Ukraine latest news: $100k reward for capture of 'Butcher of Slovyansk' (2023)

Key points
  • At least three dead after Russian drone attack in Kyiv|Kyiv hit by 'kamikaze drones'
  • Ukraine offers $100,000 for capture of 'Butcher of Slovyansk'
  • Ukrainian musician killed by Russian troops after refusing to take part in concert
  • Iran 'planning to send ballistic missiles to Russia'
  • Hope that Musk's Starlink may continue to help Ukraine - but tone of billionaire's tweet adds to confusion
  • Podcast:Burning playgrounds and blocked escape routes - the moment Russia brought terror to Kyiv
  • Live reporting by Andy Hayes. Updates from John Sparks in eastern Ukraine and Dominic Waghorn in Moscow

14:25:38

What are the warning signs that Vladimir Putin could use nuclear weapons?

How imminent is the threat of nuclear war - or is the Russian president just bluffing?

As Putin continues to suffer battlefield setbacks and illegally annex parts of Ukraine, he has threatened to make use of his country's nuclear weaponry.

But there are several key warning signs of all-out nuclear war.

A shift to more explicit, specific nuclear threats - from Putin and other Russian officials

Pavel Podvig, an expert on Russian nuclear forces, told The Atlantic's Uri Friedman that the Kremlin would only consider using nuclear weapons if it were to sustain an attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state. This could include if recently annexed lands begin to slip from its grasp and cause Putin to shift from a defensive doctrine to a more offensive plan of attack.

A full Ukrainian win, and threats to Putin's power back home

Putin could turn to nuclear weapons if he feels his military misfortune is about to spiral into an all-out humiliating defeat.

Matthew Kroenig, who served in the Department of Defense and the intelligence community in the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, is tracking "Putin's strength at home," and said "if we saw more Russian elites turning against him or publicly criticizing him," Putin "could seek nuclear use as a way to gamble for resurrection, change the conversation, [and] show that he's a strong leader."

Movements of weapons from storage to field

The general consensus is that Putin wouldn't reach for the kind of long-range city-destroying weapons that were so prominent during the Cold War but would instead use some of the country's 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons, which are shorter-ranged, less explosive, and designed for use on a battlefield. But these weapons would need to be moved out of storage - and there is no evidence that this has yet been done.

Intercepted communications

Although open-source researchers have no way of monitoring Russian communications, the US government could choose to publicly release any intelligence it gathers that suggests nuclear weapon use is in the offing.

US and allied officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks they have not detected signs of imminent Russian nuclear use.

Mr Kroenig told The Atlantic: "It is possible, I guess, that we just start seeing mushroom clouds in Ukraine, but I think that's less likely than that we'd get some kind of warning."

14:03:04

Russian journalist accused of spreading 'fake news' flees the country

Former Russian state TVjournalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who was accused of spreading "fake news" about the military, has fled the country after escaping from house arrest, her lawyer has said.

Dmitry Zakhvatov said Ms Ovsyannikova is now"under the protection of aEuropean state".

He declined to say anything further because "it may turn out to be a problem for her".

Ms Ovsyannikova gained international attention in March after bursting into a Russian state TV studio to denounce the war in Ukraine.

She held a poster which read: "Stop the war, don't believe the propaganda, they are lying to you here."

At the time she was the editor of the Vremya nightly news programme, but after quitting her job Ms Ovsyannikova became an activist, staging anti-war pickets and speaking out against the conflict.

She was fined for flouting protest lawsand later condemned those responsible for the war on social media.

She was fined 30,000 roubles (around £223.40 at the time).

13:47:58

Analysis: 'Kamikaze' drones can be compared to weapons from the Second World War

By Dominic Waghorn, international affairs editor

It's like the scene in Naked Gun when Leslie Nielsen finds the world's baddies secretly conspiring together before beating up the likes of Ayatollah Khomenei, Idi Amin and Mikhail Gorbachev (well it was before we all learned to love him).

This time, in the 2022 real-life sequel, it's Ayatollah Khamenei plotting with Vladimir Putin while Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un wait in the next door room seeing how it all works out. Mr Putin's Ukraine venture is not going well so the ayatollah offers drones to help.

So: early this morning one ostracised dictatorship was allegedly using the weapons of another to bring terror to the innocent civilians of a European democracy.

The videos show massive explosions in the midst of residential apartment blocks and people screaming.

The Russians have strangely renamed the Shahed 136 the Geranium 2. We're not sure why except that the Iranians insist they are not supplying them so the Russians had to call them something else.

It doesn't matter what they're called if you are at the receiving end. The drone is what the military calls a lurking munition. It flies around looking for a target for a while. On the ground, fear builds as civilians wonder where it will choose to come down. When it does, it causes a massive explosion and a mushroom cloud of dust and smoke.

The videos from Kyiv this morning take you there. It must be terrifying.

The remote-controlled aircraft came down near apartment blocks but also power installations. Russia is either targeting people to instil fear, or targeting infrastructure. Both are war crimes unless there is a very good military reason to do so.

Russia has a new man in charge in Ukraine. Nicknamed General Armageddon, General Sergei Surovikin looks like Dr Evil and appears to be yet more bad news for Ukrainian civilians.

He was Russian commander in Syria while Russian forces bombed hospitals, clinics, homes and even a UN aid convoy - anything, really, that would demoralise and terrify the enemy, never mind the laws of war.

In doing so in Ukraine, he has a very effective tool at his disposal in the Geranium 2 drone.

It has been called a kamikaze drone. Intelligence analyst Forbes McKenzie says another Second World War weapon might be a better comparison.

"It is a weapon of terror, more like the V1 and V2 systems of WW2, designed to strike terror as they did in the frightening chapter at the end of that war," it said.

Hitler's doodlebug rockets would also terrify people on the ground as they heard them buzz overhead and tried to work out what they were about to hit.

What's in it for the Iranians? To some extent it is a question of like-minded nations sticking together. They both resent America and believe in the need to challenge its hegemony. But there will be a quid pro quo, too, likely to involve oil and trade.

13:21:24

Footage emerges of Ukrainian police officers firing at 'Iranian drone'

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to theUkrainian interior minister, has tweeted video of police officers shooting at a drone.

Mr Gerashchenko claims the remote-controlled aircraft was "Iranian".

Earlier, Iran denied supplying drones to Russia (10.18 post).

The EU's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said further sanctions may be considered against Iran if concrete evidence can be found that it is supplying drones to Russia.

13:04:03

Kyiv strike locations may reveal intended targets

By Jack Taylor, forensic journalist

Sky News has geo-located three explosions from the drone attack on central Kyiv.

Mapping them may indicate what Russia was targeting.

Multiple residential structures have been hit, as well as a small building that is part of the city's main railway station.

Videos of the explosions and aftermath can be matched with existing street level imagery from Google Maps.

Within the same area is the TETs-3 power station and the IT Headquarters of UkrEnergo, the sole operator of Ukraine's high-voltage transmission lines.

A building within that complex has been damaged.

Russia targeted the same place last Monday. Strikes that day also damaged a transformer station at the TETs-5 power station in the south of the city.

Ukrainian officials have warned that Russia is targeting energy infrastructure, which is key for both the war effort and the lives of ordinary people.

Yesterday, President Zelenskyywarned that "due to the Russian missile terror in some cities and regions of Ukraine, energy workers have to limit the supply of electricity so that the entire system works stably".

12:46:17

Ukraine offers $100,000 for capture of 'Butcher of Slovyansk'

Ukraine is offering a reward of $100,000 for the capture of Russian terrorist Igor Girkin, reports Ukraine Today.

Girkin - who also goes by the name Igor Strelkov and more recently Runov - is a retired FSB colonel who participated in the annexation of Crimea.

In 2014 he helped seize administrative buildings in Slovyansk and proclaimed the Donetsk People's Republic. He has been referred to as the Butcher of Slovyansk.

Girkin is also accused of involvement in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over the Donbas on 17 July 2014, which killed 298 people.

Ukraine Today reports rumours that Girkin, who returned to Russia in 2014, has now been mobilised in the Russian army.

12:36:24

EU announces €500m in new military aid to Ukraine

As we previewed earlier, a further €500m in new military aid to Ukraine has been approved by the European Council.

It said in a statement: "The EU is further stepping up its support to Ukraine to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders of their country, and protect the civilian population against the ongoing Russian war of aggression."

The bloc's foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said the additional funding was "yet another proof that we remain steadfast in our support to the Ukrainian armed forces to defend the country against the escalating illegal aggression".

He added: "Russia's latest indiscriminate attacks on Ukrainian civilians and civilian infrastructure are another proof of Russia's complete disrespect for human rights and international law.

"The EU will continue supporting Ukraine as long as it takes and as long as is needed."

12:18:00

Video appears to show moment of 'kamikaze drone' strike on Kyiv

11:56:39

Fast-track mass wedding held for Russian conscripts

Footage has emerged of Russian conscripts getting married during a fast-track mass wedding in St Petersburg.

The scenes, which have been shared by the BBC's Francis Scarr, show a group of mobilised men tying the knot with their partners before they were sent to fight Ukrainian troops.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week he expected his mobilisation of army reservists for combat in Ukraine to be completed in about two weeks.

Mr Putin — who is facing domestic discontent and military setbacks in the war — also told reporters he did not regret starting the conflict and "did not set out to destroy Ukraine" when he ordered Russian troops to invade this year.

11:38:10

EU to provide military training for thousands of Ukrainian troops

European Union foreign ministers are expected to approve the training of 15,000 Ukrainian troops, mainly in Poland and Germany.

They are also likely to provide an additional half a billion euros of extra funding.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Luxembourg: "Morally, politically, even militarily, Russia is losing this war, so we have to continue supporting Ukraine."

The blocwill set up a "powerful training mission deployed out of the borders of Ukraine", he added.

Several EU and NATO nations are already training Ukraine's armed forces on a bilateral basis and last month the UK announced it would be extending its programme for Ukrainian citizen soldiers.

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