As the war enters its 437th day, we take a look at the main developments.
Here is the situation as it stands on Saturday, May 6, 2023:
- The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force threatened to pull his troops from the fight for Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut. Yevgeny Prigozhin published an expletive-ridden video personally blaming top Russian defence chiefs for losses suffered by his fighters due to a lack of ammunition supplies.
- Ukrainian officials dismissed the Wagner boss’s outburst as theatrics, reporting that Wagner mercenaries were reinforcing positions in Bakhmut from other parts of the front to try to seize the city before Moscow marks World War II Victory Day on May 9.
- Ukraine’s army spokesperson Serhii Cherevatyi said Russian forces in Bakhmut did not lack ammunition. “Today alone, 520 rounds were fired from artillery of various types in Bakhmut and the surrounding area,” he said.
- Pro-Kremlin bloggers said the public rift between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defence was more dangerous than the fighting in Bakhmut because an internal conflict within Russian forces could cause panic and mutual distrust, Al Jazeera’s Yulia Shapovalova reported from Moscow.
- Residents of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson are under a 56-hour curfew, which was due to begin on Friday evening. The curfew, which runs until Monday morning, has prompted speculation that Kherson will be a launch point for Ukraine’s long-awaited counterattack on Russian forces.
- Russian and Ukrainian forces engaged in heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine, with the heaviest combat reported around Bakhmut and Maryinka. Almost 30 Russian attacks were repulsed in both areas.
- Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russian-appointed governor of the Zaporizhia region, ordered the evacuation of villages and towns near the front line after reporting increased shelling in the area.
- A drone attack on the Ilsky oil refinery in southern Russia caused a fire, the second drone attack and fire at the plant in two days, Russia’s TASS news agency reported.
- Russian engineers said they have reduced the risk of a dam bursting and damaging the large Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine, a senior Russian official was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.
- Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he secured more weapons for his country after returning from visits to Finland’s Helsinki and The Hague in the Netherlands. Zelenskyy said he won “a powerful reinforcement of weapons for our soldiers – on land, in the air and at sea” as a result of his talks with allies.
- Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations failed to authorise any new grain shipments under a soon-to-expire deal that has allowed grain shipments to pass through Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. The pace of grain shipments from Ukraine under the UN-backed initiative has slowed as concerns grow over ships getting stuck in a conflict zone if the deal is not renewed later this month.
- Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani met with Zelenskyy during a state visit to Kyiv, Ukraine’s presidential office said. Zelenskyy thanked Bahrain for its unwavering support in the war, saying: “This is an important signal of cooperation and support between our countries.”
- China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang said Beijing would continue promoting peace talks to end the war in Ukraine and is “willing to maintain communication and coordination with Russia to make tangible contributions to the political settlement of the crisis”.
- The World Judo Championships open in the Qatari capital Doha on Sunday and will be the first major international competition to welcome back Russian and Belarusian athletes, who have been excluded from most sporting events since Moscow invaded Ukraine in 2022.
- The European Union has accused Russia of escalating the war in Ukraine this week following drone attacks on Odesa and Kyiv.
- A Ukraine delegate punched a Russian delegate during a gathering of Black Sea nations after the Russian snatched away the man’s Ukrainian flag to stop the Ukrainian from photobombing a video interview with Moscow’s lead delegate at the summit.
- Poland summoned the Russian ambassador regarding a statement by Russia’s former ombudsman for children calling for the murder of a Polish official.
- The French Senate’s website went offline after pro-Russian hackers claimed to have taken it down, in the latest cyberattack since Russia invaded Ukraine last year. A group calling itself NoName on Telegram claimed responsibility, saying it had acted because “France is working with Ukraine on a new ‘id’ package, which may include weapons”.