Russian security service says arrested two Ukrainians planning nuclear plant attacks
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said on Thursday it had detained two Ukrainian saboteurs alledgedly plotting to blow up the power pylons of a Russian nuclear power plant. This comes following a night of drone attacks in which both the Russian-backed head of Crimea’s administration and authorities in Kyiv said drone attacks had been repelled with no casualties on either side. Follow FRANCE 24 for all the latest developments in the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
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8:55am: Russia’s Wagner begins withdrawal of units from Bakhmut
Russia’s Wagner mercenary group has started withdrawing its forces from the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video published on Thursday.
Prigozhin announced the capture of Bakhmut on Saturday after the longest and bloodiest battle of the war. He said his fighters would pull out and regular Russian troops would move in to replace them.
8:47am: Russia, Belarus sign document on tactical nuclear weapon deployment in Belarus
The defence ministers of Russia and Belarus on Thursday signed a document on the deployment of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.
Separately, Russian media reported that Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said that the West was waging an “undeclared war” against Russia and Belarus. Russia and Belarus, which are close allies over the conflict in Ukraine, agreed earlier this year to deploy part of Moscow’s tactical nuclear arsenal in Belarus.
8:44am: Zelensky says Russia ‘terrorising’ Ukraine as 36 drones downed
President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of terrorising Ukrainians on Thursday, as his military announced it had shot down 36 Iranian-made attack drones deployed by Moscow’s forces.
“The enemy continued to terrorise Ukraine by launching 36 Shaheds. None reached their target,” Zelensky said in a social media post, after the Ukrainian military said it had downed more than two dozen drones.
8:10am: Russia’s FSB says it detained 2 Ukrainians plotting to blow up power lines of Russian nuclear power stations
Russia’s security service on Thursday announced the arrest of two Ukrainians who it said had planned to target nuclear power plants in the country.
“A sabotage group from the Ukrainian foreign intelligence service… tried to blow up some 30 power lines of nuclear power plants in Leningrad and Kalinin” in early May with the aim of stopping the nuclear reactors at the plants, Russian news agencies quoted the FSB as saying in a statement.
8:07am: Six drones shot down in Crimea, no casualties, Russian-backed chief says
The Russian-backed head of Crimea‘s administration said on Thursday that air defences had downed six drones overnight in different areas of the region. There were no casualties, Sergei Aksyonov said on Telegram.
8:02am: Ukraine probably behind Kremlin drone attack, reports NYT
A drone attack on the Kremlin this month was probably orchestrated by one of Ukraine’s special military or intelligence units, assessments by US spy agencies show, the New York Times said.
The newspaper said the attack appeared to be part of a series of covert operations that have made officials in the United States – Ukraine’s biggest supplier of military equipment – uncomfortable. The US assessment was based on intercepted Russian and Ukrainian communications, the paper said.
5:03am: Kyiv defences repel Russian drone attack
Russian forces carried out overnight drone attacks on Kyiv, officials said Thursday, continuing a month-long campaign of air strikes against the Ukrainian capital. Military chiefs said Kyiv’s air defences destroyed all of the drones during the three-hour air attack, the twelfth this month.
Serhiy Popko, head of the city’s military administration, said in a message on Telegram that Russia “again attacked Kyiv from the air”. “The attack was massive,” the statement added. “The enemy continues to use attack tactics in several waves, with intervals between groups of attacking drones”.
He added that “all detected air targets moving in the direction of Kyiv were destroyed” by Ukrainian air defence systems. The attacks were carried out using Iranian-made Shahed drones, the statement added, citing preliminary information. Air alerts were also reported in the cities of Kharkiv and Chernivtsi.
10:13pm: EU discussed plan to send profits from €196.6 billion in frozen Russian assets to Ukraine
The European Union has discussed sending Ukraine the profits from €196.6 billion in Russian assets that are stuck in the plumbing of global financial markets, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
Key developments from Wednesday, May 25:
The Kremlin said on Wednesday that reports that pro-Ukrainian Russian fighters who crossed into Russia earlier this week had used Western-made military hardware were consistent with the West’s growing involvement in the Ukraine conflict, and that any further attacks would be responded to “extremely harshly”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the supplying of F-16 fighter aircraft to Ukraine was a signal that Russia would lose in the conflict and called on Western leaders for quicker deliveries.
Read yesterday’s live blog to see how the day’s events unfolded.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP & Reuters)