British Defense Ministry: Russian Security Experienced ‘Period of Confusion and Negotiations’ After Wagner Mutiny

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FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin, back to the camera, chairs a Security Council meeting in Moscow, Russia, June 26, 2023.
FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin, back to the camera, chairs a Security Council meeting in Moscow, Russia, June 26, 2023.
  • Ukrainians have quickly learned how to counter Russian information attacks since Russia’s invasion in the country, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on her official Telegram channel Saturday.
  • Since last July, the U.K. has trained 18,000 Ukrainian volunteer infantrymen under the Operation Interflex training program, the Defense Ministry said Saturday. Ukrainian soldiers have been trained to “survive and be lethal in their fight against the illegal invasion of their homeland” it said.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin could be arrested if he attends the BRICS summit scheduled in South Africa because of an arrest warrant issued against him last March by the International Criminal Court, which accused him of the war crime of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.

 

Russia’s security apparatus experienced “a period of confusion and negotiations,” following the Wagner Group’s mutiny last month, the British Defense Ministry said Sunday in its daily intelligence update about Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. Now, however, an interim arrangement for the mercenary group’s future is shaping up, according to the report posted on Twitter.

Meanwhile, some social media groups associated with Wagner restarted their postings, focusing on Wagner’s activities in Africa. The ministry said recent announcements from Russian officials indicate that Russia is “likely prepared” to accept “Wagner’s aspirations to maintain its extensive presence on the continent.”

Both Ukraine and Poland Saturday confirmed the arrival of Wagner forces in Belarus, one day after Minsk said the mercenaries were training its troops.

“There may be several hundred of them at the moment,” Stanislaw Zaryn, Poland’s deputy minister coordinator of special services, said on Twitter.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner chief, has not been spotted in Belarus – he has not been seen in public since June 24.

In this photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, an artillery system belonging to Russia's Wagner military contractor is put on a trailer at an undisclosed location.
In this photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, an artillery system belonging to Russia’s Wagner military contractor is put on a trailer at an undisclosed location.

Black Sea Grain Initiative

Russian President Vladimir Putin is remaining silent about a possible extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative that is set to expire Monday.

In a phone call Saturday with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Putin discussed “the need for a permanent and sustainable solution to the movement of grain from Russia and Ukraine to the international markets,” according to the South African president’s office. No further details were provided.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has asked Putin to extend the Black Sea deal in return for connecting a subsidiary of Russia’s Agricultural Bank, Rosselkhozbank, to the SWIFT international payment system, but he has not received a reply, according to a U.N. spokesperson Friday.

“Discussions are being had, WhatsApp messages are being sent, Signal messages are being sent and exchanged. We’re also waiting for a response to the letter,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters when asked about the negotiations.

Russia has said it would agree to extend the deal only if its conditions are met regarding implementation.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stand for photos after delivering statements, July 15, 2023, in Kyiv, Ukraine.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stand for photos after delivering statements, July 15, 2023, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ukraine-South Korea

In a display of support for Ukraine, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol made a surprise visit to Saturday to Kyiv, announcing that Seoul will increase aid to Ukraine to $150 million this year, following an $100 million aid package last year. Yoon also said that Seoul will cooperate with Kyiv on infrastructure projects in Ukraine.

In a press conference Saturday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Yoon said South Korea aims to provide “a larger scale of military supplies” to Ukraine this year, after last year supplying nonlethal military inventory, such as body armor and helmets. He did not provide details. Zelenskyy thanked the South Korean president for his country’s support.

Earlier this month, Yoon told The Associated Press that supplies of de-mining equipment, ambulances, and other nonmilitary materials “are in the works” after a request from Ukraine, adding that South Korea already provided support to rebuild the Kakhovka Dam, destroyed last month.

South Korea, a key U.S. ally in Asia, has joined in the international sanctions against Russia and has provided Ukraine with humanitarian and financial support. So far, it has not provided weapons, in line with its long-standing policy of not supplying arms to countries actively engaged in conflict.

Yoon’s visit to Ukraine, his first, comes on the heels of NATO’s two-day summit in Lithuania this week.

Yoon and his wife toured Bucha and Irpin, two small cities near Kyiv where mass graves were discovered after Russian troops retreated last year. He laid flowers at a monument to the country’s war dead.

In his address Saturday, Zelenskyy called Yoon’s visit to Ukraine very important and “a very important direction of our international work.” He also thanked several countries, leaders and organizations for supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression.

Zaporizhzhia shelling

Russia and Ukraine traded blame Saturday for shelling that injured three civilians in a village the Zaporizhzhia region. The region is one of four Moscow said it annexed last year, but it does not control it.

Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, said Russian forces shelled the village of Stepnohirske, where the three people were injured. The city of Zaporizhzhia was also targeted and 16 buildings were damaged, said Anatoliy Kurtiev, secretary of the city council. Both men spoke via the Telegram messaging app.

Meanwhile, the Moscow-installed official who oversees the parts of Zaporizhzhia Russia controls said Ukrainian forces destroyed a school in the village of Stulneve, while air defense intercepted a drone over the city of Tokmak.

Reuters could not independently verify either report.

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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