Ukraine war latest: British troops 'to prevent Russian invasion' of European country; businessman 'positioning himself as credible Putin alternative' (2023)

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


US to announce new military aid package for Ukraine - reports

The US is set to announce a $300million (£243million) worth of military aid for 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, reports the news agency, quoting two official sources.

The US has pledged more than $35billion (£28.5billion) worth of security assistance to Ukraine since Russia's February 2022 invasion.

It comes after Finland earlier announced plans for a 109 million Euros (£94.6million) military aid package.


Footage claims to show sea drone hitting Russian warship

Footage has been posted online, which appears to show a Russian warship being struck by a sea drone.

It comes after Russia claims it had foiled an attack on one of its ships - the Ivan Khurs - in the Black Sea on Wednesday.

Russia's defence ministry shared footage which it claimed showed gunners destroying an unmanned sea drone approaching the ship.

It described the attack as "unsuccessful".

Now footage - which Sky News has been unable to verify - appears to show a drone hitting the boat.

It has been shared on the official Twitter account of Ukraine's defence ministry, which tweeted: "When the Russian reconnaissance ship "Ivan Khurs" met a Ukrainian drone.

"Indeed, a perfect match!"


US imposes sanctions on head of Wagner in Mali amid accusations of weapons plot

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

It comes amid accusations from Washington that the group have been plotting to buy weapons for Russia from foreign nations then and route them through the west African nation.

The US Treasury Department has now announced sanctions on Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov, who it describes as the head of Wagner paramilitary units and its principal administrator based in Mali.

In the statement announcing the sanctions, the department also accuses Wagner of working in close coordination with Mali's government to execute its deployment in the country.

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

(Video) How Long Will Europe’s Support of the War in Ukraine Last? | VICE News Tonight


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

Another interesting note from Zelenskyy's nightly address - he claims Ukraine's National Guard has downed two Russian 'SU-type' aircraft in the Zaporizhzhia region.

He does not give any further details about the aircraft.

An SU call sign relates to aircraft made by Sukhoi - makers of Russian military aircraft.

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

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


Zelenskyy gives more detail on Ukraine prisoner swap - and reveals eight military officers among those released

(Video) Stalemate Again - Russian Invasion of Ukraine DOCUMENTARY

President Zelenskyy, speaking in his nightly address, reveals more details about the prisoner swap we reported on earlier today.

He says that 106 people have been returned to Ukraine, including eight military officers and 98 soldiers and sergeants.

Zelenskyy does not give any further details about the Russian prisoners given back.

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 we had an appropriate exchange fund.

"Everyone on the frontline should 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."


Wagner chief's video showing respect to Bakhmut dead could be start of 'international PR campaign', experts suggest

Video has emerged of the founder of Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, standing beside two coffins - one draped in a US flag and the other in a Turkish flag.

The coffins are said to be for a former US marine killed in Bakhmut and a Turkish citizen who died alongside his wife in a building which Prigozhin claims was blown up by Ukrainian forces.

Wagner forces have been involved in the vast bulk of the fighting in Bakhmut, which has been the backdrop to one of the fiercest and bloodiest conflicts of the war so far.

Experts say the video, in which Prigozhin pays his respect to the dead, could be a PR exercise designed to curry favour with 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 am a normal person, I respect the fallen in battle, here are their bodies, in coffins, with flags. You can do business with me, I am adequate'."

Cold War Historian Sergey Radchenko, sharing the video, added: "Agree with this analysis, very interesting."

Earlier, our military analyst Sean Bell said how the Wagner Group chief appears to be "positioning himself as a credible alternative" to the Russian president.

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


(Video) How Bulgaria Tricked Putin to Rescue Ukraine

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

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made a surprise speech to graduates in the US.

The Ukrainian president made the speech - via video link - to Johns Hopkins University students during their commencement ceremony today.

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

"Some people realise this sooner, and these are the lucky ones.

"Others realise it too late, when they lose someone or something."

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

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

"You have to know exactly what you need today — and what you want your tomorrows to look like," he said.


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

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

The country's defence minister Pal Jonsson says the government is considering whether to let Ukrainian pilots test the Swedish jets.

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

The Nordic country has previously ruled out sending any Gripen fighters, saying they are needed for its own territorial defence.

But, speaking to Swedish media, Jonsson says the country is looking with a “positive spirit” on a Ukrainian request to allow its pilots to try out the Swedish plane.

“That could, for example, mean test flights, using simulators, learning more about the extensive ground system that is part of the Gripen system," he says.

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

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


Russian fighter jet deployed to prevent two US bombers 'violating' its border - state media reports

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

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

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

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

(Video) Putin's craving for power | DW Documentary


Residents living beside reservoir fear rising water levels after Russians damage flood gates

Residents living beside a Ukrainian reservoir face losing their homes after nearby flood gates were damaged by Russian troops.

Those living near to the waters of the southern Kakhovka Reservoir, nearZaporizhzhia, say their houses are under threat from the rising water levels.

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

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

Pictures show homes perilously close to being flooded by the rising waters.

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

"We will wait for a better time to rebuild, repair. It’s really painful."

David Helms, a retired meteorologist who has been monitoring the reservoir levels during the war, said the floods are being caused because, the flow through the dam system on the Dnipro is not adjusting to the river's seasonal flow.

He said this is being done either deliberately or through neglect.

"The Russians simply aren’t actively managing and balancing the water flow,” Helms said, comparing it to a bucket with a small hole that is now being filled by a hose.


1. The causes and consequences of the Ukraine war A lecture by John J. Mearsheimer
(The Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies)
2. Russia's Winter Offensive in Ukraine - From Bakhmut to Vuhledar, outcomes, lessons, and costs
3. How Poland is Preparing for Full Scale War Against Russia
(The Military Show)
4. Full-scale War in Ukraine -Interviews with Ben Hodges, Fiona Hill, Vlad Vexler, Julia Davis & Others
(Silicon Curtain)
5. A renewed look at Russia’s wartime economy
(Peterson Institute for International Economics)
6. NC Special Edition - Russia’s War Against Ukraine: How We Got Here, and Where Are We Heading?
(NC MuseumofHistory)
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