Ukraine latest: Putin orders Wagner troops to swear oath of allegiance; who could replace Prigozhin? (2023)

Key points
  • Wagner troops ordered to swear oath to Russia in wake of Prigozhin plane crash| Read the oath here
  • The latest on Yevgeny Prigozhin's 'death'
  • Drone attacks continue to rain down on Russian territory
  • Rumours swirl around who could replace Prigozhin ashead of Wagner
  • Lukashenko claims he warned Prigozhin of potential assassination attempt
  • Analysis: What the Prigozhin crash investigation should look like
  • Your questions answered: Could Russia keep the Donbas in exchange for Ukraine joining NATO?
  • Live reporting by Ollie Cooperand Katie Williams


Ukrainians get on with daily life as war continues

Some pictures coming out of Ukraine today show how the citizens of Kyiv are getting on with daily life as the conflict with Russia continues.

People were pictured making on their way to a daytime party in the Ukrainian capital this afternoon, while a man was spotted selling balloons next to piles of sandbags blocking windows of an old building.


Russia's military ties with Iran will withstand geopolitical pressure - report

Russia's military cooperation with Iran remains steadfast against geopolitical pressures, according to Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov.

His comments follow reports that Washington has urged Tehran to halt drone sales to Moscow.

"There are no changes, and cooperation with Iran willcontinue," Mr Ryabkov said, according to a report on Saturday fromRussian state news agency RIA. "We are independent states and donot succumb to the dictates of the United States and itssatellites."

The US has been exerting pressure on Iran to discontinue the sale of armed drones, which are being utilised by Russia in the conflict in Ukraine, as per the report by the Financial Times earlier this month. This information was sourced from an Iranian official and another individual familiar with the discussions.

Although Iran has acknowledged its drone shipments to Russia, it has previously claimed that these deliveries occurred prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Moscow has refuted claims of employing Iranian drones during the Ukrainian conflict.


Tributes to Prigozhin continue

Tributes are continuing to pour in from across Russia for Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, after it was reported that he had been killed in a plane crash earlier this week.

The latest of these appears to be in the Siberian city of Irkutsk, which shows the Wagner insignia alongside a memorial plaque and a Russian flag.

Our Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay said yesterday that Prigozhin's death had been hard-felt by many Russians, particularly in his hometown of St Petersburg, where hundreds of tributes were left for the Wagner boss.


Three Ukrainian pilots die after mid-air collsion

Three Ukrainian pilots have died after two training aircraft collided, the air force has confirmed.

The deaths occurred yesterday during a mission.

"During a combat mission, the crews of two L-39 combat training aircraft collided in the sky," an air force statement read on Telegram.

"All three pilots, unfortunately, died."

It also noted that a well-known pilot, nicknamed "Juice", was amongst the dead.

The crash occurred over the Zhytomyr region - west Kyiv.


Lukashenko comments look to maintain appearances and keep relationship with Putin

Alexander Lukashenko's comments after the apparent death of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin were likely a bid to balance his relationship with the Kremlin and "maintain the appearance of being a sovereign leader", the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has claimed.

The Belarusian leader yesterday dismissed the idea that Vladimir Putin was behind the mercenary leader's death, and claimed he had warned Prigozhin about a threat to his life if he pressed on with his short-lived mutiny against the Russian defence ministry two months ago.

He also expanded on his role in the negotiations that led to the agreement that ended Wagner’s rebellion in June - stating he told Wagner leader Prigozhin and his deputy Dmitry Utkin over a series of calls that continuing the rebellion would result in their deaths.

He again portrayed himself again as the one who convinced Prigozhin to end the rebellion, ISW said.

"Lukashenko likely hoped to underscore the initial deal and Wagner’s arrival in Belarus as examples of his ability to make high-level security decisions outside of the Kremlin’s dictates," without undermining Mr Putin's regime in any way, it said.


Analysis: Why has Ukraine stepped up its drone attacks on Russia?

Over the past few days there has been a significant increase in the number of Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory and on targets in Russian-occupied Ukraine.

Although such attacks capture headlines, they rarely cause significant damage and are more of an irritation than having decisive military effect.

So why has Ukraine stepped up its drone attacks on Russia?

Our military analyst Sean Bell takes a look...

In early June, Ukraine launched its much-anticipated spring offensive.

However, nearly 12 weeks on, the frontline still appears static, despite growing casualties.

Despite Western concerns that the offensive might have got bogged down, the Ukrainian forces have been steadily wearing down the Russian defences - striking logistics lines of support and ammunition dumps, and appear to be on the verge of a major breakthrough to the east of Zaporizhzhia .

Conventional military wisdom would suggest that Russia would respond by sending its reserves to "plug the gap" and reinforce any area of weakness on the Russian front-line.

However, in response to continued drone attacks against Moscow, Vladimir Putin will need to bolster domestic security.

His military is still trying to secure the remainder of the Donbas that he does not yet control, and needs reinforcements.

There are also several reports that Ukrainian forces have crossed the Dnipro river and pose a threat to Russia's western flank.

And, recent drone attacks and a Ukrainian amphibious landing on Crimea highlight the growing threat to the territory occupied by Russia back in 2014.

Of all these priorities, Crimea is the "jewel in the crown" and Putin will not want to risk losing the strategically vital port of Sevastopol.

Ukraine's mass of drone attacks across a broad range of targets appears deliberately designed to force Russia into making difficult choices and compromises about where to focus its military efforts.

This implies that Ukraine is on the verge of a significant breakthrough in the coming days, which will seek to capitalise on the growing reports of Russian military disarray, low morale, and shortages of ammunition.

But, confusion and distraction are temporary conditions, so the true test will be whether Ukraine can capitalise - and swiftly.


If you're just joining us...

Here's a roundup of today's key updates if you're just coming to the blog this afternoon:

  • Vladimir Putin has signed a new decree requiring paramilitary fighters, including those from the apparently now leaderless Wagner Group, to swear oaths of allegiance to the Russian state;
  • We've had little further detail about the plane crash which reportedly killed Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin - but a leading defence and security expert told Sky News he is "confident" that the Kremlin was involved and that a bomb brought down the aircraft;
  • Two people were killed after Russian shells hit a cafe in the village of Podola, in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region;
  • Meanwhile, there have been fresh claims of attempted drone attacks on Russian territory - an overnight assault on Moscow led to the temporary closure of three major airports, while the governor of Belgorod, which borders Ukraine,said air defences shot down a drone near thevillage of Kupino;
  • A fire engulfed a warehouse in southwestern Siberia, reportedly containing pyrotechnic equipment, according to Russian authorities.


Russia using grain as a weapon, senior EU official says

A senior EU official has called on Russia to renew the grain deal that allowed the safe passage of Ukrainian grain through Black Sea ports,after Russia exited the agreement last month.

European Commission executive vice president ValdisDombrovskis saidRussia is "using grain as a weapon".

Russian restrictions on the shipping of Ukrainiangrains are creating problems not only forKyiv but for many developing countries, he said.

"We support all efforts by United Nations, by Turkey onBlack Sea grain initiative," he told journalists in India, where he attending a G20 trade meeting, before calling on Russia to renew the deal once and for all.


Evan Gershkovich appeals detention extension in Moscow prison

Imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has appealed a Moscow court's decision to extend his pre-trial detention in Russia by a further three months, state news agencies are reporting.

According to TASS, Mr Gershkovich's lawyers have already filed an appeal against the decision, which was announced on Thursday.

The reporter was formally charged with spying in April, having initially been arrested in March,and has been held at the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow since.

Mr Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal and the US government staunchly deny the charges against him.


Ukrainian security service continues corruption clean-up as four people arrested

Ukraine's security services (SBU) continue to crack down on corruption in the country - one of the key aims of President Zelenskyy's premiership.

Ukraine has suffered from generations of corruption across society, with the SBU today arresting four people in connection with draft dodging.

"The Security Service continues to root out large-scale corruption in military committees and military medical commissions of Ukraine," a statement on the SBU's website read.

Four medical military officials were detained across Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv, who helped people eligible for military service to avoid the draft and flee abroad, it said.

"For money, the officials offered conscripts to evade mobilisation on the basis of fictitious documents stating that they were unfit for military service due to their health."

"The cost of such services was up to $10,000 per person," it added.

Those involved face 10 years in prison if found guilty.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Melvina Ondricka

Last Updated: 12/08/2023

Views: 6000

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (68 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Melvina Ondricka

Birthday: 2000-12-23

Address: Suite 382 139 Shaniqua Locks, Paulaborough, UT 90498

Phone: +636383657021

Job: Dynamic Government Specialist

Hobby: Kite flying, Watching movies, Knitting, Model building, Reading, Wood carving, Paintball

Introduction: My name is Melvina Ondricka, I am a helpful, fancy, friendly, innocent, outstanding, courageous, thoughtful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.