Ukraine war live updates: Moscow says Russian warplanes damaged after drone strikes; Kyiv repels multiple attacks overnight


At the grave of Russia’s Prigozhin, followers hail a warrior

A woman crosses herself as she visits the grave of Wagner private mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a private jet crash in the Tver region last week, at the Porokhovskoye cemetery in Saint Petersburg on August 30, 2023.

Olga Maltseva | Afp | Getty Images

Followers of mutinous Russian mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin laid flowers, messages and poetry at his grave on Wednesday, hailing him as a fearless warrior after he was killed along with his inner circle in a yet-to-be-explained plane crash.

Prigozhin was buried at the Porokhovskoye cemetery in his home town of St Petersburg on Tuesday away from the glare of the media whom he had courted so ardently in life after leading his fighters on a dash towards Moscow before turning back.

A man wearing the shirt of his Wagner mercenaries and a cap bearing the Russian flag was among those paying respects at the grave, where red roses and carnations graced a wooden Orthodox cross lablled “Prigozhin, Yevgeny Viktorovich 1961 – 2023.” One tribute beside flowers read: “To be a warrior is to live forever.”

The private jet on which Prigozhin was travelling to St Petersburg from Moscow crashed north of Moscow with the loss of all 10 people on board on Aug. 23, including Prigozhin, top Wagner commanders, his bodyguards and a crew of three.

It is still unclear what caused the plane to crash but villagers near the scene told Reuters they heard a bang and then saw the jet plummet to the ground.

The Kremlin has rejected as an “absolute lie” the suggestion by some Western politicians and commentators – for which they have not provided evidence – that Putin ordered Prigozhin to be killed in revenge.

— Reuters

High rate of Russian soldier convictions shows poor morale, UK says

A high rate of convictions for Russian soldiers demonstrates the poor state of morale in the Russian army and the reluctance of some elements to fight, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

Last week, two Russian soldiers were sentenced to serve at least two years in a penal colony by a military court for refusing to obey orders to return to the front in Ukraine. The news followed an independent Russian media report last month suggesting the country was convicting close to 100 soldiers a week for refusing to fight.

“If this trend continues, there will be approximately 5,200 convictions a year for refusing to fight,” the defense ministry noted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Russian citizens recruited as part of a partial mobilization attend combat training in the training spots of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic on Oct. 5, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“Refusal to fight likely reflects the lack of training, motivation and high stress situations Russian forces face along the entire Ukrainian frontline,” the ministry said.

It added that although some soldiers have refused to fight and attrition rates remain high, Russia highly likely mitigates its loss by committing “a mass of poorly trained soldiers to the frontline.”

Russia announced a partial mobilization of military reservists almost a year ago, prompting thousands of men to try to flee Russia to avoid the call-up. The U.K. noted that the draft showed Russia has adapted its approach to warfare by “utilizing sheer mass” for offensive and defensive operations.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kyiv says more than 20 incoming drones and missiles destroyed overnight

Ukrainian officials said Russia launched a massive, combined strike on the capital Kyiv overnight using attack drones and missiles.

The Kyiv City Military Administration said on Telegram Wednesday that Russia used what it believed were Iranian-made Shahed drones in the attack, stating “several groups of drones were heading to Kyiv from different directions.” It said Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers then launched missiles targeting the capital.

Firefighters at the site of damaged buildings after a Russian nighttime missile attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Aug. 30, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

More than 20 enemy targets were destroyed by air defense forces, the administration said, but as a result of falling debris in different districts of Kyiv, two people died and three others were wounded.

The night attack came as Russia accused Ukraine of launching several drone attacks against five regions in central and northwestern Russia overnight Wednesday. One attack purportedly damaged several aircraft at a northwestern Russian airfield. Ukraine has not publicly commented on the attacks.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the latest overnight attack on Kyiv “is an unquestionably deliberate attack on the civilian population.”

He said the motive was “revenge for the growing accidents in the RF [Russian Federation] itself; failures on the frontline; ethnic hatred and attempt of psychological intimidation.”

Holly Ellyatt

Moscow accuses Kyiv of launching multiple drone attacks against Russia

Russian officials accused Ukraine of launching several drone attacks against five regions in central and northwestern Russia overnight Wednesday.

One alleged attack had caused a fire at an airfield in Pskov in the northwest of the country, setting two Ilyushin Il-76 military transport aircraft on fire and damaging several other aircraft, Russian news agency Tass reported.

The governor of the Pskov region, Mikhail Vedernikov, said on his Telegram channel that the scale of the destruction is being assessed and flights from Pskov’s airport were canceled Wednesday.

An Ilyushin Il-76 Strategic airlifter performs during the 76th anniversary of Victory Day in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on May 9, 2021.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Russian Defense Ministry also reported attempted drone attacks in the Bryansk, Kaluga and Oryol regions southwest of Moscow as well as the Ryazan area to the southeast. It said a drone had also been intercepted near the capital, prompting the authorities to close airports in the city.

“Today, at about 03:30 Moscow time, an attempt by the Kiev regime to carry out a terrorist attack by an aircraft-type UAV against objects on the territory of the Russian Federation was thwarted,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement reported by Russian news agency Tass.

“The unmanned aerial vehicle was intercepted and crashed over the territory of the Ruzsky district of the Moscow region,” the ministry added.

Moscow’s Domodedovo, Vnukovo and Sheremetyevo airports temporarily stopped all flights but have since reopened.

Ukraine has not said it was involved in the drone attacks and has typically remained tight-lipped about attacks against the Russian territory itself. Ukrainian officials said Russia had launched a massive, combined strike on the capital Kyiv overnight using attack drones and missiles.

Holly Ellyatt

Farewell ceremony held of Wagner’s Yevgeny Prigozhin, spokespeople say

A member of private mercenary group Wagner pays tribute to Yevgeny Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin following their apparent deaths in a plane crash on Aug. 23, 2023.

Vladimir Nikolayev | Afp | Getty Images

A farewell ceremony for Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed in a plane crash last Wednesday, was held behind closed doors Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

“Those who wish to bid their farewell” to the 62-year-old mercenary leader should go to the Porokhovskoye cemetery in St. Petersburg, his hometown, AP cited his spokespeople as saying in a statement on social media.

It wasn’t clear from the statement if Prigozhin had already been buried or if it was yet to happen.

The Kremlin said earlier Tuesday that is was “not envisaged” that Russian President Vladimir Putin would attend the funeral of his ally-turned-traitor.

— Karen Gilchrist

Three dead after FSB helicopter crash in Russia

Three people died after an FSB security services helicopter crashed in central Russia, regional officials said Tuesday.

“The Mi-8 helicopter crashed near Krasnoye Pole in the Chelyabinsk region,” Governor Aleksei Teksler posted on Telegram. He did not disclose the cause of the incident.

There was no damage to people or buildings on the ground, he added.

— Karen Gilchrist

Ukrainian children are showing ‘widespread learning loss,’ UNICEF says

The language, reading and numeracy skills of children across Ukraine have deteriorated following Russia’s full-scale invasion, the United Nations Children’s Fund said Tuesday.

Up to 57% of teachers reported a drop in students’ Ukrainian language abilities, up to 45% said mathematics skills had reduced and up to 52% said foreign language skills were down.

“Attacks on schools have continued unabated, leaving children deeply distressed and without safe spaces to learn,” Regina De Dominicis, UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia said in a press release.

A pair of girl’s shoes are seen among the rubble at Kurakhove Gymnasium School N2 damaged in a Russian rocket attack, Kurakhove, Donetsk Region, eastern Ukraine.

Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images

“Not only has this left Ukraine’s children struggling to progress in their education, but they are also struggling to retain what they learnt when their schools were fully functioning,” she added.

Only one third of children enrolled in primary and secondary schools are learning entirely in person, with a third studying remotely and a third learning from a combination of the two formats.

Compounding the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, children in Ukraine are now facing a fourth year of disrupted learning, UNICEF assessed.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Speculation that Putin killed Prigozhin is an ‘absolute lie,’ Kremlin says

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that an investigation into Wednesday’s plane crash that President Vladimir Putin said had killed Prigozhin was ongoing, according to a Reuters translation of a call with reporters.

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The Kremlin on Friday rejected what it said was Western “speculation” that Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin had been killed on its orders, calling it an “absolute lie.”

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that an investigation into Wednesday’s plane crash that President Vladimir Putin said had killed Prigozhin was ongoing, according to a Reuters translation of a call with reporters.

Peskov added that it’s impossible to say whether Putin would attend the funeral of Prigozhin, citing the president’s “very full schedule.”

— Karen Gilchrist

Russia unlikely to meet military volunteer targets, despite increasing salaries, UK defense ministry says

Russia is “unlikely” to meet its targets for recruiting volunteers to its armed forces, according to Britain’s Defense Ministry, despite salaries having increased since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Serving in Russia’s armed forces has become increasingly lucrative as the country’s war in Ukraine has continued, according to an update by the U.K. Defense Ministry.

On February 2022, President Vladimir Putin said that a serving lieutenant received 81,200 rubles ($850) each month. By October 2022 he announced that lower ranking, mobilized private soldiers would receive 195,000 rubles every month.

Now many junior soldiers are earning more than 200,000 rubles a month, which is more than 2.7 times the average Russian salary, the ministry of defense wrote.

It is “highly likely” that the salary and benefits are a “strong incentive” for people to join the Russian forces, the ministry said.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

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