During a meeting with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, President Vladimir Putin revealed “continuous concern” over the potential threat that Evgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner mercenary unit could pose to Putin through “symbolism and posture,” according to a US think tank.
The Institute for War Studies said the Russian president made “several important symbolic gestures” during talks in St. Petersburg on Sunday. These included taking Lukashenko to Kronstadt, the historically important island fortress, for a tour with the second daughter of St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, both of whom are personal enemies of Prigozhin.
The public display at the Kronstadt compound “was almost certainly intended to inform the defeat of the Prigozhin rebellion and the St. Petersburg-based Prigozhin supporters of Putin and his top supporters,” the think tank said.
During his stay in Kronstadt, Putin also made an unusual effort to take pictures with a crowd of local Russians, including children, to show that he is a popular and well-loved leader among Russians.
These symbolic gestures show that Putin is concerned about his popularity, the security of his regime, and the many factions vying for power within the upper echelons of Russian rule.
Prigozhin, who led a brief uprising against the Moscow military leadership last month, agreed to a Lukashenko-brokered deal to drop charges against Wagner’s forces in exchange for defection to Belarus.
An overnight Russian drone attack on Odesa port in southern Ukraine destroyed a grain warehouse and wounded four port workers, the Southern Command of Ukraine said, according to Reuters.
Based on preliminary information, the command announced on social media that three drones were destroyed in the attack.
The news agency was unable to independently verify the report.
The U.S. secretary of state said Ukraine had recaptured about half of the territory initially occupied by Russia in the invasion, but that Kiev faced a “very tough fight” to regain much more.
Anthony Brinken told CNN on Sunday:
These are still in the relatively early stages of counterattacking. It is tough.
It won’t be held for the next week or two. I think it will take several months.
Reuters also reported that Blinken said he believed Ukraine would buy F-16 fighter jets from the United States when asked if they would do so.
And a key focus is on getting proper training, maintaining the plane, and using it wisely when using the plane.
Russia’s defense ministry has accused Ukraine of a “terrorist” drone attack after the mayor of Moscow said two buildings had been hit and media reports said debris was found not far from the defense ministry building.
A Reuters report said it was unclear whether the drone hit the building when it was shot down early Monday morning or if it was deliberately targeted.
Neither the Defense Department nor the mayor have said where the drone was intercepted.
Russian state news agency reported, citing ambulance services, that debris from the drone had been found near a building on Komsomolsky Street in central Moscow. The site is about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Ministry of Defense building.
The street was closed to traffic, as was Likhachev Street in southern Moscow, where a high-rise office building was damaged, according to a report from the Russian news agency.
Polina, a young woman who lives near a skyscraper on Likhachev Street, said:
I was asleep, but an explosion woke me up and everything started shaking.
Ukraine did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the country rarely publicly claims responsibility for attacks in Russia or on Russian-controlled territories inside the country.
In other news, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would replace exports of Ukrainian grain to Africa after Russia withdrew from a pact allowing the safe transportation of Ukrainian grain.
Agence France-Presse reported that Russia’s president, in a statement posted on the Kremlin’s website, said Russia would continue “violent efforts to supply grain, food, fertilizer and other goods to Africa”.
I would like to assure you that our country can replace Ukrainian grain on a commercial and free basis.
The Russian government last week withdrew from a year-old pact allowing Ukrainian grain exports, complaining that related agreements on Russian food and fertilizer export licenses were not being implemented. The Russian government has since announced that it would consider cargo ships heading to Ukraine through the Black Sea as potential military targets.
The African Union has expressed “regret” over the Russian government’s decision to terminate the grain export agreement.
Later this week, Russia will host the second Russia-Africa Summit and the Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum, according to the Kremlin.
The reported drone strike in Moscow came a day after Ukraine vowed to retaliate against a Russian missile attack on the Black Sea port city of Odesa.
Russian forces have repeatedly attacked Odessa since Moscow last week scrapped a deal allowing Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea. A recent attack on Sunday killed two people and severely damaged Odesa’s historic Transfiguration Cathedral.
Agence France-Presse reported that the Ukrainian government had condemned the attack on the cathedral as a “war crime” and said the cathedral was “twice destroyed by Stalin and Putin”.
President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed revenge on Sunday, saying:
They will definitely feel this. We cannot allow people around the world to become accustomed to terrorist attacks.
Cities, villages and people are not the only targets for all these missiles. Their targets are the foundations of humanity and European culture as a whole.
Russia’s TASS news agency reported on Monday that one drone crashed on Komsomolsky Boulevard near the Ministry of Defense in central Moscow, and another crashed into the Likhacheva Street business center off one of Moscow’s main ring roads.
Moscow and its suburbs, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the Ukrainian border, have been hit by several drone attacks this year, including an attack on the Kremlin in May.
Some images from around the site of the reported drone attack in central Moscow:
Russia’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that there were no casualties in the drone strike in central Moscow.
Telegram said it had intercepted the attack by two unmanned aerial vehicles.
Electronic warfare overwhelmed and crashed two Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles, but there were no casualties.
According to Reuters, a Telegram channel linked to Russia’s Federal Security Service reported that residents of several districts in the southwest and south of Moscow reported the blast.
Komsomolsky Street is located near the building of the Ministry of Defense of Russia in the central administrative district of Moscow.
Drone debris was found in central Moscow, Russian state news agency TASS reported.
The newspaper reported that early Monday morning, emergency officials said:
Fragments of a drone were found at 17 Komsomolsky Prospekt. Preliminary information indicated that there were no casualties.
The official said law enforcement and emergency services were active at the scene.
Hello. Welcome to our continuous live coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Adam Fulton.
The mayor of Moscow said the drones attacked two non-residential buildings in Moscow around 4 a.m. Monday.
“There were no serious damages or injuries,” Sergei Sobyanin told Telegram.
The Russian defense ministry said the attack was intercepted and two drones were intercepted and destroyed.
Other important developments include:
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Ukrainian counterattack had “failed”. At the meeting in St. Petersburg, he hosted a close ally, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. Russia’s news agency quoted Lukashenko on Sunday as saying there was “no counterattack,” to which Putin replied: “There is a counterattack, but it has failed.” Ukraine launched a counterattack last month, but has so far made only small gains.
Lukashenko claimed Minsk was “controlling” the situation with Wagner mercenary group fighters and restrict them to stay in the center of the country. Belarus is hosting Wagner fighters on its territory after brokering a deal after Wagner representative Evgeny Prigozhin quelled a brief uprising last month in exchange for safe asylum in Belarus.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleva said that Kiev and Warsaw will “always be united” even after Presidents Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko. He accused Poland of having territorial ambitions. “President Putin’s attempt to drive a wedge between Kiev and Warsaw is as futile as the failed invasion of Ukraine,” Kleba wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Unlike Russia, Poland and Ukraine will learn from history and always stand united against Russian imperialism and disrespect of international law.”
Ukraine claims Russia shelled a cultural center in the Donetsk region with cluster bombs on sunday morning. The defense ministry said the center in Chasib Yal housed a “humanitarian aid headquarters” and was used as a distribution point for aid to civilians.
A new NATO-Ukraine council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday to address Black Sea securityPresident Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday. NATO spokesman Oanu Rungescu said earlier that Zelensky had requested in a phone call with NATO head Jens Stoltenberg that the previously announced meeting would discuss the situation after Russia pulled out of a year-old deal on Ukrainian grain exports.