NATO warns not to underestimate Russian forces
UN report finds Russia tortured, executed civilians in Ukraine
Prigozhin Tuesday went into exile in neighboring Belarus
Kyiv: Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday arrested a man they accused of helping Russia direct a missile strike that killed at least 11 people, including three teenagers, at a popular pizza restaurant in eastern Ukraine. The Tuesday evening attack on Kramatorsk wounded 61 other people, Ukraine’s National Police said. It was the latest bombardment of a Ukrainian city, a tactic Russia has used heavily in the 16-month-old war.
The Kremlin reeled from the mutiny led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner private army of prison recruits and other mercenaries this week. Wagner has played a key combat role for Russia in Ukraine. The rebellion posed the most serious threat so far to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power.
The strike, and others across Ukraine late Tuesday and early Wednesday, indicated that the Kremlin is not easing its aerial onslaught, despite political and military turmoil at home after a short-lived armed uprising in Russia last weekend.
Trying to repair the damage to his authority, Putin met with military staff in the Kremlin on Tuesday and flew to the Caspian city of Derbent, in the mostly Muslim region of Dagestan, on the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha on Wednesday. He visited an ancient citadel and a historic mosque, met with officials, and walked to cheering crowds next to a fountain, talking to people and shaking hands — rare behavior for the secretive and reserved Russian leader.
Prigozhin went into exile in neighboring Belarus on Tuesday, according to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, after Russia said he wouldn’t face charges for the revolt. Prigozhin’s whereabouts could not be independently confirmed.
Lukashenko has said his country would allow Wagner to set up a temporary camp in Belarus, but it remained unclear how many mercenaries would move there.
Wagner’s impending deployment to Belarus has rattled its neighbors. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling party, announced plans to strengthen the country’s eastern border, saying about 8,000 Wagner troops are expected to arrive in Belarus.
Russian forces have stepped up aerial strikes in their nearly 16-month war, a Ukrainian military spokesman said. The country’s armed forces, meanwhile, have reported limited gains in the early stages of a counteroffensive to take back the nearly one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory that is under Russian control.