As the war enters its 548th day, these are the main developments.
Here is the situation on Friday August 25, 2023.
Prigozhin plane crash
- Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences over the crash of the plane carrying Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin from Moscow to St Petersburg. Speaking at the Kremlin, Putin described Prigozhin as a “talented businessman” and a man who had “made serious mistakes” but “achieved the right results”. He said the investigation into the crash would continue “until the end”.
- Putin said that the day before the crash, Prigozhin had returned from Africa, where Wagner has extensive operations.
- The US Department of Defense said there was currently no information to suggest that a surface-to-air missile had brought down the plane. Some early intelligence reports suggested an explosion caused the crash, which took place two months to the day that Prigozhin launched Wagner’s short-lived mutiny.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine was not involved in the crash of the plane.
- A makeshift memorial was set up near Wagner’s former headquarters in St Petersburg. A few dozen people laid flowers, lit candles and left memorabilia bearing the Wagner group’s skull logo.
- Ukraine’s military intelligence said Kyiv carried out a “special military operation” in Russian-occupied Crimea, in which armed forces personnel landed on the Crimean peninsula. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
- Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy defence minister, said the situation on the eastern front lines was “tense and very dynamic”, noting active fighting around Bakhmut and Kupyan. “We are gradually advancing even in the face of desperate enemy resistance,” she added.
- The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said the country’s troops had made advances in the directions of Bakhmut and Melitopol as a part of Kyiv’s counteroffensive.
- At least seven people were injured in a Russian missile attack on Dnipro, with six of them taken to hospital. Residential buildings, water and gas pipes were also damaged, according to Governor Serhiy Lysak.
- Ukraine intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said Ukraine destroyed two TU-22 bombers and damaged another two in attacks on Russian airfields earlier in the week.
- Russian air defence systems shot down three Ukrainian drones over Russian territory, the defence ministry in Moscow said. There were no initial reports of casualties or damage to property.
- Ukraine marked its independence day with President Zelenskyy praising Ukrainians for their courage. “In this fight, everyone counts,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. On social media, the country’s Ministry of Defence shared what it said was a “marathon of gratitude” towards Ukraine’s allies for their support in the war against Russia.
- The United Nations criticised targeted attacks on civilians in the Ukraine conflict. “In recent weeks, dozens of civilians have been killed in attacks,” UN Political Affairs Envoy Rosemary DiCarlo told the UN Security Council in New York.
- Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Putin made “a rare visit to Southern Military District HQ at Rostov-on-Don, approximately 160km from the front line”. The visit took place on August 19 and is where Russia runs its war in Ukraine.
- A Russian court sentenced Russian blogger and political activist Maxim Katz to eight years in jail after he was accused of spreading “fake news” about the Russian army and the Ukraine war. Katz, who left Russia after Moscow invaded Ukraine, regularly criticises the conflict on his YouTube channel, which has more than 1.8 million subscribers.
- A Moscow court extended the pre-trial detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich by three months, according to the Interfax news agency. Gershkovic, 31, is accused of espionage.
- The United States imposed new sanctions over what rights organisations have called the forced transfer of thousands of Ukrainian children. The sanctions apply to 11 Russian individuals, including a number of “children’s rights” regional commissioners, as well as the Artek “summer camp” in Russian-annexed Crimea and an alleged re-education camp for children in Chechnya.
- Pat Ryder, a spokesman at the US Department of Defense, said the US military will bring Ukrainian pilots to the United States for F-16 fighter jet training. The pilots will start English classes from next month with flights to begin in October.
- Norway has decided to donate F-16 combat aircraft to Ukraine, according to a report from Norwegian broadcaster TV2, in a move welcomed by Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of the president of Ukraine
- Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence announced a military package for Ukraine worth 41 million euros ($44m) to mark Ukraine’s independence day.