Ukraine-Russia war latest: Ukrainian silence 'suggests further Wagner advances'; Putin ally says 'I'm not going to die' amid health rumours (2023)

Key points
  • Ukrainian silence 'suggests further Wagner advances'
  • Belarus's Lukashenko says: 'I'm not going to die'following speculation over health
  • Russian military 'struggled' to enforce discipline in ranks
  • Why the battle for Bakhmut could be blown open in days | Sean Bell
  • Your questions answered: What does defeat for Putin look like?
  • Got a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live reporting by Olive Enokido-Lineham


Belgorod incursion poses different challenges for Moscow, Kyiv and Western allies

The incursion in the Russian region of Belgorod is "humiliating" for Moscow, but is "appealing" from a Ukrainian point of view, a retired senior British Army officer says.

Major General Rupert Jones says while there is still a "degree of confusion" around Monday's incursion, it poses different challenges for Russia, Ukraine and Western allies.

He told Sky News: "From a Russian perspective it points to an internal security problem, it's humiliating for them it's an attack on to their own soil."

He adds that from a Western perspective it will "cause some concern" over what degree Ukraine was "supportive of that incursion".

"When we're giving weapons, we're concerned about those weapons being used into Russia so there will be some diplomatic concerns."

Russia says more than 70 attackers have been killed in the Belgorod region and the remnants of their units pushed back into Ukrainian territory after two days of fighting.

Moscow has blamed "Ukrainian militants" but Kyiv portrayed the alleged incursion as an uprising by Russian partisans and said it had nothing to do with it.

He adds that from a Ukrainian point of view, the incursion is "appealing".

"It's appealing because it does two things. It draws attention away from what is or isn't happening in Bakhmut… Also we assume that the Ukrainians are getting ready for their big offensive - they will want to draw the Russians eye away from where that attack might come".


Russian military 'struggled to enforce discipline' as courts deal with over 1,000 cases of AWOL personnel

Russia's military has "struggled" to discipline its ranks in Ukraine and military courts have dealt with over 1,000 cases of personnel going AWOL, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.

In its daily intelligence update, it says that the Russian military's issues with enforcing discipline have "highly likely worsened" following the forced mobilisation of reserves since October last year.

The mobilisation followed a series of military defeats for Moscow, including in the eastern region of Kharkiv in Ukraine and pressure in the south in Kherson.

The ministry also cited research by independent Russian journalists saying that between January and May this year, Russian military courts have dealt with 1m053 cases of personnel going "absent without leave" (AWOL) - more than during the whole of 2022.

It adds that court data suggests that most of those found guilty of going AWOL are punished with suspended sentences - meaning they can be "redeployed" to the "special military operation".

The ministry says Russia's efforts to improve discipline has focused on making "examples of defaulters", rather than "addressing roots causes of soldiers' disillusionment".


Uniqlo pulls out of Russia

Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has decided to leave Russia.

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing suspended the clothingbrand's operations in March 2022, joining scores ofinternational companies, after Moscow launched its "special military operation".

Russia'sdeputy trade minister saidthe company had decided to completely leave the country, but was yet tosubmit an application to the government.

This means there is no buyer yet, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported.

Uniqlo operates 50 stores inRussia.


Ukrainian silence 'suggests further Wagner advances'

The Wagner Group may have made further advances within the battered city of Bakhmut, the Institute for the Study of War has suggested.

In an update on Russia's offensive on Tuesday night, the US thinktank said the Ukrainian General Staff did not report fighting in Bakhmut City in its 1800 situational report for the first time since December 2022.

It said this suggests that Wagner Group forces "may have made further advances within the city".

Bakhmut has become the focus of fierce fighting in recent months.

Both sides have experienced huge losses and recent satellite images of the city show the scale of devastation.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon declined to offer details on the status of Bakhmut or whether Russia had control over the city.

Russian forces claimed they had taken full control of the city over the weekend - which Ukrainian forces dismissed although they have admitted that the pace of fighting has decreased.


Good morning - here's the latest

Welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Before we bring you all the latest updates, here's a reminder of the key events from yesterday:

  • On Tuesday, the Russian military said it had routed militants who attacked a Russian border regionwith armoured vehicles, killing more than 70"Ukrainian nationalists";
  • The governor of Belgorod lifted anti-terrorism measures following evacuations in the area after an incursion - pro-Ukraine groups in Russia has claimed the attacks;
  • Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko told officials he's "not going to die, guys" following speculation about his health;
  • Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich - who is being held in Russia on espionage allegations - has been detained for a further three months.


Bosnia's Serb leader vists Moscow - in move that could damage countries EU hopes

Vladimir Putin has met with Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik in Moscow - in a move that could damage the country's hopes of joining the European Union.

The pair hailed a growth in the trading relationship between Russia and Dodik's Serb Republic.

"This trend should certainly be maintained," Putin said.

Following a devastating ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia was divided into two autonomous regions and a third, much smaller, autonomous area.

One region, known as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is shared by Bosniaks and Croats and the other is the Serb Republic.

The three are linked via a weak central government, with each one having its own president.

While Bosnia has no unified foreign policy, Dodik, a Serb nationalist, has maintained close relations with Putin.


Ukraine's top prosecutor launches criminal proceedings against Belarus over child abduction claims

Ukraine's top prosecutor has launched criminal proceedings against Belarus over the alleged kidnapping of thousands of Ukrainian children.

The children are alleged to have been transported from the Russian occupied Ukrainian territory to "recreational camps" in Belarus.

The announcement came in response to a report by theexiled Belarusian opposition alleging that 2,150 Ukrainianchildren, including orphans aged six to 15, were taken toso-called recreation camps and sanatoriums on Belarusianterritory.

The National Anti-Crisis Management said in its preliminary report that the children were taken to at least three locations in the country - which was used as a staging post for troops ahead of Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine Prosecutor General's office told Reuters that it had launched criminal proceedings over the "forced transportation/deportation" of more than 19,000 children from occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, and Kharkiv, including to Belarus.

"The fact and circumstances of taking Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine to the so-called 'recreational camps' in Belarus are currently under investigation in the mentioned criminal proceedings," Andriy Kostin's office said in a statement to Reuters.

Reuters said it had not received a response to a request for comment from Alexander Lukashenko's office.

In March, the International Criminal Court, the world'spermanent war crimes tribunal, issued arrest warrants forRussian President Vladimir Putin and his children's rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, on two counts of warcrimes for moving hundreds of Ukrainian children to Russia.


Wall Street Journal reporter to be detained in Russia for a further three months

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich - who is being held in Russia on espionage allegations - has been detained for a further three months, according to Russian state media.

Mr Gershkovich, a US citizen, was arrested in Russia in March on charges.

The 32-year-old reporter, the first US journalist since the Cold War to be detained in Russia on spying charges, strongly denies the allegations.

According to Russia's state news agency, RIA, Mr Gershkovich, will remain in custody until the end of August.

Reports from Russia said the extension was brought about after a request by the country's security service - the FSB - for more time to investigate the claims ahead of a possible trial.

Tuesday’s court hearing was not announced in advance, and the entire case has been wrapped in secrecy.

Russian authorities have not detailed what evidence, if any, they have to support the espionage charges

President Joe Biden has expressed his "deep concern" about the decision to extend Mr Gershkovich's detention.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, told CNN: "He should be released immediately."


Belarus's Lukashenko tells officials: 'I'm not going to die, guys'

Alexander Lukashenko has appeared in public and dismissed claims that he is in ill health.

In a video shown to a state media outlet, the Belarusian president, 68, told officials "I'm not going to die, guys".

Mr Lukashenko, one of Vladimir Putin's closest allies, had not been seen since 9 May at a military parade in Moscow where he appeared tired and unsteady.

He told a meeting thathe had been suffering from an adenovirus, which is a commoncold virus.

Footage of the encounter was broadcast by PulPervovo, a state outlet that reports on Mr Lukashenko's activities.

He claimed that while it only took three days to recover fromsuch a virus, he had been too busy to take time off immediately.

"I'm not going to die, guys. You'll have to struggle with mefor a very long time to come," he added.

President Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994 and has allowed Russia's forces to launch attacks on Ukraine from his territory.


Russian defence ministry claims US bombers detected approaching border over Baltic Sea

Two US bombers have been detected approaching the Russian border over the Baltic Sea, according to the Russian defence ministry.

They say a fighter jet was scrambled to intercept the two bombers and prevent any border incursions.

The aircraft were described as "US Air Force strategic bombers" and did not cross the border, according to Russian officials.

The US Air Forceoperates three types of strategic bombers, the huge B-52 Stratofortress, the B-1 Lancer and the stealthy B-2 Spirit.

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