Russia-Ukraine live updates: Zelenskyy has ‘powerful’ meeting with Biden

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(NEW YORK) — As Russia continues its nearly 16-month-long invasion of neighboring Ukraine, political turmoil has erupted in Moscow while Kyiv tries to take back territory.

A feud between Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group, and Russia’s top military brass escalated as Prigozhin’s forces left the front line in Ukraine and marched across the border to seize a key Russian city. They then marched north toward Russia’s capital, seemingly unopposed, before turning around just hours later. The short-lived rebellion was described by international observers as the most significant challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authority in his more than 20 years of rule.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops are in the early stages of a counteroffensive to reclaim the almost one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory that is under Russian control.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jul 12, 12:06 PM EDT
Zelenskyy has ‘powerful’ meeting with Biden

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his in-person meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Lithuania’s capital on Wednesday was “very good” and “powerful.”

Zelenskyy took to Twitter after their meeting ended in Vilnius, saying it lasted “twice as long as planned” and “was as meaningful as it needed to be.”

“If the protocol had not stopped the meeting, we would have talked even longer,” he tweeted.

Zelenskyy said their meeting covered “all the topics,” including long-term support for Ukraine, weapons, politics and NATO membership.

“We clearly see how to end this war with our common victory,” he added. “Thank you, Mr. President!”

Jul 12, 11:08 AM EDT
Biden, Zelenskyy meet in Lithuania

An in-person meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden is currently underway in Lithuania’s capital.

Zelenskyy took to Twitter on Wednesday evening to announce that their bilateral meeting in Vilnius “has begun.” It’s the third face-to-face meeting to take place between the two leaders this year.

“The focus is on security and everything that enhances it,” Zelenskyy tweeted. “It will be meaningful.”

Jul 12, 11:05 AM EDT
G-7 reaffirms ‘unwavering commitment’ to Ukraine in joint declaration

In a joint declaration released Wednesday, the leaders of the Group of Seven reaffirmed their “unwavering commitment to the strategic objective of a free, independent, democratic and sovereign Ukraine.”

“We will stand with Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression, for as long as it takes,” the joint declaration states.

G-7 leaders wrote in the joint declaration that they are working to “formalize” their “enduring support to Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty and territorial integrity, rebuilds its economy, protects its citizens, and pursues integration into the Euro-Atlantic community.”

They also said they will “work with Ukraine” on an “enhanced package of security commitments and arrangements in case of future aggression to enable Ukraine to defend its territory and sovereignty.”

The G-7 is an intergovernmental political forum consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Jul 12, 10:49 AM EDT
Ukraine ‘is bringing home significant security victory,’ Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy applauded the “outcome” of the annual NATO summit on Wednesday, describing the new commitments to his country as a “significant security victory.”

“Ukrainian delegation is bringing home significant security victory,” Zelenskyy said in brief remarks alongside world leaders in Lithuana’s capital. “For our country, for our people, for our children.”

Zelenskyy’s laudatory tone was a sharp departure from his comments on Twitter the previous day. He told reporters that the long-term commitments announced by G-7 leaders on Wednesday would “absolutely” open “new security opportunities” and that he was “grateful.”

“I thank everyone who made it possible,” he added.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett

Jul 12, 9:51 AM EDT
Zelenskyy attends 1st meeting of NATO-Ukraine Council

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrived for his first NATO summit meeting in Lithuania’s capital on Wednesday where he received a jovial welcome from world leaders eager to shake his hand — a mood in keeping with the more conciliatory tone Zelenskyy has struck since landing in Vilnius.

The Ukrainian leader ultimately made a beeline for U.S. President Joe Biden, as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg created a path for him through the crowd of world leaders. The two men — Biden in a suit and Zelenskyy in a dark green polo — greeted each other with smiles and shook hands before chatting briefly.

Everyone eventually took their seats for the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council — the first of its kind — and Stoltenberg began his remarks with a warm welcome to Zelenskyy, whom he called “our dear friend.”

“Welcome to this first meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council,” Stoltenberg said. “This is truly a historic moment, allies and Ukraine sitting side-by-side as equals to address our common vision of Euro-Atlantic security.”

“And I’m really honored to welcome in our midst our dear friend, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, president of Ukraine. Welcome to Lithuania and it’s great to have you here,” he added.

Stoltenberg proceeded to give a very clear message about where NATO stands on Ukrainian membership, though no details on the pathway as has been a point of contention. He noted the summit has “reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance and we have made decisions to bring Ukraine closer to NATO.”

“Today, we meet as equals,” he said. “And I look forward to the day we meet as allies.”

Jul 12, 9:07 AM EDT
US ‘prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory’ against Russia

The United States “is prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Wednesday, amid Russia’s threats of military retaliation if Sweden and Ukraine officially join the alliance.

“At the end of the day, Russia does not get a vote in who joins NATO,” Sullivan told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during an interview Wednesday on Good Morning America.

“If Russia does choose to test Article 5, President Biden has said he is prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory,” he added. “And later tonight, when he addresses a large crowd in Vilnius in a speech about his vision for Euro-Atlantic security and for American leadership, he will reinforce this point about the sanctity of Article 5.”

Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that the signed parties “agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.”

Sweden and Finland, which have historically embraced neutrality, applied for NATO membership together last year despite warnings from Moscow against doing so, as Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Finland officially joined the alliance in April following Turkish ratification, but Turkey and Hungary have yet to ratify Sweden’s membership. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to send Sweden’s NATO accession documents to Turkey’s Parliament for approval “as soon as possible,” one of the last steps in the membership process.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is pushing hard for NATO membership as Russia’s war presses on. Stoltenberg announced Tuesday that the bloc “will issue an invitation for Ukraine to join NATO when allies agree and conditions are met,” pledging to speed up the process by eliminating bureaucratic hurdles, but without offering a timeline.

“All 31 allies got together yesterday to say with one voice that Ukraine’s future is in NATO. The real question is just how we work down the pathway to get them in,” Sullivan told ABC News on Wednesday. “So the signal that NATO sent yesterday was very positive to Ukraine about its future prospects for joining NATO, and we will work in terms of the democratic and security sector reforms that are necessary. And in the meantime, we’re not just going to sit around. We’re going to provide Ukraine with the weapons and military assistance it needs to defend its territory against Russia and to deter future aggression from Russia.”

Ukraine has requested F-16 fighter jets and long-range missiles to aid its counteroffensive against Russian forces. Sullivan said the U.S. has already taken steps with NATO allies to begin the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s, which “will take some time,” and then the aircraft will be transferred to Ukraine “likely from European countries that have excess F-16 supplies.” As for the long-range missiles, Sullivan said the U.S. will continue to look into the issue and discuss it with Ukraine.

Jul 12, 7:45 AM EDT
Zelenskyy takes softer tone on NATO membership ahead of meeting with Biden

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden are set to meet in Lithuania’s capital on Wednesday afternoon, a day after NATO leaders announced during a summit that Ukraine will be allowed to join the alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met” but didn’t offer a timeline.

Earlier Wednesday, Zelenskyy held a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, fielding many questions from reporters about Ukraine’s path to NATO membership. The Ukrainian president took a noticeably softer tone compared to his remarks the previous day criticizing the lack of a timeline as “unprecedented and absurd.”

Zelenskyy told reporters it’s difficult as NATO partners are living under different conditions, whereas in Ukraine “survival” matters. He said he understands some people are “afraid” to talk about Ukraine joining NATO because “nobody is willing to have a world war.” He acknowledged that his country cannot be a member of the alliance while a war is going on within its borders, but he said “signals are important.”

When asked about his upcoming meeting with Biden and how he plans to convince the U.S. president that Ukraine is ready for NATO membership, Zelenskyy responded with gratitude to the United States and confidence that Ukraine will join the alliance once Russia’s war is over.

“I’m grateful to President Biden and to the Congress and to the people of United States that are truly the leaders in support and assistance to Ukraine. We highly appreciate this,” the Ukrainian president told reporters. “Not planning to find any arguments for making sure that President Biden would see us in NATO. I believe that those arguments, they should be mutual because it’s all about this security, the East, the European continent, the Eastern Flank of NATO. And I believe that NATO needs us just as we need NATO. And I believe that this is absolutely fair. I am confident that after the war, Ukraine will be in NATO. We will be doing everything possible to make it happen so that we with the United States would have a same understanding and same vision.”

Jul 12, 7:18 AM EDT
US defends NATO decision on Ukraine membership

The United States is standing by the NATO communique released Tuesday and its language around Ukraine joining the alliance, despite criticism from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the lack of a timeline to do so.

“The United States clearly joined with NATO allies in agreeing to a strong positive message reaffirming that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance,” U.S. National Security Council Senior Director for Europe Amanda Sloat said during a press briefing in Lithuania’s capital on Wednesday morning, on the final day of a high-stakes NATO summit. “And as the communique has made clear, as the president has spoken to directly in the past, we recognize that Ukraine has already made significant progress in terms of reforms. That was part of what led to allies making the decision to say that the Membership Action Plan was no longer required for Ukraine.”

“But as both the president has said and as the communique made clear, there is still the need for Ukraine to take further democratic and security sector reforms,” she added.

Sloat told reporters that the U.S. has been and would continue to work with Ukraine both bilaterally and through the NATO alliance to ensure that the reforms required to join the alliance are met.

When asked to respond to Zelenskyy’s criticism that the lack of a timeline was “unprecedented and absurd,” Sloat defended the agreement as a significant one.

“I would agree that the communique is unprecedented, but I see that in a positive way. We joined with allies yesterday in agreeing to a very strong, positive message. We reaffirmed that Ukraine will become a member of the NATO alliance,” she said, arguing that removing the Membership Action Plan requirement for Ukraine was a “very significant” step on NATO’s part.

Jul 12, 6:57 AM EDT
Biden to make ‘memorable speech’ focusing on NATO, Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden will make a “memorable speech” before world leaders in Lithuania’s capital on the final day of a high-stakes NATO summit, according to National Security Council Senior Director for Europe Amanda Sloat.

Biden’s remarks on Wednesday afternoon will focus on similar themes to what he said during his speech in Poland in late February marking one year since Russia waged war on Ukraine.

“President Biden will talk about the strength of the NATO Alliance and how it remains a force for global security and stability, as it has for more than seven decades. He’ll talk about how NATO is more vital to our shared future and that didn’t happen by accident,” Sloat told reporters during a press briefing in Vilnius on Wednesday morning.

“As the president has talked about before, Vladimir Putin thought he could break our resolve when he invaded Ukraine. But our NATO allies and our partners around the world responded by coming together to support the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom, their independence and their democracy,” she added.

Beyond addressing the strength of the NATO alliance and the importance of standing by Ukraine, Biden will also look to pitch cooperation like we’ve seen for Ukraine to tackle other major challenges facing the world, “including the climate crisis, emerging technologies, upholding the international rules of the road and expanding opportunities so we build an economy where no one gets left behind,” according to Sloat.

Jul 12, 6:41 AM EDT
US, G-7 leaders to announce ‘long-term commitments to support’ Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden and other G-7 leaders are set to unveil future support for Ukraine on Wednesday after the conclusion of a high-stakes NATO summit in Lithuana’s capital.

“President Biden and G-7 leaders will make a major announcement alongside President Zelenskyy this afternoon outlining our long-term commitments to support the people of Ukraine,” U.S. National Security Council Senior Director for Europe Amanda Sloat said during a press briefing in Vilnius on Wednesday morning. “The United States, along with G-7 leaders, will announce our intent to help Ukraine build a military that can defend itself and deter a future attack.”

“The launch of this process today will start a series of bilateral negotiations with Ukraine on the reaching of bilateral security commitments to help make this a reality,” she added. “In particular, this process will ensure that the military assistance we provide Ukraine to defend itself against Russian aggression continues to be part of a long-term investment in Ukraine’s future force.”

That investment will include making sure “Ukraine has a sustainable fighting force capable of defending Ukraine now and deterring Russian aggression in the future, a strong and stable economy, and the help Ukraine needs to advance the reform agenda to support the good governance necessary to advance Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations, which Ukraine recommits itself to as part of this declaration,” according to Sloat.

“Taken together, we believe the declaration we will announce today seeks to ensure Ukraine’s future as a free, independent, democratic, and sovereign nation,” she told reporters. “This multilateral declaration will send a significant signal to Russia that time is not on its side.”

Jul 11, 5:05 PM EDT
Russian defense minister speaks out first time since rebellion

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his first public comments since last month’s failed rebellion led by Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is actively engaged with his commanders.

Shoigu said that Putin listens to “very detailed reports” twice a day and “all commanders on all levels understand and feel all the weight of responsibility that was placed on them.”

“They carry out their responsibilities with great pride,” he said.

Shoigu claimed that Ukraine hasn’t achieved any of its goals in its counteroffensive. The defense minster added that Russia may be using cluster munitions following the announcement that Ukraine will be receiving similar weapons from the U.S.

“If the United States supplies cluster munitions to Ukraine, the Russian Armed Forces will be forced to use similar weapons against the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a response,” he said.

Jul 11, 4:50 PM EDT
Russian minister responds to Finland, Sweden joining NATO

Russia will take “early and adequate measures” in connection with Sweden and Finland joining NATO, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday after the start of the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Lavrov told reporters that he is convinced that “the speed with which this happened, of course, forces us to look for the reason in the complete subordinate position in which these countries have placed the United States and the rest of the collective West,” according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

Jul 11, 11:53 AM EDT
Ukraine will get invite to join NATO ‘when all the allies agree,’ secretary general says

Ukraine will get an invitation to join NATO when all the allies agree and all the conditions are met, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a press conference from the NATO summit in Vilinus, Lithuania, on Tuesday.

NATO agreed to remove the required membership action plan, he added, which makes the process take only one step instead of two.

A NATO-Ukraine Council will also be launched, Stoltenberg announced. The first session is planned for Wednesday with participation from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he said.

Zelenskyy had criticized the process for joining NATO ahead of his trip to Lithuania, saying, “It’s unprecedented and absurd when timeframe is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership.”

-ABC News’ Fidel Pavlenko

Jul 11, 7:41 AM EDT
Zelenskyy pushes for NATO membership invite ahead of summit

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again called on Tuesday for NATO to invite Ukraine to become a member, offering a strongly worded statement as the coalition leaders gathered for a summit in Lithuania.

Ukraine “deserves respect,” Zelenskyy said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“It’s unprecedented and absurd when time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership,” he said. “While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine. It seems there is no readiness neither to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the Alliance.”

Keeping Ukraine out of NATO amounts to a “motivation” for Russia to “continue its terror,” he said.

“Uncertainty is weakness,” he added.

Russia rebutted the statement a short while later.

“This is potentially very dangerous for European security. Indeed, it is fraught with great dangers, and those who will make this decision should be aware of that,” Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, said when asked to comment on Ukraine’s possible fast-track admission to the coalition.

Jul 10, 5:17 PM EDT
Biden to meet with Zelenskyy at NATO summit

President Joe Biden will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania this week, an administration official told ABC News.

The meeting comes as Zelenskyy pushes for a spot in NATO, despite Biden’s public comments this weekend that he doesn’t think that’s the right move at this moment.

Biden has instead suggested a relationship similar to Israel and the U.S., with strong security commitments.

-ABC News’ Cheyenne Haslett and Molly Nagle

Jul 10, 4:21 PM EDT
Turkey agrees to advance Sweden’s bid to join NATO

Turkey and Sweden have reached a deal to advance the latter country’s bid to join NATO, according to NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg.

“This is an historic step which makes all #NATO Allies stronger & safer,” Stoltenberg tweeted along with a photo of him and the two leaders shaking hands.

Turkey and Sweden have agreed to work on “legitimate security concerns,” according to NATO.

Sweden has resumed arms exports with Turkey and “will present a roadmap as the basis of its continued fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations,” according to NATO.

The two countries agreed to set up economic cooperation through the Türkiye-Sweden Joint Economic and Trade Committee, NATO said.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Jul 10, 2:59 PM EDT
Zelenskyy previews participation in NATO summit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy outlined his agenda for the NATO summit in Vilnius in his evening address.

Zelenskyy said the Ukrainian government is “working to make the algorithm for gaining membership as clear and fast as possible.”

The president also added, in regards to the summit, “there may be good weaponry-related news.”

“The priorities are absolutely clear: air defense for our cities, for all communities throughout the country, we are working to create a full-fledged sky shield,” he said.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Jul 10, 2:12 PM EDT
7 dead after Russians bomb city during aid distribution: Officials

Russian forces hit a residential neighborhood Sunday in the Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia region by a guided aerial bomb during the distribution of humanitarian aid, Ukrainian officials said.

At least seven people were killed and 11 others were injured in the blast, according to the regional military administration.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Jul 10, 11:57 AM EDT
Russia losing an average of 400 soldiers per day: UK officials

Russian forces are suffering an average of 400 casualties daily, according to a report from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence.

The report said that Russia is struggling with “a crisis of combat medical provision.”

“It is likely that many dedicated military hospitals are being reserved for officer casualties,” the report said.

The Ministry of Defence added that half of Russian fatalities in the last 17 months could have been prevented with proper first aid.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Jul 10, 11:40 AM EDT
More progress made near Bakhmut: Ukraine official

Ukraine Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Malyar released a statement Monday with updates on the ongoing counteroffensive.

Malyar said that Ukrainian forces liberated more than 14 square kilometers of territory from Russian forces last week, the majority of which came from the south.

The minister added that Russian forces are “on the defensive” in the direction of Bakhmut.

“The defense forces of Ukraine were able to capture the main heights near Bakhmut and have been holding the fortress city under fire control for several days,” Malyar said.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Jul 10, 6:47 AM EDT
Putin met Prigozhin after Wagner rebellion, Kremlin says

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin days after the rogue paramilitary leader launched a failed uprising, the Kremlin said on Monday.

The June 29 meeting came about a week after the rebellion failed, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Indeed, the president had such a meeting, he invited 35 people to it — all the commanders of the detachments and the management of the company, including Prigozhin himself,” Peskov said Monday, according to Interfax, a Russian newswire. “This meeting took place in the Kremlin on June 29, it lasted almost three hours.”

-ABC News’ Anastasia Bagaeva and Joe Simonetti

Jul 04, 12:13 PM EDT
Forty-three people injured in attack on Kharkiv region, including 12 children

Russian shelling on the town of Pervomayskyi, located in the region of Kharkiv, has injured 43 people, including 12 children, Oleh Synyehubov, the head of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration, said .

A residential building was damaged and multiple cars were destroyed in the shelling, according to Synyehubov.

Jul 03, 5:52 PM EDT
Top Ukrainian generals say counteroffensive is ‘going to plan’

Ukrainian Armed Forces have yet to reach their “full potential,” but two top generals exclusively told ABC News the counteroffensive is “going to plan” despite concerns from Western analysts that Ukraine is not making enough progress.

Gen. Oleksandr Tarnavskyi, who is leading the counteroffensive in the south, told ABC News’ chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz that the situation is “stable.”

“The main thing is that we haven’t reached our full potential,” Tarnavskiy said.

Ukrainian troops launched the counteroffensive a month ago, attacking on multiple axes on the southern frontline in Zaporizhzia using Western-supplied vehicles. Ukraine succeeded in piercing Russian lines at two points, liberating a string of villages, but has since been locked in ferocious fighting.

Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of the Ukrainian ground forces, told Raddatz that last month’s failed rebellion by the Putin-backed PMC, the Wagner Group, wouldn’t impact the fighting on the ground.

“It would be better for us if there were some negative consequences in Russia itself, but it doesn’t matter for me,” he said.

Asked if he was confident of retaking the key city of Bakhmut, Syrskyi said, “Yes, of course. I’m sure.”

Both sides have suffered heavy casualties, according to Western officials, particularly in the south where Russia has so far conducted “relatively effective defensive operations” in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia province, the U.K. Ministry of Defense reported.

“The enemy is suffering eight times or even 10 times higher losses, especially with the number of killed troops,” Syrksyi said.

Jul 03, 2:50 PM EDT
Russian drone strikes northern Ukraine, fatalities reported

At least two people were killed and 19 others injured from a Russian drone attack in northern Ukraine, the Sumy Regional Military Administration said.

An administrative building and two apartment buildings were damaged in the four drone strikes, officials said.

Four people have been hospitalized, according to officials. Two of the patients were listed in intensive care.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily evening address that the lack of air defense systems is part of the reason buildings were hit.

“The enemy is taking advantage of this,” he said.

Jul 03, 11:41 AM EDT
US ambassador to Moscow meets with detained WSJ journalist

Lynne Tracy, the U.S. ambassador to Moscow, met with detained American journalist Evan Gershkovich on Monday, the ambassador’s press secretary told ABC News.

Tracy met with Wall Street Journal reporter at Moscow’s Lefortovo prison where he’s being held, according to the press secretary.

This is the second visit between Tracy and Gershkovich since his initial detention in March.

Jul 03, 11:30 AM EDT
Prigozhin releases new message

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group leader who led the rebellion in Russia, reportedly released a new message Monday, his first in a week, to a social media account with ties to the PMC.

In a short audio message posted by the Grey Zone telegram account, which is believed to be run by a Wagner member that frequently posts about events on the frontline in Ukraine, Prigozhin claimed the June 24 rebellion against Moscow was aimed at “fighting traitors and mobilizing our society.”

“I think we have achieved a lot of it. In the near future, I am sure that you will see our next victories at the front. Thanks guys,” he allegedly said.

The Wagner Group leader said “today, more than ever, we need your support.”

Jul 01, 8:39 PM EDT
Ukraine holds disaster drills amid fears Russia could sabotage Zaporizhzhia plant

Amid fears Russia might blow up the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine is holding drills to prepare emergency services with how to deal with a potential radioactive disaster.

ABC News was invited to the drills in the city of Zaporizhzhia this week, about 30 miles from the plant, where firefighters in hazmat gear simulated decontaminating people from radiation during an evacuation.

Emergency workers demonstrated scanning civilians with Geiger counters as they disembarked buses, stripping some civilians and hosing them with water as they lay on stretchers. Firefighters in yellow suits sprayed down vehicles and moved them through a large washer system rigged up between fire trucks.

This week, Ukraine’s chief of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, claimed Russia had now completed preparation to potentially sabotage the plant if it chooses.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Jul 01, 4:46 PM EDT
CIA director says mutiny shows ‘corrosive effect’ of Putin’s war

CIA Director Bill Burns said Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mutiny showed the “corrosive effect” of President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine during remarks in England on Saturday.

“It is striking that Prigozhin preceded his actions with a scathing indictment of the Kremlin’s mendacious rationale for its invasion of Ukraine, and of the Russian military leadership’s conduct of the war,” Burns said during a lecture to Britain’s Ditchley Foundation. “The impact of those words and those actions will play out for some time, a vivid reminder of the corrosive effect of Putin’s war on his own society and his own regime.”

Burns, who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia from 2005 to 2008, also noted how Russian disaffection will gnaw away at the Kremlin and that the CIA is taking this opportunity to step up its recruitment efforts in Russia.

“Disaffection with the war will continue to gnaw away at the Russian leadership, beneath the steady diet of state propaganda and practiced repression,” Burns said. “That disaffection creates a once-in-a generation opportunity for us at CIA, at our core a human intelligence service. We’re not letting it go to waste.”

-ABC News’ Cindy Smith

Jun 30, 5:45 PM EDT
Too early to tell impact of mutiny on Putin: Gen. Milley

Gen. Mark Milley, the U.S. military’s top general, told reporters Friday that it’s likely too early to tell the impact of the Wagner Group mutiny on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We want to know the answer to that question,” Milley said when asked at the National Press Club if Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mutiny had left Putin weakened. “I don’t think we have evidence, conclusive evidence, either way, yet too early to tell.”

Milley acknowledged that Ukraine’s counteroffensive is making steady progress, but moving slowly — something he said was not surprising given how tough of a fight it is.

“At the end of the day, Ukrainian soldiers are assaulting through minefields and in the trenches, and this is literally a fight for their life. So yes, sure, it goes a little slow, but that is part of the nature of war,” Milley said.

He also noted that the U.S. is considering sending cluster munitions to Ukraine, though no decision has been made.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Jun 29, 4:36 PM EDT
Russian Gen. Surovikin detained, US official says

Russian Gen. Sergei Surovikin has apparently been detained, according to a U.S. official. Other details about his status are unclear.

The development follows reports from a senior U.S. official on Wednesday that Surovikin had engaged in discussions with Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin about his plans to mutiny.

Prigozhin is now exiled in Belarus.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Jun 29, 2:56 PM EDT
Pence makes surprise trip to Ukraine

Former Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise trip to Ukraine on Thursday, projecting solidarity against Russia in a way, so far, unmatched by his Republican competitors in the 2024 presidential campaign.

“As I made clear to President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy today, when I return home, whatever the future holds for me and my family, we’re gonna stand for freedom,” Pence told reporters. “And I’ll do my part to make sure that America continues to stand for the courageous fighters here in Ukraine that are fighting to reclaim their freedom.”

Pence visited the sites of atrocities in the early phase of the war, in Irpin and Bucha, among other stops, before meeting with Zelenskyy inside the presidential palace in the capital of Kyiv.

-ABC News’ Libby Cathey and Guy Davies

Jun 29, 2:41 PM EDT
Ukraine sees ‘largest deterioration’ of peace worldwide: Report

Ukraine recorded the “largest deterioration” of peace worldwide in the latest global peace report from the international think tank Institute for Economics & Peace.

“The war in Ukraine had a significant impact on global peacefulness, with Ukraine and Russia having the largest and fifth largest deteriorations in peacefulness respectively,” the report stated.

Since last year’s report, Ukraine fell 14 places to 157th among the 163 countries covered by the report. Due to the conflict, 65% of men in Ukraine ages 20-24 have fled the country or died, according to the report.

-ABC News’ Emma Ogao

Jun 29, 12:45 AM EDT
Suspect accused of helping Russia direct missile strike arrested

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced Wednesday the Security Service of Ukraine and the police arrested a suspect who they say coordinated with Russian forces in Tuesday’s missile attack on Kramatorsk, a city in the Donetsk region.

The missiles struck a popular pizzeria and killed 12 people, including three children. More than 60 people were injured, the president said in a public address.

The unidentified “spotter” was charged with treason, according to Zelenskyy.

“Anyone in the world who does not understand that one cannot be an accomplice of a terrorist state must be held accountable by the entire international community,” he said.

-ABC News’ Will Gretsky

Jun 27, 10:56 PM EDT
Prigozhin thought he would have help from Russian military: Senior US official

A senior U.S. official tells ABC News that Yevgeny Prigozhin thought he would have help from the Russian military.

Both former Russian military officers and some others in Moscow had conversations with Prigozhin before he started his march, the official said.

The U.S. doesn’t believe Russian President Vladimir Putin realized this beforehand, and the officers sided with Putin in the end, the official said.

According to the official, Prigozhin was shocked he didn’t have support.

-ABC News’ Martha Raddatz

Jun 27, 9:43 PM EDT
Russian missiles strike Donetsk city

Two Russian missiles struck Kramatorsk, a city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, killing at least four people, according to officials.

At least 47 people were injured in the attack, but the death and injury toll could rise.

One of the deceased victims was a 15-year-old and one of the wounded victims was a child under a year-old, officials said.

One missile struck an eatery downtown and the other one hit the outskirts of the city, Andriy Yermak the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office said.

A restaurant and a hotel were badly damaged as a result of the strikes, according to officials.

Crews continued to dig through the rubble to search for victims throughout the evening.

“Each such manifestation of terror proves over and over again to us and to the whole world that Russia deserves only one thing as a result of everything it has done – defeat and a tribunal, fair and legal trials against all Russian murderers and terrorists,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Fidel Pavlenko and Ellie Kaufman

Jun 27, 5:55 PM EDT
Russian missiles strike Donetsk city

Two Russian missiles struck Kramatorsk, a city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, killing at least four people, according to officials.

At least 47 people were injured in the attack, but the death and injury toll could rise.

One of the deceased victims was a 15-year-old and one of the wounded victims was a child under a year-old, officials said.

One missile struck an eatery downtown and the other one hit the outskirts of the city, Andriy Yermak the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office said.

A restaurant and a hotel were badly damaged as a result of the strikes, according to officials.

Crews continued to dig through the rubble to search for victims throughout the evening.

“Each such manifestation of terror proves over and over again to us and to the whole world that Russia deserves only one thing as a result of everything it has done – defeat and a tribunal, fair and legal trials against all Russian murderers and terrorists,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Fidel Pavlenko and Ellie Kaufman

Jun 27, 2:33 PM EDT
US sanctions alleged illicit gold companies funding Wagner Group

The U.S. announced additional sanctions targeting the Wagner Group, specifically going after gold companies and a Russian man it says are illicitly funding the Wagner Group’s operations in Ukraine and Africa.

Central African Republic based companies Midas Resources SARLU and Diamville SAU, Dubai based company Industrial Resources General Trading and Russia based company Limited Liability Company, re connected to Wagner’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is already subject to U.S. sanctions along with numerous other entities linked to the Wagner Group, according to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Andrey Nikolayevich Ivanov, a Russian national, and an executive in the Wagner Group, allegedly worked closely with Prigozhin’s entity Africa Politology and senior Malian government officials on weapons deals, mining concerns, and other Wagner Group activities in Mali, OFAC said.

“The Wagner Group funds its brutal operations in part by exploiting natural resources in countries like the Central African Republic and Mali,” Brian Nelson, the U.S. under secretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a written statement. “The United States will continue to target the Wagner Group’s revenue streams to degrade its expansion and violence in Africa, Ukraine, and anywhere else.”

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson

Jun 27, 2:19 PM EDT
Ukraine has recaptured 300 sq km so far: UK minister

Ukraine has recaptured approximately 300 square kilometers during the summer counteroffensive so far, United Kingdom Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Tuesday.

The gains represent more territory than Russia seized during its winter offensive in 2022, Wallace told Parliament.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Jun 27, 1:31 PM EDT
Belarus president talks about Wagner negotiations

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko provided more details about his alleged role in negotiations between Wager Group leader’s Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russian President Vladimir Putin following the PMC’s rebellion.

Lukashenko claimed Prigozhin abandoned his demands, including the resignation of Shoigu, after they talked.

“[Prigozhin] told me ‘Alexander Grigoryevich, I will not demand from the president that he give up Shoigu and Gerasimov, and I will not even ask for a meeting,’ I say, ‘Well, that’s good. This is a very good move,"” Lukashenko claimed.

Lukashenko said that Wagner forces could join the Belarusian army but said that he won’t built camps for Wagner’s troops in his country.

“We don’t need to open any Wagner recruitment points,” he said.

-ABC News’ Victoria Beaule

Jun 27, 12:22 PM EDT
Belarus president says Prigozhin arrived in the country Tuesday

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said on state media Tuesday that Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin arrived in his country earlier in the day.

Lukashenko claimed on state media that “security guarantees” Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to Prigozhin were provided.

“Yes, indeed, he is in Belarus today. As I promised, if you want to stay with us for a while and so on, we will help you,” Lukashenko said.

-ABC News’ Victoria Beaule and Tanya Stukalova

Jun 27, 11:10 AM EDT
Ukraine makes gain on occupied bank across from Kherson

Ukrainian troops have reportedly seized a small village on the Russian-occupied eastern bank of Dneipr after crossing the river from the liberated city of Kherson, according to Russian accounts on Tuesday.

A small Ukrainian force has managed to dig in to the village of Dachi after making a landing there a few days ago and are trying to expand the beachhead. Ukrainian troops in small boats crossed the river and landed at the base of the ruined Antonivskiy Bridge, which they destroyed last year.

Russian military bloggers reported very heavy fighting on Tuesday, saying Russian airborne units have been trying unsuccessfully to dislodge the Ukrainians for the past four days. Russian aviation and heavy artillery have been firing on the Ukrainian position.

So far, the Russian side claims some 70 Ukrainian soldiers are dug in, covered by intense artillery fire from across the river. The Russian accounts say Ukraine is trying to move reinforcements across. Video released by Ukraine also shows a Russian APC being destroyed in the village of Oleshkjy, further south, indicating the bank south of Kherson is now contested.

Ukrainian troops have also managed to advance and liberate Rivnopil, a village on the Zaporozhzhia front, breaking through after more than two weeks of fighting. It’s notable because the Russians had been fighting hard to hold it.

Taken together the advance there, the landing in Kherson and advances near Bakhmut are small signs the Ukrainian counteroffensive may be starting to pick up steam and the Russians are coming under growing pressure.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Jun 27, 6:39 AM EDT
Military stopped ‘civil war,’ Putin says

The Russian military and security forces stopped what could have become a “civil war,” President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

“The Russian military in a difficult hour for the country stood in the way of turmoil, the result of which would be chaos,” Putin said at an event for military units, adding that “the military and law enforcement officers of the Russian Federation actually stopped the civil war.”

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who the Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s had sought to have replaced, was present at Tuesday’s ceremony.

Jun 27, 5:15 AM EDT
Belarus was ‘combat’ ready during rebellion, president says

The military in Belarus was ordered to “full combat readiness” during the Wagner Group’s rebellion in neighboring Russia, President Alexander Lukashenko said.

Lukashenko, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was said to have helped broker a deal to halt the choatic rebellion by Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

“I will not hide, it was painful to watch the events that took place in the south of Russia,” Lukashenko said Tuesday during brief remarks before a military presentation. “Not only me. Many of our citizens took them to heart. Because the fatherland is one.”

The fatherland comment appeared to allude to Lukashenko’s longstanding belief that Russia and Belarus share a special bond.

He added, “I gave all orders to bring the army to full combat readiness.”

Jun 27, 5:01 AM EDT
Russia closes case against Wagner Group leader

The Russian Federal Security Service on Tuesday dropped the criminal case investigating the rebellion by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and his forces.

The FSB said it closed the case because it has been established that participants stopped actions directly aimed at committing a crime.

Jun 26, 6:28 PM EDT
US to announce 500M in military aid to Ukraine, official says

The U.S. will announce another military aid package for Ukraine Tuesday, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The $500 million aid package will include 30 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, 25 Stryker armored vehicles, missiles for the HIMARS system and the Patriot air defense system, TOW missiles, Javelins and more ammunition for artillery, according to the official.

This will be the 41st aid package under the Presidential Drawdown Authority that allows the transfer of weapons from U.S. military stockpiles to Ukraine.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Jun 26, 3:42 PM EDT
Putin expresses defiance against attempted Wagner rebellion

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his first public remarks after the Wagner Group attempted to march to Moscow and overthrow the government.

In a pre-recorded video statement, Putin thanked the Russians for their endurance, solidarity and patriotism during the ordeal and claimed that any blackmail attempt was doomed to fail.

Putin said an armed rebellion would have been suppressed.

“The organizers of the rebellion, betraying their country, their people, betrayed those who were drawn into the crime. They lied to them, pushed them to death, under fire, to shoot at their own,” Putin said.

The Russian president noted that the majority of Wagner fighters were “patriots.”

“I thank those soldiers and commanders of the Wagner Group who made the only right decision,” Putin said. “They did not go to fratricidal bloodshed, they stopped at the last line.”

Putin offered Wagner Group members who participated in the rebellion the option of joining the defense ministry or other law enforcement agencies or returning home.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman, Natalia Shumskaia, Tanya Stukalova and Anastasia Bagaeva

Jun 26, 12:52 PM EDT
Biden says US, NATO not involved in Wagner rebellion

President Joe Biden spoke out addressed the Wagner Group’s actions over the weekend.

He said the U.S. and its allies convened on Friday when the rebellion began.

“They agreed with me that we had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse, let me emphasize, gave Putin no excuse to blame this on the West or to blame this on NATO,” Biden said at a news conference at the White House.

The president added that the incident was “part of a struggle within the Russian system.”

-ABC News’ Alexandra Hutzler

Jun 26, 12:44 PM EDT
European leaders respond to Wagner attempted rebellion

The European Union Foreign Affairs Council met Monday and discussed the attempted rebellion by the Wagner paramilitary group over the weekend.

Josep Borrell, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, told reporters at a news conference after the meeting that “the situation remains complex and unpredictable” and 27 EU states are remaining vigilant.

U.K. Foreign Minister James Cleverly released a statement Monday claiming the “Russian government’s lies have been exposed by one of President Putin’s own henchmen.”

“Prigozhin’s rebellion is an unprecedented challenge to President Putin’s authority, and it is clear that cracks are emerging in the Russian support for the war,” he said.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Jun 26, 12:18 PM EDT
‘We had no goal of overthrowing’ the government: Prigozhin

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin released an 11-minute recording Monday explaining why his troops reversed course on their campaign against Moscow over the weekend.

Prigozhin said the purpose of the “march” was to prevent losses of his troops “and to bring justice to all persons who, through their unprofessional actions, made a huge number of mistakes during” the war in Ukraine.

“We had no goal of overthrowing the regime,” he added, referring to Putin’s government.

Prigozhin said that the march escalated after their convoy was hit by a missile attack from Russian forces.

Prigozhin said that the marched stopped when his troops approached “Moscow deployed artillery.”

“We did not want to shed Russian blood. We went to demonstrate our protest and not to overthrow the government in the country,” he said.

He claimed that several of his troops were wounded and two were killed.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman, Natalia Shumskaia and Tanya Stukalova

Jun 26, 5:47 AM EDT
Ukrainian forces appear to cross river into occupied Kherson

The Ukrainian military has landed troops on the Russian-held eastern bank of the Dnipro River across from the city of Kherson, according to Russian reports.

Media posted online by pro-Russian accounts suggested small boatloads of Ukrainian soldiers have managed to establish a small beachhead at the foot of the destroyed Antonivskiy Road Bridge that spanned the river before Ukraine brought it down last year.

The size of the Ukrainian force on the bank is unclear, but Russian accounts suggested it was relatively small.

Some Russian accounts posted dramatic video showing fighting on the eastern bank, including what appears to be a Russian armored vehicle firing intensively at Ukrainian soldiers as it recovers Russian wounded.

The video was undated but Russian reports suggested around several dozen Ukrainian troops landed on June 24 and Russian airborne units have been trying to dislodge them since.

Another video shows a small boat carrying perhaps a dozen Ukrainian soldiers landing by the ruined bridge, coming under shell fire.

The Russian military blogger account, Two Majors, reported a small group of Ukrainian soldiers had succeeded in digging in around the bridge. It noted Russian forces had been forced to pull back to a distance from the bank because their positions had been flooded after the Kakhovka dam was blown up earlier this month.

Russian military bloggers said Russian aircraft and artillery were firing on the Ukrainians Monday.

If Ukraine is able to keep hold of its foothold, it will put further pressure on Russia’s forces in the south, already battling to hold back Ukraine’s counteroffensive on the Zaporizhzhia front.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Jun 25, 2:05 PM EDT
Exiled Russian oligarch supports Russian mercenary group’s rebellion

In the wake of Saturday’s short-lived attempted rebellion against the Kremlin by the Wagner private military company, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled oligarch considered one of Putin’s best-known opponents, told ABC News he supports the mutiny and encourages Russians to back the leader of the mercenary group.

Once Russia’s richest man, Khodorkovsky, a Putin opposition activist, spent 10 years imprisoned after he challenged Putin, his case now considered a foundational moment for Putin’s regime.

When Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and his fighters marched on Moscow Saturday before making a sudden about-face, Khodorkovsky was notable among Russia’s pro-democracy opposition in calling on people to support Prigozhin, arguing that allowing him to remove Putin would create an opportunity for the democrats.

Khodorkovsky told ABC News he believed Prigozhin’s actions were a real coup attempt and that it had “seriously undermined” Putin’s power. He predicted that similar opportunities to collapse the regime will be launched soon.

“The blow to Putin’s reputation, to the authorities’ reputation, was absolutely fantastical,” Khodorkovsky said. “Putin’s government today is, without a doubt, strongly undermined by what happened — his authority, his ability to control the security services is seriously undermined.”

Khodorkovsky said Prigozhin’s march on Moscow had undermined Putin’s popularity, showing neither ordinary Russians nor the security services were prepared to act to protect him.

“Along the entire route of Wagner’s columns, no one in any way tried to hinder him (Prigozhin). Even the security forces did not try to stop him,” Khodorkovsky said. “It showed that, in fact, inside the country, Putin has an absolute void.”

Khodorkovsky said he did not support Prigozhin himself — considering him a “war criminal” — but that the democratic opposition should have sought to help him overthrow Putin, and then taken power from him after.

Khodorkovsky criticized other parts of the anti-Kremlin opposition who attacked him for calling on people to assist Prigozhin, saying he believed the opposition had “slept through” the opportunity and suggesting it should have sought to stage a rebellion in Moscow at the same time.

“There will definitely now be more such opportunities because of Putin’s weakening. But the next time we need to simply be more ready,” said Khodorkovsky, who is living in exile in England. “If an uprising had started in Moscow to meet Prigozhin then a situation could have developed quite differently.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Jun 24, 6:53 PM EDT
US official says it’s a ‘mystery’ why Prigozhin stopped march to Moscow

A senior U.S. official says it is a mystery as to why Yevgeny Prigozhin stopped his march to Moscow given that he was seemingly in a dominant position.

The official said he was greeted as a hero in Rostov-on-Don. However, the senior official told ABC News that Prigozhin is in an “emotional state,” and perhaps did it because he thought this would destroy Russia, or because he glimpsed his own end. It is impossible to tell whether Prigozhin thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin will actually honor their deal which included allowing Wagner group soldiers to be folded into the Russian military.

The official said that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was very effective, telling Prigozhin and Putin that this was all a misunderstanding and that they are both patriots and aligned for the same goals.

Putin is said to be completely shocked by how fast Wagner Group moved through Russia. For now, he is just trying to secure his position. He does not want to be seen negotiating over his defense minister, but the official says the U.S. believes concessions were made over Sergei Shoigu’s future as well as others.

-ABC News’ Martha Raddatz

Jun 25, 3:56 AM EDT
Moscow highway restrictions remain, Russian media reports

Travel restrictions remained in place on Sunday on the major M-4 highway near Moscow, according to Russia’s state-run media.

“According to the previously issued regional decisions, traffic restrictions remain in force on the M-4 Don highway near the Moscow Region and the Tula Region,” the federal road agency said, according to TASS.

The security checkpoints had been put in place Saturday as a column of Wagner Group forces traveled toward Moscow. Roadblocks in southern Russia, including in Rostov-on-Don and the Krasnodar Region, were reportedly lifted.

“All previously imposed restrictions on highways have been lifted,” TASS reported, citing a branch of the Russian Interior Ministry.

-ABC News’ KJ Edelman

Jun 24, 10:20 PM EDT
‘Gang of 8’ briefed about Wagner Group movements

Senior congressional leaders were briefed about the ongoing situation in Russia, according to a congressional aide.

U.S. intelligence officials told the so-called “Gang of Eight” — the top Republicans and Democrats currently in congressional leadership– in recent days about potentially concerning movements of Wagner Group forces and equipment build-ups near Russia. However, it was unclear to U.S. intelligence what was going to happen and when.

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Jun 24, 5:18 PM EDT
Blinken holds call with Turkish counterpart for ‘ongoing situation in Russia’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Saturday with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan to discuss the ongoing situation in Russia.

“Secretary Blinken reiterated that U.S. support for Ukraine will not change. The United States will stay in close coordination with Allies and partners as the situation develops,” spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Blinken also spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday to discuss the situation in Russia, Miller said. Blinken reiterated that support by the U.S. for Ukraine will not change.

The U.S. will stay in close coordination with Ukraine as the situation develops.

-ABC News Shannon K. Crawford

Jun 24, 4:45 PM EDT
Wagner chief will not be prosecuted, Kremlin says

Yevgeny Prigozhin will go to Belarus to ease tensions and the fighters of PMC Wagner Group who took part in the so-called “campaign” against Moscow will not be prosecuted, the Kremlin said Saturday evening.

The rest will be able to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense, the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“In the end, we managed to resolve this situation without further losses, without raising the level of tension,” Peskov said.

“An agreement was reached that PMC Wagner would return to their camps,” he added.

Jun 24, 2:55 PM EDT
Wagner Group chief orders mercenaries to halt march on Moscow

The Wagner Group’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said he has ordered his mercenaries to halt their march on Moscow and return to their field camps, saying he wants to avoid shedding Russian blood.

Prigozhin made the announcement in an audio message posted on his Telegram channel.

Russian state media has shown Wagner fighters packing up and reportedly leaving Rostov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and thanked him for his efforts de-escalating the situation.

Jun 24, 1:12 PM EDT
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cancels trip to Israel, Jordan due to situation in Russia

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has canceled his planned trip to Israel and Jordan due to the situation in Russia. The trip was to have begun Saturday.

Milley also spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

“They discussed the unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and exchanged perspectives and assessments. The Chairman reaffirmed unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler.

The Pentagon said Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is monitoring the ongoing situation in Russia and will continue to be briefed on any significant developments.

Jun 24, 12:47 PM EDT
Moscow suspends schools, events until July 1

Andrey Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region, has suspended mass events outdoors and at educational institutions until July 1.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin urged residents to refrain from traveling around the city. Monday was also declared a non-working day for the city. Sobyanin said that a counter-terrorism regime was declared in Moscow and that the situation was difficult.

Jun 24, 12:34 PM EDT
Biden speaks with leaders of France, Germany, UK about ‘situation in Russia’

President Joe Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the developments in Russia.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were also briefed by their national security team on the developments in Russia and will continue to receive updates throughout the day, the White House said Saturday.

Jun 24, 10:11 AM EDT
Wagner troop column 300 miles south of Moscow, Russian media say
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The governor of the Lipetsk region, which is about 300 miles south of Moscow, said a column of Wagner troops has been spotted in the region, Russian state media reports.

Jun 24, 9:15 AM EDT
What is the Wagner Group?

The Wagner Group is a private military organization run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, with tens of thousands of fighters, according to U.S. officials.

Earlier this year, the U.S. labeled the group a “significant transnational criminal organization” and levied new sanctions, while human rights observers this week said they suspected Wagner fighters were linked to the mass killing of people in Mali last year.

Government reports, statements from U.S. officials and insights from experts, as well as other sources, shed light on the Wagner group’s history and goals, its alleged wrongdoings and its importance to Russia — in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world.

Jun 24, 7:24 AM EDT
NATO monitoring Russian situation, official says

A NATO representative said the alliance was watching what was happening in Russia on Saturday.

“We are monitoring the situation,” spokesperson Oana Lungescu said.

Jun 24, 6:31 AM EDT
‘Operational combat’ underway north of Rostov, official sa
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A governor of the Voronezh region, about 300 miles south of Moscow, says Russia’s armed forces are conducting “operational combat operations” there as part of “counter terrorism operation.”

Earlier the region’s government reported a column of Wagner Group fighters was moving through the region, an area between Rostov-on-Don and Moscow.

“In the bounds of the counterterrorist operation on the territory of the Voronezh region, the armed forces of the Russian Federation are conducting necessary operational combat operations,” the official said. “We will inform further about the development of the situation.”

Jun 24, 6:03 AM EDT
Russia in ‘so much chaos that no lie can hide it,’ Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia appeared to be suffering “full-scale weakness” after the Wagner Group mercenaries said they’d taken hold of a key Russian city.

“Russia used propaganda to mask its weakness and the stupidity of its government. And now there is so much chaos that no lie can hide it,” he said on Twitter.

Jun 24, 5:47 AM EDT
Prigozhin responds to Putin, says Wagner not going to surrender

The Wagner Group’s Yevgeny Prigozhin responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calling him a “traitor,” by saying he will not surrender or turn back.

“Putin was deeply mistaken about the betrayal. We are patriots of our homeland, we fought and are fighting,” Prighozin said in an audio message. “No one is going to turn around at the request of the president, the FSB or anyone else, because we do not want the country to live longer in corruption, deception and bureaucracy.”

Prigozhin accused Russia’s military of targeting a Wagner column with helicopters and jets.

Jun 24, 5:37 AM EDT
Chechen leader backs Putin, says forces moving into ‘zones of tension’

The powerful head of Chechnya, the semi-independent Russian region, Ramzan Kadyrov, said on Saturday he supported President Vladimir Putin.

Kadyrov saiud he fully backs Putin and called Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s actions “treacherous.”

Kadyrov has tens of thousands of heavily armed fighters. He said his forces are already moving to “zones of tension.”

It raises prospect of Chechen forces fighting with Wagner Group troops.

Kadyrov has previously been friendly with Prigozhin — his coming out in support of Putin is a boost for Putin, but also raises prospect of serious clashes in Russia.

Jun 24, 5:27 AM EDT
Next 48 hours ‘will define’ Russia, Zelenskyy advisor sa
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Russian leaders are “now choosing which side they are on,” an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday.

“The next 48 hours will define the new status of Russia,” Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. “Either a full-fledged Civil War, or a negotiated Transit of Power, or a temporary respite before the next phase of the downfall of the Putin regime.”

He added, “A deafening ‘elite’ silence is in Russia so far…”

Jun 24, 3:52 AM EDT
Uprising ‘significant challenge’ to Russian state, UK says

Members of the mercenary Wagner Group have begun moving north “almost certainly aiming to get to Moscow,” in what amounts to the “most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense said on Saturday.

“Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Jun 24, 3:25 AM EDT
Putin: Wagner Group moves are ‘stab in the back’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said moves taken by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime ally, to bring his troops into a key Russian city amounted to a “stab in the back.”

Putin didn’t mention Prigozhin by name, but said that “necessary orders have been given” to defend Russia in a recorded address aired on Russian television on Saturday.

“Actions that divide our unity are in essence defeatism before one’s own people,” he said. “This is a stab in the back of our country and our people.”

Jun 24, 3:12 AM EDT
Kremlin briefs Putin on ‘attempted armed rebellion’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been briefed by the country’s security agencies about what was referred to as an “attempted armed rebellion,” according to Russia’s state-run media.

The late-night statement from Putin’s spokesman suggested that the Kremlin considered Wagner Group’s move into Rostov-on-Don, a key Russian city close to the border with Ukraine, to be a “rebellion.”

Wagner’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin in an audio message on Friday claimed his forces would now punish Russia’s defense minister and chief of general staff, telling other units to stand down and not offer resistance.

“Special services, law enforcement agencies, namely the Ministry of Defense, the FSB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Rosgvardiya, in round-the-clock mode, constantly report to the president on the measures taken in the context of the implementation of the instructions previously given to him,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday.

Jun 24, 2:42 AM EDT
Wagner Group claims control over Rostov military facilities, airport

Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, said on Saturday that the headquarters of the Southern Military District and all military facilities in Rostov-on-Don were under his control.

Prigozhin in a video demanded that Kremlin bring him Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Sergei Shoigu.

He also threatened in the video that he would go to Moscow.

“We will destroy anyone who stands in our way,” he said in one of a series of video and audio recordings posted on social media.

He added, “We are moving forward and will go until the end.”

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