2:19 p.m. ET, May 12, 2023
It’s just past 8:30 p.m. in Kyiv. Catch up on the latest on Russia’s war in Ukraine
Russia lost some ground around Bakhmut as the chief of the Wagner group continues to complain about the lack of support from Russia’s defense ministry.
If you are just joining, here’s a recap of Friday’s developments in Russia’s war in Ukraine:
Russia loses ground: The Russian Ministry of Defense has acknowledged its forces pulled back from areas north of the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut, claiming they moved to more advantageous defensive positions. But it effectively confirms the loss of some kilometers of territory by Russian forces. The head of the private military group Wagner described the regrouping as “a non-tactical retreat,” adding that the ministry needs to “stop lying immediately.” Altogether, this retreat accounts for the loss of five square kilometers (nearly two square miles) “today alone,” he claimed.
Ukrainian forces advance: Ukrainian forces have been able to push the Russians back 2 kilometers (or about 1.2 miles) around the eastern city of Bakhmut over the past week, the country’s deputy defense minister said Friday.
Wagner complaints continue: Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner group, on Friday invited Russia’s defense minister to visit the embattled eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut to assess the situation there — the latest provocative statement by the Wagner chief on the Kremlin’s war leadership. This comes in a string of ramped up complaints about his own mercenary fighters’ battlefield setbacks, claims of lack of ammunition to take Bakhmut.
Deadly Russian attacks: At least two people were killed and more than a dozen others wounded overnight after Russian forces shelled parts of Ukraine near the front lines of the war, officials said.
Chinese envoy will visit Ukraine: China’s special representative of Eurasian affairs Li Hui will visit Ukraine next week to “promote peace talks,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Friday. Li’s trip will begin on May 15, and he will travel to Ukraine, Poland, France, Germany and Russia during the tour. The visit comes after Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke with his his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky by phone last month for the first time since Russia’s invasion began last year. China has repeatedly attempted to portray itself as a peacemaker in the conflict, but Western countries have viewed Beijing’s intentions with deep suspicion as it forges deepening ties with Moscow.
The Black Sea grain deal: Ukraine and Russia are “moving towards” an agreement on extending the United Nations-brokered Black Sea Grain Initiative, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said in a statement Friday. The current deal, which enables the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the countries’ Black Sea ports, was renewed for 60 days in March and is set to expire next week.
Zelensky will not speak at Eurovision final: A request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to address the Eurovision Song Contest final in the United Kingdom on Saturday has been denied, organizers have said — but a Zelensky spokesperson denied his office had contacted the contest in the first place.