Russian invasion: War against Ukraine: That's the situation

Two days after the alleged death of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash, the circumstances are still unclear.

Russian invasion: War against Ukraine: That's the situation

Two days after the alleged death of Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash, the circumstances are still unclear.

On Thursday evening, Russian President Vladimir Putin only indirectly confirmed the death of his former favorite, who had mutinied against him two months earlier as head of Wagner's private army. However, according to media reports, the US government also assumes that Prigozhin died in the crash on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, the United States announced that it would begin training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 fighter jet in September. Kiev had been asking for this aircraft for a long time, and now the Ukrainian Air Force should finally get it - after the Netherlands and Denmark, Norway also announced on Thursday that it would make F-16 jets available.

President Vladimir Putin had his army invade the neighboring country on February 24, 2022. A year and a half later, Ukraine's Independence Day was celebrated on Thursday, when President Volodymyr Zelenskyj received a congratulatory call from what is probably his most important supporter.

According to the White House, US President Joe Biden promised to support Ukraine's defense efforts against Russia for as long as necessary. Meanwhile, air alerts were raised over Odessa and the Russian-occupied Black Sea peninsula of Crimea during the night.

Putin speaks of Prigozhin in the past tense

The Russian authorities have not yet officially identified Prigozhin's body. Putin, however, already spoke in the past tense of the "talented businessman" and mercenary leader.

"He was a person with a difficult fate and he made serious mistakes," he said. During the Wagner fighters' mutiny against the Russian leadership in June, Putin accused his longtime military henchman Prigozhin of treason, but then allowed him and his followers to travel to Belarus.

Ten people died in the plane crash. Mourners laid flowers at Prigozhin's headquarters in St. Petersburg and other Russian cities. Prigozhin and his Wagner troupe did not have a good reputation at home because of their covert operations abroad and because of their brutality.

But his criticism of mistakes made by the Russian military leadership also made him a hero to many Russians. The allegation was raised on social media that the alleged plane crash was actually an assassination attempt on Prigozhin - an assessment shared by many Western politicians and military experts.

The United States also suspect an assassination attempt

The "New York Times" and other US media reported, citing US intelligence circles, that an explosion on board the plane probably caused the crash. A final conclusion has not yet been drawn, but an explosion is currently the most likely explanation, wrote the New York Times. A US Department of Defense spokesman said there was no evidence the jet was hit by a surface-to-air missile. Websites and social media channels close to Prigozhin had suspected this.

In Germany, SPD leader Lars Klingbeil sees the alleged assassination as a sign of Putin's dwindling power. "If in the end everything is as we suspect, that is another indication that Putin no longer has everything under control, that Putin can no longer control everything in Russia - only with terror and with repression," he said Klingbeil in Lüneburg at "RND on site", an event of the editorial network Germany. "First of all, that's a sign that gives a bit of optimism that Putin's system there is slowly falling apart."

Zelenskyj: The world needs our offensive

The success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive is significant for the entire world, said President Zelenskyj at a meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre in Kiev. "Because Ukraine is fighting for our common values. I hope that the whole world will finally understand that." However, the success of the advances in the south depends on many factors, including the high density of mines in the Russian-occupied areas. "Thousands of mines, everything is mined, but the soldiers are making progress."

The Ukrainian counter-offensive has so far fallen short of the high expectations. Media in the US quote criticism from experts of the deployment of Ukrainian troops. Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zalushnyi denied this, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. He claimed his troops were about to break through.

According to military information, Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks on several front sections. The evening situation report of the general staff in Kiev named the sections Kupyansk in the east of the country and Avdiivka north of the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk. At Marjinka, southwest of Donetsk, the Russians were on the offensive; but they managed to hold them back. The counter-offensive at Robotyne in the Zaporizhia region is continuing, and the positions that have been reached are being expanded. The military information was not independently verifiable.

Ukrainian media: drone strikes in Crimea

According to a report by "Ukrajinska Pravda", the secret service SBU and Kiev's armed forces have attacked military positions with drones on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia. There are dozens dead and injured, the Internet portal reported on Friday, citing informed circles at the SBU secret service. A photo of clouds of smoke was also published. Accordingly, the 126th Brigade of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is said to have been attacked in the village of Perevalnoe not far from the Crimean capital Simferopol.

Other Ukrainian media also reported about it. There was initially no information on this from the Russian side. The information was not independently verifiable.

According to the reports, the drones also hit an ammunition depot, bypassing Russian air defense systems. Military technology was also badly damaged, it said. The Russian occupiers were not prepared for the special operation of the secret service SBU and the Ukrainian armed forces.

Kremlin: Putin is not going to the G20 in India

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be going to the Group of Twenty Summit (G20) in India in early September. Travel is currently not on the calendar, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in Moscow. Putin is concentrating on the military special operation, as Moscow calls the war of aggression against Ukraine.

According to Russian agency reports, Peskov said that Putin had just attended the summit of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) via video link. The form of his participation in the G20 summit will be clarified. The meeting will take place on September 9th and 10th. September in New Delhi. Putin also did not fly to Indonesia for the group's summit last year.

US joins Ukraine training on F-16

The US military wants to train Ukrainian pilots in the US on F-16 fighter jets, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder announced. English training is to begin in September, followed by flight training in October. The US government wants to set up another training location in addition to the training centers in European partner countries. Ukraine had been asking its international partners for months for Western fighter jets to better repel the Russian invasion.

Intelligence work for Russia: arrests in Latvia

In Latvia, the security authorities arrested four people on suspicion of cooperation with the Russian domestic secret service FSB. On behalf of the FSB, Latvian citizens were said to have engaged in activities directed against the security of Latvia and its people. This was announced by the security police of the EU and NATO country in Riga.

Numerous data carriers and documents were also secured during searches at 14 locations across the country. Equipment was also found that is believed to be strategically important assets that authorities say could be used for illegal operational activities. The security police did not provide any further information out of consideration for ongoing investigations.