Ukrainian forces have recaptured part of a village near the annexed city of Bakhmut, the head of the Wagner mercenary group has said, branding it a “disgrace”.
In a recording published by his press service, Yevgeny Prigozhin says: “Now part of the settlement of Berkhivka has already been lost, the troops are quietly running away. Disgrace!”
Ukrainian forces have continued to attack areas north and south of the eastern city. Wagner finally claimed control of Bakhmut in May after months of intense fighting.
The village of Berkhivka lies about 1.9 miles north-west of Bakhmut.
Denis Pushilin, the Moscow-backed governor of the Donetsk region, which includes Bakhmut, told Russian state television that the situation on the city’s flanks was “under control” but “very difficult”.
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Leopard tanks ‘seen in battle for first time’
Western-built main battle tanks donated to Ukraine have been seen in battle for the first time, a senior Russian separatist official has said.
Alexander Khodakovsky, the deputy head of the Russian national guard in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said German-made Leopard tanks had been spotted in the area where Ukraine launched a limited offensive last night.
“The situation in Novodonetskoye and to the left of Veliko Novosilka is difficult - the enemy, pushing at our weak spots, is increasing his efforts. For the first time in our tactical area we have seen Leopards,” he wrote on Telegram.
Mr Khodakovsky is a former Ukrainian special forces officer who switched sides during the first Russian invasion in 2014. He became a key military and political player in the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic and now serves as deputy head of the Russian national guard in the region, which Russia formally claimed as its own last year.
Earlier, Russia’s ministry of defence claimed to have defeated a Ukrainian offensive in the southern Donetsk region, but Mr Khodakovsky said a follow-up attack had achieved surprise and put the Russians in a “difficult position”.
Russian bomber planes fly over neutral seas near Norway
Two Russian strategic bomber planes have carried out routine flights over the Norwegian Sea and Barents Sea off the north coast of Nato-member Norway, the defence ministry has said.
Russia regularly flies its Tu-95МС long-range bombers, which are capable of carrying nuclear missiles, over international waters.
The flight lasted five hours and was carried out “in strict compliance with international airspace regulations”, the ministry said.
Ukrainian military says it has no information about a major offensive
Ukraine’s military said it had no information about a major offensive which Russia said Kyiv had launched at five points along the front line in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk.
Moscow claimed it had thwarted a major Ukrainian assault involving six mechanised and two tank battalions in the south of Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
“We do not have such information and we do not comment on any kind of fake,” a spokesperson for the Ukrainian armed forces’ general staff said in response to a question from Reuters.
A senior aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky later warned against trusting Russian reports on the fighting in Ukraine.
Russian news reports have long since become a separate virtual meta-universe. #Moscow is already actively involved in repelling... a global offensive that "does not yet exist." The million-strong Russian army is actively repelling attacks, destroying thousands of tanks, hundreds…
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) June 5, 2023
“Russian news reports have long since become a separate virtual meta-universe,” presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted.
Ukraine-Russia in pictures:
Russian radio stations 'hacked' to play fake Putin message
The Kremlin said a purported radio address by President Vladimir Putin heard on Russian stations in regions bordering Ukraine was fake and the result of a hack, Russian news agencies reported.
The state-owned news agency RIA said a number of radio stations had carried the hoax address.
“All of these messages are an utter fake,” it cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.
Independent Russian media reported that the announcement had told residents of the Rostov, Belgorod and Voronezh regions, all of which adjoin Ukraine, that Kyiv’s forces had crossed the border with Russia.
They cited the address as saying, wrongly, that martial law had been declared in border regions and a nationwide military mobilisation had begun for Russia’s war with Ukraine, and that residents should evacuate deeper into Russia.
The MIR radio station said the hacking, which it called “an absolute fake and a provocation”, had lasted around 40 minutes.
Wagner says takes Russian soldier captive after army unit attack
Russian private military group Wagner has said it has taken a soldier from Moscow’s regular army captive while accusing his unit of trying to attack its mercenaries in occupied Ukraine.
Wagner’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has for months decried the state of the Russian army and accused Moscow’s top generals of causing excess deaths during the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine.
But this was the first time the mercenary group said it had grabbed a soldier from the official armed forces.
Late Sunday, Prigozhin posted a Wagner “report” dated May 17 that alleged Russian army soldiers had been “mining roads in the rear zone of Wagner units” in Moscow-occupied eastern Ukraine.
Everything you need to know about a Leopard tank
Where did the alleged Ukrainian attacks along the frontline happen?
Belgium quizzes Ukraine over arms used in Russia attack
Belgium is seeking explanations from Ukraine over reports that Belgian-made weapons were used by anti-Kremlin fighters in Russia, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Monday.
“We are asking the Ukrainians to clarify the situation for us,” De Croo told Belgian state radio.
“The rule is strict, it is clear; our weapons ate supplied to Ukraine are for defensive purposes, to (defend) Ukrainian territory.”
De Croo’s comments came in reaction to a report by US newspaper The Washington Post that Western arms were used in Russia’s Belgorod region.
Pro-Ukrainian groups of Russian fighters, anti-Kremlin ultra-nationalists, have launched high-profile cross-border incursions into Russia from Ukrainian territory.
The Washington Post cited US intelligence sources saying four armoured vehicles supplied by the United States and Poland to Ukraine were used in an attack last month.
Ukraine launches 'large-scale offensive' in east, says Russia
Russian forces have thwarted a major Ukrainian attack in the Donetsk region and killed 250 Ukrainian troops, its defence ministry has claimed.
In the south of the region, “the enemy launched a large-scale offensive in five sectors of the front,” the ministry said on Telegram. “A total of six mechanised and two tank battalions of the enemy were involved.”
It was not possible to verify Russia’s claims. Kyiv has for months said it is preparing a major counteroffensive, hoping to reclaim territory lost since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.
Amid speculation that Ukraine’s forces were about to go on the attack, Oleksii Reznikov, the Ukrainian Defence Minister, published a cryptic message on Twitter on Sunday, quoting a Depeche Mode’s song.
“Words are very unnecessary. They can only do harm,” he said.
'No prospect' for further grain deal renewal, says Russia
Russia’s foreign ministry said that it saw no prospects for extending the Black Sea grain export deal, which is set to expire in mid-July, Russian news agencies reported.
TASS news agency quoted the foreign ministry as saying that it was continuing consultations with the United Nations over the deal, and that ship inspections had resumed.
'It's now or never for the Ukrainian military'
Mark Urban, BBC Newsnight’s Diplomatic Editor, says this marks a big moment in the war, noting that the “smart” and “motivated” Ukrainian army have many advantages on their side.
He says it is too early to ascertain axes of Ukrainian ground attacks, and says they have many options: going eastwards into the Donbas; expanding the Belgorod incursion in Russia; going south from Kherson to Crimea; and going south from Zaporizhzhia towards the Sea of Azov.
Russia has been “knocked off balance” by the Ukrainian army’s shaping operations, he says, noting that its forces are “exhausted” and “stretched”. But Russia’s army remains very strong in artillery and has improved its use of drones. Their air attacks are also depleting Ukraine’s missile stocks, he says.
“Significant Ukrainian gains should be possible,” he says, but, caveats that “a Russian collapse is “possible but not probable.”
Ultimately, he concludes, “it’s now or never for the Ukrainian military.”
Zelensky's chief of staff: True wisdom is to be able to convince the enemies they have already lost
True wisdom is to be able to convince the enemies they have already lost. Victory or defeat, it is born in heads first.
— Andriy Yermak (@AndriyYermak) June 5, 2023
Poland receives draft EU regulation extending ban on Ukrainian food imports
Poland’s agriculture minister has received a draft regulation from the European Commission extending a ban on Ukrainian grain imports until September 15, he said.
“We have received from the EC a draft of a new regulation banning the import of 4 products to the 5 countries,” Robert Telus wrote on Twitter. “The effective date provided for in the draft is September 15 this year.”
Analysis from Dominic Nicholls
For months now Ukraine has been conducting operations against Russia that military commanders would call ‘shaping’ activity, writes Dominic Nicholls, The Telegraph’s Associate Editor (Defence).
The purpose of such action is to try to create the best possible conditions for any future operations.
Shaping operations involve a mix of different weapons, geography and purpose, but they are all designed to overload the opponent’s command and control systems.
Consequently, over recent months we have seen differing types of attacks taking place, from irregular activity along (and just over) the border, to attacks on air bases, fuel refineries and industrial facilities inside Russia.
All the while, Ukraine has sought to seek out and destroy Russian artillery pieces (32 of which were reportedly destroyed on June 3), air defence and electronic warfare systems and other equipment vital to Russia’s defence.
Whatever is happening today in Ukraine likely forms part of that context of shaping operations. We should discount immediately reports from Russia about Ukrainian activity and losses. Until independently verified we exist in the frustrating but entirely normal ‘fog of war’.
The tricky thing for Russian commanders to decide however, is when the shaping operation has finished and the main attack has started. Which attack is the diversion and which is the main thrust? It could be many days before anybody knows the answers to such questions.
Ukraine in pictures:
Wagner chief claims that Ukraine has retaken an area north of Bakhmut
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner chief, said that Ukrainian forces had retaken part of the settlement of Berkhivka, north of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, calling it a “disgrace”.
“Now part of the settlement of Berkhivka has already been lost, the troops are quietly running away. Disgrace!” Prigozhin said in an audio message published by his press service.
He urged Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov, to come to the front to rally the troops.
“Come on, you can do it!” he said. “And if you can’t, you’ll die heroes.”
It comes after Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, said that Ukrainian forces continued “moving forward” near Bakhmut.
Kremlin calls US statement on nuclear arms control 'positive'
The Kremlin said that a statement by United States national security adviser Jake Sullivan calling for bilateral arms control discussions was “positive”, and that Russia remained open for dialogue.
Mr Sullivan said on Friday that the United States would abide by the nuclear weapons limits set in the New START treaty until its 2026 expiry if Russia did the same.
Papal envoy heads to Ukraine to 'listen carefully' to possible peace plans
Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, tasked by Pope Francis to carry out a peace mission to try to help end the war in Ukraine, has headed to Kyiv for a two-day trip to sound out government authorities.
The Vatican announced his visit, which many observers see as an uphill effort, in a short statement. It said the main purpose was “to listen carefully to Ukrainian authorities on the possible ways to reach a just peace and support humanitarian gestures that may help ease tensions”.
It was not clear if Zuppi, who is archbishop of Bologna and head of the Italian Bishops Conference, would meet President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Pro-Ukrainian fighters capture Russian soldiers during raid on Russian soil
Pro-Ukrainian fighters said they captured at least two Russian soldiers during a cross-border raid on Russian soil.
Denis Kapustin, leader of the Russian Volunteer Corps which is allied with Kyiv, paraded the alleged prisoners in a video filmed in what appeared to be the operations room of a hospital.
The move is another major escalation for a group causing mayhem in southern Russia and embarrassing the Kremlin by launching attacks in the country with apparent ease.
Read more from James Kilner here
Watch: Alleged Russian strikes on Ukrainian armored vehicles
Video of Russian strikes on Ukrainian armored vehicles advancing today in the South Donetsk direction. pic.twitter.com/eYbDiOAeMt
— Clash Report (@clashreport) June 5, 2023
Two drones fall on highway in Russia's Kaluga region
Two drones fell Monday morning on a highway in Russia’s Kaluga region, the governor of the region, Vladislav Shapsha, said on the Telegram messaging app.
“There was no detonation, the area has been cordoned off,” Shapsha said.
The region borders the Moscow region to its north.
Latest MoD update: Russia launched 'over 300' Shahed drones against Ukraine
During May, Russia launched more than 300 Iranian Shahed series one way attack uncrewed aerial vehicles (OWA-UAVs) against Ukraine, the Ministry of Defence has said in its daily intelligence briefing.
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 05 June 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/ZBWyk4tK0H
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/E0RATcLPZ4
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 5, 2023
Pictured: A Ukrainian serviceman looks on near the Ukraine-Russia border in Kharkiv
Drone attack reportedly sets energy facility on fire in Russia's Belgorod region
A drone attack reportedly set an energy facility on fire in Russia’s Belgorod region in the early hours of Monday, the region’s governor said.
“In the Belgorod region, one of the energy facilities is on fire. The preliminary cause of the fire was an explosive device dropped from a drone,” Vyacheslav Gladkov said on the Telegram messaging app. “There were no casualties.”
Ukrainian forces continue 'moving forward' near Bakhmut
Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, said that Ukrainian forces continued “moving forward” near Bakhmut.
General Syrskyi said that Ukrainian forces were successful in destroying a Russian position near the city.
“We continue moving forward,” he said on the Telegram messaging app.
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