Last War in Ukraine: British Troops 'To Stop Russian Invasion' of European Country; businessman 'positioning himself as a credible alternative to Putin' (2023)

key points
  • Ukraine's Defense Ministry shares new footage of drone 'attacking' Russian warship
  • Zelenskyy gives surprise talk to US students
  • Prigozhin 'positioning himself as a credible alternative' to Putin
  • Pro-Russian actors 'probably' faked ship data to create 'Z' symbol in Black Sea
  • US intelligence believes Ukraine was likely behind drone attack on Kremlin
  • Anti-Putin paramilitary group says there will be more raids|Who are the fighters behind the Belgorod raid?
  • Wagner Group fighters begin withdrawal from Bakhmut
  • Your questions answered: Can the UK defend itself after sending weapons to Ukraine?
  • Have a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live reporting by Olive Enokido-Lineham (formerly) and James Robinson


US announces new military aid package for Ukraine - reports

The US is to announce $300m (£243m) in military aid to Ukraine, according to Reuters.

The package, which is expected to contain surface-to-surface rocket launchers and other general ammunition, could be announced on Friday, the news agency reports, citing two official sources.

The US has pledged over $35bn (£28.5bn) in security assistance to Ukraine since its February 2022 invasion of Russia.

This comes after Finland announced plans for a €109m (£94.6m) military aid package.


Footage claims to show marine drone hitting Russian warship

Footage has been posted online which appears to show a Russian warship being hit by a marine drone.

This comes after Russia claims to have thwarted an attack on one of its ships - the Ivan Khurs - in the Black Sea on Wednesday.

Russia's Ministry of Defense shared footage it claimed showed gunners destroying an unmanned marine drone approaching the ship.

He described the attack as "unsuccessful".

Now the footage - which Sky News has not been able to verify - appears to show a drone hitting the boat.

It was shared on the official Twitter account of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, which tweeted: “When the Russian reconnaissance ship “Ivan Khurs” encountered a Ukrainian drone.

"Actually, a perfect match!"


US imposes sanctions on Wagner's boss in Mali amid weapons conspiracy allegations

The US imposed sanctions on the head of the Wagner mercenary group in Mali.

This comes amid accusations from Washington that the group planned to buy weapons for Russia from foreign nations and forward them to the West African nation.

The US Treasury Department has now announced sanctions against Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov, who it describes as the head of Wagner's paramilitary units and his top Mali-based administrator.

In the statement announcing the sanctions, the department also accuses Wagner of working in close coordination with the government of Mali to carry out its implementation in the country.

Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, on Wednesday dismissed the US allegations as a "hoax".


Two Russian 'SU-type' aircraft downed in Zaporizhzhia region, says Zelenskyy

Another interesting note from Zelenskyy's evening speech - he claims that the National Guard of Ukraine shot down two Russian 'SU-type' aircraft in the Zaporizhzhia region.

He does not give further details about the aircraft.

An SU call sign refers to aircraft made by Sukhoi - Russian military aircraft manufacturers.

"I am grateful to two of our particularly accurate warriors," he says.

"By the way, one of them has already received the title of Hero of Ukraine and shot down not only enemy aircraft, but also a cruise missile."


Zelenskyy gives more details on Ukraine's prisoner exchange - and reveals eight military officers among those freed

President Zelenskyy, speaking in his evening speech, reveals more details about the prisoner exchange that we reported on earlier today.

He says 106 people have been returned to Ukraine, including eight military personnel and 98 soldiers and NCOs.

Zelenskyy does not elaborate on the returned Russian prisoners.

He does, however, issue a reminder to Ukrainian troops about how taking prisoners allows them to make such deals.

"I am grateful to each of our Soldiers who ensured that we had an appropriate exchange fund.

"Everyone on the front lines must remember this: the more Russian prisoners of war we take, the more of our people we will return."

He adds: "I thank everyone who gave this result."


Video of Wagner's boss showing respect for Bakhmut's dead could be the start of an 'international public relations campaign', experts suggest

A video has emerged of Wagner mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin standing next to two coffins - one draped in a US flag and the other in a Turkish flag.

The coffins belong to a former US Marine killed in Bakhmut and a Turkish national who died alongside his wife in a building Prigozhin says was blown up by Ukrainian forces.

Wagner's forces were involved in most of the fighting in Bakhmut, which has been the backdrop to one of the fiercest and bloodiest skirmishes of the war so far.

Experts say the video, in which Prigozhin pays tribute to the dead, could be a public relations exercise designed to please world leaders and an international audience.

Maxim Mironov, a Russian-born economics professor now working for IE University in Madrid, wrote on Twitter: "I interpret this video as the beginning of Prigozhin's international PR campaign.

"Look at everything, 'I'm a normal person, I respect those killed in battle, here are their bodies, in coffins, with flags. You can do business with me, I'm up to it'."

Cold War historian Sergey Radchenko, sharing the video, added: "I agree with this analysis, very interesting."

Before, ourmilitary analyst Sean Bellsaid how the head of the Wagner Group appears to be "positioning himself as a credible alternative" to the Russian president.

Bell told Sky News that the businessman and paramilitary chief was "tasting victory" in Bakhmut - the eastern city where his fighters claim to have taken control.


'Time is the most valuable resource': Zelenskyy gives surprise speech to US graduates

Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a surprise speech to US graduates.

The Ukrainian president delivered the speech – via video link – to Johns Hopkins University students during their graduation ceremony today.

"Time is the most valuable resource on the planet," he told them.

"Some people realize it sooner, and those are the lucky ones.

"Others realize it too late, when they've lost someone or something."

Zelenskyy also described a recent visit to Ukrainian troops on the front lines, saying many have similar dreams and aspirations as American students.

However, he said the tragedy of the war was now their focus.

"You need to know exactly what you need today - and what you want your tomorrows to be like," he said.


Sweden could allow Ukrainian pilots to train on its own fighter jets - as it softens stance on sending aircraft

Sweden could allow Ukrainian pilots to test their own fighter jets - the JAS-39 Gripen.

Defense Minister Pal Jonsson said the government was considering allowing Ukrainian pilots to test the Swedish jets.

It's a significant softening of Sweden's policy and comes after the US agreed to allow Western nations to export US-built F-16s to Ukraine.

The Nordic country has already ruled out sending any Gripen fighter jets, saying they are necessary for its own territorial defence.

But, speaking to Swedish media, Jonsson said the country was looking with "a positive spirit" on a Ukrainian request to allow its pilots to try out the Swedish plane.

“This could mean, for example, test flights, using simulators, learning more about the extensive Earth system that forms part of the Gripen system,” he says.

However, he reiterates that Sweden has no immediate plans to transfer Gripen aircraft to Ukraine.

The Gripen is a single-engine aircraft designed to take off and land from scattered bases and even highways, which some analysts say would be a good fit for Ukraine's air force, which currently relies on Soviet-era fighter jets.


Russian fighter jet deployed to stop two US bombers from 'violating' its border, state media reports

Russia says it has deployed a fighter jet to stop two US bombers from "violating" its border, according to Russian state media agency TASS.

It is the second time this week that Russia's Ministry of Defense has launched a fighter jet due to allegations of US activity near its borders.

On Tuesday, the ministry claimed that two US B-1 Lancers were deployed flying towards its airspace over the Black Sea.

The Pentagon responded, saying the bombers were taking part in a planned exercise in Europe and the Russian fighter's interaction with the planes was "safe and professional".


Residents living next to the reservoir fear rising water levels after the Russians damaged the floodgates.

Residents living next to a Ukrainian reservoir are at risk of losing their homes after nearby floodgates were damaged by Russian troops.

Those who live near the waters of the Kakhovka Reservoir in the south, near Zaporizhzhia, say their homes are threatened by rising water levels.

Russian forces destroyed the road and deck of the New Kakhovka bridge last November, damaging some of the gates in the process.

Since mid-February, the water level in the reservoir has steadily risen, according to data from Theia, a French geospatial analytical organization.

The images show houses dangerously close to being flooded by the rising waters.

Ihor Medyunov, whose yard is now a small patch of swampy grass, said: "There's nowhere to go.

"Let's wait for a better time to rebuild, fix it. It's very painful."

David Helms, a retired meteorologist who monitored reservoir levels during the war, said the floods were being caused because the flow through the dam system in the Dnipro was not adjusting to the river's seasonal flow.

He said this is being done deliberately or through negligence.

“The Russians are just not actively managing and balancing the flow of water,” said Helms, comparing it to a bucket with a small hole that is now being filled by a hose.


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