May 8, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Christian Edwards, Eliza Mackintosh, Aditi Sangal, Maureen Chowdhury and Christina Maxouris, CNN

Updated 12:04 a.m. ET, May 9, 2023
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11:16 p.m. ET, May 7, 2023

US officials are confident in Ukraine's claim it used Patriot system to stop a hypersonic missile, source says

From CNN's Zachary Cohen 

The US has high confidence in the accuracy of Ukraine’s claim that it used an American-made Patriot air defense system to intercept a Russian hypersonic missile, according to a source familiar with the matter.  

While the Patriot system has been successful in countering ballistic missiles, its ability to stop air-launched hypersonic missiles was purely theoretical before last week. Ukraine’s intercept has now provided a real-world demonstration of that capability — something that has been viewed within the Pentagon as a major development, the source said. 

Ukraine’s intercept claim created buzz within the Pentagon late last week, the source added, noting it is significant for several reasons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has publicly touted the capabilities of Russia’s hypersonic weapons and cast them as capable of overcoming all existing air defense systems. 

Production of hypersonic ballistic missiles has always been challenging for Russia and sanctions have only made it more difficult. 

But prior to last week, Russia’s calculus was that if it did use a hypersonic ballistic missile, whatever it was shooting at would assuredly get hit, the source said. This intercept has called that calculation into question, they added.

The fact that this intercept was conducted by a Ukrainian crew that was trained in Oklahoma, but had no US advisers on the battlefield, is even more of a feather in the cap for the Pentagon, the source added, calling it a major return on investment. 

The intercept also has likely caused a severe amount of uncertainty for Russia, raising the question of whether Ukraine is in possession of a sustainable countermeasure against hypersonic ballistic missiles, the source added. 

11:16 p.m. ET, May 7, 2023

Prigozhin suggests his Wagner forces may stay in Bakhmut after threatening to withdraw

From CNN's Tim Lister, Stephanie Halasz and Christian Edwards

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, has apparently backtracked on a threat to withdraw his forces from the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, after Russia’s Ministry of Defense promised to provide more ammunition to his troops.

In an explosive, expletive-laden rant this week, Prigozhin appeared in front of dozens of his dead soldiers and blamed Russia’s military leadership for “tens of thousands” of Wagner casualties. He declared that his men would leave Bakhmut by May 10 because of inadequate supplies, resulting in heavy losses.

But a new audio message posted Sunday on Telegram suggests he has changed his mind after concessions from the Russian government.

“The bottom line is the following: they promise to give us ammunition and weapons, as much as we need to continue further actions. They swear to us that everything that is necessary will be on the flank so the enemy сan’t cut us off. We are told that we can act in Bakhmut as we see fit,” Prigozhin said.

The Russian Ministry of Defense did not immediately comment on Prigozhin’s latest claim.

Bakhmut has been the site of a months-long assault by Russian forces that has driven thousands from their homes and left the area devastated. But, despite the vast amounts of manpower and resources Russia has poured into capturing Bakhmut, they have not been able to take total control of the city.

“We’ve taken 95% of Bakhmut. For this last 5%, the ‘Red Army’ [the Russian Armed Forces] are not playing any role,” Prigozhin said in a message posted on his official Telegram channel Saturday.

Prigozhin’s blunt and brutal tactics in Bakhmut have long been likened to a “meat grinder.” But, in his repeated threats to withdraw from Bakhmut, Prigozhin claimed this approach was no longer viable.

“There will be no more meat grinder because there’s nothing left to grind the meat with,” Prigozhin said.

Read more here.