Prigozhin blames drone attacks on Russian senior officials
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has blamed the latest Moscow drone attacks on senior Russian military officers living in the suburbs.
In a message posted on Telegram, the head of Russia’s mercenary group pinpointed the failures of Russia’s defence ministry that allowed the drones to reach Moscow.
“How dare you allow the drones to reach Moscow?” Prigizhin said in his regular aggressive tone.
“And what do ordinary people do when drones with explosives crash into their windows?” he continued.
Prigozhin has been a vocal critic of Russia’s military and political elite, routinely claiming they were not doing enough to help his fighters in the battle for Bakhmut.
Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine for the drone attacks, accusing the opposition of targeting civilians to evoke mass scare.
The Russian government has blamed the “terrorist attacks” on Ukraine, while Kyiv denies involvement.
Russia says there have been more attacks along its border with Ukraine
After Tuesday’s rare drone attack on Moscow, Russia is also accusing the Ukrainian army of shelling the town of Shebkino, located along the Russian-Ukrainian border, near Belgorod.
Images posted on Telegram show apartment blocks and private houses have been damaged and cars burned. Four people were injured, according to Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov.
Ukraine has also carried out strikes in the occupied Luhansk region, according to Russian-installed officials.
Moscow-appointed officials said Ukrainian armed forces shelled the village of Karpaty, which killed five people and wounded around 19 more.
New US aid package to bolster drones
A US military aid package for Ukraine – expected to be announced this week – will total up to 280 million euros and include drone munitions, US officials said on Tuesday.
The drone ammunition comes after unmanned aircraft targeted Moscow on Tuesday.
A US defence official told AP the drone strikes would not affect the weapons aid packages the US is providing Ukraine.
The new aid package comes at a tense moment in the war, with the latest drone attack following Russia’s seizure of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut after a nine-month battle.
Ukraine is also showing signs that its long-awaited spring counteroffensive may already be underway, though this cannot be confirmed.
Washington has maintained an agreement is in place with Ukraine that prevents it from using any US-provided drones to target Russia.
US officials did not provide details on the drone munitions in the new aid package or specify which unmanned aircraft would use them.
UN urges to ban on nuclear plant attacks
The UN’s nuclear chief urged Russia and Ukraine to ban attacks on Europe’s largest nuclear plant to “avoid the danger of a catastrophic incident” on Tuesday.
Rafael Grossi said the world is fortunate a nuclear accident hasn’t happened already at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, during an address to the UN Security Council.
Grossi asked the 15 Security Council members to support the five principles, stressing that they are “to no one’s detriment and to everyone’s benefit.”
Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya accused Russia of continuing “to actively use the nuclear plant for military purposes.”
He claimed 500 Russian military personnel are at the plant along with heavy weapons, munitions and explosives.
“The threat of dangerous accident as a result of these irresponsible and criminal actions hangs over us,” he said.
Ukraine takes “note” of Grossi’s five principles but urges him to add several more, he added, starting with the withdrawal of all Russian personnel from the Zaporizhzhia plant.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia denied that Russia has ever attacked the Zaporizhzhia plant, placed heavy weapons there or stationed military personnel.
He accused Ukraine of shelling the plant and said “Russia will take the most severe measures” to respond to any Ukraine attack.
Russia claims to have destroyed Ukraine’s ‘last warship’
Russia claimed this morning it has destroyed a ship in Odesa, describing it as the Ukrainian Navy’s last remaining operational warship.
“On 29 (May), as a result of a high-precision weapons strike by Russian aerospace forces on the mooring area of military vessels in the port of Odesa, the last warship of the Ukrainian navy, the ‘Yuri Olefirenko’, was destroyed,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement.
AFP was unable to confirm this claim from an independent source. The Ukrainian navy has yet to respond.
The “Yuri Olefirenko” is a ship used for landing troops. Formerly known as the “Kirovograd”, it was renamed in 2016 in honour of a Ukrainian officer killed in 2015 near the town of Mariupol.
In June 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky decorated the ship’s crew for their “heroism” in defending the country in the face of a massive offensive by the Russian army.
The ship was also used in 2014 to evacuate Ukrainian military personnel following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.
Ukraine calls on five EU countries to lift grain import restrictions
The Ukrainian government said today it regretted the restrictions imposed by five EU countries on its grain exports, insisting they are playing into the hands of the Russian war effort.
These restrictions were imposed by five Eastern European countries, including one of Kyiv’s main supporters, Poland, in order to protect local farmers, amid an influx of Ukrainian grain, which has caused prices to plummet.
“Maintaining the restrictions is tantamount to giving Putin additional weapons against the unity of Europe,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture wrote on Twitter. “The current restrictions must be lifted.”
While the lifting of customs duties in May 2022 has led to a surge of Ukrainian agricultural products into the European Union, five countries, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania, unilaterally banned their imports in mid-April.
The European Commission struck an agreement with the five countries at the end of April under which they would not prevent the transit of Ukrainian products to other countries.
The restrictions are also being contested by 12 other EU countries, including France and Germany, who earlier this month expressed their “serious concerns” about this “differentiated treatment within the internal market”.