Wagner chief Prigozhin killed
Ukraine hit five of Moscow’s fighter jets with an overnight drone strike on Russian soil, a source in Kyiv’s security service has told Ukrainian outlets.
Russia’s defence ministry claimed to have shot down two drones in the Bryansk and Kursk regions, which both border Ukraine, giving no information about possible damages or casualties.
But the Kyiv Post and Ukrainska Pravda both cited sources in Ukraine’s SBU security service as claiming strikes on four Russian Su-30 fighter jets and one MiG-29 at an airfield in Kursk.
It came as Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was confirmed by Russia’s Investigative Committee to have died in a plane crash near Moscow on Wednesday, citing the results of genetic tests it said confirmed the identities of the 10 bodies found in the wreckage.
Western politicians and commentators have speculated that Mr Putin ordered Prigozhin to be killed as punishment for Wagner’s brief mutiny in June. Meanwhile, a resurfaced clip of Prigozhin talking about a “plane falling apart in the sky” has resurfaced on social media.
Russia amassing more than 100,000 troops near northeastern frontline, Ukraine claims
Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops in Ukraine’s northeast and have significantly intensified shelling and airstrikes in Kharkiv and Donetsk, Kyiv’s military has warned.
Nearly 50,000 soldiers are positioned near Lyman in Luhansk, with another 45,000 focused towards Kupiansk, a spokesperson said, where residents fear a second Russian takeover just less than a year after the Kharkiv city was liberated – and evidence of torture chambers and mass graves uncovered.
The reports of Russian troops amassing further north also come amid Ukrainian claims, as per the Institute for the Study of War think-tank, that Moscow could be diverting some “relatively elite” soldiers to Zaporizhzhia, where Ukraine appears to have broken through Russia’s front lines – in a move suggesting Moscow may be suffering from a lack of reserve troops there.
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 23:46
Wartime elections could take place in Ukraine, says Zelensky
Elections could potentially take place in Ukraine during wartime if Kyiv’s allies share the cost, domestic politicians approve and all residents are able to vote, president Volodymyr Zelensky has said.
In an interview with Ukrainian broadcaster 1+1, the president discussed claims by US senator Lindsey Graham that Ukraine must show it was different to Russia by holding elections in wartime – which is currently forbidden under Ukraine’s martial law.
“I gave Lindsey a very simple answer very quickly,” Mr Zelensky said. “He was very pleased with it. As long as our legislators are willing to do it.”
He said it cost 5 billion hryvnia (£107m) to hold elections in peacetime, adding: “I don’t know how much is needed in wartim. So I told him that if the US and Europe provide financial support … I will not take money from weapons and give it to elections. And this is stipulated by the law.”
Mr Zelensky added that he had told the Republican senator: “You and I should send observers to the frontlines so that we have legitimate elections for us and for the whole world”, adding that Kyiv would also need help setting up voting access for citizens now overseas.
Mr Zelensky also said those fighting Russia’s invasion would have to be included. “They are defending this democracy today, and not to give them this opportunity because of war – that is unfair. I was against the elections only because of this.”
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 22:55
Destroyed Russian tanks installed at Kyiv’s Independence Square
Residents in Kyiv have been pictured walking past an installation showing destroyed Russian tanks, set up on Khreschatyk Street in the Ukrainian capital’s centre.
A protest calling for the release of Ukrainian soldiers captured by Russia took place at the adjoining Independence Square in Kyiv, 500 days after they were seized in the city of Mariupol.
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 22:03
ICYMI: Putin orders Wagner fighters to sign oath of allegiance following Prigozhin plane crash
Vladimir Putin has ordered Wagner fighters to sign an oath of allegiance to the Russian state, amid anger in the mercenary group’s ranks over their leader’s apparent assassination in a plane crash near Moscow.
The decree was published on the Kremlin’s website and signed with immediate effect by Mr Putin, as his spokesperson Dmitry Peskov insisted that claims Prigozhin had been killed on the Russian president’s orders were an “absolute lie”.
The wording of the oath includes a line in which those who take it promise to strictly follow the orders of commanders and senior leaders, as questions hang over the fate of the mercenaries – many of whom had already relocated to Belarus following their mutinous march on Moscow in June.
You can read the full report here:
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 21:14
Listen as Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin confirmed dead by Russian officials
Listen as Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin confirmed dead by Russian officials
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 20:51
Putin ‘remains in a difficult position’ after Prigozhin death, says former diplomat
An “under pressure” Vladimir Putin “remains in a difficult position” in spite of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s apparent death, an expert has suggested.
Describing it as a “surprise” that the Russian president appeared to spare the Wagner mercenary last June after his shortlived mutiny against Russia’s military leadership, Dr Nigel Gould-Davies of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said it now appears that Mr Putin “merely postponed Prigozhin’s death”.
Dr Gould-Davies, a former ambassador to Belarus, suggested that this was “probably to lull him and others into a false sense of security while the security services conducted their investigation into the extent of sympathy for, complicity in and foreknowledge of the Wagner revolt in military and other circles”.
“It is likely that they have now concluded this investigation,” he said. “General Sergei Surovikin, detained after the revolt and not seen since, was fired as head of the Russian Aerospace Forces immediately before Prigozhin’s death. This timing is unlikely to be a coincidence.
Describing Prigozhin’s June revolt as “the biggest threat so far to Putin’s presidency”, he added: “Although Prigozhin is dead, Putin remains in a difficult position and is under pressure from hardline siloviki to escalate the war by mobilising far more of Russia’s human and material resources.”
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 20:23
Zelensky vows to seek harsher punishments for wartime corruption
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to ask parliament this week to increase penalties for those found guilty of corruption during wartime.
“I have set a task for the legislation and the Ukrainian legislators will be offered my proposals to equate corruption with high treason in wartime,” he said, adding: “I think the parliament will get it in the next week and then the ball is in the parliament’s court.”
Earlier this month, Mr Zelensky dismissed regional military recruitment chiefs at all conscription centres across Ukraine following a nationwide audit, as he seeks to tighten Ukraine’s war effort and reassure Western allies that he is serious about cracking down on corruption.
Ukraine ranks 116th out of 180 countries on campaign group Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index.
In the clip shared to Telegram on Sunday, Mr Zelensky said those found guilty must face justice. “But this is not a firing squad. This is not Stalinism,” he added. “If there is evidence, the person must be behind bars.”
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 20:02
Prigozhin death will harm Wagner’s recovery, says analyst
The apparent deaths of Yevgeny Prigozhin and other Wagner bosses means the Wagner mercenary group will struggle to reverse the trajectory of decline which has befallen it in recent months, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War has suggested.
“We’re not going to see Wagner in the same capacity that we have seen before,” Kateryna Stepanenko, one of the think-tank’s Russia analysts told Axios.
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 19:40
Prigozhin’s death ‘doesn’t change anything’ for Russian activities in Africa, intelligence official warns
Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death “doesn’t change anything” and the Kremlin’s hand in affairs in Africa could now “be more strengthened”, a Nigerian intelligence official has warned.
The official is cited in a Wall Street Journal report which tracks the Wagner chief’s final movements in the weeks before his apparent death in a plane crash near Moscow.
Prigozhin’s death “doesn’t change anything,” the official told the paper, as Nigeria looks on with concern at the possible expansion of Russian-backed military governments in west and central Africa.
“Russia is still there. When the Wagner leader is gone, they are still active in Africa … Maybe now the Kremlin’s hands will be more strengthened.”
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 19:22
Who is ‘Juice’? The ‘mega talent’ Ukrainian pilot killed in mid-air plane crash
Ukraine is mourning the loss of three fighter pilots killed as two training aircraft collided in the skies some 90 miles west of Kyiv, with Captain Andriy Pilshchykov, a pilot who went by the military callsign “Juice”, having been particularly singled out for praise.
The late pilot, who was 30 years old when the crash occured over the western Zhytomyr region on Friday, had become known not just for his defence of Ukraine, but also for his passionate advocacy for the United States to provide Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets.
The Mig-29 pilot first won fame in Ukraine as he took part in “dogfights” with Moscow’s fighter jets in the skies above Kyiv during the initial months of Russia’s invasion, according to Ukrainian news outlets.
You can read more about his military record and how he chose his callsign here:
Andy Gregory27 August 2023 19:00