Russia Ukraine war latest: Kyiv ‘gains foothold’ in Zaporizhzhia as Putin snubs Wagner chief funeral

Wagner chief Prigozhin killed

Ukraine’s armed forces have gained a foothold in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, where they are believed to be advancing towards Russia’s second line of defence.

Kyiv’s General Staff said on Tuesday its forces had “achieved success … within the re-captured frontiers” and were attacking detected enemy targets with artillery as well as carrying out counter-battery measures.

The battlefield update came as the Kremlin said Vladimir Putin had no plans to attend the funeral of Yevgeny Prigozhin, as the Wagner chief’s press service said a closed-door “farewell” service had been held for him on Tuesday, with mourners welcome at a cemetery in his native St Petersburg.

Prigozhin died when his business jet crashed last week, two months after he and his Wagner mercenaries staged a mutiny against Russian military commanders in which they took control of a southern city, Rostov, and advanced towards Moscow before turning back 200 km (125 miles) from the capital.

Western politicians and commentators have theorised that Mr Putin ordered Prighozin’s death as an act of vengeance. However, Mr Peskov called the suggestion an “absolute lie”.


Why did Russia invade Ukraine?

Ukraine has fought back courageously against Mr Putin’s warped bid to restore territory lost to Moscow with the collapse of the Soviet Union and has continued to defy the odds by defending itself against Russian onslaughts with the help of Western military aid.

Eleanor Noyce29 August 2023 17:50


The Ukraine war, propaganda-style, is coming to Russian movie screens. Will people watch?

The movie centres around a renowned violinist from Belgium arriving in Kyiv to perform. The date is February 2022, and his trip is upended as Russia starts bombing Ukraine. The musician survives a series of “inhuman crimes and bloody provocations by Ukrainian nationalists,” and he wants to tell the world “what it was really like.”

“The Witness” — a state-sponsored drama that premiered in Russia on Aug. 17 — is the first feature film about the 18-month-old invasion. It depicts Ukrainian troops as violent neo-Nazis who torture and kill their own people. One even wears a T-shirt with Hitler on it; another is shown doing drugs. It also has the main character’s young son wondering: “Isn’t Ukraine Russia?”

Eleanor Noyce29 August 2023 17:20


Russian shelling kills one in northeast Ukraine, Kyiv says it’s pushing south

Russian shelling killed a 45-year-old civilian man in the town of Kupiansk on Tuesday, local officials said, as Moscow’s forces try to advance in northeastern Ukraine.

Russia seized Kupiansk in the northeastern region of Kharkiv soon after its invasion in February 2022, but Ukrainian forces recaptured the town last September and it is now under daily fire.

Some residents remain in the town, but regional authorities have ordered a mandatory evacuation of civilians from near the Kupiansk front because of the difficult situation.

Regional governor Oleh Synehubov said the man killed on Tuesday was a guard at a meat processing plant that was hit in the latest shelling. The prosecutor general’s office said a 67-year-old man had also been hurt during the shelling.

Kupiansk was home to about 27,000 people before the war and is a rail hub about 100 km (62 miles) east of the regional capital, Kharkiv. Losing the town a second time would be a considerable blow to Kyiv’s battlefield momentum.

Reuters could not verify the situation in the town, or reports of fighting elsewhere.

Ukrainian troops began a counteroffensive in the east and south in early June but have made slow progress through Russian minefields and trenches blocking their southern push, intended to reach the Sea of Azov and split Russian forces.

A military spokesperson said Ukrainian forces were pushing on southwards in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia after recapturing Robotyne, the latest of a cluster of settlements and villages it says it has taken back in recent weeks.

Oleksandr Pishchyk, a school director, stands in front of the school library that was destroyed by shelling in Kupiansk, Ukraine, 23 August 2023


Eleanor Noyce29 August 2023 16:57


Putin moved £75million superyacht weeks before Ukraine invasion to avoid having it seized

President Putin moved his £75million superyacht three weeks before Russia invaded Ukraine to avoid having it seized as part of war sanctions, a new investigation has claimed.

Secret documents released by Russian investigative journalist Maria Pevchikh, who heads the anti-corruption foundation set up by Alexei Navalny, show the Russian president had his yacht ‘Graceful’ sail from from Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany to the Russian semi-exclave of Kaliningrad two weeks before the invasion.

The documents show an email was sent by an employee of Russia’s largest shipping company, the SCF Group, to Blohm & Voss saying the owner of Graceful is unhappy with an on-going “refit” and wants the ship to sail out of the Hamburg port on February 1, 2022.

Eleanor Noyce29 August 2023 16:32


Russian hard-line nationalist ordered to stay in prison after accusing Putin of weakness

A Moscow court has ruled that a prominent hard-line nationalist who accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of weakness and indecision in Ukraine should remain in prison on charges of extremism.

Igor Strelkov, a retired security officer who led Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and was convicted of murder in the Netherlands for his role in the downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that year, has argued that a total mobilization is needed for Russia to achieve victory. He has previously criticised Putin as a “nonentity” and a “cowardly mediocrity.”

Moscow’s District Court ordered the 52-year-old Strelkov, whose real name is Igor Girkin, to remain in custody until 18 September. Strelkov was arrested on 21 July and faces charges of making calls for extremist activities. He could receive five years in prison if convicted.

Eleanor Noyce29 August 2023 16:18


Prigozhin mourners can ‘visit cemetery’, press service says

Here is more on the statement from Yevgeny Prigozhin’s press service:

“The farewell to Yevgeny Viktorovich took place in a closed format. Those who wish to say goodbye may visit Porokhovskoye cemetery,” it said in a short post on Telegram, accompanied by a photo of Prigozhin.

Andy Gregory29 August 2023 15:47


Mourners hold closed-door ‘farewell ceremony’ for Yevgeny Prigozhin

A “farewell ceremony” for Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has taken place behind closed doors, his spokespeople have said.

The Kremlin earlier confirmed that Russian president Vladimir Putin was not planning to attend the funeral.

Nigel Gould-Davies, a former UK ambassador to Belarus, now with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, had said that Prigozhin’s funeral would be significant.

“If Putin wishes to emphasise that Prigozhin died as a traitor, he will ignore it,” Dr Gould-Davies said last week.

“Prigozhin’s supporters may use the moment to eulogise him and his critique of the Kremlin’s conduct of the war, which could strengthen the hostility of a core group of Wagner loyalists towards the Kremlin.

Andy Gregory29 August 2023 15:44


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.”

You can read more about the situation here with Independent Premium:

Andy Gregory29 August 2023 15:42


Funeral held in St Petersburg for Wagner logistics chief

Russian mercenaries have gathered for the burial of Wagner’s logistics chief Valery Chekalov, who was killed in last week’s plane crash apparently also involving Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The family of Chekalov was joined by dozens of people, some of whom Reuters identified as Wagner mercenaries and employees from Prigozhin’s business empire, at the Severnoye cemetery in St Petersburg on Tuesday.

A Russian Orthodox priest said prayers and swung a censer before Chekalov’s coffin as family, friends and former colleagues, some holding bunches of flowers, bade farewell, Reuters video showed.

Some, including women and children in sunglasses, came forward to kiss his coffin. Unidentified mourners at the funeral ordered a Reuters videographer and photographer to stop filming.

Relatives react by the coffin of Valery Chekalov

(AFP via Getty Images)

People gather near the coffin with body of the Wagner Group chief Valery Chekalov


Andy Gregory29 August 2023 15:24


Prigozhin’s death ‘just reconfirms risks from Russia’, says Moldova president

Moldova’s president has warned that the apparent death of Yevgeny Prigozhin “just reconfirms the risks which come from Russia, a country which does not have justice”.

Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Chisinau, as Moldova marked its 32nd independence day, Maia Sandu said: “This just reconfirms the risks which come from Russian, a country which does not have justice, which solves the problems the way it solves.

“And, unfortunately, this does not limit to Russia’s borders. Unfortunately, this is the way Russia acts with respect to its neighbours.”

Warning that “Ukraine needs to get more support”, Ms Sandu said: “Everybody should understand that if Ukraine is not helped, then Russia will not stop in Ukraine or Moldova.”

“I believe more support will be coming soon, so that Ukraine could recover its territories and we will see an end to this crazy war,” she added.

Andy Gregory29 August 2023 14:59

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