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'Wow that's incredible': Video shows Russian soldiers running for cover
03:40 - Source: CNN

What we covered here

  • The US is considering a dramatic expansion in the training provided to Ukrainian forces, including instructing as many as 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers a month at a US base in Germany, according to multiple US officials.
  • Ukraine’s prime minister said the winter will be challenging after Russian strikes devastated energy supplies, but 70% of the country’s power needs are being met.
  • NATO foreign ministers pledged more support for Ukraine during meetings in Bucharest, including assisting in repairs to energy infrastructure. The US said it’s focused on providing air defenses to Ukraine. 
  • An envelope that exploded at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid was addressed to the ambassador, Spain’s foreign ministry said. One person was injured after handling the letter, and officials are investigating the incident.
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European energy companies urged to donate equipment to Ukraine to repair energy grid

European energy companies are being urged to donate essential equipment to Ukraine to help repair the grid that has been damaged by Russia’s invasion, the leading international energy organization coordinating efforts told CNN on Wednesday. 

In a statement, Energy Community said it has been assisting Ukraine by coordinating donations of specialized equipment to repair the infrastructure damaged in attacks by Russia. 

“This month, seven energy equipment shipments coordinated by the Secretariat in cooperation with the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Center (ERCC) have reached Ukraine,” said Artur Lorkowski, tthe Director of the Energy Community Secretariat. 
“This includes much needed tools, fuses, welding electrodes, elcometers, generators and other electricity and gas equipment donated by companies from Estonia, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Sweden, Slovakia and Lithuania,” the director added.

Since the start of the war, 37 shipments from 20 countries have been delivered to Ukraine, the statement said and 47 more deliveries are underway. 

The international energy organization said its primary mandate is to help Ukraine and other countries in the European Union’s region to reform their energy sectors. 

US considers dramatically expanding training of Ukrainian forces, officials say

Ukrainian artillerymen load an M109 self-propelled howitzer during training exercises with US and Norwegian at Grafenwoehr Training Area on May 12.

The Biden administration is considering a dramatic expansion in the training the US military provides to Ukrainian forces, including instructing as many as 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers a month at a US base in Germany, according to multiple US officials. 

If adopted, the proposal would mark a significant increase not just in the number of Ukrainians the US trains but also in the type of training they receive. Since the start of the conflict in February, the US has trained only a few thousand Ukrainian soldiers, mostly in small groups, on specific weapons systems. 

Under the new program, the US would begin training much larger groups of Ukrainian soldiers in more sophisticated battlefield tactics, including how to coordinate infantry maneuvers with artillery support — “much more intense and comprehensive” training than Ukraine has been receiving in Poland or the UK, according to one source briefed on the proposal.  

The proposal, which was made at the behest of Ukraine, is still under inter-agency review by the administration. News of its existence comes more than nine months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and as the onset of winter is expected to slow military operations. 

A senior Biden administration official declined to comment on the specifics of the planning, telling CNN that “we won’t get ahead of decisions that haven’t been made, but we are constantly looking for ways to make sure the Ukrainians have the skills they need to succeed on the battlefield as Ukraine defends their territory from Russian aggression.”

A grinding war of attrition: How decisive so-called “combined arms training” is likely to be on the battlefield remains an open question because the war has primarily been fought as a grinding war of attrition between two artillery armies, said Mike Kofman, an expert on the Russian and Ukrainian militaries at the Center for Naval Analyses. 

“It’s a good idea because they [Ukraine] need all the training they can get,” Kofman said. But the primary variable on the battlefield right now is the availability of ammunition on both sides, he said. “The Ukrainians aren’t going to be as effective at combined arms maneuvers if they don’t have enough artillery ammunition.” 

US European Command declined to comment.  

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CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

Head of Wagner Group demands businesses allow employees time for military training

Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose Wagner Group has played a prominent role in the conflict in Ukraine, has demanded that Russian businesses allow employees time to train at the private Russia military group’s camps.

In a statement from his Concord Group, Prigozhin — who is also known as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “chef” — said that “many volunteer militiamen, especially from the Belgorod and Kursk regions, are currently receiving military training at Wagner PMC bases.”

“Unfortunately, some businesses where these volunteer militia members work are preventing them from taking short-term leave for training purposes,” he continued.

Again going on the offensive against parts of the Russian state, Prigozhin said these companies were “state-owned, owned by big business players who live far from the Kursk and Belgorod Regions (usually somewhere in Moscow.)”

“Consider this an open appeal to the owners of big business whose employees are trying to get training that will allow them to defend their homeland. Please be kind and stop preventing volunteer militia members from getting training leave; otherwise the names of your businesses, the names of directors and other executives will be made public,” he said.

Prigozhin has adopted an increasingly populist tone as the conflict has worn on, accusing parts of the Russian establishment of insufficient support for the Russian military and criticizing the defense ministry for poor organization. 

Earlier on Wednesday, CNN reported that US President Joe Biden’s administration is considering designating the Wagner Group as a foreign terrorist organization amid ongoing efforts to impose costs on Russia for the Ukraine war, according to a US official.

More about the Wagner Group: The mercenary firm has been heavily involved in the fighting in Ukraine. The group is often described as Putin’s off-the-books troops. It has expanded its footprint globally since its creation in 2014. The group has been accused of war crimes in Africa, Syria and Ukraine.

Ukraine's foreign minister urges NATO to provide supplies "as fast as it is required"