What happened this week in the Russian-Ukrainian war? Find the essential news and analyzes | Ukraine
Each week, we round up the must-read for our coverage of the war in Ukraine, from news and features to analysis, visual guides and opinion.
Anti-Putin militias enter the scene
As Russian militias opposed to the Kremlin prepared a daring cross-border raid in the Belgorod region this week, a slicked-back man in camouflage and holding an automatic rifle stared into a camera lens, Andre Roth reports.
That man was Maximillian Andronnikov, the self-proclaimed commander of Russia’s Freedom Legion, a paramilitary group that until this week was chastised for its excessive activity on the internet and in the media.
With the raids in southern Russia this week, the spotlight has been on both Russia’s Freedom Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, another group made up of Russians who now say they are fighting Putin. .
Jonathan Yerushalmy set up an explainer on Belgorod, the Russian region embroiled in the war.
Zelenskiy steals the show at the G7 in Japan
Normally G7 summits are about fighting point by point for the free world, Patrick Wintour wrote in his analysis of Zelenskiy’s appearance at the summit, as diplomats parse long statements of fleeting importance late into the night.
But the real significance of the Hiroshima summit lies in Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s breathtaking visit thanks to a ride on Emmanuel Macron’s French plane. The Ukrainian president has tried to win over non-aligned countries such as India and Brazil, but not entirely successfully in the case of Brazil.
Zelenskiy secured fresh military aid from the United States during a day of frantic diplomatic activity, Justin McCurry reported, as Russia claimed battlefield victory in the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut.
Rishi Sunak said after the end of the G7 that a ceasefire in Ukraine would not be enough, Rowena Mason signaled, because any end to the war must recognize the territorial integrity of the country and include a “just and lasting” peace plan. He said Zelenskiy’s appearance at the summit sent an “incredibly powerful” message to Russia.
Wagner chief claims 20,000 of his fighters were killed in Bakhmut
Mercenary force leader Wagner said 20,000 of his fighters were killed in the battle for the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, Julien Borger reported, and warned that Russia could face another revolution if its leadership does not improve its handling of the war.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said that 20% of the 50,000 convicts Wagner recruited, and a similar number of his regular troops, were killed over several months in the fight for Bakhmut.
Prigozhin pointed to the social disparity underscored by the war, with the sons of the poor being sent back from the front in zinc coffins while the children of the elite “shake their asses” in the sun.
Ukraine this week dismissed Russian claims that Bakhmut had been captured, insisting its forces still have a foothold in the Donbass city and routinely surround Russian mercenaries holding the crumbling city center.
Russia and China deepen economic relations
Russia and China agreed to deepen investment in trade services, promote agricultural exports and strengthen sports cooperation, as Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a series of bilateral agreements during a visit to Beijing.
Mishustin is the most senior Russian official to visit Beijing since the start of the war in Ukraine. In March, Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited Vladimir Putin in Moscow to show his support for his “dear friend”.
China has claimed to be a neutral mediator in the war in Ukraine, but China and Russia have grown closer since the start of the invasion, Amy Hawkin reported. Ben Bland, director of the Asia-Pacific program at Chatham House, said the G7 statements “underlined the deepening geopolitical divide between China and Russia on one side and the United States and its allies on the ‘other”.
Russia moves nuclear warheads to Belarus
Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said Russia had started moving tactical nuclear warheads to storage in Belarus, adding it was possible the weapons had already arrived in his country.
“We had to prepare storage facilities and the rest there [in Belarus]. We have done all of this. This is why the relocation of nuclear munitions began,” Lukashenko told a Eurasian Economic Forum summit in Moscow.
When asked if the weapons had already arrived, he replied: “Maybe. I’ll go take a look.
The remarks came hours after Russian and Belarusian military officials signed a pact calling for Moscow to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, Andre Roth reports, marking a shift in the Kremlin’s nuclear posture that could raise the stakes for any future instability in Belarus.