Russia’s Wagner Group says it has begun withdrawing from Bakhmut and will transfer control of the devastated Ukrainian city to the Russian army. On Wednesday, Wagner’s founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said 20,000 of the group’s mercenaries were killed during Russia’s months-long assault on Bakhmut. Prigozhin also warned the invasion of Ukraine could trigger a revolution in Russia, blasting what he called the “fat, carefree” lives of Russia’s elite, while poor and working-class Russians die by the thousands.
On Wednesday, the commander of a self-described anti-Putin Russian militia spoke to reporters on the Ukrainian side of the border, promising more attacks on Russian territory, after the Kremlin said it had repelled a raid by the militia in the Belgorod region. The New York Times reports the pro-Ukraine fighters used at least three U.S.-made armored vehicles known as MRAPs during their incursion. In Moscow, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov cited the hardware as evidence of direct involvement in the conflict by the United States and its NATO allies.
Earlier today, Russia signed an agreement with Belarus to begin deploying tactical nuclear weapons in the former Soviet state. Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin traveled to Shanghai for talks with President Xi Jinping, who said Wednesday cooperation between Moscow and Beijing would reach a “higher level.” We’ll have more on Russia, Belarus and Ukraine later in the broadcast.