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Ukraine updates: Moscow 'promised' Wagner more ammunition

Published May 7, 2023last updated May 8, 2023

Authorities in Russian-annexed Crimea claim to have repelled a Ukrainian drone attack in Sevastopol, while the head of Wagner forces says Moscow has pledged to send more ammunition. Follow DW for the latest.

Smoke rises from buildings in this aerial view of Bakhmut
Bakhmut has been the site of the heaviest battles in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk regionImage: Libkos/AP Photo/picture alliance

The head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said the group has been promised more ammunition following a threat he made on Friday to withdraw his forces from Bakhmut due to a lack of support from Moscow.

"They promised to give us all the ammunition and armaments we need to continue the operations," said Prigozhin, after he earlier criticized Russia's handling of the battle in Bakhmut in a series of angry video messages. 

Sunday's statement implied Wagner would not fulfill its earlier threat of withdrawing from Bakhmut on May 10. 

The city has been the scene of a monthslong bloody battle of attrition with Ukrainian forces.

Wagner chief says Moscow promises more weapons

Prigozhin had threatened to "pull out Wagner units from Bakhmut because in the absence of ammunition they are facing a senseless death." The pullout was supposed to start on May 10. 

The battle for the strategically important city has become the longest of the war, with severe losses on both the Russian and Ukrainian sides.

Russian forces were adamant for months about capturing the city, which would be their first significant battlefield victory in some eight months.

The battle has drained both sides' artillery reserves, with thousands of shells fired daily.

Wagner had consistently pleaded for more ammunition to secure a victory.

Prigozhin has been vocal about a deepening rift with the Russian Defense Ministry amid rising rivalry between the two bodies on the Ukrainian battlefield.

Here are some of the other notable developments concerning the war in Ukraine on Sunday, May 7:

Report: Russia staging protests in Europe to agitate against Ukraine

According to research by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, German public broadcasters NDR, WDR and international partners, Russian secret services have been staging or infiltrating demonstrations in major western cities for propaganda purposes.

The aim is, among other things, to create anti-Ukraine sentiment or to make Sweden's NATO accession more difficult, the news outlets reported.

The reports refer to leaked strategy papers that are said to come from the Kremlin's security apparatus.

According to the documents, it recommends for small groups of Russian agents to simulate fake protests in major European cities.

Some Kremlin-directed fake protests are already believed to have taken place, including anti-Turkish rallies where agents pretend to be Ukrainians — all while agitating against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The goal of these fake protests, according to the reports, is to generate propaganda material for internet platforms. The Russian strategy paper lists several cities to target — including Paris, The Hague, Brussels and Frankfurt.

Photos of the fake demonstrators have circulated on social media, appearing to give the impression of widespread anti-Ukraine sentiment in western European countries, the outlets reported. The journalists were able to trace the origin of the content back to three accounts that are controlled from the Russian city of St. Petersburg.

Zelenskyy says the world must know truth about Russian terror

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the world must know "all the facts of Russian terror" against the Ukrainians. 

"It is important that the world talks about what the terrorist state is doing and how we are protecting lives," Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Sunday. 

He spoke of the constant Russian artillery raids on Kherson or Kharkiv, as well as "the terror against villages in the border areas of the Chernihiv and Sumy regions, hell in the Donetsk region."

Russia's most important goal is to destroy security, both in Ukraine and everywhere in Europe, everywhere in the free world, Zelenskyy added.

No Ukrainian wreath laying ceremony at the Soviet war memorial in Berlin

Ukrainian officials will not lay wreaths at Soviet memorials on May 8 to commemorate the end of World War II in Europe in 1945. 

The Embassy of Ukraine in Germany is starting a new format this year to commemorate all victims of World War II, the embassy announced. 

Ambassador Oleksii Makeiev and Ukrainian diplomats "deliberately refrained from laying wreaths and flowers at Soviet memorials in Germany this year," it said.

Instead, the embassy announced that Makeiev would lay flowers at the Neue Wache, the central memorial for the victims of war and tyranny in Berlin, together with the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Kai Wegner, on Monday morning. 

The embassy's website said: "The Russian Federation appropriated its victory over National Socialism through propaganda and continues to manipulate it to this day. We emphasize that no country can claim an exclusive role in the defeat of Nazism. Victory is the result of titanic efforts by dozens of states and hundreds of peoples."

Ukraine marks Infantry Day amid fighting in Bakhmut

Russia-installed governor says Crimea drone attack thwarted

The Russian-installed governor of Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said Sunday that a series of Ukrainian drone strikes had been repelled overnight.

"Anti-aircraft defense and electronic warfare units repelled a new attack" on the city, he said.

Razvozhayev claimed in a message on Telegram that Ukraine launched more than 10 drones at the city. He said that two were shot down over the sea and another fell into a forest after losing control.

"No infrastructure in the city was damaged," Razvozhayev said.

Sevastopol is the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea fleet and is an important staging point for the Russian naval forces. It is situated on the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Earlier this week, Russian authorities claimed to have thwarted drone attacks purportedly targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kyiv denied Russia's accusations, with a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying that the claims indicated Moscow was preparing a major "terrorist provocation."

US says Kremlin lying about drone attack

Evacuations at Zaporizhzhia have IAEA concerned

The head of the UN nuclear power watchdog has expressed concern over the announced evacuations of residents from the nearby town of Enerhodar, close to the Zaporizhzhia facility. 

"The general situation in the area near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is becoming increasingly unpredictable and potentially dangerous," IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement.

"I'm extremely concerned about the very real nuclear safety and security risks facing the plant," Grossi said, stressing that immediate action was needed to "prevent the threat of a severe nuclear accident."

The Russian-installed governor of the Moscow-controlled part of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region said on Friday that he had ordered the evacuation of villages close to the front line as shelling had intensified in the area in recent days.

More DW coverage on Russia's war in Ukraine

Russia and Ukraine have agreed to extend a UN-brokered grain export deal for another 120 days. Read more here about what is being seen as a breakthrough towards helping "avoid global food shortages" at a crucial time.

Poland and other EU member states have shut their borders to Ukrainian grain, plunging Ukraine's farmers into financial hardship and uncertainty, more on that story here.

dh, kb/wd (AFP, Reuters, dpa)