Ukraine Latest: Kyiv Says 45 Soldiers Returned in Prisoner Swap

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, renewed a threat to pull his forces from the battlefield near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine because of an ammunition shortage. The Washington Post reported that leaked US files show how Russia’s military leadership has struggled to respond to “bitter public attacks” by Prigozhin.

(Bloomberg) — Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, renewed a threat to pull his forces from the battlefield near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine because of an ammunition shortage. The Washington Post reported that leaked US files show how Russia’s military leadership has struggled to respond to “bitter public attacks” by Prigozhin.

Ukraine’s air force commander said the military’s air defense had intercepted a hypersonic Kh-47 “Kinzhal” missile, one of Russia’s most modern weapons, fired during a night attack on May 4 with the aid of a US Patriot defense system. 

A prominent pro-war Russian writer was injured, and his driver killed, when their SUV was destroyed by a car bomb in central Russia, not long after leaving the occupied territories of Ukraine. Kyiv said 45 service members, including three women, were returned in a prisoner exchange with Russia. 

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(All times CET)

Ukraine Says 45 Soldiers Returned in Prisoner Swap (2:30 p.m.) 

Some 45 Ukrainian soldiers were returned in the latest prisoner exchange with Russia. The service members were part of the defense of Mariupol last spring, said Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukraine’s president. 

Yermak didn’t elaborate on how many Russian POWs were exchanged. Three Russian pilots were returned from captivity in Ukraine, TASS reported, citing Russia’s defense ministry. It didn’t say if the aviators were the only service members involved in the swap.   

Russian Pro-War Novelist Prilepin Injured in Car Bombing (11:34 a.m.)

Russia novelist and journalist Zakhar Prilepin was injured and his driver killed when an explosive device detonated under their car in the Nizhny Novgorod region of central Russia, the TASS news agency reported citing emergency services. 

Prilepin, 47, is known to be a vocal support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He’s been hospitalized; the extent of his injuries isn’t yet known.  

The incident follows the bombing deaths of pro-war blogger Maxim Fomin, or Vladlen Tatarsky in a Saint Petersburg cafe in April, and Daria Dugina, daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, in August. Dugina was also killed by a car bomb. 

Ukraine Says It Intercepted Eight Loitering Drones (10:45 a.m.)

Ukraine faced another Russian drone attack on Saturday, with all eight Iranian-made Shahed 136/131 UAVs launched from the eastern coast of the Sea of Azov shot down, the military’s air defence said on Telegram. 

Russia Inflicts New Damage on Ukraine’s Power Grid (10:27 a.m.)

Russia continues to target Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Air strikes overnight battered a distribution network in the Sumy region of Ukraine’s northeast, where more than 1,500 consumers are facing a blackout, according to the government.  

Consumers in five regions either bordering Russia or close to current battlefield operations are experiencing blackouts, Ukraine’s energy ministry said. Those regions include Dnipropetrovsk region, where about 4,500 consumers have been cut off from power by shelling. 

Ukraine Shot Down a Russian ‘Kinzhal’ Missile, Air Defense Chief Says (9:26 a.m.)

Ukraine’s air defenses shot down a Russian hypersonic Kh-47 “Kinzhal” missile on May 4 that had been fired by a MiG-31K fighter jet in Russian territory, Ukrainian Air Force Commander Mykola Oleshchuk said on Telegram. 

It was the first official comment from Ukraine on the incident, discussion of which circulated widely on social media on Friday along with photos said to be of the missile’s  remains. “Yes, we shot down the ‘unique’ Dagger,” he said. 

On April 26 Oleshchuk said Patriot air defense systems donated by the US and Western allies have been deployed in Ukraine with the goal of neutralizing Russian ballistic missile attacks.  

Leaked Documents Show Deep Rift Between Wagner, Russian Military: WaPost (8 a.m.)

US intelligence files that were part of the trove allegedly leaked by a US National Guard airman show the deep tensions between Yevgeniy Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, and Russian military leadership, the Washington Post reported. 

As tensions festered, “military leadership struggled to respond to Prigozhin,” and defense ministry officials considered a “public campaign to discredit Prigozhin through a proxy,” the newspaper said.   

“They were ultimately unsure how the MoD could successfully fight an information war with Prigozhin if the Russian government did not forbid Prigozhin from making public releases,” the Post reported. 

Five Injured in Guided Bomb Attack in Sumy Region (7:30 a.m.)

At least five people were injured when two guided bombs launched from a Russian Su-35 jet struck Hlukhiv in the Sumy region of Ukraine’s northeast late on Friday, the northern operational command reported. Dozens of homes and a school were among the buildings damaged. 

Separately, three people people were killed by Russian attacks on Avdiivka and two in other cities in the Donetsk region over the past day, according to governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.  

Russia Could Face Protests on Victory Day, UK Says (7 a.m.)

The potential for protests and discontent over the war in Ukraine are likely to have influenced the calculus of Russian leadership in cancelling May 9 Victory Day parades in some regions and scaling back celebrations in others, including the capital, the UK defense ministry said. 

“Moscow’s Victory Day celebration is likely to go ahead but on a smaller scale. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s reception following the parade (last held in 2019) will not go ahead,” the ministry said in a Twitter thread. 

Binance Faces Probe of Possible Sanctions Violations (4 a.m.)

The Justice Department is investigating whether Binance Holdings Ltd. was used illegally to let Russians skirt US sanctions and move money through the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, according to people familiar with the matter.

The inquiry by the Justice Department’s national security division is looking at whether Binance or company officials ran afoul of sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to five people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named discussing a confidential investigation. 

Zelenskiy Meets BlackRock Executives in Kyiv (9:29 p.m.)

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met in Kyiv with executives of BlackRock Inc. including Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman and member of the asset management firm’s global executive committee.

BlackRock Financial Market Advisory will provide services for the fund, according to an emailed statement from Zelenskiy’s office. The fund will seek private and public capital for projects in Ukraine after active hostilities end.

“We can offer interesting projects for investments in energy, agriculture, logistics, infrastructure, IT and many other sectors,” Zelenskiy said. “‘We want global partners, who can provide us with large investments to come.”

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