Ukraine Daily Summary - Friday, May 26

Meet the anti-Kremlin militia behind the attack inside Russia -- First 20 Ukrainian pilots to enter F-16 training in UK -- Moscow and Minsk sign agreement on placing nuclear weapons in Belarus -- Russian shelling damages dam in Donetsk Oblast, flooding homes -- Defense Ministry confirms Ukrainian drone attack on Russian Black Sea warship -- and more

Friday, May 26

Russia’s war against Ukraine

A couple stands in front of a damaged multistory residential building, where a Russian strike killed 23 people, in Uman, Cherkasy Oblast.

An aerial view showing the destruction in the front-line city of Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, on May 23, 2023. (Photo: Defense of Ukraine / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Media: First 20 Ukrainian pilots to enter F-16 training in UK. About 20 Ukrainian pilots will enter the first phase of training on modern fighter jets that will allegedly take place in the U.K., Foreign Policy reported on May 24, citing an unnamed British official.

Prigozhin claims Wagner forces leaving Bakhmut. Shortly after claiming full control over Bakhmut, Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin said on May 25 that his mercenaries started withdrawing from the city.

Defense Ministry: Russian regular army replaces Wagner units in Bakhmut outskirts. Russia’s regular army has replaced Wagner forces in the suburbs of Bakhmut, but mercenaries still remain in the city, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on May 25.

106 Bakhmut defenders return home from Russian captivity. Presidential Office head Andrii Yermak reported on May 25 that 106 Ukrainian prisoners of war had returned home from Russian captivity as part of a prisoner exchange. All of the freed POWs had defended Donetsk Oblast’s city of Bakhmut, said Yermak.

Russian Volunteer Corps claims to have crossed into Russia again. The Russian Volunteer Corps, one of the Russian anti-government groups who have declared themselves to be fighting on Ukraine’s side, said its members had once again entered Russia’s territory on May 25.

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Moscow and Minsk sign agreement on placing nuclear weapons in Belarus. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin signed documents on placing Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory.

Lukashenko claims transfer of Russian nukes to Belarus underway. According to Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, the transfer of some Russian tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus has already begun, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Belarusian service reported on May 25, citing Belarusian state media.

Zelensky names new SBU deputy head, dismisses regional chief. President Volodymyr Zelensky appointed Serhii Naumiuk as the deputy head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU). He also dismissed the SBU’s head in Khmelnytskyi Oblast, Taras Tsiutsiura. No information on the nature of Tsiutsiura’s dismissal was provided.

Defense Ministry confirms Ukrainian drone attack on Russian Black Sea warship. With a video published on Twitter on May 25, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry confirmed that an attack on the Russian military’s Ivan Khurs warship was carried out with Ukrainian drones.

Russian shelling damages dam in Donetsk Oblast, flooding homes. Russian shelling damaged a dam in the village of Karlivka in Donetsk Oblast on May 25, forcing more than 20 people to evacuate their homes, Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko reported on Telegram.

Read our exclusives

Belgorod incursion: Meet the anti-Kremlin militia behind the attack inside Russia

Russian militia groups fighting on Ukraine’s side, who call themselves the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) and the Free Russia Legion, say they have brought the fight into Russia, even if for a short while.

Photo: Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images

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Human cost of war

State Emergency Service: Explosion kills 1, injures 1 in Kharkiv Oblast. A 39-year-old man from the village of Protopopivka in Kharkiv Oblast died while transporting the explosive in the sidecar of his motorcycle. Another man, aged 45, was injured as a result.

General Staff: Russia has lost 205,260 troops in Ukraine since Feb 24, 2022. Ukraine’s General Staff reported on May 25 that Russia had also lost 3,795 tanks, 7,432 armored fighting vehicles, 6,148 vehicles and fuel tanks, 3,359 artillery systems, 570 multiple launch rocket systems, 327 air defense systems, 309 airplanes, 296 helicopters, 2,907 drones, and 18 boats.

International response

EU renews duty-free trade with Ukraine for one year. The European Council adopted a regulation on May 24 prolonging the EU’s duty-free trade regime with Ukraine until June 2024. The regulation renews the “suspension of all customs duties, quotas, and trade defense measures on Ukrainian exports to the EU.”

WSJ: South Korea transfers artillery shells to Ukraine via ‘confidential agreement.’ South Korea will transfer “hundreds of thousands” of artillery rounds bound for Ukraine “under a confidential arrangement” with the U.S., the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on May 24.

Bloomberg: EU freezes Russia’s Central Bank assets worth 200 billion euros. The European Union has frozen assets of Russia’s Central Bank worth 200 billion euros ($214.6 billion), Bloomberg reported on May 25, citing European Commission spokesperson Christian Wigand.

Finland announces 16th package of military aid to Ukraine. The Finnish government announced its 16th package of military Ukraine on May 25, estimated to be worth 109 million euros ($116.8 million). The package includes, among other equipment, anti-aircraft systems and ammunition.

At Ramstein, allies pledge $65 billion of combined military aid to Ukraine. The members of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which meets in Germany’s Ramstein Air Base, pledged to provide $65 billion of military aid to Ukraine, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during an opening address at the summit on May 25.

Opinions and insight

Viktoriia Lapa: NATO should stop biding time on Ukrainian membership promise

With the NATO summit in Vilnius in sight, Ukrainians are placing high hopes on the political decisions made and security guarantees granted.  

Photo: Sergei Supinsky/ AFP via Getty Images

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