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Ukraine war latest news today: Russia calls anti-Putin ‘saboteur’ operations a distraction from Bakhmut

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G7 summit: Zelensky and Fumio Kishida lay wreaths at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

The Kremlin has described reports of an incursion into Russia’s Belgorod city by pro-Ukrainian “saboteurs” as a deliberate attempt to distract attention from the battle for Bakhmut, which Moscow claims to have won.

Anti-Kremlin militia launched a cross-border raid in the Russian city from Ukrainian territory, according to Ukrainian media reports and videos shared online, overrunning one Russian village and pushing on into others on Monday.

Two self-described Russian partisan groups carried out the attack, one of the largest such incursions since Russia invaded Ukraine, intelligence officials in Kyiv said.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Vladimir Putin has been informed about the territorial conflict in Belgorod, and that work was under way to drive out the “saboteurs”, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Reports suggest there is some residual fighting still going on in the outskirts of Bakhmut even after Russia claims it captured the city on Sunday, but that the Ukrainian forces have lost control of the last streets of multi-story buildings inside city limits.

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Kremlin says Belgorod situation created to distract from Bakhmut loss

The Kremlin has blamed the incursion in Belgorod as a move aimed to distract attention from the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut.

Russian forces claim to have captured Bakhmut in its entirety after more than nine months of attritional fighting, while reports suggest there is some residual fighting seen in the outskirts of the city, but that the Ukrainian forces have lost control of the last streets of multi-story buildings inside city limits.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said president Vladimir Putin had been informed about the territorial conflict in Belgorod, and that work was under way to drive out the “saboteurs”, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.

“We understand perfectly well the goal of such a diversion — to divert attention from the Bakhmut direction and minimise the political effect of Bakhmut’s loss for the Ukrainian side,” Peskov was quoted as saying.

Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson Andriy Yusov said the Belgorod operation would create a “security zone” to protect Ukrainians from attacks by Russia, reported the country’s outlet Hromadske.

Arpan Rai23 May 2023 05:00

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‘Counter-terrorism operation’ in Belgorod region continues, says governor

The “counter-terrorism operation” in the Russian frontline city Belgorod was ongoing, regional governor said this morning.

He added that the defence ministry and law enforcement agencies are continuing “to clean up” the territory on the border with Ukraine.

“On the situation in the Graivoron district: the cleaning of the territory by the Ministry of Defence together with law enforcement agencies continues,” the governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on the Telegram messaging app.

“I now appeal to the residents of the Graivoron district, who… temporarily left their homes, it is not possible to return yet.”

The governor confirmed one woman died during the evacuation yesterday and reportedly two people were wounded but Russian security forces have not been able to reach them.

Arpan Rai23 May 2023 06:28

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Anti-Putin militia claim to have stormed Russian villages in cross-border raid from Ukraine

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region has accused a Ukrainian “sabotage group” of entering the town of Graivoron, about three miles (five kilometres) from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Officials said anti-Kremlin militia are said to have launched a cross-border raid from Ukrainian territory – overrunning one Russian village and pushing on into others.

The town also came under Ukrainian artillery fire, he said.

The governor, Vyacheslav Gladkov, claimed eight people were wounded and most residents has left the area but the situation remained “tense”.

A spokesperson for the GUR told Ukraine’s public broadcaster, Suspilne, that the two groups were conducting an operation in the Belgorod region to create a “security strip” to protect Ukrainian civilians. The incursion was being carried out exclusively by Russian citizens, the spokesperson added.

Arpan Rai23 May 2023 06:22

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Ukraine-based militia ‘working in Russia’s Belgorod to overthrow Putin regime’

A group calling itself the Liberty of Russia Legion – a Ukraine-based militia led by Russian opposition figure Ilya Ponomarev – says it is now working inside Russia to overthrow Putin.

The group took to Twitter and said it had “completely liberated” the border town of Kozinka. It said forward units had reached the district centre of Graivoron, further east.

“Moving on. Russia will be free!” it wrote.

The group also released a video showing five heavily armed fighters.

“We are Russians, like you. We are people like you. We want our children to grow up in peace,” one said, facing the camera. “It is time to put an end to the dictatorship of the Kremlin.”

In Kyiv, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted: “Ukraine is watching the events in the Belgorod region of Russia with interest and studying the situation, but has nothing to do with it.

Arpan Rai23 May 2023 04:45

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Wagner Group looking to bring military equipment from Mali to Ukraine, says US

Russia’s Wagner Group is trying to obscure its efforts to acquire military equipment for use in Ukraine, the US State Department said.

Washington has been informed the mercenary force is seeking to move those acquisitions through Mali to aid Russia in its war and is willing to use false paperwork for such transactions, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at a news briefing yesterday.

“There are indications that Wagner has been attempting to purchase military systems from foreign suppliers and route these weapons through Mali as a third party,” Mr Miller said.

“We have not seen as of yet any indications that these acquisitions have been finalised or executed, but we are monitoring the situation closely.”

Mr Miller said Washington has imposed sanctions on a number of people and entities that support Wagner’s military operations, and said the United States would have more to share soon.

Arpan Rai23 May 2023 04:26

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Videos from inside Belgorod show fighting, inspection of captured vehicles

A video posted late last night from Belgorod showed a fighter inspecting a captured armoured vehicle and another video showed what it said were fighters operating an armoured vehicle on a country road.

The video was posted by one of the two armed Russian opposition groups, the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC), carrying out the operations inside Moscow’s territory. Another group, the Liberty of Russia Legion, is also involved in attacking Russian forces in Belgorod, according to the Ukrainian outlet Hromadske which cited Ukrainian military intelligence.

Other videos posted on Russian and Ukrainian social media channels showed pictures and video of what were described as captured Russian servicemen and their identity documents.

The Telegram channel Baza, which has links to Russia’s security services, had earlier published aerial footage apparently showing a Ukrainian armoured vehicle advancing on the Graivoron border checkpoint.

There were indications of fighting in three settlements along the main road leading into Russia, according to Baza.

The Liberty of Russia Legion released a video showing five armed fighters.

“We are Russians, like you. We are people like you. We want our children to grow up in peace,” one said, facing the camera. “It is time to put an end to the dictatorship of the Kremlin.”

Arpan Rai23 May 2023 03:58

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Wagner chief says he will pull fighters out of Bakhmut after ‘capturing city’

The leader of a Russian mercenary group has said he will pull its fighters from Bakhmut after claiming to have captured the Ukrainian city.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said Bakhmut, in the eastern Donetsk-Oblast region, had been captured by his private army on Saturday afternoon – a claim Ukraine continues to dispute.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar instead claimed Ukrainian forces have partly encircled the besieged eastern city along the flanks and still control a part of the city.

Joe Middleton23 May 2023 03:00

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ICYMI: Biden pledges ‘shared and unwavering commitment’ to stand with Ukraine at G7 summit

Biden pledges ‘shared and unwavering commitment’ to stand with Ukraine at G7 summit

Joe Middleton23 May 2023 02:00

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World summits’ ‘family photos’ show Putin’s isolation

They’re known as “family photos,” the images of world leaders posed in faux relaxation during global summits.

And like portraits of a family that has isolated a dysfunctional member, recent “family photos” from the G7 and G8 — the world’s most industrialized nations — show how Russian President Vladimir Putin has been outcast.

The Russian president has faced unprecedented international isolation since his nation invaded Ukraine in February 2022. An International Criminal Court arrest warrant hangs over his head and clouds his prospects of traveling to many destinations, including those viewed as Moscow’s allies.

Joe Middleton23 May 2023 01:00

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Rare earths, Ukraine top agenda on French President Macron’s historic visit to Mongolia

Access to rare earth minerals and Russia’s war against Ukraine topped the agenda on French President Emmanuel Macron’s historic visit to Mongolia.

Macron met with his Mongolian counterpart Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh on Sunday in the capital Ulaanbaatar and pledged cooperation on the extraction and trade of minerals used in satellites, cell phones and other key technologies.

The visit was the first by a French head of state to Mongolia, a landlocked democracy of 3 million people twice the size of Texas sandwiched between Russia and China.

Joe Middleton22 May 2023 23:59

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