Ukraine war latest: Putin ally tells officials: 'I'm not going to die, guys' after health rumours; 'homegrown attack' took Russia by 'surprise' (2023)

Key points
  • Wall Street Journal reporter's detention extended
  • Belarus's Lukashenko says: 'I'm not going to die'
  • Belgorod attack 'took Russian commentators by surprise'
  • Why the battle for Bakhmut could be blown open in days | Sean Bell
  • Your questions answered: What does defeat for Putin look like?
  • Got a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live reporting by James Robinson


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.


Wall Street Journal reporter to be detained in Russia for a further three months

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich - who is being held in Russia on espionage allegations - has been detained for a further three months, according to Russian state media.

Mr Gershkovich, a US citizen, was arrested in Russia in March on charges.

The 32-year-old reporter, the first US journalist since the Cold War to be detained in Russia on spying charges, strongly denies the allegations.

According to Russia's state news agency, RIA, Mr Gershkovich, will remain in custody until the end of August.

Reports from Russia said the extension was brought about after a request by the country's security service - the FSB - for more time to investigate the claims ahead of a possible trial.

Tuesday’s court hearing was not announced in advance, and the entire case has been wrapped in secrecy.

Russian authorities have not detailed what evidence, if any, they have to support the espionage charges

President Joe Biden has expressed his "deep concern" about the decision to extend Mr Gershkovich's detention.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, told CNN: "He should be released immediately."


Belarus's Lukashenko tells officials: 'I'm not going to die, guys'

Alexander Lukashenko has appeared in public and dismissed claims that he is in ill health.

In a video shown to a state media outlet, the Belarusian president, 68, told officials "I'm not going to die, guys".

Mr Lukashenko, one of Vladimir Putin's closest allies, had not been seen since 9 May at a military parade in Moscow where he appeared tired and unsteady.

He told a meeting thathe had been suffering from an adenovirus, which is a commoncold virus.

Footage of the encounter was broadcast by PulPervovo, a state outlet that reports on Mr Lukashenko's activities.

He claimed that while it only took three days to recover fromsuch a virus, he had been too busy to take time off immediately.

"I'm not going to die, guys. You'll have to struggle with mefor a very long time to come," he added.

President Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994 and has allowed Russia's forces to launch attacks on Ukraine from his territory.


Russian defence ministry claims US bombers detected approaching border over Baltic Sea

Two US bombers have been detected approaching the Russian border over the Baltic Sea, according to the Russian defence ministry.

They say a fighter jet was scrambled to intercept the two bombers and prevent any border incursions.

The aircraft were described as "US Air Force strategic bombers" and did not cross the border, according to Russian officials.

The US Air Forceoperates three types of strategic bombers, the huge B-52 Stratofortress, the B-1 Lancer and the stealthy B-2 Spirit.


Putin meets with Bosnian Serb leader in Moscow

Vladimir Putin has met the leader of the Bosnian Serbs in Moscow today.

Milorad Dodik, one of the top politicians in Bosnia-Herzegovina, went ahead with the visit despite strong criticism from the EU.

The content of the meeting is as yet unknown, but it has been speculated that they will discuss gas prices and gas pipelines during Mr Dodik's time in the Kremlin.

Ethnically divided Bosnia does not have a unified view on foreign policy, with Mr Dodik maintaining close relations with Russia and Mr Putin.

His Serb Republic is a region that makes up Bosnia along with the autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation - linked via a weak central government.

Mr Dodik was sanctioned over his ties with Russia by the US in 2022.


'He should be released immediately': US responds to reports Wall Street Journal journalist could be further detained in Russia

The US has now responded to the news we brought you earlier about Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich - who is detained in Russia on spying charges.

Russian state media reported that the country's security agency - the FSB - had applied to extend his pre-trial detention by three months.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesman, told CNN: "He should be released immediately."

He said: "He shouldn't be detained at all. Journalism is not a crime.

"We're still going to work very, very hard to see if we can get him home with his family where he belongs."

He said US officials were still pressing Russia for consular access to Mr Gershkovich - who has always "categorically" denied the allegations.


Russia's Gazprom announces 41 per cent drop in profits after Western sanctions

Russia's partly state-owned natural gas company Gazprom - a pillar of its economy - has announced a huge profit drop.

The gas exporter said its profits for 2022 plunged 41 per cent to 1.226 trillion rubles ($15.4bn).

It comes after Western countries imposed widespread sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The UK has banned Russian gas imports - though the EU has not.

Before the war, EU countries relied on Russian imports for around 40 per cent of their gas supply.

Vladimir Putin cut off the main gas pipeline - Nord Stream - to Europe in September indefinitely.

Western nations accused the Russian leader of attempting to weaponise energy supplies in response to Western sanctions.

The company has attempted to bolster its export business with increased supplies to China and other markets.

However, the company cited a tax windfall imposed last year to boost the Russian government's funds as the reason for the decline.


Belgorod incursion is 'embarrassment' for the Russians, says defence analyst

Professor Michael Clarke, whose defence analysis has been informing Sky News readers through this war, has given his view on the Belgorod incursion.

The Russian defence ministry has claimed the incursion is over and that around 70 attackers were killed, some on the Ukraine side of the border, he says.

Of course, he says, that is "just the Russian Ministry of Defence saying that".

The incursion is an "embarrassment" for the Russians, he says, but on the balance of probability, "it probably is all over because it was an incursion".

This is the third time this sort of thing has happened, Clarke says, but it was the biggest.

The Russian claim to have killed 70 people "looks credible" - there were "a handful of vehicles, at least one tank that we know of and they may have captured a couple of armoured vehicles".

Clarke says there doesn't seem to have been much fighting - "it is not as if these characters have been shooting up these villages or engaging with a lot of Russian soldiers".

Nonetheless, the Russians were "so shocked by it in these little well-kept villages over there".

The question now, he says, is whether the Ukrainians were "complicit" in this.

"That's a real problem for them if they did."


Russian conscripts head to war with a smile and a thumbs up

A thumbs-up and a smile from the coach - these young Russian conscripts could soon be heading to a war zone.

The conscripts took part in a ceremony at Trinity Cathedral in Saint Petersburg today to mark their departure.

They will be moved to their garrisons and could soon even find themselves fighting in Ukraine.

In October last year, Russian officials said 82,000 conscripts had been sent to the frontlines.

Russia conscripted 300,000 men last Autumn, and in January this year, intelligence suggested it was preparing to mobilise another 500,000.

In March, British intelligence said that Russia planned to recruit an additional 400,000 professional soldiers, amid reports of heavy losses in Ukraine.

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