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Russia-Ukraine war at a glance: what we know on day 456 of the invasion

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Russia has replaced its Wagner private military units with regular soldiers in the outskirts of Bakhmut; US intelligence officials believe Ukraine responsible for drone attack on Kremlin

  • Russia has replaced its Wagner private military units with regular soldiers in the outskirts of Bakhmut but the group’s fighters remain inside the devastated city, deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said on Thursday. Her comments appeared at least partially to confirm an announcement by Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin that his group had started withdrawing its forces from Bakhmut in east Ukraine and handing over its positions to regular Russian troops. Prigozhin had repeatedly threatened to withdraw troops from the area before it was taken, citing his dispute with the Russian military and defence establishment over supplies of ammunitions. A couple of days ago Prigozhin sarcastically suggested that his mercenary troops could be replaced by “a battalion of generals”. Yesterday he warned of a new revolution in Russia if leaders did not improve their handling of the war.
Wagner head warns of revolution unless elite gets serious about war – video
Wagner head warns of revolution unless elite gets serious about war – video
  • Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak sought to downplay the idea that there was a counter-offensive coming from Ukraine that would be marked by a single significant shift of gear. He wrote “Once again about the counter-offensive. This is not a ‘single event’ that will begin at a specific hour of a specific day with a solemn cutting of the red ribbon. These are dozens of different actions to destroy the Russian occupation forces in different directions, which have already been taking place yesterday, are taking place today and will continue tomorrow.”
  • Ukraine’s defence ministry claimed to have shot down 36 out of 36 Shahad drones launched into Ukraine by Russia overnight.
  • Suspilne, Ukraine’s state broadcaster, reported that some areas of Chernivtsi were left without power after lines were damaged by falling drone debris.
  • The Russian-imposed head of Crimea’s administration said on Thursday that air defences had downed six drones overnight in different areas of the region. There were no casualties. Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014.
  • Russia’s defence minister has said Belarus remains a “faithful ally and reliable partner” to Russia in the face of western states doing “everything possible … to prolong and escalate the armed conflict in Ukraine” as the two countries signed an agreement on the positioning of nuclear weapons in Belarus. During a visit to Minsk Sergei Shoigu said “deploying nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus does not transfer it to the republic control over it, and the decision on its use remains with Moscow”.
  • Overnight the New York Times has reported that US intelligence officials believe that Ukraine was responsible for the drone attack which slightly damaged the Kremlin, and which Russia labelled an assassination attempt on Vladimir Putin, despite the Russian president not being in the building at the time. Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov said Russia had always held Kyiv responsible, and that it didn’t really matter exactly which Ukrainian units were behind it. Podolyak on Thursday responded by saying Ukraine had nothing to do with the “strange and pointless” attack.
  • The US ambassador to Ukraine has criticised Russia over its implementation of the newly extended Black Sea grain initiative. Bridget Brink tweeted “After repeated threats to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Russia now refuses to allow any of the waiting 28 ships into Pivdennyi, one of the three ports designated by the agreement for food exports – a clear violation of their commitment. Russia must stop obstructing the operations of this life-saving initiative.”
  • Russia has denied a fire broke out at the ministry of defence in Moscow, after users on social media and reports in the local Tass news agency said emergency services had been called to the building. State-owned Tass initially reported on a fire at the ministry early on Thursday morning, but later reported the ministry saying there was none.
  • Washington is looking into reports that American vehicles were used by Ukraine inside Russia, the White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Wednesday. He said the US has been clear with Kyiv that it does not support any such use of US-made equipment.
  • The Kremlin said the use of US-made military hardware by pro-Ukraine fighters who conducted a raid on a Russian border region this week was testament to the West’s growing involvement in the Ukraine conflict. The Russian military said on Tuesday it had routed militants who attacked the Russian border region of Belgorod with armoured vehicles the previous day, killing more than 70 “Ukrainian nationalists” and pushing the remainder back into Ukraine.
  • Russian prosecutors have asked a court to recognise crimes committed by Nazi Germany in the Moscow region during the second world war as a genocide against the peoples of the Soviet Union.
  • Russia said on Thursday it would expel five Swedish diplomats in what it said was a retaliatory measure for Sweden’s “confrontational course” in relations. The Russian foreign ministry said it was responding to the expulsion of five of its diplomatic staff from Sweden last month, which it called an “openly hostile step”.

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