Russia launched a new wave of attacks on Ukrainian cities Kyiv, Odesa and Kherson, just one day ahead of Moscow's planned Victory Day celebrations on Tuesday, which feature a large military parade and commemorate the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
The Victory Day parade has come to encapsulate Russian President Vladimir Putin's vision of his country, and is set to go ahead despite some concern over a recent alleged drone attack on the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has backtracked on his threat to pull his fighters out of the war-torn city of Bakhmut after he announced that Russian military officials agreed to send his group ammunition he said was badly lacking. Wagner Group combatants have spearheaded Russian fighting in Bakhmut, which has become the scene of the war's longest and bloodiest battle.
A view of damage from Russian drone attacks on Kyiv
Civilians and city officials took stock of damage from the wreckage of Russian drones shot down over Kyiv early Monday morning.
Ukrainian Air Defense forces destroyed all 35 Iranian "Shahed" drones used in Russia's strikes on the capital, the forces' General Staff said, but debris from the interceptions damaged buildings and cars and injured at least five people, according to local authorities.
— Getty Images
Chechen leader Kadyrov may have helped Wagner boss effectively blackmail Russian defense chiefs, think tank says
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin likely worked together to effectively force the hand of Russia's theater commander in Ukraine, Army General Valery Gerasimov, to supply Wagner forces with more ammunition despite the general's aim to de-prioritize that effort, the think tank Institute for the Study of War wrote in an analysis.
"Prigozhin and Kadyrov likely effectively blackmailed the Russian MoD into allocating resources to Wagner forces in Bakhmut by threatening to pull Kadyrov's Chechen forces from other parts of the theater to relieve Wagner forces in Bakhmut," the ISW wrote.
"Prigozhin also claimed that the MoD gave Wagner complete freedom of operations in Bakhmut and appointed Army General Sergey Surovikin as an intermediary between the MoD and Wagner," it added, suggesting that the defense ministry chiefs "lack the ability to command Prigozhin and Kadyrov as subordinates but must instead negotiate with them as peers."
Prigozhin, whose private military forces have spearheaded Russia's fighting in the bloody and months-long battle for Ukraine's eastern city of Bakhmut, excoriated Russia's top military brass and threatened on Friday to withdraw his forces due to insufficient ammunition supplies. He announced Sunday that he received a guarantee of new supplies and indicated that his forces would stay in Bakhmut after all.
— Natasha Turak
Russian military recruiters targeting Central Asian migrant workers to fight in Ukraine: UK MoD
Russian military recruiters are targeting Central Asian migrant workers in Russia to go fight in Ukraine, the UK's Ministry of Defence wrote in its daily intelligence update on Twitter.
"Recruiters have visited mosques and immigration offices to recruit. At immigration offices, staff who speak Tajik and Uzbek routinely attempt to recruit migrants," the ministry wrote.
News outlet Radio Free Europe reported recruiters "offering sign-up bonuses of USD $2,390 and salaries of up to USD $4,160 a month," the post said. "Migrants have also been offered a fast-track Russian citizenship path of six months to one year, instead of the usual five years."
The recruits "are likely sent to the Ukrainian frontlines where the casualty rate is extremely high," it added.
The program is part of the Russian Defense Ministry's target of getting 400,000 volunteers to fight in Ukraine, since any new mandatory mobilization announcements could fuel dissent within the country.
— Natasha Turak
Kyiv local council sounds all-clear following air raid
The local council of the Ukrainian capital gave the all-clear following a morning air raid that saw several Russia strikes and injured at least five people.
The council wrote on Telegram: "Please keep an eye on reports and return to shelter if the siren sounds again."
Russian missiles hit Black Sea city of Odesa, local authorities say
Russian missile strikes early Monday morning hit a food warehouse and recreation center in Ukraine's southern Black Sea port city of Odesa, local administrators reported.
"X-22 rockets were directed at the warehouse of one of the food enterprises and at the recreation area on the Black Sea coast," Serhiy Bratchuk, a spokesman for the Odesa military administration, wrote on Telegram.
"Rescuers are working to eliminate fires. There was no information about the victims. The information is being clarified," he wrote.
— Natasha Turak
Five injured in Kyiv, explosions reported in southern Ukraine amid fresh Russian strikes
Five people were injured in Kyiv as Russia launched a new wave of strikes against Ukrainian cities, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko wrote on Telegram.
Klitschko said that debris from a drone attack on a building fell onto a smaller building and a parked car, injuring people there.
"Likely as a result of debris falling on a parked car in the yard of a residential building, the car caught fire," Kyiv's military administration said in a Telegram post. "There is a recorded fall of debris on a residential building."
Explosions have also been reported in the Black Sea port city of Odesa and the southeastern city of Kherson.
— Natasha Turak
Wagner Group leader reverses course on plan to leave Bakhmut
Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin ditched his threat from last week to leave the war-ravaged city of Bakhmut in light of insufficient ammunition supplies.
The private military firm's boss wrote on Telegram Sunday,: "Overnight we received a combat order, for the first time in all this time. We have been promised as much ammunition and weapons as we need to continue further operations. We have been promised that everything needed to prevent the enemy from cutting us off will be deployed on the flank."
Prigozhin on Friday released a video in which he, surrounded by dead bodies of Wagner fighters, blasted Russian Defense Ministry chiefs for failing to supply his combatants with the ammunition they needed to fight in Bakhmut, an eastern Ukrainian city that's been the site of the war's longest and bloodiest battle so far.
— Natasha Turak
Russia prepares for Victory Day celebrations in Moscow despite 'nervousness'
Moscow is going ahead with Victory Day celebrations on Tuesday, which include a major military parade, to celebrate the anniversary of the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.
This year's commemoration follows a turbulent week that saw an alleged attempted drone attack on the Kremlin, which Moscow blames on Ukraine and Washington, but that Kyiv argues was staged by Russia to escalate the war.
A Moscow city official was quoted by the Guardian as describing "a nervousness that I have never seen before" in the wake of the drone attack, but then adding that the Victory Day parade must still take place.
At least six regions in Russia have canceled their Victory Day celebrations.
The Guardian writes, "Tellingly, on Friday, Putin took the unusual step to discuss the preparations for the 9 May Victory Day parade in a meeting with his security council, composed of Russia's top state officials and heads of defence and security agencies ... Even before the drone attack on the Kremlin, there were signs of unease among the Russian leadership over the celebrations amid fears of Ukrainian strikes."
— Natasha Turak