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Russia-Ukraine war live updates for Wednesday, June 28, 2023


Countdown started on Kremlin regime, Ukraine official says

Ukraine sees an end to the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the horizon, following recent tensions between Russia’s defense officials and frontline-prominent paramilitary troop Wagner.

“I think the countdown has started,” Andriy Yermak, close adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said in a Kyiv briefing, according to the BBC.

Former Putin ally Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin briefly turned arms against Moscow over the weekend, dealing an unprecedented blow to the Kremlin regime despite the militia group’s ultimate withdrawal.

Prigozhin has accepted exile into Belarus in exchange for calling off the insurrection, which unveiled the depth of cracks in Russian unity.

Ruxandra Iordache

Lithuania purchases air defense systems for Ukraine

Lithuania has acquired two NASAMS air defense systems that will be transferred to Ukraine, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Twitter, in the run-up to a summit of the NATO military alliance over July 11-12.

“Looking forward to more collective decisions on support to Ukraine at the #NATO summit in Vilnius,” the Lithuanian head of state added.

Ukraine has repeatedly entreated donations of air defense units to protect its skies from Russian missiles, with a focus on the costly U.S.-provided Patriot systems.

— Ruxandra Iordache

At least eight dead in missile attack at Kramatorsk restaurant

At least eight people were killed and 56 were injured in a Russian missile attack that struck a restaurant in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk, Ukrainian state emergency services said on Telegram, according to a Google translation.

The toll includes three children.

Rescue operations to retrieve further potential victims from the rubble are ongoing.

Sergey Kruk, leader of the state emergency service of Ukraine, described the latest offensive as a “cynical missile attack,” in Twitter comments translated via Google.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the ground.

Ruxandra Iordache

Belarus’ president urges against driving a wedge between him and Putin

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko advised government officials, analysts and bloggers in his country and Russia against attempts to set him “at odds” with his Moscow counterpart and long-time ally Vladimir Putin, according to Belarusian state-owned agency Belta.

His comments come after Belarus offered tenuous haven to Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Russian paramilitary group Wagner, whose short-lived coup attempt against the Moscow brass fizzled out over the weekend. Prigozhin has struck an amnesty deal with the Kremlin for exile in Belarus.

Recounting the start of his weekend negotiations with Prigozhin, Lukashenko said that Wagner forces on the frontline were “extremely dissatisfied,” particularly the commanding officers under whose “pressure and influence” the paramilitary leader acted, Belta reported on Tuesday.

Ruxandra Iordache

Putin addresses Russians, calls Wagner rebellion ‘criminal’

A screen grab captured from a video shows Russian President Vladimir Putin making a statement amid escalating tensions between the Kremlin and the head of paramilitary group Wagner in Moscow on June 24, 2023.

Kremlin Press Office| Handout | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has delivered his first televised address since Wagner Group mercenaries instigated a failed mutiny against Russian military leaders over the weekend.

Putin called the rebellion “criminal activity to split and weaken the country, which is now confronting a colossal external threat,” meaning the international response to Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian president said the organizers of the armed insurrection would be “brought to justice,” yet he did not mention Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin by name.

He also offered apparent clemency to the hundreds of Wagner mercenaries who participated in the armed march from the southern city of Rostov to about 200 miles outside Moscow.

The speech did little to clarify what comes next for the Wagner Group or for the Russian military, which was unprepared for the speed and ease with which the rebel convoy traveled through the country on major highways.

In his speech, Putin insisted his troops would have crushed the rebellion if it had proceeded any further.

— Christina Wilkie

Plane linked to Wagner boss Prigozhin lands in Belarus

A private business jet linked to Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin landed in Belarus on Tuesday, data from flight-tracking website Flightradar24 showed.

The Embraer Legacy 600 aircraft, registration number RA-02795, matches the identification codes of the jet belonging to Prigozhin, according to the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). It landed early on Tuesday morning near Minsk, having taken off from St. Petersburg shortly after 1 a.m. local time (5 p.m. ET Monday), though it is not yet known who was on board.

Under the deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko over the weekend, which brought a halt to Wagner’s rebellion against Moscow, Prigozhin has been effectively exiled to Belarus. His exact whereabouts have been unknown since the uprising.

— Elliot Smith

Putin thanks Russian army for preventing ‘civil war’

Russian President Vladimir Putin speeches during his meeting with officers of Russian army and secret services who prevented invasion of PMC Wagner Group to Russian capital last weekend, on June 27, 2023 in Moscow, Russia. 

Getty Images

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday thanked Russia’s army and security services for preventing what he described as a civil war when faced with an armed mutiny over the weekend.

Speaking inside the Kremlin, Putin told around 2,500 members of the military, security forces, and the National Guard that they had defended their “motherland” against chaos.

“You have defended the constitutional order, the lives, security and freedom of our citizens. You have saved our Motherland from upheaval. In fact, you have stopped a civil war,” Putin said.

“In this difficult situation, you have acted precisely and harmoniously, you have proved by your deeds your loyalty to the Russian people and the military oath. You have shown your responsibility for the fate of our Motherland and its future,” he added.

The Kremlin said earlier Tuesday it did not agree with assessments that the weekend’s escalation led by the Wagner mercenary group had shaken Putin’s two-decade hold on power.

Putin also told those assembled on the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square that an unspecified number of Russian military pilots had been killed when trying to stop the advance of the mutineers

“In the confrontation with the insurgents our comrades-in-arms, the aviators died,” said Putin.

“They did not falter and carried out their orders and their military duty with honor,” he added, requesting a minute’s silence for the dead pilots.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, whose removal Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin had demanded, was also present on the square.

— Karen Gilchrist

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:




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