Ukraine war latest: Russia rages at UK over 'serious escalation' of long-range missiles to Kyiv; Kremlin 'seriously disturbed' by Wagner chief's attacks (2023)

Key points
  • 'Serious escalation': Russia issues warning to UK over missiles move
  • Russia admits its forces have retreated -as Wagner boss says they are 'fleeing'
  • Ukrainian troops 'advance' towards Bakhmut
  • Russian leadership 'seriously disturbed' by Wagner chief's attacks
  • Your questions answered: Where will Ukraine's counterattack take place?
  • Explained: What is Ukraine's counteroffensive - and how could it affect the war?
  • Zelenskyy blocked from addressing Eurovision
  • Britain believes sending missiles is risk worth taking | Deborah Haynes
  • Live reporting by Katie Williams


'Talented' Ukrainian film set designer killed in battle

A "talented" Ukrainian film decorator has been killed in battle, the country's parliament has announced.

Volodymyr Chornyi had been volunteering as a soldier but was killed in action along the frontline on 9 May.

Mr Chornyi was known for his work on the film Pamfir, which was released last year.

The film's team said his death was an "indescribable loss".

"Everything you saw in the film was also created by Volodymyr's hands," a statement read.

"He was absolutely dedicated, talented, tireless and loving."

His partner Olena Biletska said she "screamed" after hearing he had been killed, and "didn't believe" it was true.

"You became a super warrior... you went to the positions yourself. You led the military to the most dangerous places, painted on the enemy, pulled out wounded comrades from the battlefield, and well poured tallow over the collar of the Russians," she added.


Should UK be concerned about Russian threats over missile decision?

Former Commander of Joint Forces General Sir Richard Barrons has been speaking to Sky News about the significance of the UK's decision to provide Ukraine with long-range, Storm Shadow missiles - and Russia's angry response (as detailed in our 16.31 post).

"We shouldn't be particularly concerned because there is almost no prospect of this donation of Storm Shadow missiles resulting in Russian missile attacks on London, for example," he says.

"It might manifest itself cyberattacks or social media interference, but really Russia is opposed to these missiles being handed to Ukraine because they know that puts every square inch of Ukraine that Russian occupies within range of 500 kilograms of high explosive attached to a really effective missile that's very hard to shoot down. That's never happened before.

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"And one of the reasons that they're singling the UK out for this is they don't want other countries to follow suit. And of course, we want other countries to follow suit."


Ukraine counteroffensive has 'high chance of significant success', Czech leader and former army chief says

Ukraine's planned counteroffensive to win back territory occupied by Russia has a good chance of success but may bring high casualties if Russia uses its prepared defences well, Czech President and former NATO general Petr Pavel has said.

The 61-year-old said in an interview today that Ukraine needs support for NATO and European Union entry but joining either will be a lengthy process, though talks on the EU accession could start this year.

Mr Pavel, who was Czech army chief and also the principal military adviser to the NATO secretary-general in 2015-2018, said Ukraine would eventually get Western fighter jets it has been calling for.

He warned, however, it was impossible to deliver them in time for the upcoming offensive, and that there were higher priorities such as ammunition.

"There is certainly high hope that the Ukrainian counteroffensive will be successful, because Ukraine is motivated, well-prepared, its troops are experienced and certainly do not succumb to such deficiencies as the Russian army," Mr Pavel said at Prague Castle, the seat of the Czech presidency.

The Russian army has been suffering from severe problems in logistics and morale, but a collapse of defences should not be expected, he said.

"Russia has had time to prepare a relatively high-quality and in-depth defence in several lines, which, if used effectively, will cost... Ukraine large casualties," he said.

It was impossible to say what size of territory Ukraine could win back as various scenarios were open, he added.

"Things do not always go according to wishes and plans but I think that the chance for a significant Ukrainian success is really high."


'A serious issue': White House responds to reports South Africa passed weapons to Russia

By Mark Stone, US correspondent in Washington DC

White House National Security Spokesman Admiral John Kirby has described reports that a Russian cargo shop transported weapons from a port in South Africa to Russia in December as a "serious issue".

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Speaking to Sky News, he said: "We have consistently and strongly urged countries not to provide any support for Russia's war. We don't believe that anybody should be making it easier for Mr Putin to kill innocent Ukrainian people, period.

"We've had multiple conversations at multiple levels, with multiple countries about those concerns, but obviously I'm not going to get into the diplomatic conversations themselves. It's a serious issue. We've discussed it with many countries."

America's ambassador to South Africa said yesterday that he was confident a Russian ship, the Lady R, had picked up weapons in the country last year, in a possible breach of Pretoria's declared neutrality in the war.

"We are confident that weapons were loaded onto that vessel, and I would bet my life on the accuracy of that assertion," Ambassador Rueben Brigety told journalists in South Africa.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday that his government would open an inquiry.

"The matter is being looked into and in time, in time we'll be able to speak about," the President said.

At the White House, Admiral Kirby would not be drawn further on the issue but added: "No other nation should be looking for ways to make it easier for Mr Putin to kill Ukrainian people.

"They're the aggressor. They need to leave. They shouldn't be there in the first place. And nobody should be looking for any way to make it easier for him to conduct this war and I'll leave it at that."


Provision of long-range missiles an intended escalation, military analyst says

The UK has made a "brave" decision to send Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine and the move is intended to be an escalation, says defence and security analyst Professor Michael Clarke.

Reacting to a statement from Russia's defence ministry which called the move an "extremely hostile step," Clarke says the decision "bothers the Russians" because the missiles are "very good" and can "hit more or less anything".

"They've got a very, very good track record," he tells Sky News.

"Nothing shoots them down, so of course the Russians are worried about this."

Clarke says it's not new for Russia to brand arms aid for Kyiv an 'escalation' - but in this case, that was the aim.

"Ben Wallace is very clear about this," he adds.

"In the House of Commons... he said, yes, we are escalating because we are looking at what you are doing. This is a message to you, Moscow."

Clarke says it's a "brave decision", with the response from Russia "expected".


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'A serious escalation': Russia issues warning to UK over decision to send long-range missiles to Ukraine

Russia's foreign ministry says a decision by the UK to transfer Storm Shadow long-range missiles to Kyiv is a "serious escalation of the situation".

In a strongly worded statement, the ministry said Moscow reserved the right to "take all necessary action" in response to the move.

"We regard this decision as another extremely hostile step by London, aimed at further pumping up Ukraine with weapons and leading to a serious escalation of the situation in the zone of the special military operation," the statement read.

Russia says the transfer of high-precision missiles, which have a range of over 250km, demonstrates an "unprecedented level of involvement of the UK in the Ukrainian conflict".

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace confirmed yesterday that the missiles would be handed over to Kyiv, saying they offered Ukraine's armed forces "the best chance to defend themselves against Russia's continued brutality".


Drone shots show a city reduced to wasteland

The devastation of the city of Marinka in eastern Ukraine has been laid bare in new photos captured by a drone.

Once home to 10,000 people, intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has reduced the entire area to wasteland.


Two pilots dead after Russian military helicopter crashes over Crimea - reports

Two Russian pilots have been killed after a military helicopter crashed in occupied Crimea, Russian news agencies are reporting.

(Video) Outgunned Ukrainian pilots take the fight to Russia

The Mi-28 helicopter crashed in the Dzhankoi region of the southern Ukrainian peninsula at 3.42pm (12.42pm UK time) during a training flight, Russia's defence ministry is cited as saying.

Equipment failure is believed to be behind the incident.

Russian media reports that the helicopter was flying without weapons and an official investigation has been launched to confirm the cause of the crash.


Anti-drone unit unveiled in St Petersburg after Kremlin 'attack'

A new anti-drone unit has launched in St Petersburg - days after a purported drone attack on the Kremlin which Moscow claimed was an attempt to kill Vladimir Putin.

Police in Russia's second-largest city have created the drone unit which reportedly debuted on 9 May during Victory Day celebrations.

Roman Uvarov, head of St Petersburg's interior ministry, said the unit was aimed at ensuring "the protection of public order" during large events.

It comprises officers armed with sniper rifles and carbines, groups trained to neutralise drones and mobile patrols to detain anyone suspected of operating them.

Russia accused Ukraine and the US of being behind the alleged drone attack on the Kremlin last week without evidence - with both countries strenuously denying any involvement.


Zelenskyy thanks UK for 'irreplaceable' arms aid

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has thanked the UK for "significantly enhancing" Ukraine's military capability with the provision of long-range missiles.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace confirmed yesterday that Storm Shadow cruise missiles - which have a range of over 250km (155 miles) - will be provided to Kyiv's armed forces.

The Ukrainian president said he thanked UK prime minister Rishi Sunak in a phone call "for the significant enhancement of our capabilities with long-range Storm Shadow missiles and other irreplaceable military assistance".

The pair also discussed further defence cooperation and Ukraine's future with NATO.

(Video) “Kyiv’s Drones Tried To Attack Russian Ship”, “F-16 Legitimate Targets”, Wagner Lauds Ukraine Army


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