Ukraine war latest: UK defence secretary in Kyiv on surprise visit; 'we could f****** lose Russia', Wagner boss warns (2023)

Key points
  • Ben Wallace in Kyiv on surprise visit
  • Prigozhin: 'We are in such a condition that we could f****** lose Russia'
  • Russia releases images of what they claim are abandoned US-made vehicles - but critics say it could be 'staged'
  • Ukrainian silence on Bakhmut 'suggests further Wagner advances'
  • Russia says city will now be known by Russian name
  • Your questions answered: What does defeat for Putin look like?
  • Got a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live reporting by Olive Enokido-Lineham


Moscow warns it will react 'extremely harshly' to further attacks on its territory

Russia's defence minister has said Moscow will react "extremely harshly" to further attacks by fighters entering its territory from Ukraine.

Sergei Shoigu told defence ministry officials: "We will continue to respond to such actions by Ukrainianmilitants promptly and extremely harshly".

His warning comes after Monday's cross-border incursion into Russia's Belgorod region.

Yesterday, the Russian military said it had routed militantswho attacked the region with armoured vehicles, adding that it had killed more than 70 "Ukrainian nationalists".

Moscow blamed the raid on Ukrainian military saboteurs whilst Kyiv portrayed it as an uprising against the Kremlin by Russian partisans.

The attack, which took place in Russia's southwest region, about 80km north of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, was a fresh reminder of how Russia itself remains vulnerable to attack, along with Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine.


UK defence secretary in Kyiv for unannounced visit

Ben Wallace has arrived in Kyiv for a surprise visit to meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov.

The Ukrainian defence secretary said the pair had a "very meaningful discussion" on increase Kyiv's defence capabilities and long-range weapons - including Storm Shadow missiles.

Mr Wallace signed a visitor's book, writing: "Glory to the brave men and women who fight for freedom and to defend their country. Their fight, our fight."

Earlier this month the defence secretary announced that the UK would send Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine, marking a significant step-up in the capabilities of arms the UK has sent to Kyiv. He said the country "has a right to be able to defend itself."

Last week, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the UK to meet with Rishi Sunak - as the prime minister revealed the UK would start training Ukrainian pilots to use Western fighter jets "relatively soon", helped by the opening of a new flying school.

(Video) Wagner Chief Says “No More Prisoners”, Orders Troops to Kill Ukraine's Soldiers


Russia releases images apparently showing abandoned US-made vehicles used by Ukraine - critics say it could be 'staged'

Back to the Belgorod incursion.

The Russian defence ministry has released pictures of what they claim are abandoned Western military vehicles used by Ukraine - including what Sky News has identified as US-made Humvees.

However, there are claims that part of the pictures may have been staged - pointing to details in the images which they say suggest the scene could have been choreographed.

They point to details including the lack of dirt in front of one of the vehicles which they say should have been created on impact as it fell into the gap and question how only one of the tires on the vehicle in the foreground got over the trench, but the other didn't.

Sky News has been able to geolocate the images to the Belgorod checkpoint and can confirm from previously released drone video that the two Humvees in the photo were not there earlier this week.

The vehicles also contain Ukrainian markings.

Monday's cross-border incursion into Russia's Belgorod region has been described as "humiliating" for Moscow.

Russia said more than 70 attackers have been killed in the region and the remnants of their units pushed back into Ukrainian territory after two days of fighting.

While there's still widespread confusion over reports of the raid - Moscow has blamed "Ukrainian militants" - but Kyiv portrayed the alleged incursion as an uprising by Russian partisans and said it had nothing to do with it.

Two groups operating in Ukraine - the Russian Volunteer Corps (RVC) and Freedom of Russia Legion - have claimed responsibility.

The US says it does not "enable or encourage" Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, but that it is up to Kyiv to decide how it conducts military operations.


In pictures: Tanks, victory (or peace?) signs and a view from the frontline

Now to the frontline for some of the latest pictures we're receiving of Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut.

The battle for control of the besieged city in eastern Ukraine is continuing. It's been the epicentre of fierce fighting with huge losses on both sides.

Russia claims to have captured Bakhmut, but Ukraine insists it still controls part of it.

(Video) Russia’s Wagner Group Releases 100 Ukrainian Soldiers to Mark Orthodox Easter


Why China, Iran, Belarus and Armenia 'all fear' a Russian defeat in Ukraine

Moscow has been widely condemned for the war in Ukraine, but there are a few countries that could fear a Russian defeat.

Four countries in particular have emerged as key allies that are prepared to defend Moscow, an expert writing for the think tank Atlantic Council says: China, Iran, Belarus and Armenia.

Despite their standing, these countries are "united by a common fear" of what a Russian defeat in might mean for them, according to Taras Kuzio, professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

While China has stopped short of "outright support" for Russia's invasion, it has adopted a position that could be termed as "Kremlin-friendly neutrality", Mr Kuzio says.

He suggests a Russian defeat would "considerably complicate" any future Chinese efforts to invade Taiwan, adding that if Western military aid helps Ukraine win it could increase the chances of similar support for Taiwan against possible Chinese aggression.

In Belarus, a Russian defeat would likely "reignite domestic unrest" and affect Alexander Lukashenko's regime.

But Armenia, Mr Kuzio says, remains heavily invested in the view of "Russia as a protector" against perceived threats to national security posed by Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Iran, he says, shares China's geopolitical motivations for supporting Russia's war, but the leadership is fearful that a Russian defeat could "increase demands for democratic change" inside Iran.


Russians shoot down 'large number' of drones in Belgorod

Russian forces have shot down "a large number" of drones in the southern Belgorod region, a local official has claimed.

The drones were intercepted overnight, governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said in a Telegram post.

No one was hurt, he said, but administrative buildings, homes and cars were damaged in Borisov district.

Sky News was unable to verify this report.

On Monday, reports surfaced of an armed raid across the Ukrainian border into the region.

(Video) Wagner chief tells Zelensky to abandon 'encircled' Bakhmut

In what appeared to be one of the biggest incursions from Ukraine since the war began 15 months ago, two purported anti-Kremlin armed groups employing Russians based abroad said they were responsible for the attack in Belgorod.

Russia says more than 70 attackers were killed in the region and the remnants of their units pushed back into Ukraine after two days of fighting.

Moscow has blamed "Ukrainian militants" but Kyiv portrayed the alleged incursion as an uprising by Russian partisans and said it had nothing to do with it.


UN and Russia discuss situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Security at Europe's biggest nuclear plant was the focus of a meeting in Beijing between Rafael Grossi, the UN nuclear watchdog chief, and Alexey Likhachev, head of Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear company.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says it was part of Mr Rossi's "intensified efforts" to "avoid a nuclear or radiological accident".

No other details were given.

Russia captured the plant early in the war and concerns have been raised about its safety on several occasions.

On Monday, the plant was temporarily disconnected from external power and switched on to emergency supply generators. Both sides blamed the other for the power outage.


Two people found dead in Donetsk ruins

Two bodies have been retrieved from the ruins of a building in a city in the Donetsk region, Ukraine's defence ministry said.

Russia "completely destroyed" a nine-storey building in Avdiivka yesterday, leaving another woman in a critical condition.

The eastern city was a main target of a Russian winter offensive that was intended to reinvigorate the full-scale invasion, but made only small territorial advances in the east.


Prigozhin: 'We are in such a condition that we could f****** lose Russia'

The founder of the Wagner mercenary group has warned that Russia's elite must get serious about fighting the war in Ukraine or it could lose and face a revolution.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview on his Telegram channel that Ukraine would try to encircleBakhmut and attack Crimea - which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.

"Most likely of all, this scenario will not be good forRussia so we need to prepare for an arduous war," he said.

"We are in such a condition that we could f****** loseRussia - that is the main problem... We need to impose martiallaw."

Mr Prigozhin said his political outlook was dominated by lovefor the motherland and serving Vladimir Putin.

Russia's elite, he said, protected their own children fromfighting the war while the children of ordinary Russiansperished on the front, a situation he said that could triggerturmoil in Russia.

If ordinary Russians continued getting their children backin zinc coffins while the children of the elite sunnedthemselves abroad, he said, Russia would face turmoil along thelines of the 1917 revolution.

The Wagner Group has been heavily involved in the fighting in Bakhmut. Mr Prigozhin previously threatened to pull his forces out of the city and accused Russia's military command of starving the group of ammunition.

(Video) Wagner chief blames Russian generals for losses suffered in Ukraine


Russian-backed official calls Bakhmut by its former Soviet name

The acting head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic says Bakhmut would now be known by its former Soviet name "Artemovsk".

Denis Pushilin said he visited the Ukrainian city on Tuesday and claimed on Telegram that the Russian flag was "hoisted" over "Artemovsk".

He thanked Wagner Group fighters for their efforts in the battered city, adding that the "Russian city" would be restored.

Bakhmut is located in Ukraine's Donetsk - part of the largely Russian-speaking industrialised Donbas region which Moscow wants to annex with its self-declared "special military operation".

While the Russian military and mercenary fighters Wagner claimed they had taken full control of the city over the weekend - Ukrainian forces contest this and say they have made minor progress against Russian forces on the edge of the city.


Who is the secretary of state for the Defence of the United Kingdom? ›

The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP

Ben Wallace was appointed Secretary of State for Defence on 24 July 2019.

Who is the Minister of War in the UK? ›

The Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP.

Does the secretary of defense control the military? ›

The President of the United States of America is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The Secretary of Defense is the principal defense policy advisor to the President. Under the direction of the President, the Secretary exercises authority, direction, and control over the DoD.

Does the secretary of defense command the army? ›

Subject only to the orders of the president, the secretary of defense is in the chain of command and exercises command and control, for both operational and administrative purposes, over all service branches administered by the Department of Defense – the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Space Force – as well ...

Can the PM declare war UK? ›

Constitutional convention requires that the declaration of war or commitment of British armed forces is authorised by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Crown.

Who set up military dictatorship in England? ›

Policies. The Rule of the Major-Generals was set up by Cromwell by his orders to the army, and was not supported by parliamentary legislation.

What was the name of the British prime minister famous for his actions during World War II? ›

Winston Churchill was an inspirational statesman, writer, orator and leader who led Britain to victory in the Second World War. He served as Conservative Prime Minister twice - from 1940 to 1945 (before being defeated in the 1945 general election by the Labour leader Clement Attlee) and from 1951 to 1955.

Does the Secretary of Defense have bodyguards? ›

The highest profile is, of course, the secretary of defense, who receives their protection via the U.S. Army Protective Services Battalion (CID), who also cover the deputy secretary of defense, the chairman and vice chairman, joint chiefs, the secretary of the Army, the chief of staff of the Army, the vice chief of ...

Why is the US military so powerful? ›

The U.S. Armed Forces has significant capabilities in both defense and power projection due to its large budget, resulting in advanced and powerful technologies which enables a widespread deployment of the force around the world, including around 800 military bases outside the United States.

Which country has the most powerful military in the world? ›

1. United States Of America. US Military has the biggest defence budget in the world. They are known for their most powerful Air Force on the planet, named as United States Air Force (USAF).

Do you salute the Secretary of Defense? ›


All individuals who are equal or senior to you in rank in any of the uniformed services of the United States or of foreign governments. President of the United States; Vice President of the United States; State Governors; Department Secretaries (including the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of HHS).

What rank is the Secretary of Defence? ›

The secretary of defense is the highest ranking leader in the department and serves as the principal advisor to the president, the commander in chief of the armed forces, on defense policy. The deputy secretary of defense is the second-highest ranking DOD leader.

Does Secretary of Defense get Secret Service? ›

Answer and Explanation: No, Cabinet members do not get Secret Service protection. That is reserved for the president, vice president, and their families. The Secretary of Defense is protected by the U.S. Army Protective Services Battalion.

Who is the secretary of the Army and defense? ›

The secretary of the Army is nominated by the president of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate.
United States Secretary of the Army
Incumbent Christine Wormuth since May 28, 2021
United States Department of the Army
StyleMadam Secretary
12 more rows

How do you address the secretary of defense? ›

Use the formal salutations "Sir" or "Madam" when addressing high-ranking Federal, State, or local officials. Use "Sir" or "Madam" when addressing court officials by title only.

What is the salary of a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army? ›

CASAs are Special Government Employees who agree to serve as representatives of the Secretary of the Army without salary, wages or related benefits, and are afforded a 3-star protocol status. Each CASA is committed to supporting all Department of Army Civilians, Soldiers and their Families.

Does the U.S. have a secretary of war? ›

Lloyd James Austin III was sworn in as the 28th Secretary of Defense on January 22, 2021.

What is the salary of the secretary of defense? ›

How much does a Secretary Of Defense make in USA? The average secretary of defense salary in the USA is $154,138 per year or $74.10 per hour. Entry level positions start at $40,272 per year while most experienced workers make up to $179,046 per year.

How do I contact the secretary of the army? ›

phone (703) 695–1717, fax (703) 697–8036

Secretary of the Army. —Dr. Mark T. Esper.

How do I address a letter? ›

The most widely used salutation is “Dear,” and is recommended if you've never met the intended recipient. The salutation is followed by the person's name and punctuated with a colon or comma. If you do not know whether the recipient is a man or a woman, it is safe to use “Dear Sir or Madam” followed by a colon.

How do you address a letter to a U.S. attorney? ›

Presidentially appointed United States Attorneys are noted with an asterisk (*) after their name and should be addressed as “The Honorable.” All others should be addressed as “Mr.” or “Ms.” Acting United States Attorneys are designated by a caret sign (^).


1. Ukraine appears to lose last major stronghold in Bakhmut
2. Prigozhin: Wagner Group will leave Bakhmut, Russian defense officials to blame | DW News
(DW News)
3. Wagner Group Chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says he will pull troops out of Bakhmut | Russia-Ukraine War
4. “High Treason…” Wagner Boss Lashes Out At Defence Minister Shoigu & Gen Gerasimov In Latest Rant
5. 'Speak directly!': Putin has tense exchange with his chief spy
(Guardian News)
6. Hear Russian prisoner's chilling final message to wife after fighting in Ukraine
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