Ukraine war latest: Russia 'changes name of Bakhmut'; Putin dealing with 'worsening discipline' in military (2023)

Key points
  • Ukrainian silence on Bakhmut 'suggests further Wagner advances'
  • Russia says city will now be known by Russian name
  • Why Belgorod incursion poses challenges for Moscow, Kyiv and Western allies
  • Belarus's Lukashenko says: 'I'm not going to die'following speculation over health
  • Russian military 'struggled' to enforce discipline in ranks
  • 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


Two people found dead in ruins of residential building in Donetsk

The bodies of two people found dead have been retrieved from the ruins of a building in a city in the Donetsk region, Ukraine's defence ministry said.

The ministry says Russia "completely destroyed" a nine-story building yesterday in Avdiivka.

It added that one woman is in critical condition. Images posted by the ministry show rubble and debris on the ground.

Yesterday, the Head of the Avdiivka City Military Administration, Vitalii Barabash, said a Russian missile had destroyed a residential building in the city.

On Telegram, he said two people were injured.

Avdiivka was one of the main targets of a Russian winter offensive which was intended to reinvigorate Moscow's full-scale invasion, but made only small territorial advances in the east.


Yevgeny 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 posted on his Telegram channel that Ukraine would try to encircleBakhmut and attack Crimea.

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

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

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 revolutions which ushered in a civil war.

Ukraine is preparing a counter-offensive aimed at pushing Russian troops back to the borders of before 2014 when Russiaannexed Crimea, Prigozhin said.

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


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.


Belgorod incursion poses different challenges for Moscow, Kyiv and Western allies

Returning to the armed assault inside the Russian region of Belgorod earlier this week, and Major General Rupert Jones says that while there is still a "degree of confusion" about the incursion, it poses different challenges for Russia, Ukraine and Western allies.

He told Sky News: "From a Russian perspective it points to an internal security problem, it's humiliating for them, it's an attack on their own soil."

He adds that from a Western perspective it will "cause some concern" over what degree Ukraine is "supportive of that incursion".

"When we're giving weapons, we're concerned about those weapons being used into Russia so there will be some diplomatic concerns."

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

Moscow has blamed "Ukrainian militants" but Kyiv portrayed the alleged incursion as an uprising by Russian partisans. Supporting that, the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) and Freedom of Russia Legion - who back Ukraine in the war - have both said they were responsible.


Russian military 'struggled to enforce discipline' as courts deal with over 1,000 cases of AWOL personnel in five months

Russia's military has "struggled" to discipline its ranks in Ukraine and military courts have dealt with 1,053 cases of personnel going AWOL this year alone, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.

That's more than all of 2022.

The figures come from independent Russian journalists, the MoD says.

In its daily intelligence update, the ministry says the Russian military's issues with enforcing discipline have "highly likely worsened" following the forced mobilisation of reserves since October last year.

The mobilisation followed a series of military defeats for Moscow, including in the eastern region of Kharkiv in Ukraine and pressure in the south in Kherson.

The ministry says Russia's efforts to improve discipline has focused on making "examples of defaulters", rather than "addressing roots causes of soldiers' disillusionment".


Uniqlo pulls out of Russia

Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has decided to leave Russia.

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing suspended the clothingbrand's operations in March 2022, joining scores ofinternational companies, after Moscow launched its "special military operation".

Russia'sdeputy trade minister saidthe company had decided to completely leave the country, but was yet tosubmit an application to the government.

This means there is no buyer yet, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported.

Uniqlo operates 50 stores inRussia.


Ukrainian silence 'suggests further Wagner advances'

The Wagner Group may have made further advances within the battered city of Bakhmut, the Institute for the Study of War has suggested.

In an update on Russia's offensive on Tuesday night, the US thinktank said the Ukrainian General Staff did not report fighting in Bakhmut City in its 1800 situational report for the first time since December 2022.

It said this suggests that Wagner Group forces "may have made further advances within the city".

Bakhmut has become the focus of fierce fighting in recent months.

Both sides have experienced huge losses and recent satellite images of the city show the scale of devastation.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon declined to offer details on the status of Bakhmut or whether Russia had control over the city.

Russian forces claimed they had taken full control of the city over the weekend - which Ukrainian forces dismissed although they have admitted that the pace of fighting has decreased.


Good morning - here's the latest

Welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Before we bring you all the latest updates, here's a reminder of the key events from yesterday:

  • On Tuesday, the Russian military said it had routed militants who attacked a Russian border regionwith armoured vehicles, killing more than 70"Ukrainian nationalists";
  • The governor of Belgorod lifted anti-terrorism measures following evacuations in the area after an incursion - pro-Ukraine groups in Russia has claimed the attacks;
  • Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko told officials he's "not going to die, guys" following speculation about his health;
  • Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich - who is being held in Russia on espionage allegations - has been detained for a further three months.


Bosnia's Serb leader vists Moscow - in move that could damage countries EU hopes

Vladimir Putin has met with Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik in Moscow - in a move that could damage the country's hopes of joining the European Union.

The pair hailed a growth in the trading relationship between Russia and Dodik's Serb Republic.

"This trend should certainly be maintained," Putin said.

Following a devastating ethnic war in the 1990s, Bosnia was divided into two autonomous regions and a third, much smaller, autonomous area.

One region, known as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is shared by Bosniaks and Croats and the other is the Serb Republic.

The three are linked via a weak central government, with each one having its own president.

While Bosnia has no unified foreign policy, Dodik, a Serb nationalist, has maintained close relations with Putin.


Ukraine's top prosecutor launches criminal proceedings against Belarus over child abduction claims

Ukraine's top prosecutor has launched criminal proceedings against Belarus over the alleged kidnapping of thousands of Ukrainian children.

The children are alleged to have been transported from the Russian occupied Ukrainian territory to "recreational camps" in Belarus.

The announcement came in response to a report by theexiled Belarusian opposition alleging that 2,150 Ukrainianchildren, including orphans aged six to 15, were taken toso-called recreation camps and sanatoriums on Belarusianterritory.

The National Anti-Crisis Management said in its preliminary report that the children were taken to at least three locations in the country - which was used as a staging post for troops ahead of Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine Prosecutor General's office told Reuters that it had launched criminal proceedings over the "forced transportation/deportation" of more than 19,000 children from occupied regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia, Kherson, and Kharkiv, including to Belarus.

"The fact and circumstances of taking Ukrainian children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine to the so-called 'recreational camps' in Belarus are currently under investigation in the mentioned criminal proceedings," Andriy Kostin's office said in a statement to Reuters.

Reuters said it had not received a response to a request for comment from Alexander Lukashenko's office.

In March, the International Criminal Court, the world'spermanent war crimes tribunal, issued arrest warrants forRussian President Vladimir Putin and his children's rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, on two counts of warcrimes for moving hundreds of Ukrainian children to Russia.

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