict damage on Russia, would use anyone including the post-Soviet countries – not actually considering them valuable partners, but springboards for attacks on our country….
We respect the freedom of the press. However, it is our belief that the information landscape in countries friendly to us cannot be a platform for broadcasting intentionally false and provocative fabrications.
UPDATE 0745 GMT:
One civilian has been killed and four injured in the latest Russian strikes across the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.
Russia carried out 80 attacks on Thursday, firing 339 projectiles from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, tanks, drones, and warplanes.
A school, a hospital, and two “critical infrastructure enterprises” were hit.
In the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, at least one person was killed in the city of Slovyansk by Russian shelling. Twelve others were injured.
UPDATE 0730 GMT:
Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov has welcomed the UK’s breakthrough announcement that it will supply long-range Storm Shadow missiles to Kyiv.
The weather forecast is predicting a cyclone moving from the UK towards Ukraine, bringing with it Storms.
It is through the Shadow of the Storm that the sunshine of our liberty will break through and shed light on our Victory.
— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) May 11, 2023
The UK is the first country to commit to the supply of long-range missiles. The Storm Shadow has a range of up to 250 km (155 miles).
Since last summer, the US, UK, and other governments had rebuffed Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s request for long-range capability, concerned that the missiles would be used on strikes inside Russia.
UK officials said Thursday that they had obtained assurances the missiles will only be used on battlefields in Ukraine.
UPDATE 0707 GMT:
After the Russian Defense Ministry said he is lying about defeat in Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin has invited Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu to come to the frontline city.
“I ask you to come to the territory of Bakhmut, which is controlled by the [Wagner] paramilitary units, and assess the situation on your own,” Prigozhin wrote in his letter to Shoygu.
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 12, 2023
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia’s Defense Ministry says Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Moscow’s mercenary Wagner Group, is lying about the defeat and decimation of a Russian bridge in the frontline city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
Prigozhin, whose fighters have led the year-long Russian assault on Bakhmut since November, said on Tuesday that Ukrainian defenders had advanced 2.6 km (1.6 miles) in a counter-attack: “Our army is fleeing. The 72nd Brigade pissed away 4 square km this morning, where I had lost around 500 men.”
He followed up on Wednesday with yet another claim that the Defense Ministry is starving Wagner of ammunition and supplies: “We’re not receiving enough shells, we’re only getting 10%. We’re scraping by with a minimal quantity of shells.”
The head of Ukraine’s ground forces, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, confirmed the severe damage inflicted on the 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, brought in to supplement Wagner’s “human wave” attacks:
It was the competent conduct of the defensive operation that exhausted the trained forces of the “Wagner” [Group] and forced them to be replaced in certain directions by less well-prepared units of the Russian regular troops, which were defeated and left.
Without naming Prigozhin, the Russian Defense Ministry lashed out on Friday:
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 overall situation in the area of the special military operation is under control.
The Kremlin initially responded with a careful statement from spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Thursday, “The special military operation continues. This is a very difficult operation, and, of course, certain goals have been achieved in a year.”
Two Kremlin sources said that Prigozhin’s statements — including a possible reference to Vladimir Putin as a “complete asshole” who is incapable of winning his invasion — are beginning to “seriously disturb the country’s top leadership”.
They said State media have been instructed to portray the Wagner Group head as a “traitor to Russia” if he continues his criticism of the Defense Ministry and comments about “failures at the front”.