Day 458 since the beginning of the war: Russia reports a drone attack on the Russian region of Pskov near Belarus. Germany sends Patriot missiles to Lithuania. All information in the news blog.
The most important things at a glance
Kiev’s secret service admits involvement in Crimean bridge attack
3:01 p.m.: More than seven months after the explosion on the Crimean bridge, Ukrainian intelligence chief Vasyl Malyuk officially confirmed Kiev’s involvement in it for the first time. “Since this is a logistics route that we had to cut off from the enemy, appropriate measures were taken,” the head of the domestic intelligence service SBU said in a YouTube interview with Ukrainian journalist Dmytro Komarov.
Maljuk did not give details of the operation. He said of the attack that Ukraine had acted in accordance with “traditions of warfare”. The images of the fire on the bridge resulting from the explosion on October 8 – the night after Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday – went around the world. Read more about the explosion here.
Western secret services have also assumed that Ukraine was involved. Maljuk had only hinted in December that Ukraine might have something to do with it. Now he confirmed it. Moscow blamed the Ukrainian military intelligence service for the attack. The bridge, which was closed for days but has now been repaired, leading from the Russian mainland to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, is considered an important supply route for the war against Ukraine.
Apparently, drone attacks on the Druzhba oil pipeline
1:35 p.m.: According to media reports, two drones attacked the Druzhba oil pipeline in northwestern Russia. The incident happened in the Tver region, reports the Russian newspaper Kommersant, citing reports on social media.
The region is north of Moscow and borders on the Pskov region in the north-west. From there, a drone attack on a pipeline administration building was reported. Pskov, in turn, borders Belarus, Latvia and Estonia. Neither Pskov nor Tver share a border with Ukraine.
China at the end of the war: Will make concrete proposals
11.11 a.m.: According to its special envoy Li Hui, China intends to work seriously towards a political solution to the Ukraine crisis and to submit concrete proposals for this. The Chinese Foreign Ministry quoted the Chinese government’s special envoy for Eurasian affairs as saying that China will promote exchange and dialogue between all parties involved – including Russia.
The day before he spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow during his trip to Europe, during which he was to explore the possibilities for a solution to the war in Ukraine on behalf of the Beijing leadership.
London: Wagner probably started with troop withdrawal from Bachmut
11:19 am: Russia’s private army Wagner has apparently begun withdrawing troops from some of its positions in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, according to British intelligence experts. This was announced by the Ministry of Defense in London in its daily intelligence update on Saturday. Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin had announced the withdrawal on Thursday and said that the city should be left completely under control of the regular Russian armed forces by June 1. The Ukrainian side had confirmed an exchange of troops by the enemy around Bakhmut.
According to the British Defense Ministry, troops from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic likely entered the city on Wednesday to begin clearance operations. Parts of the 31st Brigade of the Russian Airborne Troops had probably been withdrawn from the Swatowe-Kreminna line in order to strengthen Bakhmut’s flanks, it said. There, Ukrainian troops had occupied around 20 square kilometers by mid-May. The exchange of Wagner troops will probably continue in controlled phases to prevent the areas around Bakhmut from collapsing, the intelligence report said.