May 5, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Sophie Tanno, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Matt Meyer and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 10:33 p.m. ET, May 5, 2023
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5:59 a.m. ET, May 5, 2023

Russian foreign minister says purported drone attack was "hostile act"

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Kremlin drone incident was 'hostile act' in Goa, India, on May 5.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Kremlin drone incident was 'hostile act' in Goa, India, on May 5. (ANI/Reuters)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that Wednesday’s purported drone attack on the Kremlin was a “hostile act” and that his government would respond with “concrete actions.” 

“It was clearly a hostile act,” Lavrov said at a press conference in India. “We will not respond by talking about whether it was an incident or not, but we will respond with concrete actions. We have a lot of patience.” 

On Wednesday, the Russian government claimed that two drones had attempted to strike the Kremlin.

Video of the purported attack first appeared in the early hours of Wednesday on Russian social media. The Kremlin was slow to react, eventually releasing a statement calling it a “planned terrorist attack,” a deliberate attempt by Ukraine to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin, but presenting no evidence.

On Thursday, Russia also claimed that the United States was “undoubtedly” behind the incident.

Both allegations drew sharp denials from Kyiv and Washington.

Relations between the US and Russia are at their lowest point since the Cold War, but in the aftermath of Wednesday’s purported drone attack, Moscow has dramatically dialed up its rhetoric.

5:15 a.m. ET, May 5, 2023

Wagner to leave Bakhmut on May 10 over lack of ammunition, Prigozhin says

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova

Smoke rises from buildings in this aerial view of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on April 26.
Smoke rises from buildings in this aerial view of Bakhmut, Ukraine, on April 26. (Libkos/AP)

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin announced on Friday that his private military company would leave the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on May 10 because his fighters lack ammunition. 

“I am officially addressing the Chief of the General Staff, the Minister of Defense, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and the people of Russia,” Prigozhin said in a statement posted to the Telegram messaging app. 
"I declare on behalf of the Wagner fighters, on behalf of the Wagner command, that on May 10, 2023, we are obliged to transfer positions in the settlement of Bakhmut to units of the Defense Ministry and withdraw the remains of Wagner to logistics camps to lick our wounds," Prigozhin said.
“I'm withdrawing Wagner PMC units because without ammunition, they are doomed to a senseless death,” he continued, claiming that Wagner had fallen “out of favour with envious near-military bureaucrats."

It comes a day after the Wagner boss launched an expletive-laden tirade against Russia's military leadership. Standing in front of the bodies of dozens of what he claims are his fighters killed in Russia’s war on Ukraine, Prigozhin blamed their deaths on a lack of support from Moscow.

Prigozhin’s forces have played a key role in Russian assaults on Ukrainian territory, including Bakhmut.

He has previously complained of receiving insufficient support from the Kremlin and, in an interview on Sunday, threatened to withdraw his mercenaries from the embattled eastern city.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Friday's announcement, telling a conference call with reporters: "Of course, I saw it in the media, but I can’t comment as it concerns the special military operation."

3:56 a.m. ET, May 5, 2023

Russian and Ukrainian delegates come to blows at summit in Turkey

From CNN's Alex Stambaugh, Sandi Sidhu and Yusuf Gezer

Ukrainian and Russian delegates are seen at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) in Ankara on Thursday.
Ukrainian and Russian delegates are seen at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) in Ankara on Thursday. (Ercin Erturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Scuffles broke out between Ukrainian and Russian delegates at a summit in Turkey on Thursday, state-run news agency Anadolu reported.

Video posted by Anadolu shows delegates shoving each other after Ukrainian representatives unfurled their national flag and shouted anti-Russia slogans behind a member of the Russian delegation, Olga Timofeeva, while she was speaking at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) meeting in Ankara.

Another video posted to social media showed Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Marikovskyi punching a Russian representative in a separate altercation after the man tore down the Ukrainian flag on the sidelines of the conference.

Marikovskyi reposted the video to his Facebook account, writing: "Paws off our flag, paws off Ukraine, Russian bast**d!" 

The speaker of Turkey's national assembly, Mustafa Şentop, condemned the disruptions, calling the actions "unfortunate" and "unacceptable" on Twitter.

PABSEC aims to promote economic, political and cultural cooperation among its 13 member countries of the Black Sea region, including Russia and Ukraine. 

1:30 a.m. ET, May 5, 2023

Russia warns of "armed conflict" with US as White House rejects "ludicrous" drone attack claims. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

Sergei Ryabkov attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland on March 2.
Sergei Ryabkov attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland on March 2. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

The US has rejected “ludicrous” accusations from Russia that it was behind an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin as Moscow’s deputy foreign minister warned the two powers are on "the verge of an open armed conflict."

“We are working to prevent relations with the US from plunging into the abyss of an open armed conflict. We are already standing on the edge, on the edge of this precipice,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia’s Channel One Thursday, according to state media agency TASS.

His remarks comes after Moscow made unsubstantiated claims the US was behind an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin and an assassination attempt against President Vladimir Putin earlier this week. Kyiv and Washington have denied the allegations.

The increase in rhetoric also follows Russia's largest air attack on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in a year, the city's military administration said Thursday.

Here are the latest developments:

  • Beijing on peace talks: China's foreign minister told his Russian counterpart Thursday that Beijing would "maintain communication and coordination" with Moscow during efforts to reach a "political settlement" to the Ukraine conflict. Kyiv officials have repeatedly said Russian troops must withdraw from Ukrainian land for them to engage in negotiations with Moscow.
  • Gory video: The head of Russian private military company Wagner launched an expletive-filled verbal attack on Kremlin officials in a graphic new video in which he appears beside what he says are the bodies of his mercenaries killed fighting in Ukraine. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has long complained of receiving insufficient support from the Kremlin in the grueling fight for the eastern city of Bakhmut.
  • Nuclear fears: Russia has dismissed claims that it deployed military equipment and explosives at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. On Wednesday, Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate accused Russia of placing weapons, explosives and military equipment in one of the plant’s units.
  • Zelensky on NATO: Ukraine's message is that it will be a NATO member after the war has ended, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday. Zelensky said that while Ukraine has received "some positive messages" from countries who support it, "we need something more." He added: "I think that our friends will support us and see us in NATO."
  • US intelligence: Russia will likely not be able to mount a “significant offensive operation this year” due to munitions and manpower shortages — whether or not the Ukrainian counteroffensive is successful, according to US director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.
  • Prison visit: US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy visited Paul Whelan on Thursday — her first visit to the detained American since taking up the post in Moscow earlier this year. "His release remains an absolute priority," the US Embassy in Moscow said on Twitter.
12:39 a.m. ET, May 5, 2023

China to "maintain communication and coordination with Russia," foreign minister says

From CNN’s Beijing bureau

Qin Gang delivers a speech in Shanghai, on April 21.
Qin Gang delivers a speech in Shanghai, on April 21. (Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

China's foreign minister told his Russian counterpart on Thursday that Beijing would "maintain communication and coordination" with Moscow during efforts to reach a "political settlement" to the Ukraine conflict.

“China is willing to maintain communication and coordination with Russia to make tangible political contributions to the political settlement of the crisis,” Qin Gang told Sergei Lavrov at the SCO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Goa, India, according to a statement released by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Beijing has so far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or call for a withdrawal of its troops, instead urging restraint by “all parties” and accusing NATO of fueling the conflict. It has also continued to deepen diplomatic and economic ties with Moscow.

A vaguely-worded “political settlement” to the conflict released by China on the first anniversary of Russia's invasion has been widely viewed in the West and Kyiv as being far more favorable to Russia than Ukraine. It calls for a ceasefire but includes no provision that Moscow first withdraw its troops from Ukrainian land, which Ukrainian officials have suggested is necessary for them to engage in negotiations.

During the previous meeting between the two foreign ministers on April 13, Qin told Lavrov that all parties need to take action to build mutual trust and create conditions for peace talks.

4:38 a.m. ET, May 5, 2023

"The blood is still fresh. Film all of them!": Wagner chief slams Kremlin officials in graphic new video

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Hira Humayun

Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin speaks next to the bodies of what he says are Wagner fighters killed in Russia-Ukraine conflict, in an undisclosed location, in this still image taken from video released on May 5.
Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin speaks next to the bodies of what he says are Wagner fighters killed in Russia-Ukraine conflict, in an undisclosed location, in this still image taken from video released on May 5. (Concord/Reuters)

The head of Russian private military company Wagner has launched an expletive-filled verbal attack on Kremlin officials in a graphic new video in which he appears beside what he says are the bodies of his mercenaries killed fighting in Ukraine.

“These guys here are Wagner PMC [men] who died today. The blood is still fresh. Film all of them!” Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin says in the video posted to social media.

Prigozhin last month threatened to withdraw his mercenaries from the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut if they don't receive more munitions to continue the fight.

In the new video, he reiterated his call for munitions, urging Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed forces Valery Gerasimov to look at the bodies.

“These are someone's f**king fathers and someone's sons. And you f**kers who aren't giving [us] ammunition, you b*tches, will have your guts eaten out in hell!”, Prigozhin says in the video. “You sit there in your luxury clubs, your kids are addicted to shooting clips for YouTube. You think you are the masters of this life? You think you can dispose of their lives? If you have warehouses full of ammunition, then you do.”

Prigozhin, whose forces have played a key role in Russian assaults on Ukrainian territory, has often clashed with Putin’s generals and other defense officials in Moscow.

He has complained for well over a month of receiving insufficient support from the Kremlin in the grueling fight for Bakhmut.

“This is simple math," he says in the video. "If you give the normal amount of ammunition, there would be five times less [dead]. They came here as volunteers and are dying so you can sit like fat cats in your luxury offices.”

12:31 a.m. ET, May 5, 2023

Russia and the US "are on the verge of an open armed conflict," Russian official claims

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Jennifer Z. Deaton

Sergei Ryabkov attends a session of the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, April 12.
Sergei Ryabkov attends a session of the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, April 12. (The Federal Assembly of The Russian Federation/AP)

Russia and the United States are on what Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called "the verge of an open armed conflict." But Ryabkov told Russia's state-owned First Channel that "Moscow is working to make sure it doesn't happen," according to state news agency TASS. 

Ryabkov said Moscow and Washington are in contact as needed, including at a high level, but also added that "Washington has long been a direct party to the Ukrainian conflict and aims to destroy sovereign Russia," TASS reported.  

Some context: The news comes on the heels of Russia's unsubstantiated claim that the US was involved in an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin and an assassination attempt against President Vladimir Putin. Both allegations drew sharp denials from Kyiv and Washington.

John Kirby, the National Security Council’s Coordinator for Strategic Communications, called Russia’s allegation that the US directed Ukraine to carry out such an attack “ridiculous.”

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the US did not know who was responsible.

“I would take anything coming out of the Kremlin with a very large shaker of salt,” he said at a Washington Post event Wednesday.
8:54 p.m. ET, May 4, 2023

Downed drone over Kyiv was an Ukrainian asset that appeared to have malfunctioned, Ukraine's Air Force says

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) shot down Thursday night over Kyiv was a Ukrainian asset that appeared to have malfunctioned, according to Ukraine's Air Force. It was taken out by Ukraine’s military in order to prevent any incident or accident, the air force said on Facebook.

A Bayraktar TB2 UAV lost control during a scheduled flight in the Kyiv region at about 8 p.m. local time on Thursday night, the agency said in a statement.

Because the “uncontrolled presence” of a UAV in the sky above the capital “could lead to undesirable consequences, It was decided to use mobile fire teams” to destroy the drone, the statement read.

The statement also said the incident was likely due to a technical malfunction, adding the cause was being investigated.

“There were no casualties or injures as a result of the combat operation and the fall of the UAV wreckage,” the Ukraine Air Force said.

The agency called the downing of the UAV a “pity,” adding “but this is technology, and such cases do happen.”

8:51 p.m. ET, May 4, 2023

Here's what we know so far about the alleged Kremlin drone strikes

From CNN's Rob Picheta, Anna Chernova and Allegra Goodwin

The tight ring of security that surrounds the seat of the Russian presidency was punctured in dramatic fashion by what appeared to be two attempted drone strikes in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Many details about the incident remain murky. Here’s what we know — and the questions that remain:

  • What happened? Moscow said the alleged attack took place in the early hours of Wednesday. Two “unmanned aerial vehicles” were intercepted and destroyed before they caused any damage or injury, the Kremlin said. Russian President Vladimir Putin was not in the building at the time, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov. Videos then emerged on social media appearing to show the incident. CNN analysis of these videos supports Moscow’s claim that two drones were flown above the Kremlin.
  • Who's saying what? The Kremlin blamed Ukraine, describing the purported drone attack as an “attempt on the President’s life.” On Thursday, Russia also claimed the US was involved in the attack. Both allegations drew sharp denials from Kyiv and Washington.
  • Who else could be responsible? One possibility is that the incident was the work of Russian partisans — as claimed by former Russian lawmaker Ilya Ponomarev who's linked with militant groups in Russia. Others speculate that the incident could have been a false flag operation to either rally the public or escalate Russia’s military mobilization. US officials have also said they were still assessing the incident, and had no information about who might have been responsible.
  • What happens next? Moscow already launched a wave of missiles at Kyiv following the incident, a move in line with its playbook after previous flashpoints in the war. And messages written on Russian drones launched at Odesa overnight read “for Moscow” and “for the Kremlin,” according to the Ukrainian military, an apparent reference to the alleged attack. US and Ukrainian officials have in the past warned that Russia has planned so-called “false flag” attacks along Russia’s border with Ukraine as a pretext for military escalation and Moscow has also been embarrassed in recent months by symbolic incidents, such as the sinking of the guided-missile cruiser Moskva. Moscow is also looking to project strength by following through with its planned Victory Day parade. Peskov reiterated that the parade would go ahead as planned. But while Russia has on occasion used missile bombardments around Ukraine to show its anger following flashpoints in the conflict, the ground fighting in eastern Ukraine has been bogged down in stalemate for months and it appears unlikely that Wednesday’s incident will have a material impact on momentum.