Day 587 of the Invasion of Ukraine: Prigozhin’s Son takes control of Wagner
Day 587 of the invasion of Ukraine. Summary of key events in the last 24 hours:
- Prigozhin’s son takes control of Wagner
- Russia has accused Ukraine of using cluster munitions in shelling a Russian village
- "Kommersant" expects Putin to announce a candidacy for a new mandate in November
- Armenia has accepted the jurisdiction of the court in The Hague, which ordered Putin's arrest
- Ukrainian Air Defense shot down 29 Russian drones and one cruise missile
- Kharkiv is building the first underground school in Ukraine
- Zelensky allowed the possibility of negotiations with the EU this year, Borrell ruled out phased integration
- Slovakia summons Russian embassy official over interference in parliamentary elections
- Musk mocked Zelensky, Kyiv is outraged
Prigozhin’s son takes control of Wagner
Pavel Prigozhin, the son of Yevgeny Prigozhin, has taken over the leadership of the Wagner group and is engaged in negotiations with Moscow over the return of its fighters to the conflict in Ukraine, according to reports from groups linked to the Wagner militia published by the Institute for Research of War (ISW).
The ISW announced that 25-year-old Pavel Prigozhin is negotiating with the Russian National Guard regarding the future of the private military company established by his father, BGNES reported.
Wagner's main combat units are currently spread across several countries, including Belarus, the Central African Republic, Libya and Mali, after its fighters withdrew from Ukraine earlier this year. Since the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash in August, two months after his failed coup attempt aimed at removing the top military leadership in the Ukraine war, the group has been without a clear leadership figure.
Groups supporting Wagner have circulated an online will since March this year, which states that Pavel inherits the group's assets and militia. However, the authenticity of this document remains unverified.
The reported emergence of Pavel Prigozhin as the group's new leader follows negative reactions from some militants to Vladimir Putin's recent outspoken support for one of its former top commanders. Putin assigned Andrei Troshev, known by his nickname "Sedoi," or "gray hair," to oversee the volunteer fighters in Ukraine, and the Kremlin announced that he now works in Russia's defense ministry.
According to ISW, these alleged events involving Pavel Prigozhin suggest that "some Wagner officials are interested in joining a Prigozhin-related alternative to Troshev, even if that alternative is not an independent entity."
The source cited by ISW claims that Pavel Prigozhin did not act independently and was under the influence of Mikhail Vatanin, head of Wagner's security service.
Wagner fighters will not be required to sign contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry and the mercenary group will retain its name, symbols, ideology and commanders under the leadership of Pavel Prigozhin, according to ISW.
Russia has accused Ukraine of using cluster munitions in shelling a Russian village
Russia has accused Ukraine of using cluster munitions in the shelling of a Russian village in the Bryansk region, Reuters reported. A Ukrainian drone was shot down, according to information from the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Russian air defense has shot down a Ukrainian drone over the border region of Bryansk, the Ministry of Defense in Moscow announced. There are no reports of casualties or damage. The regional governor, Alexander Bogomaz, wrote on the Telegram social network that there were no casualties in the shelling of the village of Klimovo. So far, Kyiv has not commented on the claim that cluster munitions were used.
Over the past night, Russia continued its drone attacks against targets in Ukraine. 29 of the 31 UAVs launched were shot down. Last night, the Southern Command reported that Russia has a missile carrier on combat duty in the Black Sea, equipped with up to eight Kalibr missiles. The military has determined the missile threat level to be very high.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on the international community to strengthen Ukraine's air defense with supplies. Earlier, Kyiv called on its Western partners to supply the army with cheaper means to counter Russian drone attacks.
The Pentagon and the State Department have called on the US Congress to provide urgent financial aid to Ukraine, as the Ukrainians have exhausted much of the funding provided. Denmark has announced that it is providing more than 14 million dollars for a joint European procurement of ammunition for Ukraine. This year, Germany has approved the export of military equipment to Ukraine worth 3.3 billion euros, Spiegel magazine reports.
"Kommersant" expects Putin to announce a candidacy for a new mandate in November
Russian President Vladimir Putin may hint next month that he will run in the 2024 presidential election, Kommersant newspaper reported today. This paves the way for the master of the Kremlin to remain in power at least until 2030, reported Reuters.
Officials expect that at a conference in November, Putin may announce that he will participate in the presidential elections next March, Kommersant quoted unidentified sources close to the presidential administration.
The newspaper, which is one of the most respected in Russia, also wrote that there are other scenarios for what Putin will do at the conference and that he will personally make the final decision about it.
The Kremlin did not immediately comment on this information, according to Reuters.
Putin, to whom Boris Yeltsin entrusted the presidency on the last day of 1999, has already served as head of state longer than any other Russian ruler since Joseph Stalin, surpassing even Leonid Brezhnev's 18-year rule.
Armenia has accepted the jurisdiction of the court in The Hague, which ordered Putin's arrest
The Armenian Parliament voted to accept the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, with which it also accepts the institution's jurisdiction, News.am reported.
The ICC is also the court that ordered the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin in mid-March, as well as the children's ombudsman for illegally removing children from the occupied Ukrainian territories.
Putin should be arrested upon entering a country that has ratified the status of the ICC (which Russia is not and Ukraine was not until recently). This was also the reason why he did not attend the BRICS summit in South Africa in the summer.
Yerevan announced a plan to recognize the court's jurisdiction earlier this year, infuriating Moscow, which has sharply accused it in recent months of seeking rapprochement with the West.
Relations between Russia and Armenia were further strained after Yerevan accused Russian peacekeepers of failing to intervene to stop an Azerbaijani operation that ended the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.
The rulers then announced, despite the protest of opposition parties, that the ratification of the ICC statute would be on the parliament's agenda. Opponents of the government call this step unconstitutional and disadvantageous for Armenia's foreign policy interests.
Despite an opposition boycott of the debate today, there was a majority in favor of the move, with 60 MPs in favor and 22 against, with a total of 107 seats in the legislature.
Armenia maintains that the ratification of the ICC Statute, signed in 1998 (but the process stalled before 2004 due to claims of unconstitutionality) is not specifically directed against Russia and that Moscow has been offered a bilateral agreement to address Russian concerns about this move, but there is no reaction after it. Yerevan returned to the ratification process last year, before Putin's arrest warrant.
Ukrainian Air Defense shot down 29 Russian drones and one cruise missile
Ukraine destroyed 29 of 31 Iranian Shahed drones launched by Russia, as well as one cruise missile, the country's air force said.
Most of the downed drones were aimed at Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions. The waves of night attacks lasted more than three hours, the southern command of Ukrainian forces said.
Falling debris in the southeastern city of Dnipro caused a fire at a private enterprise, which was quickly extinguished, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Governor Serhiy Lysak said.
Damage was also caused to production facilities in Pavlograd, which led to a fire, which was also extinguished.
16 unmanned aerial vehicles were destroyed over the southern Mykolaiv region, Governor Vitaly Kim announced.
Kharkiv is building the first underground school in Ukraine
The Ukrainian city of Kharkiv will build the first completely underground school in the country to protect students from frequent Russian bomb and missile attacks, the mayor of the city, Igor Terekhov, said on Telegram, Reuters reported.
"Such a hiding place will allow thousands of children from Kharkiv to continue their education safely even under the threat of rocket attacks," Terekhov wrote.
Although many schools in frontline areas were forced to teach online throughout the war, Kharkiv organized about 60 separate classrooms in its metro stations before the start of the school year, which began on September 1, making room for more than 1,000 children to study in them.
Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, had a population of over 1.4 million before Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Parts of the city are less than 35 km from the Russian border and are subject to near-daily Russian bomb and missile attacks that can affect residents before they can reach bomb shelters.
Zelensky allowed the possibility of negotiations with the EU this year, Borrell ruled out phased integration
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky learned from the European representatives at yesterday's ministerial meeting in Kyiv that it is "absolutely possible" that negotiations for membership with the European Union will begin this year.
"Our main integration goal is to prepare a decision this year to start negotiations. And today I heard again at the meetings and negotiations that this is absolutely possible," said Zelensky.
Ukraine has become the first non-EU country to host a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers. Zelensky used the occasion to assure that his country's EU integration was "a matter of time" and suggested that Europe impose more sanctions on Russia because of the February 24 full-scale war.
The EU's high representative in foreign policy, Josep Borrell, at the same time rejected the idea, expressed recently by the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and in several different documents, for a phased integration of Kyiv into the European Union, first in the common market, and then politically. "Membership is membership. We cannot talk about half or 25% membership. This is the clearest security commitment we can give to Ukraine."
Borrell made his comments ahead of this week's meeting in Granada, Spain, where migration, enlargement and reforms needed to admit new members are expected to be on the agenda. At the end of last month, a proposal came from Germany and France, with which European integration can be divided into four speeds.
Borrell also announced a proposal for Ukraine to receive another 5 billion dollars from the bloc's military aid fund. The European Peace Support Mechanism, established in 2021, is an EU instrument for extra-budgetary financing of defense and military activities within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Such support is important for Ukraine at a time of uncertainty about exactly what aid from the United States will look like from now on, after a temporary budget was passed in the US Congress without support for Kyiv to win the support of some of the Republicans who control the House of Representatives. This does not mean that a package for Ukraine will not be agreed in the next 45 days (the deadline for a fixed compromise), but it does show that the topic is becoming an increasingly important part of the run-up to the 2024 elections.
The Wall Street Journal wrote that the Pentagon has only 5 billion dollars left in military aid to Ukraine — a six-month supply of weapons at the current rate and volume of deliveries, or 11 percent of the total amount set aside for security by the United States since the start of the war.
The Pentagon and the State Department requested emergency aid for Kyiv, arguing that the assets provided were largely exhausted. Meanwhile, at the ministerial meeting, European countries signaled that their support continues. Germany updated its aid list, adding radio equipment for Leopard tanks, Wisent-1 armored vehicles, tens of thousands of rounds, satellite communication terminals, safety glasses, phones for encrypted communications and more.
“Under no circumstances can we allow American support for Ukraine to be cut off. I want to assure our American allies, the American people and the people of Ukraine that you can count on our support. We won't leave”, said US President Joe Biden.
Denmark, meanwhile, announced that it is allocating 100 million kroner to the general European procurement of ammunition for Ukraine, a year after canceling the exception for participation in European security and defense policies. Delivery is expected next year.
Slovakia summons Russian embassy official over interference in parliamentary elections
Slovakia has accused Moscow of interfering in its parliamentary elections and has summoned a Russian embassy official to protest against statements made by Sergey Naryshkin, the director of Moscow's foreign intelligence service, Al Jazeera reported.
Slovakia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs on Monday said that it summoned a Russian embassy representative who spoke about “interference” by the United States in the country, an accusation the ministry called false.
Slovakia said the comments were made on the eve of the Slovak parliamentary elections on Saturday when a moratorium on information that may benefit or harm candidates was in place.
The ministry said: “The department of diplomacy strongly protests against the false statement of Russian intelligence which cast doubt on the integrity of the free and democratic election in Slovakia.”
“We consider such deliberate spread of disinformation to be unacceptable interference by the Russian Federation in the election process.”
The ministry called on Russia to cease all disinformation activities aimed at Slovakia. The Russian embassy in Slovakia, however, rejected the allegations.
The Russian embassy said on Facebook: “Unlike some of Slovakia’s current allies, we do not interfere with internal affairs of other countries, we do not take part in regime changes and various ‘colour’ revolutions.”
Slovakia’s president on Monday asked the leader of the winning party to try to form a coalition government.
Populist former Prime Minister Robert Fico and his leftist Smer, or Direction, party captured 22.9 percent of the vote on Saturday. It will have 42 seats in the 150-seat parliament.
If he succeeds in forming a coalition government, Fico, 59, will become prime minister for the fourth time. Fico campaigned on a pro-Russian and anti-American message, has pledged to end Slovak military support for Ukraine and opposes sanctions on Russia, reported Al Jazeera.
In a televised address to the nation on Monday, President Zuzana Caputova stressed that the new government would have to be “a government which will serve all citizens”.
Fico has repeatedly attacked the liberal president, accusing her of being an American agent and serving foreign interests. Caputova has sued him for the remarks.
Musk mocked Zelensky, Kyiv is outraged
The Ukrainian authorities expressed their indignation at a post by the owner of the social network “X” Elon Musk, in which he mocks President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Musk posted an ironic photo montage with Zelensky and the following comment: "When it’s been 5 minutes and you haven’t asked for a billion dollars in aid:"
Musk's publication is related to the Ukrainian president's requests for military and financial assistance from Ukraine's Western allies.
In Kyiv, the publication was not met with enthusiasm. "Any silence or any irony regarding Ukraine today is a direct encouragement of Russian propaganda, which justifies violence and destruction," said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Zelensky.
The speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, also commented on Musk's post, making an ironic remark that the billionaire "tried to take over space" but was embarrassed "in five minutes." Stefanchuk alludes to the failure of Musk's Starship rocket, which exploded on its first launch in April.
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