Ukraine's Last War: Russia 'Changes Bakhmut's Name'; Putin faces 'worsening discipline' in the military (2023)

Most important points
  • Ukrainian silence on Bakhmut 'suggests further advances by Wagner'
  • Russia says the city will now be known by its Russian name
  • Why the Belgorod invasion poses a challenge to Moscow, Kiev and Western allies
  • Lukashenko from Belarus says 'I'm not dying' after health speculation
  • The Russian military "struggled" to enforce discipline in its ranks
  • Your questions answered: What does a defeat for Putin look like?
  • Do you have a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live coverage by Olive Enokido-Lineham


Russian troops shoot down 'large number' of drones in Belgorod

Russian forces have shot down "a large number" of drones in the southern region of Belgorod, a local official has claimed.

The drones were intercepted over the province at night, Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegramalready.

He said no one was injured, but administrative buildings, residential buildings and cars were damaged in Borisov district.

Sky News was unable to verify this report.

It comes just days after reports of an armed attack across the Ukrainian border into the region.

In what appeared to be one of the largest incursions from Ukraine since the start of the war 15 months ago, two alleged anti-Kremlin armed groups employing Russians abroad said they were responsible for the attack in Belgorod.

Russia says more than 70 attackers have been killed in the region and the remnants of their units have been pushed back into Ukrainian territory after two days of fighting.

Moscow blames "Ukrainian militants", but Kiev portrayed the alleged raid as an uprising by Russian partisans and said it had nothing to do with it.


The chief of the UN nuclear watchdog and the head of the Russian nuclear company hold a meeting

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog has met with the head of Russia's state-owned nuclear energy company in Beijing to discuss the safety of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, and the Director General of Rosatom, Alexey Likhachev, met in Beijing.

The IAEA says it was part of Mr Rossi's "reinforced efforts" to gain support for the principles of "preventing a nuclear or radiological accident" at the power plant.

(Video) Russia's Massive Naval Problem

Further details about the discussion were not provided.

Russia captured the factory, the largest in Europe, in the early days of the war.

Concerns have been raised about the safety of the plant on several occasions.

On Monday, the power station was temporarily disconnected from external power and switched on to emergency power generators. Both sides blamed each other for the power outage.


Two people found dead in ruins of residential building in Donetsk

The bodies of two dead have been recovered from the ruins of a building in a town in the Donetsk region, Ukraine's defense ministry said.

The ministry says Russia "completely destroyed" a nine-story building in Avdiivka yesterday.

It added that a woman is in critical condition. Footage posted by the ministry shows rubble and debris on the ground.

Yesterday, the head of the military administration of the city of Avdiivka, Vitalii Barabash, said a Russian missile had destroyed a residential building in the city.

OpTelegram, he said two people were injured.

Avdiivka was one of the main targets of a Russian winter offensive designed to revive the full-scale invasion of Moscow, but made only small territorial advances in the east.


Yevgeny Prigozhin: 'We are in such a condition that we could lose Russia'

The founder of the Wagner mercenary group has warned that the Russian elite must take the war in Ukraine seriously or risk losing and facing a revolution.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview on his Telegram channel that Ukraine would try to surround Bakhmut and attack Crimea.

(Video) Russia slows down, Ukraine prepares for counteroffensive - DOCUMENTARY

He said: "Most likely, this scenario will not be good for Russia, so we have to prepare for a heavy war.

"We are in such a condition that we could lose Russia - that is the main problem ... We must impose martial law."

Prigozhin said his political outlook was dominated by love for the motherland and serving Vladimir Putin.

The Russian elite, he said, protected their own children from the war, while the children of ordinary Russians perished at the front, a situation he said could cause unrest in Russia.

If ordinary Russians got their children back in zinc coffins while the children of the elite sunbathe abroad, Russia would face turmoil along the lines of the 1917 revolutions that ushered in civil war.

Ukraine is preparing a counter-offensive to push Russian troops back to pre-2014 borders, when Russia annexed Crimea, Prigozhin said.

The Wagner Group has been heavily involved in the fighting in Bakhmut. He previously threatened to withdraw his troops from the city, accusing the Russian military leadership of starving the ammunition group.


Russian-backed official calls Bakhmut by his former Soviet name

The acting head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic says Bakhmut would now be known by its former Soviet name of "Artemovsk".

Denis Pushilin said he visited and claimed the Ukrainian city on TuesdayTelegramthat the Russian flag was "hoisted" over "Artemovsk".

He thanked the Wagner Group fighters for their efforts in the battered city and added that the "Russian city" would be restored.

Bakhmut is in Ukrainian Donetsk - part of the largely Russian-speaking industrialized Donbas region that Moscow wants to annex with its self-declared "special military operation".

While the Russian army and Wagner mercenaries claimed full control of the city over the weekend, Ukrainian forces dispute this, saying they made small progress against Russian forces on the outskirts of the city.


The Belgorod invasion poses several challenges to Moscow, Kiev and Western allies

Referring back to the armed attack in Russia's Belgorod region earlier this week, Major General Rupert Jones says that while there is still a "degree of confusion" about the incursion, it poses several challenges for Russia, Ukraine and Western allies.

He told Sky News: "From a Russian perspective, it points to an internal security problem, it's humiliating for them, it's an attack on their own soil."

He adds that from a Western perspective, it will "cause some concern" about the extent to which Ukraine "supports that incursion".

"If we give guns, we're concerned about those guns being used in Russia, so there's going to be some diplomatic concerns."

Russia says more than 70 attackers have been killed in the Belgorod region and the remnants of their units have been pushed back into Ukrainian territory after two days of fighting.

Moscow blames "Ukrainian militants", but Kiev portrayed the alleged raid as an uprising by Russian partisans. In support of that, the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) and the Freedom of Russia Legion - which support Ukraine in the war - have both declared themselves responsible.

(Video) Ukraine Counter Offensive Rundown


Russian military 'struggling to enforce discipline' as courts hear more than 1,000 cases of AWOL personnel in five months

The Russian military has "struggled" to discipline its ranks in Ukraine and military courts have heard 1,053 cases of personnel gone AWOL this year alone, according to the British Ministry of Defence.

That's more than all of 2022.

The figures come from independent Russian journalists, says the Defense Ministry.

In its daily intelligence update, the ministry says the Russian military's problems with enforcing discipline "are most likely exacerbated" following the forced mobilization of reserves since last October.

The mobilization followed a series of military defeats for Moscow, including in Ukraine's eastern region of Kharkiv and pressure to the south in Kherson.

The ministry says Russia's efforts to improve discipline have focused on creating "examples of defaulters", rather than "addressing the root causes of soldiers' disillusionment".


Uniqlo withdraws from Russia

Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has decided to leave Russia.

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing suspended the clothing brand's operations in March 2022, joining numerous international companies after Moscow launched its "special military operation".

Russia's deputy trade minister said the company had decided to leave the country completely but had not yet submitted an application to the government.

That means there is no buyer yet, reports the Russian newspaper Izvestia.

Uniqlo operates 50 stores in Russia.

(Video) December Stalemate - Russian Invasion of Ukraine DOCUMENTARY


Ukrainian silence 'suggests further advances by Wagner'

The Wagner Group may have made further advances in the battered city of Bakhmut, the Institute for the Study of War has suggested.

In an update on the Russian offensive on Tuesday evening, the US think tank said that for the first time since December 2022, the Ukrainian General Staff did not mention fighting in Bakhmut City in its 1800 situation report.

It said this suggests that Wagner Group forces "may have made further advances in the city".

Bakhmut has become the center of fierce fighting in recent months.

Both sides have suffered huge losses and recent satellite images of the city show the extent of the devastation.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon declined to provide details about Bakhmut's status or whether Russia had control of the city.

Russian troops claimed to have taken full control of the city over the weekend, but dismissed Ukrainian troops although they have admitted the pace of fighting has slowed.


Good morning - here's the latest news

Welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Before we bring you the latest updates, here's a reminder of yesterday's major events:

  • On Tuesday, the Russian military said it had routed militants who attacked a Russian border area with armored vehicles, killing more than 70 "Ukrainian nationalists";
  • The governor of Belgorod lifted anti-terrorism measures following evacuations in the area following a raid – pro-Ukrainian groups in Russia have claimed the attacks;
  • Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko told officials he is "not dying, guys" after speculation about his health;
  • Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich - who is being held in Russia on espionage charges - is in jail for another three months.
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