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Ukraine's zelenskiy introduces iran sanctions bill.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has put forward a bill that would see Ukraine impose sanctions on Russian ally Iran for 50 years, Zelenskiy's chief of staff Andriy Yermak said on Sunday, a response to what Kyiv says is Tehran's weapons supplies to Moscow.

Oman's Sultan in Iran for talks on diplomatic, security issues

DUBAI (Reuters) -Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said arrived in Tehran on Sunday for a two-day visit expected to focus on regional diplomatic and security issues, Iranian state media reported, two days after Muscat mediated a prisoner swap between Iran and Belgium.

Turkey election runoff 2023: what you need to know

Turks were voting on Sunday in a presidential election runoff between the incumbent Tayyip Erdogan and his challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu that will decide whether the president extends his rule into a third decade.

Mercenary Prigozhin says Kremlin blanking him on state media will provoke backlash

Russia's most powerful mercenary said on Sunday he was convinced that senior Kremlin officials had banned reporting about him on state media, cautioning that such a misleading approach would lead to a backlash from the Russian people within months.

South Africa to investigate U.S. allegations of arms shipment to Russia

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a panel to investigate U.S. allegations that a Russian ship had collected weapons from a naval base near Cape Town last year, the presidency said in a statement on Sunday.

Turkey election 2023: What's at stake in the runoff?

(Reuters) -Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan aims to extend his rule into a third decade in an election on Sunday, with the momentum seen in his favour in the runoff vote after a first round showed him ahead of his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

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Russia thwarts drone attack on Krasnodar oil refinery, officials say

Russia's air defence systems destroyed several drones as they approached the Ilsky oil refinery in the Krasnodar region near the Black Sea, local officials said on Sunday.

Putin orders stronger Russian border security

President Vladimir Putin on Sunday ordered stronger border security to ensure "fast" Russian military and civilian movement into Ukrainian regions now under Moscow control.

Ukraine says Russia eases Bakhmut attacks, Kyiv talks up counteroffensive

KYIV (Reuters) -Russian troops have temporarily eased attacks in and around the besieged eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut to regroup and strengthen their capabilities, a senior Kyiv official said on Saturday.

Germany to remove at least 100 staff from its missions in Russia - source

Germany will remove more than 100 employees working at its missions in Russia after Moscow imposed limits on the numbers allowed to work in the country, a source with the German foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Politics Video

Erdogan hands cash to supporters at polling station.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan handed out money to supporters gathered outside the polling station where he cast his ballot in a presidential election runoff on Sunday (May 28).

Erdogan and rival cast votes in Turkey runoff

Biden, mccarthy reach tentative us debt ceiling deal, politics news, republicans criticize mccarthy, biden debt ceiling deal.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -After tough negotiations to reach a tentative deal with the White House on the U.S. borrowing limit, the next challenge for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is pushing it through the House, where hardline Republicans are already threatening to sink it.

Explainer-US debt ceiling deal's winding road to passage in Congress

Featured Content

West ‘play­ing with fire’ over f-16 jets for ukraine, rus­sia says.

Ukrain­ian of­fi­cials say overnight strikes ap­pear to be the largest drone at­tack on their cap­i­tal since the war start­ed.

Polish Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly in formation during a military drills at Starokostiantyniv Air Base in in Ukraine

Rus­sia un­leash­es ‘mas­sive’ air raids on Ukraine’s Kyiv

Kyiv’s air de­fences downed 40 Russ­ian drones, with falling de­bris killing a 41-year-old man, of­fi­cials say.

An explosion of a drone is seen in the sky over Kyiv during a Russian drone strike on May 28, 2023

Ukraine says Rus­sia eas­es at­tacks on Bakhmut to re­group

Ukrain­ian de­fence min­is­ter says Russ­ian at­tacks have de­creased as Moscow troops are be­ing ‘re­placed and re­grouped’.

english newspapers ukraine

Ukraine set for a ti­tle-de­cid­ing game in war-torn foot­ball sea­son

League lead­ers Shakhtar Donet­sk face sec­ond-place Dnipro-1 in ti­tle show­down as a re­mark­able sea­son nears its end.

Shakhtar's Mykola Matviyenko, right, duels for the ball with Feyenoord's Marcus Holmgren Pedersen during a Europa League match

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Rus­sia to us: no lec­tures on nu­clear weapon de­ploy­ments.

Russ­ian em­bassy calls US crit­i­cism of Moscow’s tac­ti­cal nu­clear weapon de­ploy­ment to Be­larus hyp­o­crit­i­cal.

english newspapers ukraine

Lat­est Rus­sia-Ukraine up­dates: Drones dam­age Rus­sia oil fa­cil­i­ty

All the ud­pates from May 27 as they hap­pened.

FILE PHOTO: A drone is seen in the sky over the city during a Russian drone strike, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 4, 2023

Ukraine claims Rus­sia plan­ning ‘mas­sive’ in­ci­dent at nu­clear site

Ukraine’s de­fence in­tel­li­gence di­rec­torate warns Rus­sia will sim­u­late an at­tack at the Za­por­izhzhia nu­clear pow­er plant.

Russian service members guard the entrance to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during a visit of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expert mission in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict outside Enerhodar in the Zaporizhzhia region, Russian-controlled Ukraine, March 29, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Rus­sia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 458

As the war en­ters its 458th day, we take a look at the main de­vel­op­ments.

Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin poses with mercenaries "Biber" and "Dolik" during a statement on the start of withdrawal of his forces from Bakhmut and handing over their positions to regular Russian troops, in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict in Bakhmut, Ukraine, in this still image taken from video released May 25, 2023. Press service of "Concord"/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Rus­sia’s Bel­go­rod, Ukraine’s Dnipro at­tacked as war es­ca­lates

Rus­sia says the bor­der re­gion un­der at­tack days af­ter a dar­ing in­cur­sion, as two are re­port­ed killed in Ukraine.

A view shows an abandoned armoured vehicle, after anti-terrorism measures introduced for the reason of a cross-border incursion from Ukraine were lifted, in what was said to be a settlement in the Belgorod region, in this handout image released May 23, 2023. Governor of Russia's Belgorod Region Vyacheslav Gladkov via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

Brazil’s Lula speaks to Putin, de­clines in­vite to vis­it Rus­sia

The Brazil­ian pres­i­dent says he re­it­er­at­ed to Putin his will­ing­ness to talk to both sides, seek­ing peace.

Brazil's President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva (L) shakes hands with Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as they meet in Moscow May 14, 2010. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Lula Silva vowed on Friday to do his best on a forthcoming visit to Tehran to persuade Iran of the need for dialogue over its nuclear programme. REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS)

Rus­sia-Ukraine war: List of key events, day 457

As the war en­ters its 457th day, we take a look at the main de­vel­op­ments.

The war in Ukraine has entered its 457th day [Mindaugas Kulbis/File via AP]

US says Rus­sia can­not win in Ukraine, Moscow sees long war ahead

Rus­sia’s for­mer Pres­i­dent Dmit­ry Medvedev said Ukraine war is like­ly to last decades with bouts of fight­ing and truces.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley hold a joint press conference following an online meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the Pentagon in Washington, U.S., May 25, 2023.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Rus­sia moves on with plan to de­ploy tac­ti­cal nukes in Be­larus

Moscow says it will main­tain con­trol of the weapons, but Ukraine says Min­sk has been ‘tak­en hostage’.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko observe training launches of ballistic missiles as part of the exercise of the strategic deterrence force, in Moscow, Russia February 19, 2022. Sputnik/Aleksey Nikolskyi/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Pho­tos: Dam­age to Russ­ian-oc­cu­pied dam floods Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ty

Un­re­paired dam­age at a Russ­ian-oc­cu­pied dam has sub­merged com­mu­ni­ties on is­lands along a reser­voir in south­ern Ukraine.

Lyudmila Kulachok, 54, right, stands at the flooded courtyard of her house in the island of Kakhovka reservoir on Dnipro river near Lysohirka

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Russia-Ukraine recap

Latest in ukraine: zelenskyy scores f-16 training, as russia claims to take bakhmut.

english newspapers ukraine

President Biden walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of a working session on Ukraine during the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Sunday. In a win for the Ukrainian leader, Biden supported training Ukraine's pilots to fly F-16s. Susan Walsh/AP hide caption

President Biden walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of a working session on Ukraine during the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Sunday. In a win for the Ukrainian leader, Biden supported training Ukraine's pilots to fly F-16s.

Here's a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week.

What to watch

The war in Ukraine will round the 15-month mark this week, with no end in sight, untold numbers of Ukrainian civilian casualties and troop fatalities on both sides, as well as ripple effects across the globe.

China's special envoy Li Hui continues his European tour this week as Beijing says it aims to get countries talking toward an eventual political settlement between Russia and Ukraine.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will visit China to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other senior officials for more talks between the two increasingly close governments.

The United Nations Security Council is due to discuss protection of civilians in conflict.

What happened last week

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continued his world tour , dropping by an Arab summit in Saudi Arabia and then the Group of Seven summit in Japan.

President Biden endorsed helping train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s , after reluctance to allow providing the fighter jets. He said Zelenskyy assured him Ukraine would not use F-16s to strike inside Russia. Moscow warned this poses " colossal risks " for Western countries and raises the question of NATO's involvement.

Russia said it captured the city of Bakhmut , but Ukraine said the battle wasn't over. Similar back-and-forth claims have played out before over the destroyed city in eastern Ukraine, in what's now considered the longest battle in a year and three months of war.

Latest on Ukraine: Zelenskyy made a spring diplomatic offensive in Europe (May 15)

In case you missed it: Here's the last review of Russia-Ukraine news

The Ukraine grain deal was renewed , one day before it would have expired, after Russia had threatened to pull out. A new expiration date is set for July.

Russian security agents arrested a Russian who worked for the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia. Robert Shonov was charged with "collaboration on a confidential basis with a foreign state." The U.S. strongly condemned the arrest.

Russia launched intense attacks on Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine . But Ukraine said Tuesday it managed to shoot down 18 missiles, including six hypersonic missiles .

China's special envoy Li Hui visited Ukraine , meeting with President Zelenskyy and senior officials. The envoy toured other European countries as well, including Poland .

Ukraine secured military aid, including advanced fighter jets, at the G-7 summit .

The G-7 is tightening up economic sanctions on Russia for its war on Ukraine .

Zelenskyy arrives at Arab League summit , as Saudi Arabia flexes diplomatic muscle.

Zelenskyy's recent diplomatic moves signal a new phase for the war in Ukraine .

What the battle for Bakhmut tells us about the war in Ukraine .

On the State of Ukraine podcast: A high-profile case of corruption in Ukraine . And, Should Ukraine try to take back Crimea?

The Ukraine grain deal is extended 2 months, helping ease the global food crisis .

There are signs Ukraine's spring counteroffensive may have already started .

Russia attacked the hometown of Ukraine's Eurovision band just before its performance .

On Here and Now : Ukraine's Patriot air defense system likely damaged by Russian airstrike .

Special report

Russia's war in Ukraine is changing the world: See our report on its ripple effects in all corners of the globe.

Earlier developments

You can read past recaps here . For context and more in-depth stories, you can find more of NPR's coverage here . Also, listen and subscribe to NPR's State of Ukraine podcast for updates throughout the day.

english newspapers ukraine

Russian ambassador warns BBC host: 'Offend me once again we will stop this interview'

Russians launch 'largest barrage of drones since war began', in deadly ukraine attack, ukraine 'ready to begin counter offensive' to push back putin's invasion forces, russian rocket destroys ukraine hospital as volodymyr zelensky condemns 'inhumane' attack, 'reckoning' needed for russia after ukraine war, says ex-us military chief, putin 'totally underestimated' nato backing for ukraine, says alliance chief, 'my robot planes will change the world – now i want them to help ukraine at war with russia', russian troops could be snared in 'mousetrap' ukrainian city as '100,000 killed', russia risks 'severe nuclear accident' as power is cut off to zaporizhzhia plant, girl, 4, accidentally hangs herself on bouncy castle as 'staff distracted by phones', russian train blown off rails by 'sabotage' bomb blast inside occupied ukraine, zelensky will get fighter jets as western allies agree to give planes to ukraine, russia launches 'exceptional' missile attack on ukrainian capital kyiv in bombardment, zelensky pleads for jets as sunak promises pilot training school for ukrainians, ukraine leader volodymyr zelensky arrives in uk to meet rishi sunak for crunch talks, terrifying moment fireball erupts into mushroom cloud over ukraine as russia attacks, ukraine eurovision act's city attacked by russia moments before performance, rationale behind eurovision accepting australia and israel - and banned country explained, uk sending storm shadow missiles to ukraine ahead of counter-offensive, eurovision 2023 running order in full - and when mae muller performs for the uk, vladimir putin 'will send body double to major military display', says ukraine official, russian jet causes nato plane to 'lose control' in tense mid-air confrontation, humanitarian crisis grows as chaotic evacuation continues near ukraine nuke plant, jill biden and granddaughter send subtle secret message with king's coronation outfits.

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Ukraine refuses to accept loss of Bakhmut; Wagner mercenary boss downplays army's role in 'capture'

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine on May 22, 2023. See here for the latest updates.  

Ukraine is refusing to concede defeat in the largely ruined eastern town of Bakhmut after Russian mercenary forces claimed they were now fully in control of the town after months of fighting.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that "Russia did not occupy Bakhmut" as he attended a news conference at the Group of Seven summit in Japan, rebuffing claims by Russia's mercenary Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin that his forces had fully captured the town in the Donetsk region on Saturday.

The head of Ukraine's ground forces Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi said Sunday that his forces still controlled parts of Bakhmut and that they were not ready to give up.

Meanwhile, Prigozhin downplayed the contribution of the regular Russian army in the claimed capture of the town, saying his fighters had been let down by the Russian Defense Ministry leadership.

Ukraine refuses to accept loss of Bakhmut to Russia forces

'Counter-terrorism operation' in Russia's Belgorod region continues, governor says

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region said on Tuesday the "counter-terrorism operation" in the region was ongoing, with the defense ministry and law enforcement agencies continuing "to clean up" the territory on the border with Ukraine.

"On the situation in the Graivoron district: the cleaning of the territory by the Ministry of Defense together with law enforcement agencies continues," the governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on the Telegram messaging app.

"I now appeal to the residents of the Graivoron district, who ... temporarily left their homes, it is not possible to return yet."

Gladkov said Monday that at least three people had been injured and three houses and a local administrative building damaged during a cross-border attack from Ukraine.

A senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Kyiv had nothing to do with the armed operation in the Belgorod region.

"Ukraine is watching the events in the Belgorod region of Russia with interest and studying the situation, but it has nothing to do with it," presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.

"As you know, tanks are sold at any Russian military store, and underground guerrilla groups are composed of Russian citizens." In a written statement to Reuters, Podolyak said Ukraine's military operates only on Ukrainian territory and echoed Ukrainian military intelligence in blaming Russian partisans for the incursion.

Power restored to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Power has been restored to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine following an outage earlier today that Ukraine's state-owned nuclear energy company blamed on Russian shelling.

Energoatom said earlier Monday that the plant was forced to go into "blackout mode" and that back-up diesel generators were operating at the plant to make sure nuclear fuel was kept cool.

Later this morning, Energoatom and Ukraine's national grid operator Ukrenergo said power had been restored to the plant , which is occupied by Russian forces. The outage was the seventh the plant has experienced, Energoatom said.

Ukraine and Russia continuously accuse each other of endangering the nuclear plant, Europe's largest, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly called for the facility to be "demilitarized."

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian air strikes wound eight in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk, officials say

At least eight people were wounded and scores of buildings were damaged in an overnight Russian air strike on the Dnipropetrovsk region in southeastern Ukraine, local officials said on Monday.

Video footage released by emergency services showed a huge crater in a courtyard and fire fighters dousing the remnants of blazes in huge piles of rubble near bombed-out buildings.

With a Ukrainian counteroffensive looming 15 months after Russia's full-scale invasion, Moscow has intensified missile and drone strikes this month after a lull of nearly two months. Waves of attacks now come several times a week.

"The Russian invaders attacked military and infrastructure facilities of the eastern outpost of Ukraine - the city of Dnipro," Ukraine's air force said on the Telegram messaging service, referring to Dnipropetrovsk's main city.

It said Russia had launched 16 different types of missiles and 20 Shahed-136/131 strike drones, and that Ukrainian air defences had shot down 20 Russian drones and four cruise missiles.

At least one man was wounded in the attack on Dnipro, and seven people were hurt in the Synelnykivskyi district of the Dnipropetrovsk region, regional governor Serhiy Lysak said.

Scores of buildings, including private homes, apartment blocks and administrative infrastructure were damaged or destroyed, he said. Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports.

Fighting continues in Bakhmut, Kyiv says, with Russia bulking up forces

Kyiv says Ukrainian troops are advancing around Bakhmut while Russia is bulking up forces, rebuffing claims by Russia that its fighters have fully seized the town in eastern Ukraine.

"Now the fiercest battles are taking place in the Mariinka, Avdiivka and Bakhmut directions. The enemy is concentrating most of its forces in the direction of Bakhmut," Ukrainian deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar said on domestic television, NBC reported.

"The situation has not fundamentally changed since yesterday ... You remember that yesterday we remained in control of certain infrastructural facilities, as well as private houses in the southwestern part of the city. Today we still control this, albeit small, part of the city," she said.

"Fighting continues. Last night, the enemy carried out a sweep of the territories he took under control; that is, they checked whether any of our sabotage groups remained there," Maliar said.

She said Russian forces in the city — which are made up largely of mercenary fighters — were being forced to go on the defensive in parts of the city.

"Due to the fact that we moved along the flanks from the north and south and occupied certain heights there, we made it very difficult for the enemy to stay in the city. And we continue to advance [on the flanks]. The intensity is somewhat reduced, but we keep moving. In the north, there are much less action now. In the south, we are moving forward," she said.

Wagner mercenary group head says his forces will leave Bakhmut soon

The head of Russia's prominent private military company, the Wagner Group, said Monday that his fighters will soon leave the town of Bakhmut his fighters claimed to have captured.

Commenting on his business' Telegram channel, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said "there are lines of defense on the western outskirts [of Bakhmut] now therefore, PMC Wagner is going to leave Artemovsk from May 25 to June 1," he said, using the Soviet-era name for Bakhmut.

The Wagner Group claimed to have wholly captured Bakhmut in Eastern Ukraine on Saturday, after months of bloody combat in and around the town. Ukraine has denied Russia's claims that the town has fallen, saying it continues to hold positions on the outskirts of the town.

Prigozhin said his group would hand over control of the city to the regular Russian army and made a another dig at the Russian Defense Ministry, with which he has a very fractious relationship, saying it could send its generals — whom he has frequently disparaged as lacking the requisite skills for their positions — to defend the town.

"If there are not enough personnel in the ministry of defense [to replace Wagner], we have thousands of generals [in Russia], so we just need to make up one general's regiment, put everyone under arms — and everything will be fine," he said wryly.

Russia says F-16s to Ukraine would raise question of NATO involvement

The transfer of F-16 jets to Ukraine would raise the question of NATO's role in the conflict and would not undermine Russia's military goals, senior Russian diplomats said on Monday.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday endorsed training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy assured Biden that the aircraft would not be used to go into Russian territory.

"There is no infrastructure for the operation of the F-16 in Ukraine and the needed number of pilots and maintenance personnel is not there either," Russia's ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said in remarks published on the embassy's Telegram messaging channel.

"What will happen if the American fighters take off from NATO airfields, controlled by foreign 'volunteers'?"

Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said any transfer of the U.S. jets to Ukraine would be "absolutely pointless and stupid", state-owned news agency RIA reported.

"These efforts are completely useless and meaningless: our capabilities are such that all the goals of the special military operation will certainly be achieved", Ryabkov was cited by RIA as saying, using Moscow's preferred term for the conflict.

During their summit on the weekend in Japan, the G-7 countries signalled long-term support for Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who also attended the gathering, said he was confident that Ukraine would receive supplies of the F-16.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant goes into blackout mode after shelling

Ukraine's state-owned power generating company Energoatom said Monday that there has been another power cut at the embattled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (the ZNPP), marking the latest misfortune to hit the plant.

Energoatom said on Telegram that the ZNPP's latest outage, the seventh since the start of the war, was due to Russian shelling of an external power line.

The "ZNPP is going into blackout mode," Energoatom said. "After the loss of external power, which is vitally necessary to ensure the operation of the nuclear fuel cooling pumps in the fuel pools and nuclear reactors of the power units, all NPP diesel generators started operating automatically," the agency said.

There is 10 days' fuel stock left for their operation. "The countdown has begun," Energoatom said.

The plant, Europe's largest of its kind, is occupied by Russian troops and both Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of endangering the plant, risking a nuclear catastrophe.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are stationed at the plant. The IAEA has repeatedly called for hostilities around the plant to cease and for the facility to be demilitarized.

Energoatom said Russia's illegal occupation of the plant was bringing it constantly toward irreparable damage and called for it to be brought back under its control.

Russia likely to be creating a new 'elite' attack aviation group, UK says

Russia is highly likely to be creating a new "elite" attack aviation group code-named "Shtorm" (which means "storm") to operate over Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defense said Monday.

The unit is likely to consist of at least one squadron of Su-24 and Su-34 fighter-bombers, and a squadron of attack helicopters, the ministry said in its latest intelligence update on Twitter.

"The mix of aircraft types suggests the group will have a primary role of ground attack missions," the ministry said, adding that credible Russian media reports suggest that the Russian defense ministry "aims to attract highly skilled and motivated pilots by offering large pay incentives and opening recruitment to retired aviators."

"The creation of the group highlights how Russian assesses its regular air force squadrons have severely underperformed in their core function of conducting airstrikes on Ukrainian lines," the U.K. said.

Extensive Russian defenses revealed ahead of Ukrainian counteroffensive

A BBC investigation has revealed extensive Russian defenses and fortifications that have been prepared in occupied parts of the country ahead of Ukraine's much-awaited counteroffensive.

BBC Verify, a new unit within the British broadcaster charged with investigating and verifying information, video, and images, said it had examined hundreds of satellite images of Ukraine and had "identified some key points in the significant build-up of trenches and other fortifications in southern Ukraine since October."

The images showed a 15-mile section of Crimean coastline "littered with defence structures installed by Russian troops" as well as defensive lines of antitank trenches and dragon's teeth (pyramid-shaped concrete blocks designed to block military vehicles) near the potential area of Ukraine's counteroffensive, in southern Ukraine.

Investigative journalists and analysts at the BBC also found that a line of anti-tank ditches and trenches now runs alongside a major highway near the potential counteroffensive site and that the route is likely to be heavily mined; Ukraine has understandably not said where or when it will launch its counteroffensive. Read BBC Verify's article here.

The report echoes concerns voiced by British defense analysts last Friday when they said Russia's large-scale defense-building could prove a challenging obstacle for Ukraine to overcome, warning onlookers not to dismiss Russia's military as incompetent, as it had been labeled early on in the invasion after previous mistakes.

Read more here: Russia’s military has adapted and is now a more formidable enemy for Ukraine, defense analysts say

Russian mercenary boss downplays regular army's contribution in Bakhmut 'capture'

The head of the Wagner Group, Russia's main mercenary force fighting in eastern Ukraine, downplayed the contribution of regular Russian army units in the claimed capture of the town of Bakhmut in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, claimed on Saturday that his mercenary fighters captured Bakhmut after nine months of intense fighting there reduced the town to rubble.

"Basically no one at all out of the military/army helped us in the taking of Artemovsk [Russia uses the Soviet-era name for Bakhmut], other than Surovikin and Mezentsov," Prigozhin said, referring to Russian Generals Sergei Surovikin and Mikhail Mizintsev, with whom he has good relationships.

Prigozhin has a strained relationship with Russia's Defense Ministry and has been a vocal critic of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the head of the armed forces. Prigozhin has regularly accused the defense ministry of trying to undermine his forces, saying his repeated calls for more ammunition had been ignored.

Russia's Defense Ministry said Saturday that its own aviation and artillery units had helped the Wagner Group to capture Bakhmut but gave most of the credit to the mercenary force.

Speaking in a voice message on Telegram, Prigozhin said "stories" about Russian airborne troops helping to capture the town were "complete and absolute lies."

"There are indeed courageous soldiers, amazing Russian guys that are completely hindered by the military ... higher ups."

"There was an enormous amount of people that just ruined things [for us]," he said, according to an NBC translation of the comments.

Kyiv denies that Bakhmut has been captured, saying it fights on there.

Ukraine refuses to give up on Bakhmut after Russian mercenaries claim to have captured town

Ukraine is refusing to concede defeat in the largely ruined town of Bakhmut in Donetsk in the east of the country after Russian mercenary forces claimed they were now fully in control of the town after months of fighting.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that "Russia did not occupy Bakhmut" as he attended a news conference at the Group of Seven summit in Japan, rebuffing claims by Russia's mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin that his forces had completely captured the town Saturday.

Elsewhere on Sunday, the head of Ukraine's ground forces Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi said his forces still controlled parts of Bakhmut and that they were not ready to give up.

"Despite the fact that we now control a minor part of Bakhmut, the importance of its defense does not lose its relevance. This gives us the opportunity to enter the city in case of a change in the environment. And it will definitely happen," Syrskyi said on Telegram.

"We continue to advance on the flanks in the suburbs of Bakhmut and are actually approaching the capture of the city in a tactical encirclement."

Syrskyi said he had visited Ukrainian troops and commanders in Bakhmut on Sunday. "We continue the defense. The situation is difficult, but under control," he noted.

Prigozhin, the head of Russia's mercenary force the Wagner Group, commented on Saturday that "today we took Bakhmut ... We have fully taken the whole city. From house to house, so that no one could pedantically complain that a tiny fragment was left un-taken."

Prigozhin said the town, now largely reduced to rubble and of little strategic importance (but of more symbolic importance after nine months of intense fighting), would be handed over to the regular Russian army.


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The Counteroffensive Is Coming

We preview what is next in the war in Ukraine.

By David Leonhardt


Five maps explaining the possible staging points for Ukrainian counteroffensive

Kyiv’s attack to recover territories occupied by moscow is expected to take place before mid-june along the southern and eastern front lines, where russian forces have dug in.

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Possible Ukrainian


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Area occupied by Russia

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Ukraine is aiming to mark a turning point in the course of the war with its anticipated counteroffensive to retake territory occupied by Russia. Kyiv’s strategists have said they are waiting for the end of the spring, when the weather will be drier and mud will not hinder tanks and other armored vehicles , and to receive the remaining armaments being delivered by their NATO allies. Ukraine is expected to launch its offensive in the next few weeks, according to Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov and advisors to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In the wake of a series of sabotage operations on Russian soil and the alleged drone attack on the Kremlin , Moscow has intensified airstrikes against Ukrainian infrastructure. At the front, Russian troops have been digging a vast defensive network of trenches and fortifications that stretches from Kharkiv province to the Crimean Peninsula. According to analysts consulted by EL PAÍS and based on recent troop movements, there are five main points on the front where Kyiv could launch its counteroffensive.

Zaporizhzhia toward the Sea of Azov

Zaporizhzhia, in the southeast of the country, is one of the most promising areas for Ukraine’s counteroffensive. If the attack is staged on this flank, Ukrainian forces could attempt to reach the city of Melitopol, on the Azov Sea, to sever the territories under Russian control in two and city off supply lines between Donbas and Crimea.

According to reports from Ukrainian brigade and regional commanders, Kyiv is preparing armored battalions in this region. The Armed Forces have around 200 NATO-supplied tanks at its disposal across the entire front, but the exact details are unknown as information about deployments has been drastically reduced for the civilian population and the media.

Moscow, which controls over half of the 27,180 square kilometers that make up the province of Zaporizhzhia, has announced the evacuation of civilians from 18 localities close to the front lines. Russia also plans to evacuate at least 3,000 people from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant , the largest in Europe, which it has occupied for 14 months. Most of the newly located Russian trenches are concentrated east of the Kakhovka reservoir, which separates the plant in Enerhodar from the town of Zaporizhzhia itself.

Kherson, the challenge of the Dnipro

Russian forces are also preparing for an assault in the southern region of Kherson, southwest of Zaporizhzhia along the Dnipro River, which currently acts as a natural barrier between the two armies as it passes through the city of Kherson. Ukrainian troops have been probing Russian defenses for months with a view to launching amphibious assaults against the far bank of the river.

A counteroffensive on this flank is a possibility, although a landing operation is extremely complex: the Dnipro at this point is about a mile wide, and it will be very difficult to establish a pontoon bridge without first silencing the Russian artillery. In addition, the terrain consists of marshlands, which makes the movement of armaments and heavy vehicles problematic.

The Kherson region was seized by Russia at the outset of the invasion. Kyiv recaptured the north of the province, including its capital, in a counteroffensive last November , which forced Russian troops to retreat across the Dnipro to the south. The city of Kherson is now home to only about 25% of its pre-war population of around 300,000 . Pro-Russian authorities have announced evacuations in the areas of the province that remain occupied, a sign that Moscow is anticipating a possible offensive on this front.

Bakhmut, Ukraine’s fortress city

Bakhmut, in the Donetsk province, is under almost complete control of Russian forces and has become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance. The battle for the city has been the bloodiest of the war to date , and Russian losses have been significant.

One of the most visible symptoms of Russian war fatigue in Bakhmut is the growing internal battle between the Kremlin’s regular army and the Wagner Group mercenaries fighting alongside them. Yevgeny Prigozhin , the Wagner commander, has accused Russian army units of fleeing the battlefield and has launched a series of verbal attacks on the military high command, who he accuses of incompetence and of failing to supply his men with ammunition. Based on leaked U.S. intelligence documents, The Washington Post reported on May 15 that Prigozhin had made an offer to Ukraine in January to provide details on Russian positions in the area if Kyiv withdrew its forces from Bakhmut.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops, who control about 2.4 square kilometers of the city , have staged several counterattacks in recent days. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar reported that more than 10 Russian positions on the northern and southern outskirts of the city were captured last Sunday, as confirmed by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). According to Russian sources, Kyiv’s troops advanced toward Yahidne from Berkhivka and made gains in Ivanivske, to the southwest of Bakhmut. Now, Russian forces around the besieged town, where Moscow had been launching wave after wave of attacks, have switched to a defensive stance to repel Ukrainian counter-assaults, according to the ISW.

According to the Ukrainian army’s spokesman in the region, Kyiv’s main objective in Bakhmut is to destroy Russian troop staging areas and encircle the city, without committing to frontal assaults.

Donetsk, breaking pro-Russian control

In addition to the southern front, Ukraine could launch a counteroffensive across the entire Donetsk province on the eastern to break the Russian sieges on Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka. An offensive through this region would take the Ukrainian armed forces to the gates of Donetsk, the largest Russian-controlled city, which has been occupied by pro-Moscow militias or Kremlin troops since the outbreak of the Donbas conflict in 2014 .

The latest ISW updates indicate recent battles in the devastated town of Marinka, further south, and Ukrainian advances along the Krasnohorivka railroad and through Ivanivske. On the other hand, Russia has recently claimed that Novopil, to the west of Vuhledar, has been taken by its troops and that its forces have made advances near Berkhivka. Across the entire Donetsk front line, Russia has been digging trenches and constructing fortifications since March, according to data from Brady Africk, an open-source intelligence researcher and analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.

After staging large-scale attacks on Ukraine’s major cities at the beginning of the invasion, Moscow has shifted its offensive efforts to concentrate on the eastern Donbas region. The Russian objective, ISW reports, is to take the whole of the Donetsk region , where the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, as well as parts of Bakhmut, remain under Ukrainian control.

Kharkiv, the gateway to Luhansk

Although the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine is currently one of the least active fronts , it is also one of the possible launching areas for the Ukrainian counteroffensive, where the goal would be to drive into Luhansk. Russian sources claim that Ukrainian troops are conducting sabotage and reconnaissance operations around Kreminna, although the ISW says it has no confirmation of military activity in that area.

Russian and Ukrainian forces are engaged in a largely static struggle between Novoselivske and Kuzemivka (8 miles northwest of Svatove), and the Russian Army has established its first lines of defense along the eastern side of the railway near Novoselivske. The ISW reports that the Russian objective is to capture the remainder of the Luhansk province (which it controls almost completely) and to advance westwards, towards eastern Kharkiv and the northern part of Donetsk.

At the end of 2022, Ukraine drove the Russians out of almost the entire Kharkiv region and the western half of Kherson in a counteroffensive that was launched at several points at once. On this occasion, the analysts consulted agree that the counteroffensive will be staged on various parts of the front along with diversionary maneuvers that will force the Russian military to divert its troops and expend ammunition.

Although attention is now focused on when, where and how the counteroffensive will be carried out, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba has sought to temper expectations about the coming operation: “Do not consider this counteroffensive as the last one, because we do not know what will come out of it,” he said. For his part, Zelenskiy has stated that Ukraine needs “a little more time” to receive all the NATO armaments. However, analysts point out the presidential announcement could be a strategy to secure the element of surprise.


This report was made possible thanks to information provided by Cristian Segura, EL PAÍS special correspondent in Ukraine.

Data on Russian trenches comes from Brady Africk’s analysis, and the dates correspond to when they were detected by satellites; the date of construction is unknown. Russian and Ukrainian troop movements come from the Institute for the Study of War and sources consulted by this newspaper.

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Ukrainian soldiers fire a cannon near Bakhmut, where fierce battles against Russian forces have been taking place, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Friday, May 12, 2023.

Russia on edge as Ukrainian gains spread fears over imminent counteroffensive

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Russia launched 'largest drone attack' on Ukrainian capital before Kyiv Day; 1 killed

Associated press.

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Ukraine's capital was subjected to the largest drone attack since the start of Russia's war, local officials said, as Kyiv prepared to mark the anniversary of its founding on Sunday. At least one person was killed.

Russia launched the "most massive attack" on the city overnight Saturday with Iranian-made Shahed drones, said Serhii Popko, a senior Kyiv military official. The attack lasted more than five hours, with air defense reportedly shooting down more than 40 drones.

A 41-year-old man was killed and a 35-year-old woman was hospitalized when debris fell on a seven-story nonresidential building and started a fire, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

Ukraine's air force said that Saturday night was also record-breaking in terms of Shahed drone attacks across the country. Of the 54 drones launched, 52 were shot down by air defense systems.

In the northeastern Kharkiv province, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said a 61-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man were killed in two separate shelling attacks.

Kyiv Day marks the anniversary of Kyiv's official founding. The day is usually celebrated with live concerts, street fairs, exhibitions and fireworks. Scaled-back festivities were planned for this year, the city's 1,541st anniversary.

The timing of the drone attacks was likely not coincidental, Ukrainian officials said.

"The history of Ukraine is a long-standing irritant for the insecure Russians," Ukraine's chief presidential aide, Andriy Yermak, said on Telegram.

"Today, the enemy decided to 'congratulate' the people of Kyiv on Kyiv Day with the help of their deadly UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)," Popko also wrote on the messaging app.

Local officials in Russia's southern Krasnodar region said that air defense systems destroyed several drones as they approached the Ilsky oil refinery.

Russia's southern Belgorod region, bordering Ukraine, also came under attack from Ukrainian forces on Saturday, local officials said. Regional Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov reported Sunday that a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy were wounded in the shelling.

Drone attacks against Russian border regions have been a regular occurrence since the start of the invasion in February 2022, with attacks increasing last month. Earlier this month, an oil refinery in Krasnodar was attacked by drones on two straight days.

Ukrainian air defenses, bolstered by sophisticated Western-supplied systems, have been adept at thwarting Russian air attacks - both drones and aircraft missiles.

Earlier in May, Ukraine prevented an intense Russian air attack on Kyiv, shooting down all missiles aimed at the capital. The bombardment, which additionally targeted locations across Ukraine, included six Russian Kinzhal aero-ballistic hypersonic missiles, repeatedly touted by Russian President Vladimir Putin as providing a key strategic competitive advantage and among the most advanced weapons in his country's arsenal.

Sophisticated Western air defense systems, including American-made Patriot missiles, have helped spare Kyiv from the kind of destruction witnessed along the main front line in the country's east and south. While most of the ground fighting is stalemated along that front line, both sides are targeting other territory with long-range weapons.

Against the backdrop of Saturday night's drone attacks, Russia's ambassador to the UK, Andrei Kelin, warned of an escalation in Ukraine. He told the BBC on Sunday his country had "enormous resources" and it was yet to "act very seriously," cautioning that Western supplies of weapons to Ukraine risked escalating the war to a "new dimension." The length of the conflict, he said, "depends on the efforts in escalation of war that is being undertaken by NATO countries, especially by the UK."

Kelin's comments are typical of Russian officials' rhetoric with regard to Moscow's military might, but contradict regular reports from the battlefield of Russian troops being poorly equipped and trained.

Also on Sunday, the death toll from Friday's missile attack on the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, the regional capital of the Dnipropetrovsk province, rose to four. Regional. Gov. Serhii Lysak said that three people who were considered missing were confirmed dead. There were 32 people, including two children, wounded in the attack, which struck a building containing psychology and veterinary clinics.

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Kyiv Post

Ukrainian English-language newspaper Kyiv Post suspends publication

Journalists on publication release statement saying that all employees were ‘immediately’ fired

Ukraine ’s oldest English-language newspaper the Kyiv Post has suspended publication after 26 years as its journalists accused the owner, a powerful oligarch, of “attacking” them.

Adnan Kivan, a construction tycoon who bought the Kyiv Post three years ago, said in a statement that the newspaper will close immediately “for a short time”.

Adnan Kivan

“God bless all of us. One day, we hope to reopen the newspaper bigger and better,” Kivan said.

Kyiv Post journalists then released a joint statement on Facebook, saying that all the employees were notified that they were “immediately” fired.

About 50 people lost their jobs.

They had earlier said that Kivan planned to expand the Kyiv Post and launch a Ukrainian-language outlet under the paper’s brand, while also appointing a new hand-picked chief editor.

“We saw it as an attempt to infringe on our editorial independence,” the statement said.

And the dismissal of the paper’s staff, they said, was an attempt to get rid “of inconvenient, fair and honest journalists”.

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