Political turmoil has rocked Russia. Warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, took control of a southern Russian military outpost and then began an advance toward Moscow, only to reach an agreement to back down hours later.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has begun its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia’s invasion forces. Kyiv is conducting attacks in Ukraine’s south and east to reclaim occupied territory.
Read our in-depth coverage. For all our coverage, visit our Ukraine war page.
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Note: Nikkei Asia decided in March 2022 to suspend its reporting from Russia until further information becomes available regarding the scope of the revised criminal code. Entries include material from wire services and other sources.
Here are the latest developments:
Sunday, July 9 (Tokyo time)
10:34 p.m. Russian air defense systems shoot down four missiles, one over the Crimean Peninsula and three over Russia’s Rostov and Bryansk regions that border Ukraine, Russian officials say. No damage or casualties are reported in Russia-annexed Crimea, the Moscow-installed governor, Sergei Aksyonov, writes on the Telegram messaging app.
Moscow regularly accuses Ukraine of attacks against targets inside Russia. Kyiv has denied this, saying it is fighting a defensive war on its own territory.
7:33 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda visit a church in western Ukraine to mark the anniversary of massacres of Poles by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II, killings that have been a source of tension between the allies.
Warsaw has been a staunch supporter of Kyiv since Russia’s invasion. But the Volhynia massacre, in which historians say tens of thousands of Poles perished, hangs over bilateral ties ahead of the July 11 anniversary of one of the bloodiest days of a series of killings that took place from 1943 to 1945.
Polish historians say up to 12,000 Ukrainians also were killed in Polish retaliatory operations.
3:45 p.m. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says NATO leaders should discuss Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant when they meet Tuesday and Wednesday for a summit in Lithuania. The U.S.-led transatlantic alliance intends to tackle topics ranging from Ukraine’s membership bid and Sweden’s accession to boosting ammunition stockpiles and reviewing the first defense plans in decades.
Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of planning to attack the plant, located on Russian-held territory in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region.
“After all, the vast majority of the [NATO] alliance members will be in the direct impact zone,” Zakharova says on the Telegram messaging app, referring to any potential incident at the plant.
2:15 a.m. The Olympic Council of Asia votes to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete at the Hangzhou Asian Games in China. The council will allow as many as 500 athletes from the two countries to compete under a neutral flag, but they will not be permitted to win medals at the Sept. 28-Oct. 8 Games. Registering an international result, however, could help pave their way to the 2024 Paris Olympics.
12:30 a.m. The Kremlin says Turkey violated agreements by releasing detained Ukrainian commanders that for weeks defended a steel works in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. Russia’s RIA news agency quotes a Kremlin spokesperson as saying that under the terms of a prisoner exchange, the fighters were to remain in Turkey until the end of the war.
The statement comes just hours after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy returned to Ukraine from Turkey, bringing with him the five commanders, saying he was “bringing our heroes home.”
Saturday, July 8
11:30 p.m. Spain and Canada say they oppose the use of cluster bombs that Washington has promised to give Ukraine for its counteroffensive against occupying Russian forces.
“Spain, based on the firm commitment it has with Ukraine, also has a firm commitment that certain weapons and bombs cannot be delivered under any circumstances,” Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles says. “No to cluster bombs and yes to the legitimate defense of Ukraine, which we understand should not be carried out with cluster bombs,” she says at a political rally.
Separately, the Canadian government says, “We do not support the use of cluster munitions and are committed to putting an end to the effects cluster munitions have on civilians — particularly children.”
Meanwhile, Kyiv vows to not use the munitions on Russian soil. “Our position is simple — we need to liberate our temporarily occupied territories and save the lives of our people,” Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov writes on Twitter. “Ukraine will use these munitions only for the de-occupation of our internationally recognized territories. These munitions will not be used on the officially recognized territory of Russia.”
6:07 a.m. The Biden administration announces $800 million worth of military aid for Ukraine, most notably including cluster munitions for the first time. This marks the 42nd time since August 2021 that the U.S. provides equipment from Department of Defense inventories via presidential drawdown authority.
The U.S. has committed more than $42 billion in Biden-era security assistance to Ukraine, including more than $41.3 billion since Russia launched the invasion in February 2022, according to the Defense Department. The department recently revised up its overvaluation error for past aid to $6.2 billion over two fiscal years from $3 billion, meaning that even more resources were available for presidential drawdown packages than previously thought.
3:51 a.m. The U.S. says it will send Ukraine widely banned cluster munitions as part of a security assistance package, a move Ukraine says will have an “extraordinary psycho-emotional impact” on occupying Russian forces.
Cluster munitions are prohibited by more than 100 countries. They typically release large numbers of smaller bomblets that can kill indiscriminately over a wide area, and those that fail to explode pose a danger for decades after a conflict ends.
“We recognize that cluster munitions create a risk of civilian harm from unexploded ordnance,” Jake Sullivan, U.S. national security adviser, tells reporters. “This is why we’ve deferred the decision for as long as we could. But there is also a massive risk of civilian harm if Russian troops and tanks roll over Ukrainian positions and take more Ukrainian territory and subjugate more Ukrainian civilians because Ukraine does not have enough artillery.”
Friday, July 7
11:45 a.m. Ukraine has submitted its request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to the trade pact’s depositary country New Zealand, says Japan’s economy minister, Shigeyuki Goto. Japan, as a CPTPP member, “must carefully assess whether Ukraine fully meets the high level of the agreement” in terms of market access and rules, Goto adds.
The CPTPP includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, with the United Kingdom becoming the 12th member state.
12:44 a.m. Sweden has failed to persuade Turkey to lift its block on Stockholm’s path to NATO membership, and the issue will now go to a meeting of their leaders next week on the eve of a NATO summit in Vilnius, Reuters reports.
Swedish membership is “within reach,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says after talks with the two countries’ foreign ministers at the security alliance’s headquarters in Brussels.
Turkey says Sweden harbors members of militant groups, mainly supporters of the Kurdistan Workers Party, who he accuses of organizing demonstrations and financing terrorists. Sweden says it has met the demands agreed on in negotiations with Turkey, including introducing a new bill to outlaw belonging to a terrorist organization.
“We are hoping and looking for a positive decision next week,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom tells reporters in Brussels. “The process is continuing and we of course are working very intensively” in the coming days in order to join NATO, he says.
Thursday, July 6
11:10 p.m. A Russian missile slams into a residential building in Lviv in western Ukraine, killing five people in a city that is far from frontlines and home to thousands displaced by war.
The roof and top floor of the building were destroyed in what Lviv’s mayor called the biggest attack of the war on civilian infrastructure in a city 70 kilometers from the border with NATO and European Union member state Poland. “There definitely will be a response to the enemy. It will be a noticeable one,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says in an online post accompanying a video of the damage in Lviv.
10:00 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that his country and Bulgaria had agreed on more active cooperation in the defense sector, and that he had invited Sofia to take part in Ukraine’s reconstruction.
“We discussed the military aid which Bulgaria gives to our country,” Zelenskyy told a press conference in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, where he met Bulgarian leaders. “We count on the continuation of the cooperation which has already saved many lives.”
9:55 p.m. The U.S. is expected to announce that it will provide cluster munitions to Ukraine for its fight against Russia’s invasion, The New York Times reports. The newspaper cited an unidentified senior Biden administration official and offered no further details.
6:20 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday that he was in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, for talks with the country’s president and prime minister on issues including security and next week’s NATO summit.
6:10 p.m. Russian state TV on Wednesday night launched a fierce attack on Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of an aborted armed mercenary mutiny last month, and said an investigation was still being pursued. In the program “60 Minutes,” broadcast on Wednesday on Rossiya-1 television, footage was shown that had purportedly been shot during law enforcement raids on Prigozhin’s St. Petersburg office and one of his “palaces.” The host, lawmaker Yevgeny Popov, called Prigozhin a “traitor” and the footage was presented by an invited guest — journalist Eduard Petrov — as proof of Prigozhin’s criminal past and his hypocrisy in alleging corruption in the armed forces.
4:40 p.m. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who last month brokered a deal to end an armed mutiny in Russia, said on Thursday that Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin was no longer in Belarus. “As for Prigozhin, he’s in St. Petersburg. He is not on the territory of Belarus,” he said, referring to Russia’s second-largest city.
2:40 p.m. The Russian ruble tumbled to a more than 15-month low past 92 against the dollar on Thursday, hampered by strong demand for foreign currency and taking its losses since an armed mutiny in late June to more than 8%. Capital controls have helped insulate the ruble against geopolitics in the more than 16 months since Russia invaded Ukraine, but mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s aborted march toward Moscow on June 24 has reverberated through markets and raised questions about President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power. At 0630 GMT, the ruble was 1.8% weaker against the dollar at 92.66, its weakest since March 28, 2022.
5:00 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed Sweden’s prime minister to the White House on Wednesday in a show of solidarity as the United States ramps up pressure for the Nordic nation’s entry into NATO ahead of the alliance’s summit next week. Biden said it was very important for Sweden to join, something that’s been held up by objections from Turkey and Hungary. “You are a valued, valued friend,” the president said to Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson during brief public remarks in the Oval Office. Kristersson responded by saying that “we highly appreciate your strong support” for joining NATO.
Wednesday, July 5
10:00 p.m. The Russian budget’s oil and gas revenues fell by 47% to 3.38 trillion rubles ($37.4 billion) in the first half of the year from the same period in 2022, Finance Ministry data shows, as tax returns fell because of lower prices and sales volumes. Proceeds from oil and gas sales are crucial for Russia’s commodity-oriented economy and for the financing of the battles in Ukraine. The oil and gas revenues declined by 26.4% in the month of June, year on year, to 528.6 billion rubles — less steep than the 36% fall seen in May.
8:00 a.m. Russian air defenses on Tuesday foiled a Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow that prompted authorities to briefly close one of the city’s international airports, officials say. The drone attack, which follows previous similar raids on the Russian capital, was the first known assault on the city since an abortive mutiny launched 11 days ago by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. The Russian Defense Ministry said that four of the five drones were downed by air defenses on the outskirts of Moscow and the fifth was jammed electronically and forced down.
5:09 a.m. Russia and Ukraine trade accusations of the other plotting an attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, seized by Russian troops in the days following the invasion.
“Under cover of darkness overnight on 5th July, the Ukrainian military will try to attack the Zaporizhzhia station using long-range precision equipment and kamikaze attack drones,” Russian news agencies quote Renat Karchaa, an adviser to the head of Rosenergoatom, which operates Russia’s nuclear network, as telling Russian television. He offered no evidence in support of his allegation.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian armed forces quote “operational data” as saying that “explosive devices” had been placed on the roof of the station’s third and fourth reactors on Tuesday, with an attack possible “in the near future.”
“If detonated, they would not damage the reactors but would create an image of shelling from the Ukrainian side,” the statement on Telegram says. The military also provided no evidence for its assertions.
The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has tried for over a year to reach a deal that would demilitarize the plant and reduce the risks of a nuclear accident.
2:30 a.m. Russia reiterates a demand for its state agricultural bank to be reconnected to the global SWIFT payments system to avert the collapse of the Black Sea grain deal, and says it would not accept a reported compromise proposal, Reuters reports.
With 13 days remaining until the expiry of the deal, which has allowed Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports despite Russia’s invasion, Moscow said there had been no progress on any of its key demands, including the banking issue.
The Financial Times reported on Monday that the European Union was considering a proposal to let Russia’s Rosselkhozbank set up a subsidiary that could connect to SWIFT.
1:43 a.m. At least 38 people, including 12 children, were wounded in a Russian missile strike that targeted a military funeral in Pervomaiskyi, in the northeastern Kharkiv region of Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials.
Tuesday, July 4
4:14 a.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz call for the extension of a deal allowing the safe export of grain and fertilizers from three Ukrainian Black Sea ports, reports Reuters, citing an official. The two men made the appeal during a phone call.
3:49 a.m. A Russian drone attack kills at least two people and injures 19 in the northern Ukrainian city of Sumy. An official building and two residential buildings were damaged in an attack carried out with four drones, reports Reuters, citing a post by the Sumy regional administration on Telegram.
“Unfortunately, our country does not yet have a sufficient number of high-quality air defense systems to protect our entire territory and shoot down all enemy targets,” President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address.
Monday, July 3
6:00 p.m. Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and now deputy head of the Security Council, has warned that Moscow’s confrontation with the West will last decades and that its conflict with Ukraine could become permanent. In an article for the government’s Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper, he said tensions between Russia and the West were “much worse” than during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The only way to de-escalate tensions between Russia and the West was to enter into tough negotiations, he said. “The confrontation will last for decades.”
12:20 p.m. The Wagner Group’s departure from Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine does not impact Russia’s combat potential, the state-owned TASS agency cites Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, who chairs Russia’s lower house of parliament’s defense committee, as saying. According to Reuters, the influential lawmaker told TASS that the Russian regular army has been able to repulse Ukraine’s new offensive without Wagner fighters. “No new wave of mobilization will be required,” Kartapolov said.
11:20 a.m. Russia has brought some 700,000 children from the conflict zones in Ukraine into Russian territory, Grigory Karasin, head of the international committee in the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, says. “In recent years, 700,000 children have found refuge with us, fleeing the bombing and shelling from the conflict areas in Ukraine,” Karasin wrote on his Telegram messaging channel. Ukraine, however, says many children have been illegally deported and the United States says thousands of children have been forcibly removed from their homes.
6:22 a.m. Many fighters from the Wagner mercenary group have agreed to fight for Russia, Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, writes on Telegram.
After Wagner backed down from its mutiny in late June, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Wagner fighters could continue to work in Russia by signing a contract with the Defense Ministry, go back to their families or go to Belarus.
3:31 a.m. Ukrainian forces are resisting a Russian onslaught in eastern areas of the front and face difficulties in the northeast, but are making progress near the shattered city of Bakhmut and in the south, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar says. Russian forces are advancing near two cities in the Donetsk region, Maliar writes on Telegram, but she reports “partial success” south of Bakhmut.
“Our troops are facing intense enemy resistance, remote mining and the redeployment of enemy reserves, but are tirelessly creating the conditions for the fastest possible advance,” she says.
Russian accounts of the front line say Moscow’s forces repelled Ukrainian attacks near villages ringing Bakhmut and in areas farther south. Reuters could not confirm any of the battlefield accounts.
Saturday, July 1
12:30 p.m. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the Kremlin’s staunchest ally in its war in Ukraine, said on Friday he was certain Russian tactical nuclear weapons deployed in his country would never be used. Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin have acknowledged that some tactical weapons have arrived in Belarus. In an address marking his ex-Soviet state’s national day, Lukashenko said the stationing of the weapons in Belarus was “my firmest initiative.”
“As we move along, we become more and more convinced that they [the weapons] must be stationed here, in Belarus, in a reliable place,” he said. “I am certain that we will never have to use them while they are here. And no enemy will ever set foot on our land.”
Friday, June 30
11:30 p.m. Russia will increase salaries for military servicemen by 10.5% from Oct. 1, reports Reuters, citing a government decree published on the official web portal.
11:20 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation around Ukraine and how Moscow had resolved an armed mercenary mutiny in a telephone call with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Kremlin says.
Modi had expressed support for the Russian leadership’s decisive actions in handling the mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group last Saturday, according to the Kremlin.
4:00 p.m. Hungary rejects the European Commission’s plans to grant more money to Ukraine and is not willing to contribute additional money to finance the EU’s increased debt service costs, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday. Orban, speaking on the sidelines of the EU summit in Brussels, said it was a “ridiculous” request from the Commission that Hungary should contribute more money when Budapest — along with Poland — has not received funds from the EU’s Recovery Fund amid a rule-of-law dispute. “One thing is clear, we Hungarians … will not give more money to Ukraine until they say where the previous around 70 billion euros worth of funds had gone,” Orban said.
1:00 p.m. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took center stage at a European Union summit, underscoring the importance the 27 EU leaders attach to protecting their eastern flank from Russian aggression and beefing up Ukraine’s defense capabilities. In a statement issued early Friday after the meeting ended, the leaders reaffirmed their willingness “to provide sustainable military support to Ukraine for as long as it takes.” Stoltenmerg said, “The mutiny we saw at the weekend demonstrates that there are cracks and divisions within the Russian system. At the same time, it is important to underline that these are internal Russian matters.”
7:00 a.m. The Kremlin has declined to give any details about the fate of Russian General Sergei Surovikin, whose status and location have not been made public since an abortive armed mutiny by mercenaries on Saturday. Nicknamed “General Armageddon” by the Russian press for his aggressive tactics in Syria’s war, Surovikin — who is a deputy commander of Russian forces in Ukraine — has been absent from view since Saturday, when he appeared in a video appealing to mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to call off his mutiny. Surovikin looked exhausted in that video and it was unclear if he was speaking under duress. There have since been unconfirmed reports that he is being questioned by the security services. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday referred questions about Surovikin to the defense ministry, which has so far made no statement about him.
4:31 a.m. The International Monetary Fund’s executive board completes its first review of Ukraine’s $15.6 billion loan program, allowing Kyiv to immediately withdraw $890 million for budget support as it mounts a major offensive against Russia’s invasion, reports Reuters.
3:00 a.m. Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg visits Kyiv to draw attention to environmental damage caused by war in Ukraine and criticized the world’s response to the June 6 collapse of the vast hydroelectric Kakhovka dam, according to Reuters.
“I do not think that the world reaction to this ecocide was enough,” said Thunberg, who was in Kyiv for the inaugural meeting of a new environmental group that also includes senior European political figures.
12:48 a.m. Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who is running for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, makes a surprise visit to Ukraine to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
12:21 a.m. Ukraine has held nuclear disaster response drills in the vicinity of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Reuters reports, citing regional officials.
Thursday, June 29
3:00 p.m. Rescuers have pulled another body from the ruins of a restaurant in eastern Ukraine’s city of Kramatorsk, taking to 12 the death toll following a Russian missile strike, Ukraine’s emergency services said on Thursday. Three children were among the dead, and 60 more people were wounded, the authorities said.
9:00 a.m. Russian authorities have declared a news outlet critical of the Kremlin an “undesirable” organization, effectively banning it from operating in Russia as part of a continued crackdown on dissent. Novaya Gazeta Europe was founded by former journalists of the prominent independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which was stripped of its media license last year. It operates from outside Russia. Prosecutor General’s office accused the outlet of “creating and disseminating materials to the detriment of the interests” of Russia — namely, “false information about alleged widespread violations of the rights and freedoms of citizens in Russia, accusations against our country of unleashing an aggressive war on Ukraine, of committing war crimes against civilian population, and of repressions.”
5:00 a.m. NATO allies have accelerated efforts to convince Turkey to lift its opposition to Sweden joining NATO, but whether they will have success before leaders hold a summit in Lithuania next month is unclear, a Western official says. Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership last year, ditching long-held policies of military nonalignment after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Applications for membership must be approved by all NATO members, but Turkey and Hungary have yet to clear Sweden’s bid. For the United States and the rest of the alliance, welcoming Sweden when the bloc meets in Vilnius for a summit on July 10-11 has been a top priority.
Wednesday, June 28
1:30 p.m. The death toll has risen to eight from Russia’s attack on the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, Ukraine’s emergency services says, adding that 56 people were injured. Two Russian missiles struck Kramatorsk on Tuesday, hitting a crowded restaurant in the city center. Three people were pulled from the rubble, the emergency services added. “Rescuers are working through the rubble of the destroyed building and searching for people who are probably still under it,” officials of the emergency services said on the Telegram messaging app.
7:00 a.m. The Biden administration says it is sending up to $500 million in military aid to Ukraine, including more than 50 heavily armored vehicles and an infusion of missiles for air defense systems, as Ukrainian and Western leaders try to sort out the impact of the brief weekend insurrection in Russia. The aid is aimed at bolstering Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which has been moving slowly in its early stages. It is the 41st time since August 2021 that the U.S. has provided military weapons and equipment through presidential drawdown authority.
5:31 a.m. The U.S. Treasury Department announces sanctions against four companies and one person linked to the Wagner mercenary group and founder-owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, already under sanctions.
The companies in the Central African Republic, the United Arab Emirates and Russia “engaged in illicit gold dealings to fund the Wagner Group to sustain and expand its armed forces, including in Ukraine and Africa,” Treasury says. Wagner executive Andrey Ivanov is a Russian who “has been central to activities of Wagner Group units in Mali.”
3:50 a.m. Russia sent two frigates to sail through waters near Taiwan on Tuesday in a rare move that could further heighten tensions in the region.
The Russian intrusion came at a sensitive time, when China has been raising its own pressure on Taiwan. Read more.
3:09 a.m. The finances of Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s business group will be investigated, Russian President Vladimir Putin says.
The government “fully financed” Wagner itself to the tune of 86.3 billion rubles ($1 billion) between May 2022 and May 2023 for fighters’ salaries and incentive rewards, plus 110.2 billion rubles in insurance payouts, Putin tells Ministry of Defense military personnel in a meeting. Prigozhin also made money from providing food and canteen service to the Russian army. Putin says he hopes that no one “stole anything” — or that not much was stolen.
Tuesday, June 27
11:50 p.m. Wagner mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has arrived in Belarus, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says.
“Yes, indeed, he is in Belarus today,” Lukashenko is quoted as saying by the official Belarusian Telegraph Agency (BelTA).
Lukashenko also reveals some details of how he says he helped end Prigozhin’s uprising over the weekend before Wagner troops reached Moscow.
He says he told Russian President Vladimir Putin not to rush to “eliminate” the mutineers. “I suggested that I talk to Prigozhin, his commanders,” BelTA quotes the Belarusian leader as saying. “Putin replied: ‘Listen, it’s useless. He doesn’t even pick up the phone, he doesn’t want to talk to anyone.'”
Prigozhin ultimately agreed to stand down and depart for Belarus, with Russia dropping the armed-mutiny criminal case against him. Putin has thanked Lukashenko for his help. But Lukashenko vehemently denies acting as a “mediator.”
7:00 p.m. The European Commission is discussing ways to use frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine and hopes to put forward a proposal soon, the body’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, tells Nikkei.
“I am of the strong opinion that Russia must pay for the cost of the massive destructions it has provoked in Ukraine,” von der Leyen says in an email interview.
The interview came before an extraordinary turn of events at the weekend, when the leader of the mercenary Wagner Group employed by President Vladimir Putin to attack Ukraine staged a mutiny and threatened to march to Moscow before dramatically changing his mind. Read more.
3:00 p.m. Chinese Premier Li Qiang calls for the world to uphold “stability” with the goal of protecting economic growth, following a rebellion in Russia and as the world’s second-largest economy faces a growing array of challenges.
In a speech at the World Economic Forum in the city of Tianjin, the second-ranked figure in the Chinese government says global stability and development have been disrupted by “unfortunate events,” without mentioning any specific countries.
“In recent years, [we] have witnessed repeated rhetoric by some to stoke ideological confrontation, hatred and prejudice,” Li tells conference delegates, including the leaders of New Zealand and Vietnam. “This rhetoric keeps coming up, and as a result, we’re seeing acts of encirclement, suppression and even regional wars and conflicts.” Read more.
8:50 a.m. President Vladimir Putin pays tribute to pilots who were killed during the failed weekend mutiny, confirming earlier reports by military bloggers that several planes were shot down by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner militia. Wagner fighters on Saturday took control of the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and drove an armed convoy within 200 kilometers of Moscow before aborting their insurrection. “The courage and self-sacrifice of the fallen heroes-pilots saved Russia from tragic devastating consequences,” Putin said in his first public address about the mutiny since the weekend events.
5:00 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin thanks members of private military group Wagner for making the “only right decision” to avert bloodshed but says the ringleaders of the uprising have betrayed the nation.
Speaking on state television for the first time since Wagner troops stood down on Saturday, Putin makes no direct reference to mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, reported to have accepted a deal to go to Belarus.
Putin says the uprising would have eventually been crushed, and says that those who wish to can go to Belarus. The Russian leader also thanks Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for brokering a peaceful resolution.
4:50 a.m. The U.S. and its allies were not involved in the weekend uprising against Russia’s military command by mercenaries, President Joe Biden says. In his first public comments on the mutiny, Biden said he and key allies have agreed not to give Russian President Vladimir Putin any excuse to blame the development on the West or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “We made clear that we were not involved. We had nothing to do with it,” Biden said at the White House. “This was part of a struggle within the Russian system.”
1:10 a.m. In his first message since halting his uprising in Russia, the head of the Wagner private military group says he had no intention of overthrowing Russia’s government over the weekend.
“We didn’t have the goal of toppling the existing regime, which is lawfully elected, as we have said many times,” Yevgeny Prigozhin says in a voice recording posted on Telegram.
Messages from Prigozhin had stopped after he announced Saturday night that his forces were turning around on their way to Moscow, after having advanced to around 200 kilometers from the Russian capital. It was not known where his latest message was recorded.
Prigozhin ended his show of force, which Russian President Vladimir Putin called a stab in the back, after Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko stepped in to mediate. Much about what happens next, including Prigozhin’s whereabouts, remains unclear.
12:50 a.m. Kazakhstan is reaching out to hundreds of U.S. and European companies exiting Russia with an offer to host their operations, amid the ongoing economic fallout of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We’ve sent invitations to 401 companies whose relocation to Kazakhstan we are interested in,” Almas Aidarov, Kazakhstan’s deputy foreign minister, told the country’s Senate in late May.
Kazakhstan has been seeking to attract businesses exiting Russia since last July, when President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said the government “must create conditions that are favorable” for companies to relocate. Read more.
Monday, June 26
10:25 p.m. Berlin is prepared to station a 4,000-member army brigade in Lithuania permanently in coordination with NATO defense planning, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius says.
“Germany stands by its commitment as a NATO member, as Europe’s biggest economy, to stand up for the protection of the eastern flank,” Pistorius says during a visit to Vilnius. But he notes that Lithuania must provide infrastructure such as barracks, housing areas for families, depots and training grounds.
“We agree that the brigade will grow step-by-step as the infrastructure is established,” Pistorius says. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says he aims for the infrastructure to be in place by 2026.
6:04 p.m. The Wagner mercenaries’ mutiny demonstrated the scale of the Kremlin’s strategic mistake in waging war on Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says. “The events … [are] yet another demonstration of the big strategic mistake that President [Vladimir] Putin made with his illegal annexation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told reporters on a visit to Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius. Stoltenberg also said NATO was monitoring the situation in Belarus and condemned Moscow’s announcement to deploy nuclear weapons there. “We don’t see any indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons, but NATO remains vigilant,” he said.
5:00 p.m. Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin remains under investigation by the Federal Security Service on suspicion of organizing an armed mutiny, the Kommersant newspaper reports, citing an unidentified source. The criminal case against Prigozhin was initiated on June 23 after he announced a “march for justice” by his fighters against the military leadership, who he said were cowards undermining Russia’s war in Ukraine.
2:50 p.m. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Russian troops involved in the military operation in Ukraine, the RIA news agency reports, his first public appearance since the weekend mutiny by the Wagner paramilitary group. RIA’s report, which cites Russia’s defense ministry, makes it clear that Shoigu remained in charge, but provides no details on when and where he met the troops and commanders of the Western military district. Mutineers led by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin advanced on Moscow to remove what they called Russia’s corrupt and incompetent military leadership, before suddenly heading back to a Russia-held area of eastern Ukraine after a deal with the Kremlin brokered by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
2:30 p.m. Ukraine has reclaimed some 130 square kilometers from Russian forces along the southern front line since the start of the counteroffensive, Ukraine Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar says. “The situation in the south has not undergone significant changes over the past week,” Maliar told the national broadcaster. She added that along the eastern part of the front line, which includes the Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Maryinka directions, about 250 combat clashes have taken place over the past week.
2:00 p.m. The Russian ruble opened at a near 15-month low against the dollar in early morning trade on Monday, responding for the first time to an aborted mutiny by heavily armed mercenaries over the weekend. By 0415 GMT, the ruble was 2.1% weaker against the dollar at 86.50, after earlier hitting 87.2300, its weakest point since late March 2022. Russian mercenaries led by Yevgeny Prigozhin withdrew from the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don overnight on Saturday under a deal that halted their rapid advance on Moscow but left unanswered questions about President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power.
1:00 p.m. The Australian government will provide a new 110 million Australian dollar ($73.5 million) military assistance package to Ukraine, including 70 military vehicles, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says. “This additional support will make a real difference, helping the Ukrainian people, who continue to show great courage in the face of Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and immoral war,” Albanese said during a media briefing in Canberra. The latest package will include 28 M113 armored vehicles, 14 special operations vehicles, 28 medium trucks and 14 trailers.
5:24 a.m. U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have spoken by phone about Ukraine’s “ongoing counteroffensive” and “recent events in Russia,” the White House says — an allusion to the aborted Wagner mutiny.
Biden “reaffirmed unwavering U.S. support, including through continued security, economic, and humanitarian aid,” the readout says.
The Ukrainian side reports more details, with Zelenskyy tweeting about a “positive and inspiring conversation.” In a news release, his office says the leaders “discussed further expansion of defense cooperation, in particular, increasing Ukraine’s firepower on the battlefield with an emphasis on long-range weapons.” The tweet and the release say he thanked Biden for providing Patriot air defense systems and supporting the coalition to provide Ukraine with fighter jets.
Wagner fighters started heading back to their bases from the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don late Saturday local time under the deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Reuters reports.
Saturday’s events in Russia “exposed the weakness” of President Vladimir Putin’s regime, Zelenskyy says in the news release. The Ukrainian leader also had calls with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Polish President Andrzej Duda the day he spoke with Biden. Trudeau and Biden also talked by phone the same day.
2:22 a.m. North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Im Chon Il has met with Russia’s ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, and unconditionally taken the Russian government’s side over the Wagner mutiny.
Speaking with Matsegora on Sunday, Im expressed a “firm belief that the recent armed rebellion in Russia would be successfully put down in conformity with the aspiration and will of the Russian people, saying the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] will strongly support any option and decision by the Russian leadership,” the official Korean Central News Agency reports.
Sunday, June 25
10:50 p.m. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs appears to back the Russian government in the wake of the recent turmoil involving the Wagner mercenary group.
“This is Russia’s internal affair,” the ministry quotes an unidentified spokesperson as saying, recycling a term it often uses in other contexts. “As Russia’s friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for the new era, China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity.”
10:07 p.m. Turmoil sparked by the aborted mutiny by Wagner mercenary forces led by Yevgeny Prigozhin could take weeks or even months to play out to Ukraine’s advantage in its counteroffensive, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.
In a series of Sunday television interviews, Blinken says that tensions that led to Prigozhin’s aborted mutiny had been rising for months and that the turmoil could affect Moscow’s capabilities in Ukraine.
“To the extent that the Russians are distracted and divided, it may make their prosecution of the aggression against Ukraine more difficult,” he says on ABC’s “This Week.”
8:22 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday told state television he was in constant contact with the defense ministry and that the country remained confident in realizing its plans related to the “special military operation” in Ukraine.
5:25 p.m. All transport restrictions in Russia’s Rostov region have been lifted, including those on highways, Russian news agencies reported on Sunday, citing local officials. “Bus and railway stations are working in normal mode. Tickets are on sale, all destinations are on schedule,” Sergey Tyurin, deputy minister of regional policy and mass communications for the Rostov region was quoted as saying.
12:45 p.m. U.S. spies learned in mid-June that Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin was plotting an uprising against Russia and urgently informed the White House and other government agencies, The Washington Post reports, citing several U.S. officials.
There was “high concern” about what might transpire — whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would remain in power and what any instability might mean for control of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, one official says.
8:00 a.m. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to discuss the situation in Russia. Blinken reiterates that support by the U.S. for Ukraine will not change.
7:55 a.m. Blinken speaks with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. Blinken says the U.S. will stay in close coordination with allies and partners as the situation develops.
7:50 a.m. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin speaks with defense ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Poland, and the U.K. to discuss the situation in Russia. Austin reiterates that support by the U.S. for Ukraine will not change.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder says the U.S. will stay in close coordination with allies and partners as the situation continues to develop.
6:30 a.m. The criminal case opened against Wagner mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin will be dropped, says Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The Wagner troops who took part in Prigozhin’s “march for justice” toward Moscow will not face any charges, Peskov adds, in recognition of their previous service to Russia.
5:00 a.m. Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin will move to Belarus under a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to end an armed mutiny that Prigozhin had led against Russia’s military leadership, the Kremlin says.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov adds Lukashenko had offered to mediate, with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agreement, because he had known Prigozhin personally for around 20 years.
2:35 a.m. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin says he had ordered his fighters, who had been advancing on Moscow, to turn around and return to their bases in order to avoid bloodshed, reports Reuters.
Prigozhin said his fighters had advanced to within 200 km of Moscow in the last 24 hours.
2:24 a.m. The office of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says that he had brokered a deal with mutinous Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin who had agreed to de-escalate the situation, reports Reuters.
1:45 a.m. A convoy of Wagner fighters approaching the outskirts of Moscow by road contains about 5,000 men led by senior Wagner commander Dmitry Utkin, a source close to the leadership in the Russian-held part of Ukraine’s Donetsk province tells Reuters.
The source says Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin had fewer than 25,000 men at his disposal in total, and that around 5,000 of them were in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, home to the country’s Southern Military District.
The source says Wagner’s plan for Moscow is to take up positions in a densely built-up area.
12:28 a.m. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin asks people to refrain from trips around the city as far as possible given a counterterrorism operation had been declared, saying the situation was “difficult,” reports Reuters.
Sobyanin also says in a statement that Monday would be a non-working day — with some exceptions — in order “to minimize risks.”
12:04 a.m. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone with Vladimir Putin and urged him to act with common sense, the Turkish presidency says, after Russian mercenary fighters began an armed mutiny overnight, according to Reuters.
The Kremlin says in a separate statement that Erdogan had backed the Russian government’s handling of the mutiny during the conversation with Putin.
Saturday, June 24
11:30 p.m. Russian mercenary fighters barrel toward Moscow, with Reuters reporting its journalists seeing troop carriers and a flatbed truck carrying a tank careening past the city of Voronezh more than halfway to Moscow, where a helicopter fires on them.
However, there are no reports of the rebels meeting any substantial resistance on the highway.
Meanwhile, Russian media shows pictures of small groups of police manning machine gun positions on Moscow’s southern outskirts. Authorities in the Lipetsk region south of the capital are telling residents to stay home.
11:00 p.m. Moscow offers Wagner fighters amnesty if they lay down their weapons but they need to act fast, the official Russian news agency Tass reports, citing a lawmaker. “Wagner fighters can still lay down their arms and avoid punishment given their achievements during the special military operation [in Ukraine], but they should do it fast,” Pavel Krasheninniko is quoted as saying.
9:49 p.m. The Security Council of Belarus releases a statement saying the nation remains an ally of Russia and that internal disputes are “a gift to the collective West.”
8:58 p.m. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin says his troops had not needed to fire a single shot when they took control of the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District in Rostov.
In a new audio message released by his press service, he says his men had been fired on by artillery and helicopters en route to Rostov.
He says he thinks he has the support of the Russian people for what he calls his “march of justice.”
7:35 p.m. A Wagner mercenary column of vehicles drove past the Russian city of Voronezh on Saturday afternoon, a Reuters witness says. One of the vehicles was a flatbed truck carrying a tank.
7:15 p.m. Mutinous Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says that he and his men will not turn themselves in on the orders of President Vladimir Putin. “The president makes a deep mistake when he talks about treason. We are patriots of our motherland, we fought and are fighting for it,” Prigozhin says in an audio message. “Nobody is going to turn themselves in and confess at the order of the president, the FSB [security service] or anyone else. Because we don’t want the country to continue to live any longer in corruption, deceit and bureaucracy.”
7:10 p.m. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, “Russia’s weakness is obvious” and that the longer Moscow keeps its troops and mercenaries in Ukraine, the more chaos it will invite back home.
“Russia’s weakness is obvious. Full-scale weakness,” Zelenskyy says in a posting on the Telegram messaging app. “And the longer Russia keeps its troops and mercenaries on our land, the more chaos, pain and problems it will have for itself later.”
6:40 p.m. Germany’s Foreign Ministry advises travelers to avoid the city of Rostov and the surrounding area, as well as Moscow city center, until further notice due to events taking place in Russia.
That follows various reactions in other European countries. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni earlier said that the rebellion by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin shows Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is backfiring against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Britain’s Defence Ministry said that the Russian state was facing its greatest security challenge of recent times. “Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how this crisis plays out,” Britain’s defense ministry said in a regular intelligence update.
6:35 p.m. Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev calls on Russians to rally around President Vladimir Putin amid a mutiny by the Wagner Group mercenary army, following similar calls by others including Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
6:10 p.m. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin appears to have met with Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, at the headquarters of the Southern Military District of the Russian Armed Forces, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, in this screen grab from a video released on Saturday and provided by Reuters.
6:05 p.m. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov says his forces are ready to help put down a mutiny by Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and to use harsh methods if necessary. In a statement, Kadyrov called Prigozhin’s behavior “a knife in the back” and told Russian soldiers not to give in to any “provocations.”
5:35 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has briefed Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on the situation in Russia, according to a message posted on the Belarusian presidency’s official Telegram channel. Putin has vowed to crush what he calls an armed mutiny by the Wagner Group.
5:25 p.m. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has called on Russians to rally around Russian President Vladimir Putin, after what Putin called an “armed mutiny” by the Wagner mercenary group.
4:47 p.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin says in an emergency televised address that an “armed mutiny” by the Wagner Group mercenary force was treason, and that “decisive action” will be taken to stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don, a southern city where Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says his forces have taken control of all military installations.
3:39 p.m. Rebellious Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says he has taken control of the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don as part of an attempt to oust the military leadership amid what the authorities say was an armed mutiny. Prigozhin demands that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff, whom he has pledged to oust over what he says is their disastrous leadership of the war against Ukraine, come to see him in Rostov, a city near the Ukrainian border.
He had earlier said that he had 25,000 fighters moving toward Moscow to “restore justice” and had alleged, without providing evidence, that the military had killed a huge number of fighters from his Wagner private militia in an airstrike, something the defense ministry denied. “Those who destroyed our lads, who destroyed the lives of many tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, will be punished. I ask that no one offer resistance,” he said in one of many frenzied audio messages.
3:06 p.m. Russia’s anti-terrorist committee says that it is imposing a counterterrorist regime in Moscow and the surrounding region amid an apparent mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group, the RIA state news agency reports.
12:45 p.m. The governor of the Lipetsk region of central Russia said on Saturday that the M-4 motorway connecting Moscow with southern regions was closed to traffic at the border with the Voronezh region, some 400 kilometers south of Moscow. Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin appeared to have sent an armed convoy of his Wagner fighters on a 1,200 km drive toward Moscow, having said that he intended to oust the military leadership.
11:51 a.m. Fragments from downed Russian missiles caused a fire injuring seven in Kyiv, while other Ukrainian cities, including Kharkiv, were also hit, officials say, as air alerts sounded nationwide. Serhiy Popko, head of the capital’s military administration, says falling fragments started a fire on the 16th, 17th and 18th floors of a 24-story tower block. He says seven people were injured and about 40 cars were damaged in an adjacent car park. Popko says anti-aircraft units had identified and downed more than 20 missiles.
At least three Russian missiles targeted Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, with one hitting a gas line and triggering a fire, says Mayor Ihor Terekhov. He says emergency services were at the scene but gave no details on casualties. The mayor of Dnipro in central Ukraine says eight private homes have been destroyed in an attack on the city.
10:11 a.m. The governor of southern Russia’s Rostov region adjoining Ukraine told residents early on Saturday to remain calm and stay indoors, as the leader of the Wagner private militia led what Russia calls a mutiny against the Moscow defense establishment. “Law enforcement agencies are doing everything necessary to ensure the safety of residents of the area. I ask everyone to stay calm and not to leave home unless necessary,” Vassily Golubev said in a message on his Telegram channel.
8:18 a.m. Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday his Wagner fighters had crossed the border into Russia from Ukraine and were prepared to go “all the way” against Moscow’s military, hours after the Kremlin accused him of armed mutiny. Read more.
1:16 a.m. The European Union formally approves its 11th sanctions package, aiming to stop third parties from aiding the Russian war effort. The new measures add entities registered in Hong Kong and elsewhere to the Russian and Iranian entities already on the list. Read more.
For earlier updates, click here.