A mysterious flying spiral.
1. Russian forces claimed new advances in their effort to encircle the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, while European leaders arrived in Kyiv to discuss further military aid. Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization that is leading the assault in Ukraine’s east, said Wednesday that his forces had seized the village of Sacco and Vanzetti, north of Bakhmut. Rybar, a Telegram channel linked to the Kremlin, said Thursday that Wagner was claiming territory on the contested east side of the city, seizing a sparkling-wine factory and a meat-processing plant. Though the gains Wagner claimed are small, the Russians are slowly narrowing Ukraine’s routes to resupply the city—or evacuate troops. Only one road into Bakhmut, through Chasiv Yar to the west, remains entirely under Ukrainian control. (Source: wsj.com)
2. Russia is preparing to launch a major new offensive against Ukraine in the coming weeks, a top Ukrainian security official said, adding to mounting concerns in Kyiv and the West that the Kremlin is preparing a renewed push to seize large areas of the country. “Russia is preparing for maximum escalation,” said Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, in an interview with Sky News published online early Wednesday local time. “It is gathering everything possible, doing drills and training.” The warning comes after weeks in which Ukrainian and Western officials have pointed to the risk of a possible new offensive by Russia in the months ahead. Within Russia, the military is under pressure to regain battlefield momentum after it lost swaths of territory to a Ukrainian offensive during the second half of last year. (Source: wsj.com)