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Wagner threatens Bakhmut pullout over ammunition spat with Russian army

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russian paramilitary group Wagner, on Friday threatened to pull his fighters from the front line in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine starting May 10, saying ammunition shortages meant they faced “senseless death”. Russia has incurred significant losses in Bakhmut since starting its offensive there in August. Follow our blog to see how the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

This live blog is no longer being updated. For more of our coverage on the war in Ukraine, please click here.

5:55pm: Russian court orders arrest of theatre director, says state media

A Moscow court on Friday ordered the arrest of theatre director Yevgeniya Berkovich on charges of “justifying terrorism” over an award-winning play about Russian women recruited online to marry radical Islamists in Syria.

The RIA Novosti news agency said the court ordered her to remain in custody until July 4. The case has sent shockwaves through the Russian arts community and comes as Moscow cracks down on dissent during its Ukraine campaign.

4:22pm: Kyiv and most Ukrainian regions announce air alerts

Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and most Ukrainian regions announced air alerts on Friday, officials said.

The number of air alerts has risen sharply in recent days, and Kyiv along has issued six alerts in the last three days warning of Russian attacks.

3:28pm: Russia orders partial evacuation near Ukraine front line

Russia on Friday ordered the evacuation of families with children and of the elderly from Russian-held frontline areas in southern Ukraine because of an increase in shelling from the Ukrainian side.

“In the past few days, the enemy has stepped up shelling… There will be a temporary evacuation” from 18 villages and towns, the Russian-installed head of the Zaporizhzhia region, Yevgeny Balitsky, wrote on social media.

2:41pm: Funeral held in Ukraine for American killed in action

Soldiers from the International Legion of Ukraine said farewell Friday to an American military veteran they served with, who was killed a month ago in the fierce struggle to prevent the eastern city of Bakhmut from falling into Russian hands.

In a funeral service at Kyiv’s St. Michael’s Cathedral, Ukrainian regular army troops bore the Ukrainian-flag-draped coffin of Chris Campbell while about three dozen members of the International Legion looked on. After folding the flag, they presented it to Ivanna Sanina, Campbell’s Ukrainian wife.

The Florida native is one of least nine Americans now known to have been killed in fighting in Ukraine, including another last month in Bakhmut.

2:09pm: Ukraine says Russia deploying Wagner fighters to Bakhmut from along front line

A senior Ukrainian official said on Friday Russia was bringing Wagner mercenary fighters from along the front line to Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, and that Moscow wanted to capture the city in time for its May 9 celebrations of Soviet Victory Day.

“The Russians are inclined towards symbolism and their key historic myth is May 9 and they really have set the objective of taking control of Bakhmut by this date,” Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on Ukrainian television.

“We are now seeing them pulling (fighters) from the entire offensive line where the Wagner fighters were, they are pulling (them) to the Bakhmut direction,” she said.

1:35pm: ‘Dramatic escalation’ in feud between Prigozhin, Russian military

As head of the Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin threatened on Friday to pull his troops out of the protracted battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut next week, FRANCE 24 international affairs commentator Douglas Herbert gave his analysis.

“There is never a dull moment with this man,” he said. “He has been at the head of a brutal and atrocious squad of private mercenaries in Bakhmut, waging the longest and bloodiest chapter in this war around that city. Just a few weeks ago, Prigozhin was bombastically claiming that his forces controlled 80 percent of the city. Now today we get a dramatic statement from him where he’s threatening the pull out those forces from Bakhmut on May 10. Why? For a lack of support from the military brass […] in Moscow.”

>> Read more: Wagner Group’s bloody year in Ukraine: From murder squad to cannon fodder

” …This is really the latest chapter, [a] dramatic […] escalation in what has been a simmering on-and-off feud between Prigozhin’s private mecenaries and the Russian military leadership,” Herbert continued.

‘Dramatic escalation’ in feud between Wagner group, Russian military (2023) © France 24


12:27pm: Shipments from Ukraine slowing as Black Sea grain deal deadline nears

The pace of shipments from Ukraine under a UN-backed initiative has slowed as concerns grow over ships getting stuck if a deal is not renewed later this month, according to sources and data.

Russia, which is one of the key parties involved, said it will keep talking although Moscow has threatened to quit on May 18, which has created more uncertainty for traders and shipping companies trying to plan ahead.

Under the accord, Ukraine has been able to export some 29.5 million tonnes of agricultural products, including 14.9 million tonnes of corn and 8.1 million tonnes of wheat.

10:27am: Wagner chief threatens to pull Bakhmut fighters over ammunition shortage

The head of Russian paramilitary group Wagner on Friday threatened to pull his fighters from the front line in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine on May 10, saying ammunition shortages meant they faced “senseless death”.

 “On May 10, 2023 we will have to hand over our positions in Bakhmut to units of the defence ministry and withdraw Wagner units to rear camps to lick our wounds,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a written statement on his Telegram channel. 

10:01am: Russia’s Lavrov says Kremlin drone incident was ‘hostile act’

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Wednesday’s drone incident at the Kremlin was a “hostile act” and that Russia would respond with “concrete actions”.

Russia has accused Ukraine of firing drones at the Kremlin in an attempt to kill President Vladimir Putin, and said the United States was behind the purported attack. Ukraine has denied that, and the White House has dismissed Russian “lies”.

“It was clearly a hostile act, it is clear that the Kyiv terrorists could not have committed it without the knowledge of their masters,” Lavrov told a press conference in India.


A Ukrainian delegate punched a Russian delegate in the face during a gathering of Black Sea nations in the Turkish capital on Thursday, after his Ukrainian flag was snatched away to stop him from photobombing a video interview with Russia’s lead delegate.

Olesandr Marikovski posted a video of himself thumping the Russian and retrieving the blue and yellow flag on his Facebook page. The incident took place in a hallway of the parliament building, where the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) assembly was being held.

Earlier in the day, some Ukrainian delegates scuffled with security officers who had tried to pull them away as they staged a protest, shouting and holding their flags next to Russia’s lead delegate as she tried to address the assembly.

6:54am: New drone attack causes fire at Russia’s Ilsky oil refinery, TASS reports

A drone attack on the Ilsky oil refinery in southern Russia, the second in as many days, has caused a fire, TASS news agency reported on Friday, citing emergency services.

Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency also reported that there were no casualties following the Friday’s incident, while the fire had been put out.

  • Key developments from Thursday, May 4:

The White House on Thursday said Russia was ‘lying’ over claims the US aided Ukraine in an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin and denied any US involvement in the incident.

Earlier on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a visit to The Hague, where the International Criminal Court (ICC) is based, that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be brought to justice for his war in Ukraine. 

Read yesterday’s live blog to see how the day’s events unfolded


© France Médias Monde graphic studio

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

This story originally appeared on France24

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