Ukraine latest: Putin orders Wagner troops to swear oath of allegiance; who could replace Prigozhin? (2023)

Key points
  • Wagner troops ordered to swear oath to Russia in wake of Prigozhin plane crash| Read the oath here
  • The latest on Yevgeny Prigozhin's 'death'
  • Drone attacks continue to rain down on Russian territory
  • Rumours swirl around who could replace Prigozhin ashead of Wagner
  • Lukashenko claims he warned Prigozhin of potential assassination attempt
  • Analysis: What the Prigozhin crash investigation should look like
  • Your questions answered: Could Russia keep the Donbas in exchange for Ukraine joining NATO?
  • Live reporting by Ollie Cooper


Evan Gershkovich appeals detention extension in Moscow prison

Imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has appealed a Moscow court's decision to extend his pre-trial detention in Russia by a further three months, state news agencies are reporting.

According to TASS, Mr Gershkovich's lawyers have already filed an appeal against the decision, which was announced on Thursday.

The reporter was formally charged with spying in April, having initially been arrested in March,and has been held at the notorious Lefortovo prison in Moscow since.

Mr Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal and the US government staunchly deny the charges against him.


Ukrainian security service continues corruption clean-up as four people arrested

Ukraine's security services (SBU) continue to crack down on corruption in the country - one of the key aims of President Zelenskyy's premiership.

Ukraine has suffered from generations of corruption across society, with the SBU today arresting four people in connection with draft dodging.

"The Security Service continues to root out large-scale corruption in military committees and military medical commissions of Ukraine," a statement on the SBU's website read.

Four medical military officials were detained across Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv, who helped people eligible for military service to avoid the draft and flee abroad, it said.

"For money, the officials offered conscripts to evade mobilisation on the basis of fictitious documents stating that they were unfit for military service due to their health."

"The cost of such services was up to $10,000 per person," it added.

Those involved face 10 years in prison if found guilty.


'Pyrotechnics warehouse' catches fire in Russian city

Russia's emergency services has shared footage of a large fire burning in the city ofKemerovo, southwest Siberia.

It is not clear what has caused the fires, but it apparently engulfed a pyrotechnics facility.

This explanation is remarkably similar to one given after a massive explosion near Moscow a few weeks ago.

"Burning warehouse with pyrotechnics. More than 30 people and 11 pieces of equipment are working at the site," emergency servicesin a statement.

Speaking on X (formerly Twitter), Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian internal ministry, said: "Russian media report that a warehouse of pyrotechnics is burning and detonating in Kemerovo. Pyrotechnics again? Looks like Russia has a lot of fireworks enthusiasts."

Kyiv Post reporter Jason Jay Smart pointed out "on August 9 when another fireworks factory exploded, it turned out to be producing ammunition".

This video of the fire was shared by emergency services, and it has confirmed that the fire was now out.


Another drone shot down over Belgorod

Another Ukrainian drone has been brought down over the Russian region of Belgorod, according to the governor.

Vyacheslav Gladkov said the latest drone was "shot down on approach to the city".

The area is being checked for signs of damage or casualties, he added.

This comes after Mr Gladkov reported two earlier drones being shot down (see 7.47am and 9.34am posts), and claimed Ukraine had also used cluster bombs in the region today.

A drone was also downed approaching Moscow in the early hours of the morning.


In pictures: Bitter battle for Robotyne

This week, we brought you news that Ukrainian forces raised the national flag in the key settlement of Robotyne.

Although Moscow has not confirmed that enemy fighters had advanced into the town, we now have images from a video showing Ukrainian troops entering it, as well as some further pictures which help to show how the bitter the fighting was there.

The Separate Assault Battalion 'Skala' of the Ukrainian Armed Forces shared a video showing troops on the ground, which we have taken screengrabs from...

We're also able to share some images from just outside the town - where bitter fighting took place.

A burned out Ukrainian tank can be seen, missing much of its body, after presumably taking heavy fire...

The town, in the Zaporizhzhia region, could prove a key gain for Ukraine, with one commander saying it cuold be used to speed up the Ukrainian advance.

"We don't stop here [Robotyne]," he said.

"Next we have [the town of] Berdiansk, and then more. I made it clear to my fighters at once: our goal is not Robotyne, our goal is [the Sea of] Azov."

Robotyne is around 100km away from Berdiansk - a port city on the shores of the Sea of Azov.


Prigozhin's legacy survives him - if indeed he is dead

More than two months have passed since Yevgeny Prigozhin's ill-fated rebellion against Moscow.

Despite President Putinsurviving the biggest challenge to his authority to date, Prigozhinhad defied expectations and survived the immediate post-coup purge.

However, it now appears that Yevgeny Prigozhin was living on borrowed time.

Has Prigozhin's demise strengthened Putin's grip on power or has the beast that Putin created left a legacy that could yet prove a mortal blow to his former patron?

Read military analyst Sean Bell's analysis in full below...


Number of injured by 'Ukrainian cluster attack' on Russian soil rises

A little more detail on our 9.34am post, where the governor of the Russian region of Belgorod claimed Ukraine had used cluster munitions on a village this morning.

Vyacheslav Gladkov earlier said four people had been injured, but that number has now risen to six - with one person in critical condition, according to his latest update.

"Six civilians received shrapnel wounds. One victim is in [an] extremely serious condition," Mr Gladkov said on Telegram.

The claims have not been verified.


Read the oath Wagner troops ordered to swear to Russian state

As we brought you a short time ago, Vladimir Putin has ordered all Wagner troops to swear an oath of allegiance to the Russian state (see 9.51am post).

We can now bring you the order in the full, published on the Kremlin's website.

The order lays out who needs to swear the oath, which principly includes mercenaries, but more broadly anyone involved in the war in Ukraine, with the actual oath translating as:

"I (surname, first name, patronymic) solemnly swear allegiance to the Russian Federation, to observe the Constitution of the Russian Federation, strictly follow the orders of commanders and superiors, and conscientiously fulfil the duties assigned to me."

"I swear to be loyal to the Russian Federation, to courageously defend its independence and constitutional order."


Analysis: What the investigation into Prigozhin plane crash should look like

Sky News' military analyst Sean Bell has been discussing what the investigation into Yevgeny Prigozhin plane crash should look like, as well as how Russian authorities could handle the case...

"[An investigation team would] normally seal off the area and examine the area forensically, take lots of pictures," he explained.

"Then they would collect all of the pieces of the wreckage at the scene of the accident and [re-assemble the] aircraft in a hangar somewhere.

"[Doing that] actually very clearly shows then whether an explosion is inside the aircraft, blowing out the shape of the inside or outside coming in.

"That's a crucial part of [establishing] whether it's a missile or whether it was a bomb inside."

Investigators wouldn't normally share updates during that process until the final report was published, according to Bell, but Russian authorities are somewhat an exception to all of this, he explained.

"Of course, this is Russia, so who knows what this process is actually going [to look like]," he said.

Investigators could share updates soon, or not at all, but if rumours are to be believed and the Kremlin ordered the reported killing, it could be expected that authorities would release pre-determined outcomes to suitably satisfy the government's wants.

"On this occasion it looks likely the report conclusions have already been written and all the air accident investigators are doing is filling in the gaps."


11 children returned to Ukraine from Russia

Several more children have been returned to Ukraine from Russia and occupied regions, a charity has confirmed.

"Another 11 Ukrainian children were brought back from Russia and the temporarily occupied territories," Mykola Kuleba, head of the Save Ukraine organisation, said.

This brings the total number of children brought back to Ukraine to 161, according to statistics on Save Ukraine's website.

Mr Kuleba shared this video showing the return of the children...

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