Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukrainian is being hampered by a “disunited command”, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has claimed.
In its latest military intelligence briefing, the department said Moscow’s deployment of “disparate personnel” in cities such as Mariupol showed its “significant resourcing problem” as well as its lack of unity.
The assessment comes as Ukraine is set to hold its first war crimes trial against a 21-year-old Russian serviceman in Kyiv.
The soldier, Vadim Shishimarin, has been charged with the premeditated murder of a 62-year-old within days of Russia’s invasion in Sumy. If convicted, he could face a life sentence.
Meanwhile, concerns are growing about the fate of more than 250 Ukrainian fighters who were evacuated from Mariupol’s Azovstal steelwork to Russian-held territory.
Although Ukraine has said it hopes to exchange them for Russian prisoners of war, Russia’s main federal investigative body has indicated that it could bring charges against the troops.
Belarus ‘deploying special forces soldiers on Ukraine border’, says MoD
Belarus has deployed special forces soldiers along the Ukraine border, the UK Ministry of Defence has said.
In an update on Monday, the MoD said that the presence of president Alexander Lukashenko’s forces would “likely fix Ukrainian troops, so they cannot deploy in support of operations in the Donbas”.
“Following exercise activity earlier this month, Belarus has announced the deployment of special operations forces along the Ukraine border, as well as air defence, artillery and missile units to training ranges in the west of the country,” the MoD said.
“The presence of Belarusian forces near the border will likely fix Ukrainian troops, so they cannot deploy in support of operations in the Donbas.”
Austria's neutral status here to stay, foreign minister says
The foreign minister of Austria said his country would retain its neutral status even as EU allies Sweden and Finland overhauled decades-long foreign policy stances to apply for Nato membership in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
“The situation for us looks a little different,” Austrian foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg told German radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday, pointing to "overwhelming" public support for neutrality in Austria.
Mr Schallenberg said that the country, which obtains 80% of its natural gas from Russia, would continue to provide humanitarian support to Ukraine rather than lethal weapons.
“We are helping on a large scale but not with war munition and I think help for Ukraine cannot only be reduced to war munition,” he told the broadcaster.
Mary Dejevsky to host ‘Ask Me Anything’ about Ukraine war
It has been more than 80 days since Russia invaded Ukraine and as the war approaches the three-month mark, The Independent’s columnist Mary Dejevsky will be on hand to answer your questions.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian officials claimed the Mariupol steel mill mission has been “fully accomplished”, while an ex-Russian colonel conceded on an extraordinary state TV interview that Moscow is “geopolitically” isolated as a result of its invasion.
So, how are things looking for Russia and Ukraine now? How could Finland and Sweden’s Nato bids affect Russia? What is going to happen next?
See more information below on how to register to register for the event:
How are things looking for Russia and Ukraine now? How could Finland and Sweden’s Nato bids affect Russia? Mary Dejevsky is on hand to answer reader questions
Israel delivers helmets, vests to emergency and civilian groups in Ukraine
Israel has delivered 2,000 helmets and 500 protective vests for emergency and civilian organisations in Ukraine, Israel's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
Defence minister Benny Gantz said last month he would authorize the delivery of helmets and vests, signaling a shift in Israel's position on providing such equipment. It follows a request by Ukraine for the supplies.
A mediator in the Ukraine-Russia crisis, Israel has condemned the Russian invasion but has limited itself to humanitarian relief. It has been wary of straining relations with Moscow, a powerbroker in neighbouring Syria where Israel coordinates strikes against Iranian deployments.
Ukraine previously voiced frustration with Israel's refusal to provide what it deems defensive aid against Russia
Ukraine refugees homeless in UK ‘after falling out with hosts’
Ukrainian refugees are being left homeless as relationships with host families in the UK break down, community groups have warned.
The issues have been reported with the Homes for Ukraine scheme, which allows Britons to sponsor and host those fleeing the warzone in eastern Europe.
Disagreements between refugees and host families - including over costs and different lifestyles - have resulted in Ukrainians being turfed out, according toThe Guardian. Others reportedly include conflicts caused by communication problems, a lack of proper house rules and personality clashes.
Our reporter, Zoe Tidman, has the full story below:
Ukrainians are reportedly facing conflicts with sponsors caused by costs and lifestyle differences
28,300 Russian soldiers dead, according to Ukrainian army
More than 28,000 Russian troops have died in 12 weeks of war, the Ukrainian army has claimed.
Here’s its latest estimates of Russian military losses:
The Battle for Kharkiv
Earlier this week, Kyiv announced that a group of Ukrainian soldiers who had been defending the city of Kharkiv had succeeded in reaching the Russian border 30 miles away.
Moscow’s failure to capture the country’s second biggest city has been a major blow for the Kremlin.
Kim Sengupta reports from Kharkiv:
Kim Sengupta reports from a city that might have welcomed Russian invaders but instead drove them out in a determined campaign
Russian gymnast who wore pro-war symbol banned for one year
Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak has been given a one-year ban for wearing a pro-war symbol on the podium at a Gymnastics World Cup event in Doha in March.
Shortly after Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to attack Ukraine, the 20-year-old sported the “Z” insignia, which came to prominence after being painted onto Russian military vehicles.
Kuliak is banned from all International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) events until at least 17 May 2023.
Russian gymnast was unapologetic and said he would do the same if given second chance
Finland and Sweden formally apply to join Nato
Finland and Sweden have formally applied to join Nato, a decision warmly welcomed by the alliance’s secretary general.
“This is a historic moment, which we must seize,” the Nato boss Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday at a short ceremony to mark the occasion.
“I warmly welcome requests by Finland and Sweden to join Nato. You are our closest partners, and your membership in Nato will increase our shared security,” he added.
Finland and Sweden took the historic step of asking for Nato membership over security concerns in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The only obstacle to their accession to the alliance is Turkey’s unexpected opposition.
“We are determined to work through all issues and reach rapid conclusions,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
New Marshall Plan needed to rebuild Ukraine, says Truss
The UK and other G7 countries have spoken about how Russian assets could be used to pay for the rebuilding of Ukraine, the British foreign secretary has said.
“We need a new Marshall Plan to rebuild Ukraine and in fact, we’ve just been discussing this at the G7 meeting that I had with my colleagues from around the world. We are looking at what we can do to use Russian assets to help pay for this,” Liz Truss told Times Radio.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies