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Ukraine claims advantage as military forces say they ‘seriously damaged’ Russian brigade

Ukraine has claimed an advantage in the battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut with military forces saying they have “seriously damaged” a Russian brigade.

Two companies of Russia’s 72nd Separate Motor-rifle Brigade near Bakhmut are reported to have taken a significant hit.

Ukraine’s military said the situation in Bakhmut remained “difficult” but that Moscow was increasingly being forced to use regular army forces because of heavy losses among the Wagner mercenary group.

Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukrainian troops in the east, said: “Unfortunately they have not destroyed the whole (Russian) brigade yet, two companies have been seriously damaged there.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, has repeatedly claimed Moscow has failed to support his group’s conflict in Bakhmut by failing to provide enough ammunition.

Many governments, including the UK, are considering imposing further sanctions on the Wagner Group, including formally classifying it as a terrorist organisation as a way of increasing pressure on Russia.

The Home Office has been building a case against the group for two months and proscription was due within weeks, The Times newspaper reported, citing a Government source.

The Government has declined to comment on its plans.

Amid news of Ukraine’s advances in Bakhmut came reports of the death of Agence-France Presse (AFP) journalist Arman Soldin.

FILE PHOTO: Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin makes a statement as he stand next to Wagner fighters in an undisclosed location in the course of Russia-Ukraine conflict, in this still image taken from video released May 5, 2023. Press service of "Concord"/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT./File Photo
Founder of Wagner private mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claims Moscow has not provided them with enough ammunition (Photo: Concord/Reuters)

The 32-year-old was working as the Ukraine video co-ordinator when he was killed in a rocket attack near Bakhmut on Tuesday.

He was with a team of AFP journalists travelling with Ukrainian soldiers when the group came under fire.

Max Blain, spokesman for Rishi Sunak, paid tribute to Mr Soldin’s work in Ukraine, saying: “Journalism continues to shine a light in the darkness of this war and Arman’s work was vital to that.”

Ukraine’s military said its forces have repulsed 46 attacks in 24 hours along the eastern front in the Donetsk region, including the city of Bakhmut, and carried out eight strikes on enemy “power and personnel” as well as two strikes on an anti-aircraft missile system.

Russian forces were also reported to be planning to pull out around 2,700 workers from the town that serves the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Ukraine’s state-owned Energoatom company has warned of a potentially “catastrophic lack of qualified personnel” at the facility should the plans go ahead.

Workers who signed employment contracts with Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom following Moscow’s capture of the Zaporizhzhia plant early in the war were set to be taken to Russia along with their families, Energoatom said in a Telegram post.

In Russia, Moscow’s military has claimed it has thwarted drone attacks in two regions bordering Ukraine.

AFP journalist Arman Soldin snaps a selfie with a cat on his shoulder during an assignment for AFP in Ukraine. Arman was killed by a rocket strike as he reported with AFP colleagues from Ukrainian positions in Chasiv Yar on May 9, 2023. Arman, who was 32 and born in Bosnia, began his career as an AFP intern in the Rome bureau before moving to London in 2015. He was formally appointed as Ukraine video coordinator for AFP based in Kyiv in September 2022. Arman's death is a terrible reminder of the risks and dangers of covering this war. Our thoughts tonight are with his family and friends, and with all AFP people on the ground in Ukraine. (Photo by Arman SOLDIN / AFP) (Photo by ARMAN SOLDIN/AFP via Getty Images)
AFP journalist Arman Soldin was killed by a rocket strike as he reported from Ukrainian positions in Chasiv Yar on May 9 (Photo: Arman Soldin/AFP via Getty)

The governor of Voronezh in south-west Russia, Alexander Gusev, said two drones attempted to attack a military facility in the region but failed.

“As a result of intervention measures, one of them veered off course and went down, while the second was destroyed by gunfire,” Mr Gusev said on Telegram.

Russia’s air defence forces also shot down an “enemy” drone in the Kursk region bordering Ukraine, its governor said, adding falling debris damaged a gas pipeline and a house.

Russia’s Tass news agency reported that a filling point on the Druzhba pipeline in a Russian region bordering Ukraine had also come under attack.

It came as tensions have heightened between Poland and Russia. Poland summoned Russia’s ambassador on Wednesday over an incident involving a Russian fighter jet and Polish border guard aircraft on 5 May.

A Polish foreign ministry spokesperson said the near-miss incident put Nato’s air policing units in a higher state of readiness and worsened relations between Russia and Poland.

The incident is reported to have occurred when a Polish border guard aircraft, on patrol for the EU’s border agency Frontex, narrowly avoided a collision with a Russian fighter jet over the Black Sea.

“We strongly condemn the provocative and aggressive behaviour of the Russian side, which is a serious international incident,” foreign ministry spokesperson, Lukasz Jasina, wrote on Twitter.

The Russian embassy in Warsaw has not yet commented.

Media outlets in Poland have reported a military object found in a forest in the country in April was a Russian missile.

Polish authorities said last month a “military object” had been found in a forest close to the village of Zamosc near the northern city of Bydgoszcz.

Broadcasters RMF FM and Polsat News said on Wednesday the preliminary findings of Poland’s air force was that the object was a Russian KH-55 missile.

Poland also announced it was reverting to using the historical name for Kaliningrad, the Russian city and administrative region that sits on its border, drawing anger from the Kremlin.

From now on the city will be designated on Polish maps as Krolewiec, based on the recommendation of the government commission for geographic names abroad.

Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, called it a “process bordering on insanity,” going beyond Russophobia.

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