Wagner chief Prigozhin killed
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The US has vowed to continue drone missions over the Black Sea after Russia scrambled jets yesterday, claiming it intercepted two US Air Force drones near the Crimean peninsula.
The Russian defence ministry said it deployed two fighter jets to ward off the US military’s MQ-9 “Reaper” and RQ-4 “Global Hawk” after they were detected flying over the southwestern part of the Black Sea on Monday.
A Pentagon spokesperson told CNN that Washington is “permitted by international law to ensure freedom of navigation and manoeuvre” over the Black Sea and it will “continue to fly routine missions”.
It came as Ukraine’s military declared it had liberated the Zaporizhzhia village of Robotyne, with Kyiv’s troops now reportedly advancing towards Russia’s second line of defence, as fierce fighting also rages in the east.
Meanwhile, Poland and the Baltic states have threatened to close their borders with Belarus, as they urged Minsk’s authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko to expel Wagner mercenaries from the country.
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Russia scrambles jets to ‘intercept US drones’ near Crimea
Russia says it scrambled two fighter jets on Monday to respond to US drones operating over the Black Sea.
The Russian defence ministry statement on Telegram claimed that the drones had been observed near Crimea and heading for the Russian border on an intelligence mission.
“As a result of the actions of anti-aircraft forces on duty the US intelligence drones altered the direction of their flight and left the area where they were conducting air intelligence,” the ministry statement said.
Russia said it intercepted a US State Air Force MQ-9 “Reaper” and an RQ-4 “Global Hawk”.
A Pentagon spokesperson told CNN the US “will continue to fly routine missions over the Black Sea as permitted by international law to ensure freedom of navigation and manoeuvre in the region”.
Shweta Sharma29 August 2023 05:18
Poland, Latvia and Lithuania threaten to shut down borders with Belarus
Poland and the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have agreed to immediately retaliate with stern measures, including shutting down of borders with Belarus in “critical situations”, Poland’s interior minister has said.
Mariusz Kaminski of Poland met his counterparts of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia in Warsaw on 28 August to discuss regional security issues.
“We are determined on joint action if a critical situation arises,” he said. “Regardless of whether it is on the Polish, Lithuanian, or Latvian borders, we will apply immediate retaliation. All border crossings that are open so far, both passenger and cargo, will be closed.”
The countries had been raising concerns over Wagner group members’ presence in Belarus, raising security risks for the Baltic states.
“We demanded of the Lukashenko regime that the Wagner Group immediately leave the territory of Belarus,” Mr Kaminski said.
Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko has said Wagner would continue to maintain a strong presence in the country even after commander Yvgeny Prigozhin’s death.
Shweta Sharma29 August 2023 05:00
Ukrainian drones destroyed by Russian air defences over Tula region
Russian air defences shot down two Ukrainian drones flying over Russia’s Tula city south of Moscow on Tuesday, according to the state-run RIA news agency.
Tula is the largest city and administrative centre of Tula Oblast in Russia
Shweta Sharma29 August 2023 04:41
Jailed US citizen Paul Whelan seen sewing inside Russian penal colony in rare video
US citizen Paul Whelan, a former marine who is jailed in Russia over espionage charges, was seen in a rare footage broadcasted by a Kremlin-backed news channel.
Mr Whelan was seen dressed in the prison’s black uniform and a matching hat. He appeared in different parts of the prison with other inmates, sewing using a sewing machine and while at the cafeteria in the footage put out by state-controlled network Russia Today (RT).
He said the channel had showed up in the prison in May to film Mr Whelan and when he declined to participate, the prison staff retaliated against him. In the video, Mr Whelan tells the questioner that he will not answer his questions.
The US citizen was arrested in 2018 and convicted of spying in 2020, a charge the US denied. He was sentenced to 16 years in a penal colony in Mordovia, a Russian region notorious since Soviet times for its penal colonies. He has denied the accusations.
The Biden administration has designated Mr Whelan as “wrongfully detained,” a legal term that means that the charges are baseless and that he was targeted primarily because he is an American citizen.
Shweta Sharma29 August 2023 04:30
Ukraine ‘adamantly against’ extension of EU grain sales ban
Ukraine strongly opposes the imposition of any restrictions on the import of its grain by neighbouring countries after a European Union ban ends next month, Kyiv’s foreign minister has said.
After Russia’s invasion blocked Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, large quantities of the country’s grain – which is cheaper than EU crops – stayed in central Europe due to logistical bottlenecks, impacting prices and sales for local farmers.
In May, the EU relented to allow Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to ban domestic sales of Ukrainian wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower seeds until 15 September, while allowing transit of cargoes for export elsewhere.
The five countries want the ban extended until the end of the year and some have threatened to introduce their own restrictions if Brussels does not act.
But Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba warned Kyiv was “adamantly against” any such steps. “This move will violate rules of common market,” he said during a visit to Prague. “This move will violate the Ukraine-EU association agreement … it will go against the principle of solidarity.”
Andy Gregory29 August 2023 04:05
What next for the Wagner Group as leader presumed dead in plane crash?
The Wagner founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is confirmed to have died in a plane crash – a turn of events that appears to leave his Wagner Group fighters rudderless and facing a highly uncertain future.
Now Poland the Baltics have threatened to close their borders with Belarus unless Wagner troops are forced to depart.
My colleague Joe Sommerlad takes a look at what could lie in store for the mercenary group:
What next for the Wagner Group in Russia?
Options for the mercenary group – in the wake of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s demise – include complete dissolution, nationalisation into the conventional Russian army or finding a new leader. Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to hold the key to the future
Andy Gregory29 August 2023 03:04
How ‘industrial-scale’ Russian minefields are hampering Ukraine’s counteroffensive
One of the most significant challenges confounding Kyiv’s efforts to redraw the front line is the millions of mines Russia has laid in their path, to the extent that Ukraine is now being described as the most heavily mined country in the world.
“What we are seeing is an industrial level of mine-laying, particularly anti-tank mines,” said Paul McCann, of the Halo Trust, the world’s largest humanitarian landmine clearance organisation. “Nothing like it [has been] seen in Europe since the Second World War.”
In one part of the liberated Mykolaiv region, close to lands flooded by the Khakovka Dam attack, clearance workers found “incredibly dense” fields of powerful anti-tank mines, with one explosive for every square metre, Mr McCann said.
You can read more about Ukraine’s battle with Russia’s minefields here:
Andy Gregory29 August 2023 02:06
Listen as Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin confirmed dead by Russian officials
Listen as Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin confirmed dead by Russian officials
Andy Gregory29 August 2023 01:15
Five killed in Russian attacks, Ukrainian officials say
Three people have been killed in an overnight Russian missile strike in central Ukraine, and two died in shelling later on Monday in the east and south, Ukrainian officials have said.
Interior minister Ihor Klymenko said the three people were killed at an industrial plant in central Poltava region. Five were wounded and another person was unaccounted for, he said.
Presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said those killed were night shift workers at a vegetable oil factory in the Myrhorod district and posted photos showing the plant in flames. Mr Klymenko said the fire had later been extinguished.
Oleksandr Prokudin, governor of southern Kherson region, said a 63-year-old woman had been killed in the mid-morning shelling of the village of Sadove.
Russian shelling killed a man working outside his home in the early evening in Toretsk, in eastern Donetsk region, prosecutors said.
Other reports from Ukrainian officials described heavy Russian shelling of Marhanets, opposite the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, with four people injured. Regional officials reported three injured in the shelling of nine localities in northern Sumy region.
Ukraine’s military also said central Kryvyi Rih region in had been struck in a missile attack. Local authorities said private houses were damaged, but reported no casualties.
Andy Gregory28 August 2023 23:51
Russia accuses citizen who worked at US consulate of collecting information for Washington diplomats
Russia’s FSB security agency has said that a detained former employee of the US Consulate in Vladivostok is accused of collecting information about Russia’s action in Ukraine and related issues for US diplomats.
The FSB said Robert Shonov is suspected of “gathering information about the special military operation, mobilization processes in Russian regions, problems and the assessment of their influence on protest activities of the population in the runup to the 2024 presidential election”.
The agency also said it had summonses to question two US diplomats who allegedly instructed Mr Shonov to collect the information. His arrest was first reported in May, but Russian authorities provided no details at the time.
The US State Department, which previously condemned the arrest, has warned the allegations against Shonov “are wholly without merit”, and said the law used to charge him highlights “the increasingly repressive actions the Russian government is taking against its own citizens”.
Andy Gregory28 August 2023 23:10