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Ukraine updates: Russia has 're-energized' Bakhmut assault

Published April 14, 2023last updated April 14, 2023

Russia appears to have found a second wind in its assault on Bakhmut according to British intelligence. Meanwhile, Germany's foreign minister has called on China to urge Russia to stop the war. DW has the latest.

A Wagner group mercenary in Bakhmut
Wagner group is leading the Russian battle to try to capture the Ukrainian town of BakhmutImage: Valentin Sprinchak/TASS/IMAGO

The UK's Ministry of Defense (MOD) said that Russia was managing to mount a fresh assault on the Donetsk Oblast city of Bakhmut.

"Russia has re-energized its assault on the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut as forces of the Russian MoD and Wagner Group have improved co-operation," the MOD said in its daily intelligence update on Friday.

The MOD said that Ukrainian forces were managing to hold the western districts of the city, but were facing "significant resupply issues" and were having to make "orderly withdrawals from the positions they have been forced to concede."

Ukrainian forces were also said to have faced "particularly intense Russian artillery fire over the previous 48 hours."

The MOD said that Wagner forces were spearheading the advance to the city center while Russian airborne forces (VDV) had been brought in to relieve some of the Wagner units that were securing the northern and southern flanks.

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


Here are some of the other notable developments concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Friday, April 14

EU sanctions Russia's Wagner Group

The European Union has added Russia's Wagner mercenary group to its sanctions list for "actively participating in the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine."

Wagner, which is leading Moscow's battle to try to capture the Ukrainian towns of Bakhmut and Soledar, had already been placed on another EU sanctions list in February for violating human rights and "destabilizing" countries in Africa.

The European Council, representing the 27 EU member states, said the new sanctions listing "completes" the previous one.

Wagner, it said, was added to the list "for actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine."  

A Russian NGO and a Wagner deserter have alleged that Wagner fighters were responsible for a purported beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner of war. An apparent video of the act has drawn condemnation from Ukraine and UN officials.

Russia said it has opened a probe into the footage.

The EU has adopted 10 successive sanctions packages against Russia in the past year over its invasion of Ukraine.

Belarusian air crews complete training with 'special munitions'

Russia's Ministry of Defense said that Belarusian air force crews had completed additional training in "operation and combat use of the Su-25 ground-attack aircraft."

The statement, which appeared on the ministry's Telegram channel, said Russian instructors trained members of the Belarusian air force to "master new ways of using modern aviation weapons, including special munitions."

Its not clear whether tactical nuclear weapons could fall under "special munitions" as mentioned in the ministry's statement.

Last month Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would station some of its tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

US defense chief to visit Sweden and Germany

The Pentagon said US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin would be meeting his counterparts in Sweden and Germany next week to discuss matters relating to Ukraine.

Talks would involve senior officials from almost 50 countries.

"While in Sweden, Secretary Austin will discuss security-related topics of mutual interest between our two nations and speak with senior Swedish defense and government officials," a Pentagon statement said.

In Germany, Austin and top officials will "discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and continue our close coordination on providing the Ukrainian people with the means necessary to protect themselves against Russia's continue aggression," at the Ramstein Air Base.

Leaked documents won't impact offensive — report

Ukraine's military intelligence service said that the dissemination of leaked classified documents in the US will not have a bearing on Kyiv's planned offensive.

"This will not be able to affect the real results of the offensive operation," head of military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov told US broadcaster ABC.

Budanov also said that the leak would not have a lasting negative impact on the relationship between Washington and Kyiv.

The breach reportedly includes classified information about Ukraine's battle against invading Russian forces, as well as secret assessments of US allies.

Some of the most sensitive information is purportedly related to Ukraine's military capabilities and shortcomings.

On Thursday, US federal investigators arrested an individual wanted in connection with the data breach.

Ukraine and Russia exchange bodies of dozens of soldiers — report

Ukraine and Russia have again exchanged the bodies of dozens of soldiers killed during fighting, Germany's DPA news agency has reported, citing Ukrainian officials.

"Ukraine has retrieved the bodies of a further 82 fallen defenders," Ukrainian officials said in a Telegram post on Friday.

The responsible ministry did not disclose how many dead Russian soldiers were returned.

Since the Russian invasion, Ukrainian authorities have received around 800 bodies according to the DPA report.

Russian oil exports highest since April 2020 — IEA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that Russian oil exports had reached their highest level in nearly three years during March, however, revenue had dropped by 43% when compared with the previous year.

The IEA said that despite sanctions from the West, Russian shipments of oil climbed by 600,000 barrels per day to 8.1 million barrels per day, the highest level seen since April 2020.

The Paris-based agency the increase was in part due to a rise in exports of oil products, which had returned to pre-Covid levels.

China will not supply weapons — FM Qin Gang

China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang said that Beijing will not provide weapons to Russia as it continues its invasion of Ukraine.

"We do not and will not supply weapons to parties in conflict," said Qin Gang after nearly two hours of talks with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Beijing.

"We will not continue to pour oil on the fire," he said following the official translation.

His comments came after Baerbock called on China to encourage Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

Baerbock holds talks in China on Russia and Taiwan

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has called on Beijing to ask "the Russian aggressor to stop the war " in Ukraine in talks with Chinese officials during the second day of her trip to China.

"It is good that China has signalled its commitment to a solution but I have to say frankly that I wonder why the Chinese position so far does not include a call on the aggressor Russia to stop the war," Baerbock said.

She headed to Beijing for strategic talks on Friday after visiting a German electrical mobility company based in the north-eastern port city of Tianjin with her Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang.

She was expected to attend talks at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse as part of the German-Chinese Strategic Dialogue.

Given China's support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and tensions with the West over Taiwan's status, the political talks are being seen as the most difficult part of Baerbock's visit.

Area twice the size of Austria mined — Ukraine PM

A report by German news program Tagesschau has highlighted the issue of banned antipersonnel landmines and the dangers they present to people living in Ukraine.

According to the report which cited information from Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal, an area twice the size of Austria has been mined.

According to UN figures which the report also cited, more than 740 civilians had been killed or injured by mines or other explosives since the Russia launched its invasion.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Russian forces of using the banned devices in various places in Ukraine, which posed a danger to the civilian population.

The organization has to date published three reports documenting Russia's use of antipersonnel mines, but research has also highlighted that Ukrainian forces "appear to have extensively scattered landmines around the Izium area." HRW says Ukraine has committed to study the findings.

According the Tagesschau report, its believed that it could take decades to clear the country of mines, and mentions Germany as having provided over €26 million ($28.7 million) for demining efforts thus far. 

kb,dh/nm  (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)

Demining Ukraine – a huge job ahead: Mairi Cunningham of the HALO Trust