Ukraine war - latest: Kyiv responds to 'leaked' secret war plans; Wagner fighters and Russian commanders 'pause feud' (2023)

Key points
  • Investigation launched into 'leaked secret NATO plans' for war in Ukraine IDeborah Haynes
  • Ukraine responds to the apparent leak
  • US, Germany and Hungary against 'road map' for Ukraine's NATO membership - reports
  • US journalist 'charged with spying' in Russia
  • Wagner fighters and Russian commanders 'pause feud' as Kremlin forces make further gains in key city
  • Live reporting by Faith Ridler


China and France reaffirm nuclear commitments

Beijing and Paris today reaffirmedtheir commitment to promote non-proliferation of nuclearweapons, nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclearenergy, a joint statement said.

The two countries support all efforts to restore peace inUkraine on the basis of international law, and principles of the UN Charter, it added.

They also both oppose armed attacks on nuclear power plants.

French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Beijing for talks.

Yesterday, Mr Macron appealed to his Chinese counterpart to "bring Russia back to its senses and bring everyone back to the negotiating table" over the Ukraine war.

The Chinese leader called for peace talks but he gave no indication that Beijing would use its leverage asPresident Vladimir Putin's diplomatic partner to press for a settlement.

Ms von der Leyensaid she expectsChinato promote a just peace that respects Ukraine's sovereignty.


A glimpse of the scene in eastern Ukraine

This is the scene in the Donetsk region, which has continued to come under heavy fire in both Ukrainian and Russian-occupied areas.

Here, a member of the Russian Investigative Committee stands at the site of shelling at a local market, which took place on Friday morning.


Russia tells West to remove obstacles to grain exports

Russia could pull out of a wartime deal that allows the export of Ukrainian grain if the West fails to remove obstacles to Russian agricultural exports, Moscow's top diplomat has said.

The deal, brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July, unblocked shipments stuck in Ukraine's blockaded and mined ports, alleviating rising food prices and the threat of hunger in some countries.

A separate agreement aimed to facilitate the export of Russian fertilisers and grain. Moscow has repeatedly complained that the deal failed to work for Russian agricultural exports, which have had trouble reaching world markets due to western sanctions.

Speaking at a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters that Russia had agreed last month to extend the deal for 60 days - instead of the 120 days set under a previous extension - to send a warning to the West.

"After we extended the deal for 120 days, we saw no indication that those issues could be solved and grew tired of appealing to the conscience of those who determine it," Mr Lavrov said.

"We made a small escalatory move and offered to extend the deal only for 60 days on the assumption that if there is no change in removing the obstacles to the exports of Russian fertilisers and grain, we would think whether the deal is needed."

He shrugged off the West's argument that Russian food and fertilisers are not subject to sanctions.

He noted that "obstacles related to financing, logistics, transportation and insurance of Russian exports have remained and even have grown tougher".


US journalist 'charged with espionage' - reports

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been charged with espionage, Russian state media has reported today.

Mr Gershkovich, a US citizen, was arrested last week on the same charges, which have been called bogus by the West.

He is being held in a pre-trial detention centre at the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow and faces up to 20 years behind bars if convicted.

It was reported earlier today that a court in Moscow will hear an appeal against the arrest Mr Gershkovich on 18 April.

The hearing will be held behind closed doors since Russia considers information related to the charges as classified, Interfax reported.

The Wall Street Journal has vehemently denied the charges against Mr Gershkovich, describing his arrest as "a vicious affront to a free press".

US President Joe Biden has urged Russia to "let him go" and his arrest has further strained relations between the two countries.


Jets bound for Ukraine 'may have been sabotaged by Russian technicians' - Slovakia

Russian technicians may have sabotaged jets bound for the war in Ukraine, officials from Slovakia have alleged.

Jaroslav Nad, the country's defence minister, said the MiG-29 jet fighters that Bratislava supplied to Ukraine may have been deliberately damaged by Russians present at an air base.

He said defects were found only in parts "accessed by Russians".

However, an investigation was unable to prove intent on the side of the technicians. They had been present at the Sliac air base until last year.

"They were able to fly, but that doesn’t mean they were also capable of combat," Mr Nad said.

"The defects appeared only in those parts accessed by Russians."

However, Slovakia believes Ukraine will be able to make the aircraft functional.

"They have pilots, spare parts, and a company that has worked on MiGs since the Soviet times," Mr Nad said.


Is there concern about Ukraine's counteroffensive in Russia?

It appears there might be some concern in Russian about a widely reported Ukrainian counteroffensive, which is apparently planned for the spring.

Francis Scarr, who watches Russian state TV for the BBC, said the possibility is clearly stirring up a reaction in the media.

In a clip he shared online, presenter Olga Skabeyeva warns that Russia should not "treat this counteroffensive flippantly".

"I always urge everyone to remember September last year, the events of Kharkiv. Back then they also announced their offensive in advance and then we withdrew from Kherson so that nobody would die.

"May we not retreat any more!"


Former Wagner commander arrested in Sweden

A former Wagner commander who fled to Norway has been arrested in Sweden, a Russian human rights activist has said.

Andrei Medvedev defected after joining the mercenary group as a volunteer in July and being sent to Ukraine 10 days after signing his contract.

He was taken into custody after crossing the border into Sweden on a bus to buy cheaper cigarettes, Vladimir Osechkin said.

While trying to catch a bus back to Norway, he was "struck" by a police vehicle, and officers arrested him over a migration issue.

"Andrei claims that he did not know he could not leave Norway until the issue of political asylum was considered," Mr Oseschkin said.

The 26-year-old is now being held in Gothenburg migration prison, he added.

Once there, he used the phone to contact the New Dissidents Foundation, which Mr Oseschkin works for, to explain the misunderstanding.

"We are not advocates for this young man but he voluntarily left the Wagner Group, refused to participate in the war and exposed the inhumane methods of Yevgeny Prigozhin [Wagner's leader]," Mr Oseschkin said.

"He decided to switch to the good side and we supported this decision and consider it the only possible."


Blasts heard near Russian-occupied Melitopol

Another battlefield report has emerged in recent hours.

Ivan Fedorov, the Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, has claimed explosions were heard in the nearby village of Vesele late on Thursday.

Russian troops have been moving equipment and personnel to the village for four days, while mobile communications and internet were restricted, he said.

"The enemy tried to do this while mobile communications and the Internet were turned off in the village so that our residents could not report anything to Ukraine's Armed Forces and special services," Mr Fedorov said.

"But they didn't manage to hide it [the transfer of equipment]."

His report was based on sources inside Russian-controlled Melitopol.

Explosions were earlier heard near the Melitopol Airport, where Russian troops had "brought a lot of their extremely important cargo" by helicopter.

"But in one night, all this cargo exploded. And it's gone. And this situation is already the second week in a row, which sows panic among the occupiers," Mr Fedorov said.

For context:Melitopol, in southeastern Ukraine, had a pre-war population of 150,000. It is unclear how many remain in the city, which has been under Russian occupation since late February 2022.


Ukraine considering measures to prevent leaks of military information

The Ukrainian armed forces has discussed measures to prevent leaks of military information, a spokesperson for the president has said.

It was reported yesterday that classified wardocuments detailing secret US and NATO plans for buildingup the Ukrainian military ahead of a planned offensive againstRussia were posted on social media channels.

However, this new statement made no mention of a leak havingoccurred.

A former senior military intelligence and security officer told Sky News today that the leaking of alleged NATO briefing documents could have a bearing on Ukraine's planned spring offensive.

An investigation has been launched after the supposed secret plans to build up Ukraine's forces ahead of the counteroffensive were released online.

Philip Ingram said the files "quite specifically" says it is an update from 1 March - day 370 of the war.

"I've seen two versions of it, and the modifications specifically relate to potential casualty figures for the Russians," Mr Ingram said.


US, Germany and Hungary against 'road map' for Ukraine's NATO membership - reports

A handful of NATO members are opposing efforts by others to give Ukraine a "road map" for membership at an upcoming summit, the Financial Times has reported.

The US, Germany and Hungary are reportedly against the plan, which other NATO members hope to present at the gathering in July.

Two officials with knowledge of the matter told the newspaper there was "intense debate" over what exactly should be offered to Ukraine at the summit in Lithuania.

It reported that all NATO members agreed that Ukraine's membership can't be discussed "seriously" while the war with Russia continues.

However, a number of allies are keen to propose a "political path" to membership.

It is understood that Washington, Berlin and Budapest oppose this proposal.

It is reportedly being pushed by the Baltic states and Poland.

For context: Ukraine formally applied to join NATO last September after Russia illegally annexed four regions in the east of the country. Russian officials have warned of a third world war if Ukraine is allowed to join the military alliance.

This week Finland joined NATO, doubling member states' border with Russia in a setback for Vladimir Putin, who frequently complains about the alliance's expansion.

It is clear that Kyiv is hoping for additional assurances at the Vilnius summit, which will take place on the 11 and 12 July.


What was the warning of the Wagner Group? ›

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russian mercenary group Wagner, issued a warning that his fighters may be on the cusp of defeat in Ukraine if they don't get more shells.

Who is the Wagner group in Ukraine? ›

Ukraine. Wagner PMCs were first active in February 2014 in Crimea during Russia's 2014 annexation of the peninsula where they operated in line with regular Russian army units, disarmed the Ukrainian Army and took control over facilities. The takeover of Crimea was almost bloodless.

How does Wagner Group make money? ›

Portable commodities and precious gems, such as gold and diamonds, are ideal ways of payment for Wagner since they can be whitewashed easily. Trading these gems has been done by an obscure company registered in St Petersburg called RN Trading, which managed to remain unsanctioned.

What is the Russian special military operation in Ukraine? ›

On 20 July 2022, The New York Times reported that Lavrov announced that Russia would respond to the increased military aid being received by Ukraine from abroad as justifying the expansion of the 'special operations' front to include military objectives in both the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.

How many Wagner mercenaries killed? ›

U.S. government estimates say some 50,000 Wagner mercenaries have been sent to the war in Ukraine and 30,000 have since been killed or injured.

How many casualties did the Russian Wagner have? ›

Russia's Wagner fighters suffer 30,000 casualties in Ukraine: US.

How many troops does Wagner have in Ukraine? ›

Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it is thought the Wagner Group had only about 5,000 fighters. They were mostly experienced former soldiers - many of them from Russia's elite regiments and special forces.

Who is the owner of the Russian Wagner group? ›

Wagner Group. Prigozhin is the self-reported founder of the controversial Kremlin-affiliated private military contractor Wagner Group.

How much do mercenaries make? ›

Some mercenaries make $500 to $1,500 per day. Interrogators are rumored to make up to $14,000 per week. The salary ranges from $89,000 to $250,000 per year. Employer, experience, expertise, specialty, location, and danger potential ultimately determine the paycheck.

What do the Wagners own? ›

Welcome to Wagners

Established in 1989 in Toowoomba, Queensland, our company is an ASX‑listed business. We are innovative, integrated and operate internationally. Our Construction Materials and Services (CMS) include cement, concrete, aggregates, bulk haulage services, precast concrete and reinforcing steel.

How many employees does Van Wagner have? ›

Based in New York, NY, Van Wagner is a small media company with only 50 employees and an annual revenue of $3.3M. To give members a financial edge in life, along with the brands promise to advocate educate and innovate help position UCU as a financial partner to the university community. Be the first to review!

Are mercenaries legal? ›

The Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured service personnel of the armed forces.

Are there any special forces deployed in Ukraine? ›

The document said that 14 members of U.S. special operations forces were deployed to Ukraine as of February. ABC News subsequently confirmed that some special operations forces are part of the U.S. military's presence at the embassy in Kyiv.

What are the Russian secret special forces? ›

Spetsnaz are special forces in numerous post-Soviet states. Historically, this term referred to the Soviet Union's Spetsnaz GRU, special operations units of the GRU, the main military intelligence service.

Are there special operations forces in Ukraine? ›

28, the apparently leaked document seems to list a total of 97 special operations forces from five NATO countries operating in Ukraine with the highest number coming from the United Kingdom and numbers comparable to the U.S. team from other countries.

Who are the most feared mercenaries? ›

William Walker is arguably the most famous and successful mercenary in American history. In the 1800s, groups of American citizens conducted a series of unauthorized military invasions across North America, believing that the United States was destined to expand.

How big is the Russian army? ›

In terms of active-duty personnel, they are the world's fifth-largest military force, with 1.15 million and at least two million reserve personnel.
Russian Armed Forces.
Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
Military age18
Conscription12 months
Active personnelc. 1,154,000 (ranked 5th)
Reserve personnelc. 2,000,000
23 more rows

How many Ukrainian civilians have died? ›

For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here. The OHCRH said in an updated report published on April 11 that 8,490 civilians have been killed and 14,244 injured since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, 2022, until April 9, 2023.

How many German soldiers died in the invasion of Russia? ›

The Germans suffered over 750,000 casualties during Operation 'Barbarossa', with some 200,000 men killed. By comparison, 30,000 died during the campaign in the west in 1940.

How many German soldiers died in the Battle of Moscow? ›

German losses during the Battle of Moscow totaled 250,000–400,000 dead or wounded, and the Red Army suffered 600,000–1,300,000 dead, wounded, or captured.

What was the worst Russian naval disaster? ›

The Dogger Bank incident (also known as the North Sea Incident, the Russian Outrage or the Incident of Hull) occurred on the night of 21/22 October 1904, when the Baltic Fleet of the Imperial Russian Navy mistook a British trawler fleet from Kingston upon Hull in the Dogger Bank area of the North Sea for Imperial ...

What is the biggest military base in Ukraine? ›

Yavoriv military base
Yavoriv military base Show map of Lviv Oblast Show map of Ukraine Show all
Coordinates50°00′24.1″N 23°30′02.3″E
Area39,000 hectares (390 km2)
Site information
5 more rows

How many enlisted soldiers does Ukraine have? ›

As of early 2022, Russia held the world's largest inventory of nuclear warheads.
Comparison of the military capabilities of Russia and Ukraine as of 2023.
Active soldiers830,900200,000
Reserve forces250,000250,000
11 more rows
Feb 8, 2023

What is the soldier population of Ukraine? ›

In 2021, Ukraine's Armed Forces, now numbering 246,445 (including 195,626 military personnel), was the second largest in the region after the Russian Armed Forces.
Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Ukrainian Armed Forces
Active personnel~700,000 (2022)
Reserve personnel1,000,000 (2022)
Deployed personnel40,114 (2021)
25 more rows

Is Wagner a Russian company? ›

Russia's infamous Wagner paramilitary company may be headed for defeat in Ukraine.

What tactics does the Wagner Group use? ›

The Wagner way of war

The Ukrainian report says that Wagner deploys its forces in mobile groups of about a dozen or fewer, using rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and exploiting real-time drone intelligence, which the report describes as the “key element.”

How do you become a mercenary? ›

The majority of classic mercenary-like jobs on the market today typically require past military or law enforcement experience. Even better, is previous experience working in the special forces of the army, USMC, navy, or air force if seeking the higher paying security-related jobs available on the market.

How much do Ukrainian mercenaries get paid? ›

Foreign mercenaries fighting for Ukraine are paid between 30,000 and 100,000 hryvnas ($820-$2,734 USD), according to a Sunday report by Russian state media agency TASS.

How much do you get paid in the Foreign Legion Ukraine? ›

The necessary probation period is the duration of the war. A British volunteer said that the contract required to join the International Legion limits pay to ₴7,000 a month (US$230) and extends for the duration of the war, although some volunteers were allowed to leave after signing.

How much do you get paid to fight in Ukraine? ›

"After the full-scale invasion, a salary of 300,000 roubles ($3,941) is the average for vacancies related directly with the war," said Mukhin. Some posts offered up to 450,000 roubles ($5,900) as a one-time payment, plus a monthly salary of 400,000 roubles ($5,100).

How rich are the Wagners? ›

Toowoomba's Wagner family has been named one of Queensland's wealthiest people with a combined wealth of more than $1b, according to The Australian's Rich 250 list. Brothers Denis, John, Neill and Joe Wagner came in at number 11 among Queensland billionaires, with the newspaper estimating the family's worth at $1.01b.

How many Wagners are there in the world? ›

Today there are thought to be some 10,000 Wagner Group members.

What is the net worth of the Wagner family? ›

In 2021, the Wagners opened a $17.8m Regional Trade Distribution at the airport. Toowoomba's Wagner family has a combined estimated net worth of $1.01 billion. The Wagners' history reaches back to 1896, when John Henry Wagner started a stone masonry business in Toowoomba.

Who are Van Wagner's competitors? ›

Van Wagner Group is in the industry of: Business Services General, Business Services What is Van Wagner Group competition? Van Wagner Group top competitors include: Wasserman Media Group LLC, WorldLink Ventures Inc, Captivate LLC, Talon Outdoor Ltd What companies has Van Wagner Group acquired?

How much do Blackwater mercenaries get paid? ›

Average Blackwater Security hourly pay ranges from approximately $15.75 per hour for Security Officer to $17.49 per hour for Patrol Officer.

What is the largest private military in the world? ›

Currently Blackwater (Xe Services LLC, Academi) is the largest organization of its kind in the world.

Can a US citizen become a mercenary? ›

Mercenaries are usually former military personnel who take on war combat jobs. Most western nations, including the US, have laws that prevent their citizens from acting as mercenaries. On the other hand, PMCs usually work for either the government or private contractors, have a chain of command, and follow orders.

What is the most elite special forces in Ukraine? ›

The Ukrainian Naval Infantry maintains its own small Spetsnaz force in the form of the 73rd marine Spetsnaz detachment. The detachment is named "Seals" after the United States Navy SEALs and is tasked around the same purpose.

Does Ukraine have an active navy? ›

Current role

The Navy is tasked with the defense of the sovereignty and state interests of Ukraine at sea.

What is the most elite Russian army? ›

Although there are other elite units, such as the paratroopers' 45th Guards Independent Reconnaissance Regiment and the Federal Security Service's Al'fa antiterrorist teams, the Spetsnaz (the term is a contraction of spetsial'noe naznacheniya, “of special purpose” or “of special designation”) remain the primary elite ...

What is the most secret special forces unit? ›

SOG is considered the most secretive special operations force within the United States, with fewer than 100 operators. The group generally recruits personnel from special mission units within the U.S. Special Operations community.

What is the most secretive Russian special forces? ›

Zaslon “Barrier or Screen” is Russia's most secretive special-purpose unit within the Russian external security service, Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR). It roughly resembles the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) also known as MI6.

Does the US have commandos? ›

The United States continues to have no designated "commando" units; however, the closest equivalents remain the U.S. Army's 75th Ranger Regiment and United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions, which specialize in most of the same tasks and missions.

Does NATO have special forces? ›

The NATO Response Force (NRF) is a high-readiness NATO rapid deployment force comprising land, sea, air, and special forces units capable of being deployed quickly within short notice. The NRF currently comprises up to 40,000 troops, with plans to increase its manpower to over 300,000 troops.

Are US special forces in Mexico? ›

To many it will not be a surprise that US Special Forces are operating in Mexico. The Mexican military already receives substantial funding from the US government and the CIA and US military have a long history of conducting operations in Latin America.

Is Wagner Group leaving? ›

The head of Russia's Wagner group appears to have ditched plans to withdraw his forces from Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, after receiving promises overnight that they would get all the arms needed to capture the devastated city.

What is the meaning of Wagner? ›

Origin:German. Meaning:wagon-builder. Wagner as a boy's name is of German origin, and the meaning of Wagner is "wagon-builder".

Where does the Wagner Group recruit? ›

The mercenary Wagner Group is reportedly seeking to recruit students to fight in Ukraine, while Russia's military is sending female convicts to the front.

What are Russian infantry tactics? ›

Russian tactics will continue to heavily emphasize gaining and maintaining fire superiority over an adversary; leveraging improved ISR capabilities and a wide range of fires platforms; and using speed, surprise, and integrated combined arms in maneuver forces to disrupt and overwhelm enemies once encountered.

What are Wagner convicts? ›

Hundreds of convicts recruited into the ranks of Wagner, a private military company tied to the businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, have been killed or severely wounded in Ukraine, where the mercenaries have been tasked with some of Russia's most desperate campaigns.

Is Wagner leaving Bakhmut? ›

Ukrainian soldiers of the 80th brigade firing artillery in the direction of Bakhmut as the Russia-Ukraine war continues in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, on April 13, 2023.

Is Wagner Religious? ›

Wagner was not religious for the majority of his life; however, as he aged, he embraced the Christian faith of his youth.


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