The Russian private military company Wagner has likely been given responsibility for specific frontline sectors in eastern Ukraine, perhaps as Russia faces a severe shortage of combat infantry, the UK Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update this morning.
This is a significant change from the group’s previous employment since 2015, when it typically undertook missions separate from regular large-scale Russian military activity.
He also said that Wagner’s forces are highly unlikely to be sufficient to make a significant difference to the trajectory of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine has stepped up its campaign to retake Russian-held areas in the south by trying to bombard and isolate Russian troops in hard-to-resupply areas, military officials said.
Ukrainian planes hit five Russian strongholds around Kherson and another nearby town on Thursday, according to its army.
Kyiv said it also took over some small settlements on the northern edge of the Kherson region.
The Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south of the country “is gaining momentum”, according to British defense and intelligence officials.
Ukraine has virtually cut off the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson, leaving thousands of Russian troops stationed near the Dnieper River “highly vulnerable” and isolated, the UK Ministry of Defense has said.
Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, was reportedly hit by Russian shelling this morning, according to local officials.
The city’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, said a central part of the northeastern city was hit, including a two-story building and a higher education institution.
Terekhov said the strike happened just after 4 a.m. on Friday
“The state emergency service is already working – they are sorting through the rubble, looking for people under them,” in a Telegram update.
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.
I’m Samantha Lock and I’ll bring you all the latest developments in a short time.
Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, was hit by Russian shelling this morning, according to local officials. We’ll bring you more details as they unfold.
It’s 8am in Kyiv and here’s where things stand.
- Ukraine has stepped up its campaign to retake Russian-controlled regions in the south trying to bombard and isolate Russian troops in hard-to-resupply areas. Ukrainian planes hit five Russian strongholds around Kherson and another nearby town on Thursday, according to its army. Kyiv said it also took over some small settlements on the northern edge of the Kherson region.
- The Ukrainian counter-offensive in the south of the country “is gaining momentum”, according to British defense and intelligence officials. Ukraine has virtually cut off the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson, leaving thousands of Russian troops stationed near the Dnieper River “highly vulnerable” and isolated, the UK Ministry of Defense has said.
- Residents of Russian-occupied areas in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region have been told to evacuate. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said people risked being cut off “from electricity, water, food and medical supplies, heating and communication” if they remained in the area.
- Five people were killed and at least 25 injured when Russian missiles hit the hangars of an aviation company in Kropyvnytskyi, north of Mykolaiv, Thursday.
- At least two people were killed in the Donetsk city of Toretsk Thursday, when a five-story building collapsed after a Russian missile strike.
- Two people in the southern seaside town of Koblevo were blasted by a sea mine as they swam despite a ban, Mykolaiv regional governor Vitaliy Kim said.
- US lawmakers were briefed by US officials who said more than 75,000 Russians were believed to have been killed or injured during the war. The number was “enormous,” Elissa Slotkin, a Democratic House representative who had previously attended a secret U.S. government briefing, told CNN. However, there was no current information from official authorities in Russia on the number of deaths.
- The UN aid chief said he hoped the first shipment of grain from a Ukrainian Black Sea port could take place as early as Friday.. Martin Griffiths said details “crucial” to the safe passage of ships were still being worked out and “the devil was in the details”.
- Talks between the Kremlin and Washington on a possible prisoner exchange have reportedly not resulted in a concrete agreement ‘yet’ Thursday. The deal would involve swapping a notorious Russian arms dealer for an American basketball star and former Marine.
- Estonia said on Thursday it would prevent Russian nationals from obtaining temporary residence permits or visas to study in Estoniain a move his foreign minister described as putting “relentless pressure” on Russia and its people.
- Hungarian Prime Minister says Ukraine cannot win war against Russia under NATO’s current support strategy. “This war in this form cannot be won,” said Viktor Orbán. “Without a change in strategy, there will be no peace.”
- Former Russian state television journalist Marina Ovsyannikova has been fined 50,000 rubles ($820 or £681) after being found guilty of discrediting the country’s armed forces. in social media posts condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Ovsyannikova dismissed the lawsuits against her as “absurd”.
- Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor has filed a lawsuit to revoke the registration of independent newspaper Novaya Gazetawhich had previously announced that it would resume operations in Russia after the end of the war.
- British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she would be Ukraine’s “greatest friend” if she replaced British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Truss said she would work with allies to provide more weapons and humanitarian aid in an effort to “ensure that Putin fails in Ukraine and suffers a strategic defeat, and that Russia is constrained in the future. “.
- German cities impose cold showers and turn off lights to reduce energy consumption in the face of an impending Russian gas crisis. Hanover has announced energy-saving measures, including shutting off hot water in showers and bathrooms in city-run buildings and recreation centers. Other cities turn off spotlights on public monuments and turn off fountains.