On May 25, 2023, Moscow reported that 70 members of Russian anti-Kremlin groups were killed while attempting to attack Russia’s Belgorod region from Ukraine. Ilya Ponomarev, a representative of the Liberty of Russia Legion, claimed that their fighters received support from the Ukrainian armed forces. Meanwhile, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Russian mercenary force, stated that about 20,000 Wagner Group fighters were killed in the battle for Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. The United Kingdom’s defence ministry expressed concerns about Russia’s military discipline and its forced mobilisation of reservists since October 2022.
In other news, the United States expressed deep concern over a meeting between a UN official for children and Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged African countries to abandon their neutrality towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin claimed that sensational pressure from the West was strengthening Russia-China ties. Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili supported Ukraine but warned against further sanctions on Russia. UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace visited Kyiv to meet his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov. Jens Stoltenberg, leader of NATO, stated that Ukraine cannot join NATO while the war is ongoing. A court in Russia extended the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich until August 30. Ukraine’s Orthodox Church announced its switch to the revised Julian calendar from September 1 to distance itself from Russia’s Orthodox Church.
Finally, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that supplying Ukraine with F-16 fighter aircraft would deal a significant blow to Russia. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged Western support for Ukraine’s air defence systems and training of Ukrainian pilots in flying F-16 fighter jets. The United Nations reported a rise in civilian deaths in war zones, with almost 8,000 people killed in Ukraine alone. Ukraine’s defence ministry’s intelligence unit claimed that Russian troops were using three units of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as a military base. Russia scrambled an Su-27 fighter jet to prevent violations of the state border by two United States Air Force strategic bombers flying over the Baltic Sea.