Russia-Ukraine war live: Wagner troops begin withdrawing from Bakhmut
Wagner troops have begun to withdraw from the front line city of Bakhmut, the head of the mercenary force has said.
“We are leaving Bakhmut by unit. Today, it is now 5 o’clock in the morning, May 25,” said Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner founder, in a video on his Telegram channel.
The video showed the Wagner chief walking among the ruins of the city and speaking to fighters.
Mr Prigozhin had said on Saturday that Bakhmut had fallen to his fighters, who had been spearheading the campaign to capture it for several months. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday hailed Russia’s victory in the eastern city.
Mr Prigozhin had previously announced that his mercenary fighters would leave the city between May 25 and June 1, transferring control of the captured city to the Russian army.
Pictured: Ukrainian soldier digs defensive trenches near Kostyantynivka, Donetsk region
China envoy to meet Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Friday
China’s Ukraine envoy Li Hui is expected to hold talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow on Friday, the Russian foreign ministry said.
A statement from the ministry on Thursday said: “On May 26, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin is scheduled to meet with the special representative of the Chinese government for Eurasian Affairs, Li Hui.
“On the same day, Li Hui will be received by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.”
Zelensky adviser: Ukrainian counteroffensive not a ‘single event’
A senior adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine has said “dozens of different actions to destroy the Russian occupation forces in different directions have been taking place yesterday, are taking place today and will continue tomorrow,” as he warned that the highly-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive would not be a “single event”.
Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter on Thursday: “Intensive destruction of enemy logistics is also a counteroffensive.”
Russia said from the start ‘Kyiv regime’ was behind drone ‘attack’ on Kremlin, says Moscow
The spokesman for President Vladimir Putin has said Russia said from the start that Ukraine was behind a drone attack on the Kremlin at the start of May, following a New York Times report which said US spy agencies assessed the attack was probably orchestrated by one of Ukraine’s special military or intelligence units (see post below at 08.50).
Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday: “We immediately said that the Kyiv regime was behind this. In the end, it doesn’t make much difference which of the units of the Kyiv regime is behind it.”
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Ukraine was probably behind Kremlin drone attack, say US intelligence agencies
A drone attack on the Kremlin this month was probably orchestrated by one of Ukraine’s special military or intelligence units, US spy agencies’ assessments show, the New York Times reported.
The assessment, based on intercepted Russian and Ukrainian communications, said that Ukrainian officials said they believed their country was responsible for the attack, with Russian communications indicating that it was not some sort of false-flag operation.
Moscow accused Ukraine of trying to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin, and President Volodymyr Zelensky promptly denied any Ukrainian involvement.
US officials said they do not believe Mr Zelensky signs off on all covert operations, the New York Times reported, and quoted the officials saying that it is unclear to what extent the president is aware of such operations in advance.
In pictures: War in Ukraine
Reports of fire at Russia Ministry of Defence building in Moscow
Russian state news agencies reported that a fire broke out in the Russian Ministry of Defence building in central Moscow on Wednesday evening, before reporting that emergency services denied the fire.
State news agency TASS reported on Thursday evening that a source from the emergency services had said that a fire broke out “on a balcony at the Ministry of Defense building on Frunzenskaya Naberezhnaya” and that emergency services were working at the scene.
TASS later reported that the Ministry of Emergency Situations had said that no fire was discovered at the defence ministry building.
Officials said: “The fact of the fire has not been confirmed, since no fire was detected upon the arrival of the fire departments. There was also no information on any victims.”
Footage on social media appeared to show smoke billowing near the building.
Several drones downed across Crimea, claims regional governor
The Crimean city of Sevastopol was targeted in an overnight drone attack, Russian-installed officials have claimed.
The Moscow-backed city governor, Mikhail Razvozhayev, wrote on Telegram on Thursday morning that the Black Sea Fleet shot down two UAVs, and several others were jammed and downed.
The Russian-installed governor of the region claimed that six drones in total were launched across the annexed region of Crimea overnight.
Sergei Aksyonov wrote on Telegram on Thursday morning: “”During the past night, six drones were shot down or blocked … in different parts of Crimea.” He said that there had been no casualties from the alleged attack.