Ukraine war latest: UK defence secretary in Kyiv on surprise visit; 'we could f****** lose Russia', Wagner boss warns (2023)

Key points
  • Ben Wallace in Kyiv on surprise visit
  • Prigozhin: 'We are in such a condition that we could f****** lose Russia'
  • Russia releases images of what they claim are abandoned US-made vehicles - but critics say it could be 'staged'
  • Ukrainian silence on Bakhmut 'suggests further Wagner advances'
  • Russia says city will now be known by Russian name
  • Your questions answered: What does defeat for Putin look like?
  • Got a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live reporting by Olive Enokido-Lineham


Moscow warns it will react 'extremely harshly' to further attacks on its territory

Russia's defence minister has said Moscow will react "extremely harshly" to further attacks by fighters entering its territory from Ukraine.

Sergei Shoigu told defence ministry officials: "We will continue to respond to such actions by Ukrainianmilitants promptly and extremely harshly".

His warning comes after Monday's cross-border incursion into Russia's Belgorod region.

Yesterday, the Russian military said it had routed militantswho attacked the region with armoured vehicles, adding that it had killed more than 70 "Ukrainian nationalists".

Moscow blamed the raid on Ukrainian military saboteurs whilst Kyiv portrayed it as an uprising against the Kremlin by Russian partisans.

The attack, which took place in Russia's southwest region, about 80km north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, was a fresh reminder of how Russia itself remains vulnerable to attack, along with Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine.


UK defence secretary in Kyiv for unannounced visit

Ben Wallace has arrived in Kyiv for a surprise visit to meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov.

The Ukrainian defence secretary said the pair had a "very meaningful discussion" on increase Kyiv's defence capabilities and long-range weapons - including Storm Shadow missiles.

Mr Wallace signed a visitor's book, writing: "Glory to the brave men and women who fight for freedom and to defend their country. Their fight, our fight."

Earlier this month the defence secretary announced that the UK would send Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine, marking a significant step-up in the capabilities of arms the UK has sent to Kyiv. He said the country "has a right to be able to defend itself."

Last week, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the UK to meet with Rishi Sunak - as the prime minister revealed the UK would start training Ukrainian pilots to use Western fighter jets "relatively soon", helped by the opening of a new flying school.

(Video) Wagner Chief Says “No More Prisoners”, Orders Troops to Kill Ukraine's Soldiers


Russia releases images apparently showing abandoned US-made vehicles used by Ukraine - critics say it could be 'staged'

Back to the Belgorod incursion.

The Russian defence ministry has released pictures of what they claim are abandoned Western military vehicles used by Ukraine - including what Sky News has identified as US-made Humvees.

However, there are claims that part of the pictures may have been staged - pointing to details in the images which they say suggest the scene could have been choreographed.

They point to details including the lack of dirt in front of one of the vehicles which they say should have been created on impact as it fell into the gap and question how only one of the tires on the vehicle in the foreground got over the trench, but the other didn't.

Sky News has been able to geolocate the images to the Belgorod checkpoint and can confirm from previously released drone video that the two Humvees in the photo were not there earlier this week.

The vehicles also contain Ukrainian markings.

Monday's cross-border incursion into Russia's Belgorod region has been described as "humiliating" for Moscow.

Russia said more than 70 attackers have been killed in the region and the remnants of their units pushed back into Ukrainian territory after two days of fighting.

While there's still widespread confusion over reports of the raid - Moscow has blamed "Ukrainian militants" - but Kyiv portrayed the alleged incursion as an uprising by Russian partisans and said it had nothing to do with it.

Two groups operating in Ukraine - the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) and Freedom of Russia Legion - have claimed responsibility.

The US says it does not "enable or encourage" Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, but that it is up to Kyiv to decide how it conducts military operations.


In pictures: Tanks, victory (or peace?) signs and a view from the frontline

Now to the frontline for some of the latest pictures we're receiving of Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut.

The battle for control of the besieged city in eastern Ukraine is continuing. It's been the epicentre of fierce fighting with huge losses on both sides.

Russia claims to have captured Bakhmut, but Ukraine insists it still controls part of it.

(Video) Russian Ministry Building Attacked, Kyiv's "Zaporizhzhia" Warning, Ukraine's Crimea Blast Admission


Why China, Iran, Belarus and Armenia 'all fear' a Russian defeat in Ukraine

Moscow has been widely condemned for the war in Ukraine, but there are a few countries that could fear a Russian defeat.

Four countries in particular have emerged as key allies that are prepared to defend Moscow, an expert writing for the think tank Atlantic Council says: China, Iran, Belarus and Armenia.

Despite their standing, these countries are "united by a common fear" of what a Russian defeat in might mean for them, according to Taras Kuzio, professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

While China has stopped short of "outright support" for Russia's invasion, it has adopted a position that could be termed as "Kremlin-friendly neutrality", Mr Kuzio says.

He suggests a Russian defeat would "considerably complicate" any future Chinese efforts to invade Taiwan, adding that if Western military aid helps Ukraine win it could increase the chances of similar support for Taiwan against possible Chinese aggression.

In Belarus, a Russian defeat would likely "reignite domestic unrest" and affect Alexander Lukashenko's regime.

But Armenia, Mr Kuzio says, remains heavily invested in the view of "Russia as a protector" against perceived threats to national security posed by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Iran, he says, shares China's geopolitical motivations for supporting Russia's war, but the leadership is fearful that a Russian defeat could "increase demands for democratic change" inside Iran.


Russians shoot down 'large number' of drones in Belgorod

Russian forces have shot down "a large number" of drones in the southern Belgorod region, a local official has claimed.

The drones were intercepted overnight, governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegram post.

No one was hurt, he said, but administrative buildings, homes and cars were damaged in Borisov district.

Sky News was unable to verify this report.

On Monday, reports surfaced of an armed raid across the Ukrainian border into the region.

(Video) Wagner chief: We’re leaving Bakhmut over lack of ammunition

In what appeared to be one of the biggest incursions from Ukraine since the war began 15 months ago, two purported anti-Kremlin armed groups employing Russians based abroad said they were responsible for the attack in Belgorod.

Russia says more than 70 attackers were killed in the region and the remnants of their units pushed back into Ukraine after two days of fighting.

Moscow has blamed "Ukrainian militants" but Kyiv portrayed the alleged incursion as an uprising by Russian partisans and said it had nothing to do with it.


UN and Russia discuss situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Security at Europe's biggest nuclear plant was the focus of a meeting in Beijing between Rafael Grossi, the UN nuclear watchdog chief, and Alexey Likhachev, head of Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear company.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says it was part of Mr Rossi's "intensified efforts" to "avoid a nuclear or radiological accident".

No other details were given.

Russia captured the plant early in the war and concerns have been raised about its safety on several occasions.

On Monday, the plant was temporarily disconnected from external power and switched on to emergency supply generators. Both sides blamed the other for the power outage.


Two people found dead in Donetsk ruins

Two bodies have been retrieved from the ruins of a building in a city in the Donetsk region, Ukraine's defence ministry said.

Russia "completely destroyed" a nine-storey building in Avdiivka yesterday, leaving another woman in a critical condition.

The eastern city was a main target of a Russian winter offensive that was intended to reinvigorate the full-scale invasion, but made only small territorial advances in the east.


Prigozhin: 'We are in such a condition that we could f****** lose Russia'

The founder of the Wagner mercenary group has warned that Russia's elite must get serious about fighting the war in Ukraine or it could lose and face a revolution.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview on his Telegram channel that Ukraine would try to encircleBakhmut and attack Crimea - which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

"Most likely of all, this scenario will not be good forRussia so we need to prepare for an arduous war," he said.

"We are in such a condition that we could f****** loseRussia - that is the main problem... We need to impose martiallaw."

Mr Prigozhin said his political outlook was dominated by lovefor the motherland and serving Vladimir Putin.

Russia's elite, he said, protected their own children fromfighting the war while the children of ordinary Russiansperished on the front, a situation he said that could triggerturmoil in Russia.

If ordinary Russians continued getting their children backin zinc coffins while the children of the elite sunnedthemselves abroad, he said, Russia would face turmoil along thelines of the 1917 revolution.

The Wagner Group has been heavily involved in the fighting in Bakhmut. Mr Prigozhin previously threatened to pull his forces out of the city and accused Russia's military command of starving the group of ammunition.

(Video) ‘It’s a really bad army’: Ret. General reacts to Wagner chief's announcement


Russian-backed official calls Bakhmut by its former Soviet name

The acting head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic says Bakhmut would now be known by its former Soviet name "Artemovsk".

Denis Pushilin said he visited the Ukrainian city on Tuesday and claimed on Telegram that the Russian flag was "hoisted" over "Artemovsk".

He thanked Wagner Group fighters for their efforts in the battered city, adding that the "Russian city" would be restored.

Bakhmut is located in Ukraine's Donetsk - part of the largely Russian-speaking industrialised Donbas region which Moscow wants to annex with its self-declared "special military operation".

While the Russian military and mercenary fighters Wagner claimed they had taken full control of the city over the weekend - Ukrainian forces contest this and say they have made minor progress against Russian forces on the edge of the city.


What is the UK response to the Ukraine situation? ›

The UK and our international partners are united in support for Ukraine. The UK government is providing a range of economic, humanitarian and defensive military assistance to Ukraine, and is imposing additional sanctions on Russia and Belarus.

Who is the Minister of Defense in Ukraine? ›

List of Ministers of Defense (Ukraine)
Minister of Defence of Ukraine
Incumbent Oleksiy Reznikov since 4 November 2021
Member ofCabinet National Security and Defense Council
Reports toPresident of Ukraine
NominatorVerkhovna Rada
7 more rows

What is the Russian military special operation in Ukraine? ›

On 24 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "special military operation" to support the Russian-controlled breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, whose military forces had been fighting Ukraine in the Donbas conflict. He said the goal was to "demilitarise" and "denazify" Ukraine.

What would happen if Russia and the US went to war? ›

It would exceed the largest anomaly ever recorded since the beginning of Food and Agricultural Organization observational records in 1961. And under the largest war scenario – a war between the U.S. and Russia – more than 75% of the planet would be starving within two years.

Are UK troops in Ukraine? ›

Leaked US military documents indicate that the UK has deployed as many as 50 special forces to Ukraine.

What language is spoken in Ukraine? ›

Ukrainian, the official language, belongs with Russian and Belarusian to the East Slavic branch of the Slavic language family. Ukrainian is closely related to Russian but also has distinct similarities to the Polish language.

Which religion followed in Ukraine? ›

As of 2022, according to a survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), 85% of Ukrainians identified as Christians. 72% identified themselves with Eastern Orthodoxy, 9% to the Catholic Church (8% Eastern-rite, 1% Latin-rite) and 4% adherents of a Protestant Church or other Christian movement.

What is the religion of Ukraine? ›

While the majority of Ukrainians practice some form of Christian Orthodoxy, a minority of Ukrainians practice Ukrainian Greek-Catholicism, a denomination that combines Byzantine religious rite, Catholic faith, and Ukrainian culture.

What is the Russian secret military called? ›

GRU (Russian Federation)
Agency overview
Formed7 May 1992
Preceding agencyMain Intelligence Directorate (Soviet Union)
JurisdictionRussian Federation
HeadquartersGrizodubovoy Street 3, Moscow
10 more rows

What are the Russian secret special forces? ›

Spetsnaz (Спецназ) 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.

What are the Russian secret special forces called? ›

Russia's Spetsnaz [Special Designation] forces are light infantry forces that are largely configured for reconnaissance, counterinsurgency, and power-projection missions, more comparable to the U.S. 75th Ranger Regiment or the British 16th Air Assault Brigade than to true special forces.

Where would Russia nuke in the US? ›

A Russian nuclear attack would likely focus on high-value targets in North Dakota or Montana.

Which is stronger Russia or USA? ›

Russia and the United States have taken divergent paths to military might. The US dominates the air with far more bases, fighter jets and bombers than Russia but Russia is superior on the ground with more tanks, artillery and land vehicles.

Where is the best place to survive a nuclear war in the US? ›

Ragusa recommends rural parts of Texas, Florida and California (far from large population centres which might make attractive targets) as places to survive a nuclear exchange. He says: 'The reason why I picked these three states is because they are near water and have warm climates.

Which country has helped Ukraine the most? ›

In total aid (military, financial and humanitarian combined), the European Union and its countries have provided the most to Ukraine, according to Kiel Institute, whereas the United States has by far provided the most in military aid.

Are British Marines in Ukraine? ›

Royal Marines took part in 'high risk' missions in Ukraine, ex-commando chief reveals. Lieutenant General Robert Magowan said 45 Commando Group were deployed at short notice to help evacuate the British Embassy in Kyiv before returning for "other discreet operations" (Picture: MOD).

Are UK troops deployed anywhere? ›

The UK will also “surge” forces throughout the year for exercises, enhance its headquarters and provide support to Estonian armed forces. In addition, RAF Typhoon aircraft will provide Baltic Air Policing in Estonia from March to July 2023.

What is hello in Ukraine? ›

The most popular phrase is “pryvit” – which is the equivalent of “hi” or “hello” in Ukrainian.

Which language is older Ukrainian or Russian? ›

Many historic documents prove that the Ukrainian language, and Ukrainian state, appeared earlier than the Russian ones.

What do Ukrainians eat? ›

The most famous traditional Ukrainian dishes are borshch, varenyky, holubtsi, Chicken Kyiv, banosh, and syrnyky, and it surely is not an exhaustive list. Borshch (sometimes written as borsch, borsht, bortsch, or borshch) is a sour soup with distinctive red colour.

What is the main religion in UK? ›

The UK's official religion is Christianity, and churches of all denominations can be found throughout the UK, such as Catholic, Protestant, Baptist and Methodist. The main other religions are Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism.

What kind of food do they eat in Ukraine? ›

  • Fact Sheet: Food and Culture of Ukraine. Salo.
  • [Cured pork fat] Popular snack. ...
  • [Dumplings filled with meat, cheese, potatoes or. ...
  • [Cabbage filled with. meat and rice] ...
  • Rye with Sourdough. • Around 85% of Ukrainians are Christian. ...
  • Staple Foods1, 3, 4. Hearty Root Vegetables.
  • Beets | Cabbage | Potatoes. Borscht.
  • [Hearty beet soup]

What religion is in Japan? ›

The Japanese religious tradition is made up of several major components, including Shinto, Japan's earliest religion, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Christianity has been only a minor movement in Japan.

What is Germany's main religion? ›

Nevertheless, the majority of the population identifies as religious, with Christianity being the traditional and dominant faith. It is estimated that 37.8% of the population identified themselves as not religious, 27.7% identified as Roman Catholic Christians and 25.5% identified as Protestant Christians.

Who brought Christianity to Ukraine? ›

Prince Volodymyr's single act brought Christianity to Ukraine and Christianity has made a tremendous impact on the historical evolution in Ukraine and abroad.

What is the Russian FBI called? ›

The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation or FSB (FSB; Russian: Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации, tr.

Why do Russian soldiers wear masks? ›

In the Soviet Union, the balaclava became a part of standard OMON (special police task force) uniform as early as the Perestroyka years of the late 1980s. The original intent was to protect the identity of the officers to avoid intimidation from organized crime.

Was Putin a Secret Service agent? ›

From 1985 to 1990, he served in Dresden, East Germany, using a cover identity as a translator. While posted in Dresden, Putin worked as one of KGB's liaison officers to the Stasi secret police and reportedly got promoted as lieutenant colonel.

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.

Who would win Navy SEALs vs Spetsnaz? ›

SEALs are better trained, better equipped and are in better shape and heal generally. But Spetsnaz are utterly ruthless and so brutally trained that they are hard as hell to get down and keep down.

How many troops does Russia have left? ›

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.

Are there female Spetsnaz? ›

Historically women have served in the elite anti-terrorist 'Alpha unit' of the FSB Spetsnaz. The female division was created in 1998 and one of the first women to join was Olga Spiridonovna.

How good are Russian Spetsnaz? ›

When it came to the performance of the Spetsnaz in combat, Giaconia says they were keen on tactics and had great intuition and instinct. They could shoot well, took care of their weapons and equipment, and were in great shape, and were very well-disciplined.

What is the Russian equivalent of Navy Seals? ›

The Russian commando frogmen (Russian: Морской спецназ, romanized: Morskoy spetsnaz), informally called "commando frogmen" in civilian media, are a Russian Naval Spetsnaz unit under operational subordination to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).

What is the UK government response to the Russian Ukraine war? ›

The UK and our allies condemn the Russian government's unprovoked and premeditated invasion of Ukraine. Putin has isolated Russia from the rest of the world.

What is the UK's opinion on Ukraine? ›

Eight in ten Britons say they want Ukraine to win (81%), compared to just 3% for Russia. These figures are virtually unchanged from the last time we asked in September. Overall, three quarters of Britons say it matters to them who wins the war, including 44% who say it matters “a great deal”.

What wars is the UK in right now? ›

Recent conflicts

The UK's involvement in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria is also ongoing, although unlike the Iraq War that took place between 2003 and 2011, where the UK suffered 178 operational deaths, the conflict is fought primarily by the air force.

How is the UK helping Ukraine refugees? ›

UK residents can register as named sponsors for Ukrainian refugees wishing to come to the UK. Sponsors undertake to provide free accommodation to a Ukrainian individual or a family for a period of at least six months. Sponsors receive a monthly payment of £350 from the government.

How many Russian people are in the UK? ›

The 2001 UK census recorded 15,160 residents born in Russia. The 2011 census recorded 36,313 people born in Russia resident in England, 687 in Wales, 2,180 in Scotland and 349 in Northern Ireland. The Office for National Statistics estimates that 73,000 people born in Russia were resident in the UK in 2020.

How many Ukrainians have arrived in the UK? ›

As of 20 February 2023, Councils have helped 163,500 Ukrainians settle in the UK.

Why is the UK sanctioning Russia? ›

This sanctions regime is aimed at encouraging Russia to cease actions destabilising Ukraine or undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine. Those persons who are designated under this regime are included on the UK sanctions list.


1. Russia's Wagner group starts withdrawing units from Bakhmut: Prigozhin | Russia-Ukraine War | WION
2. Wagner troops begin withdrawal from Bakhmut | Ukraine: The Latest | Podcast
(The Telegraph)
3. The Ukrainian Army Has Dealt a Crushing Blow To Russia's Most Advantageous Position in Bakhmut!
(KDS News)
4. Where Will Ukraine Attack? - Russian Invasion DOCUMENTARY
(Kings and Generals)
5. "All of This Could End In..": Wagner Chief Threatens Russia Amid Ukraine War | Vantage on Firstpost
6. Wagner chief openly blasts Russia’s official military leadership
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