Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group mercenaries in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, May 20, 2023
Map: Institute for the Study of War
UPDATE 1733 GMT:
Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Ukraine’s Interior Minitry, has shared video of a naval drone attack on the Russian warship Ivan Khurs on Wednesday.
Russia claimed it had repulsed three unmanned vessels which tried to hit the reconnaissance ship in the Black Sea. However, the clip shows at least one drone is very close to the ship.
It is still unclear if there was any damage.
I posted yesterday about a Russian Black Sea Fleet ship Ivan Khurs that was attacked by unmanned drones.
Russia claimed "the ship continues to carry out its functions" without mentioning its state.
It seems the third drone did manage to damage the ship? pic.twitter.com/ZdYyQQq10f
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) May 25, 2023
UPDATE 1313 GMT:
Ukraine Presidential Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak says 106 Ukrainian troops were free in a POW exchange with Russia on Thursday.
The soldiers, including eight officers, were captured in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
We are bringing home 106 people.
These are servicemen from the Bakhmut direction – 8 officers and 98 soldiers and sergeants. They've fought for Bakhmut and performed a feat that prevented the enemy from advancing further into our East. Each of them is a hero.
— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) May 25, 2023
UPDATE 1151 GMT:
The US has approved a $285 million package of military aid to Ukraine, including the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System and related equipment.
UPDATE 1125 GMT:
The European Union has agreed to suspend restrictions on imports from Ukraine for another year, despite an import ban on grain, foodstuffs, and other items imposed by some members in Central Europe.
The EU initially lifted tariffs and other restrictions in June 2022. However, last month Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria unilaterally barred Ukrainian agricultural products.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responded to Thursday’s EU decision.
I welcome today's decision of the @EUCouncil to extend temporary trade liberalization for Ukrainian products for another year. The full abolition of duties and quotas has been extended until June 2024. As we move towards the EU, this temporary liberalization should become…
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) May 25, 2023
UPDATE 0752 GMT:
Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin said his mercenaries have begun withdrawing from Bakhmut, four days after claiming control of the city in the Donetsk region.
Prigozhin did not say in his video message if Russian conventional forces had arrived to replace the departing fighters.
Ukraine Deputy Defense Hanna Maliar said Russia’s regular troops have taken over from Wagner units in the outskirts of Bakhmut but the mercenaries remain inside the city.
UPDATE 0747 GMT:
The latest Russian attacks across the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine have killed one civilian and injured six.
Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said houses and infrastructure were destroyed in areas such as Horlivka, Chasiv Yar, and Kostiantynivka.
UPDATE 0736 GMT:
US officials say a Ukrainian special military or intelligence unit likely carried out the drone attack on the Kremlin in early May.
The officials said US intelligence agencies do not know which unit carried out the attack, and it is unclear if President Volodymyr Zelenskiy or his top officials were aware of the operation.
The level of confidence that the Zelenskiy Government directly authorized the attack is “low” because there is no specific evidence to identify which officials — if any — were involved.
UPDATE 0728 GMT:
Russian officials have denied reports — put out by Russian State media — of a fire at the Defense Ministry in Moscow.
TASS initially reported, from an unnamed Government source, that “a fire broke out on one of the balconies” and emergency services were on the scene.
But almost an hour later, the site posted alongside the initial story, “The Ministry of Emergency Situations did not detect a fire in the building of the Ministry of Defense in Moscow.”
Unknown smoke near the Defense Ministry building in Moscow
Earlier, Russian media reported a fire on a balcony at the Defense Ministry building. However, the Ministry of Emergency Situations later stated that there was no fire in the ministry building.
The cause of the unknown… pic.twitter.com/Sw9nrOiLVQ
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) May 24, 2023
UPDATE 0722 GMT:
The Ukraine military said it destroyed all 36 drones in Russia’s latest overnight attacks on Kyiv and other areas.
The aerial assault was Moscow’s 12th this month on the capital with missiles and/or Iranian-made attack drones.
Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, posted on Telegram, “The attack was massive. The enemy continues to use attack tactics in several waves, with intervals between groups of attacking drones.”
A video of drones being shot down over Kyiv – United Forces.
Another sleepless night for many of us. Another attack on Kyiv. We hold on, go to work in the morning, thankful to our air defense and all our friends who keep Ukraine in their hearts and bring our Victory closer. pic.twitter.com/17xRizG36w
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) May 25, 2023
UPDATE 0713 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has hinted that the international supply of US-made F-16 fighter jet will soon be confirmed.
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskiy said:
We are doing everything we can to reduce the time until the result is achieved, until new and powerful aircraft with Ukrainian pilots emerge in the Ukrainian skies.
It is clear that this global step will allow us to expand our defense capabilities. Because it is only with powerful aircraft that an air defense system can be complete.
The first Ukrainian F-16 will be one of the strongest signals from the world that Russia will only lose because of its own aggression, becoming weaker and more isolated.
This will be a signal that Russian terror has lost.
On Wednesday, Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren informed Parliament that the Netherlands wants to begin training of Ukrainian pilots as soon as possible. The program will be coordinated with Belgium, Denmark, and the UK, and other countries could join.
UPDATE 0703 GMT:
Russia has announced another show trial of foreign nationals.
The trial will begin on May 31 in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia on charges including training for “terrorist activities”.
The five men — UK nationals John Harding, Andrew Hill, Dylan Healy, Swedish national Mathias Gustafsson, and Croatian national Vjekoslav Prebeg — will be tried in absentia.
The men were captured during Russia’s 12-week assault on Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine last spring. They were tried in a Russian proxy court in the occupied Donestk region in August and faced the death penalty; however, they were freed in a prisoner exchange the following month.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia’s proclaimed “victory” in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, after a year-long assault, has collapsed within four days.
On Saturday, Yevgeny Prigozhin said that his Wagner Group mercenaries had completed the occupation of the city in the Donetsk region, following “human wave” attacks since November. Vladimir Putin issued congratulations, and State TV compared the seizure of the ruins to triumph in Berlin at the end of World War II.
But on Wednesday, Prigozhin spoke only of mass casualties and eventual defeat for Russia unless the country’s military leadership was replaced.
He said 20,000 mercenaries had been killed — 10,000 “professional” fighters and half of the 20,000 prison inmates whom he recruited — confirming information from Western inteligence services.
The admission followed a tirade, in an hour-long interview, against Russian Defense Ministry and its head Sergey Shoygu, with Prigozhin’s charge that the conventional army has degraded because of the “system of sycophancy”.
The mercentary leader said, “We can lose Russia.” Ukraine’s military had been successfully reformed: “[It is] highly organized, highly trained. Their intelligence is on the highest level, and they can operate any military system with equal success, including Soviet and NATO ones.”
To save the situation, political and military leaders had to be dismissed, including Shoygu and the overall commander of the invasion, Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov.
“I listen to Putin, but Shoigu should be removed,” Prigozhin declared.
While the mercenaries control almost all of the destroyed center of Bakhmut, Ukrainian forces have advanced to the north and to the south in a “semi-encirclement” of the city. Facing the threat of being surrounded, Prigozhin has said that Wagner fighters will soon withdraw, calling for them to be replaced by conventional troops.
“Wild Losses for an Insignificant Result”
Russian commentators who had hailed triumph at the weekend shifted to worried discussion about the scale of the losses in Bakhmut.
Supporters of the invasion who have criticized the Kremlin speculated that actual casualties could be far higher, given that Moscow has only acknowledged 6,000 troops killed during the entire 15-month invasion. Senior politician Viktor Alksnis remarked bluntly that the Soviet Army lost fewer soldiers in nine years in Afghanistan in the 1980s than Wagner had lost in six months.
Igor Girkin, a leader of the pro-invasion, anti-Kremlin faction, said Prigozhin should “keep [his] mouth shut” and stop talking about “wild losses for a very insignificant result”. But another prominent military blogger praised Prigozhin’s openness, saying the Defense Ministry would have hidden such figures.