Officials confirm identity of Ukrainian prisoner of war who was executed on camera

8 months ago 7
1 hr 30 min ago

Intelligence officials confirm identity of Ukrainian POW whose on-camera execution prompted outrage

From CNN's Dennis Lapin

Oleksandr Matsiyevsky was a sniper with the 163rd Battalion of the 119th Separate Tank Brigade of the Chernihiv Region. Oleksandr Matsiyevsky was a sniper with the 163rd Battalion of the 119th Separate Tank Brigade of the Chernihiv Region. (Security Service of Ukraine)

Ukrainian intelligence officials have officially confirmed the identity of the prisoner of war who shouted, "Glory to Ukraine!" before he was executed in a video that was widely circulated on social media.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) determined he was a sniper with the 163rd Battalion of the 119th Separate Tank Brigade of the Chernihiv Region, Oleksandr Ihorovych Matsiyevsky. CNN earlier reported that Matsiyevsky's loved ones and his commander had recognized him as the man in the clip.

The SBU came to the conclusion after communicating with the sniper's family and comrades-in-arms, as well as processing photo and video materials, officials said.

"This is a true Hero who, even looking into the face of death, demonstrated to the whole world what Ukrainian character and invincibility are," said SBU Head Vasyl Malyuk in a statement on their website. "It is these defenders who are defending our land today, which means that the enemy will definitely be defeated. Because Ukraine's Great Victory is made up of the heroic deeds of people like Oleksandr Matsiyevsky. Glory to the hero! Glory to the heroes! Glory to Ukraine!"

Matsiyevsky was called for military service in March 2022. Since the end of December, he was reported missing near the village of Krasna Hora in the eastern Donetsk region, according to the SBU. The sniper was shot dead on December 30. His body was returned home in February.

The SBU said it is working to identify the Russian military personnel involved in the execution, and investigating the killing under Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of the laws and customs of war).

Officials in Kyiv, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have roundly condemned the sniper's on-camera slaying as a war crime.

3 hr 13 min ago

Russia has continued its assault on Bakhmut and shelled another eastern city nearby, Ukraine's military says

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko

Russian troops continued to attack the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut Sunday, Ukraine's military said in an update.

The city of Sloviansk, located about 59 kilometers (36 miles) northwest of Bakhmut, was also hit, the General Staff of the Armed Services of Ukraine said in the note.

“Over the past day, the enemy launched a missile attack on a civilian infrastructure facility in Sloviansk, Donetsk region. The enemy also carried out four air strikes and fired about 20 times from multiple launch rocket systems,” the update reads. 

Sloviansk is among the towns noted by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week as potential next targets for Russia if Bakhmut falls.

“We understand that after Bakhmut (the Russians) could go further. They could go to Kramatorsk, they could go to Sloviansk, it would be open road for the Russians after Bakhmut to other towns in Ukraine, in the Donetsk direction,” he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an exclusive interview from Kyiv. “That’s why our guys are standing there.”

There have been no confirmed advances by Russian forces in Bakhmut, according to think tank the Institute for the Study of War, but the exact picture of what is happening in the besieged eastern city is difficult to establish.

CNN's Sophie Tanno contributed to this report.

3 hr 27 min ago

No confirmed advances by Russian forces in Bakhmut, think tank says

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

Soldiers of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army hold their positions at the front line near Bakhmut, on Sunday.Soldiers of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army hold their positions at the front line near Bakhmut, on Sunday. (Sergey Shestak/AFP/Getty Images)

There have been no confirmed advances by Russian forces in Bakhmut, according to think tank the Institute for the Study of War.

The report published late Saturday said that despite Russian forces and units from the paramilitary Wagner Group launching continued ground attacks in the city, there is no evidence that they made any progress.

"Russian forces did not make any confirmed advances within Bakhmut on March 11.

"Ukrainian and Russian sources continue to report heavy fighting in the city, but Wagner Group fighters are likely becoming increasingly pinned in urban areas, such as the AZOM industrial complex, and are therefore finding it difficult to make significant advances," the ISW said.

The exact picture of what is happening in Bakhmut is difficult to establish. On Saturday Wagner's chief said his forces were close to the city center.

Some context: For the first time in eight months, it appears that the Russians are on the cusp of taking a Ukrainian city, albeit a small one already abandoned by more than 90% of its prewar population.

Ukrainian defenses in and around the eastern city of Bakhmut have been squeezed in recent weeks by a combination of intense artillery, mortar fire, and airstrikes and a substantial commitment of ground forces, both Russian regulars and fighters of the Wagner private military company.

7 hr 55 min ago

Russia not involved in grain deal renewal negotiations

From CNN's Uliana Pavlova and Duarte Mendonca 

Russia says its representatives have not yet taken part in negotiations on extending the Black Sea grain deal, which was a rare agreement between Russia and Ukraine despite the conflict.

“Negotiations regarding this topic, especially with the participation of Russian representatives, were not conducted,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told journalists.

Repeating a Russian complaint about the agreement, Zakharova said that “only the Ukrainian part has been effectively implemented so far, and Russian agricultural exports continue to be blocked as a result of Western unilateral sanctions.”

The next round of talks on extending the Black Sea grain initiative will take place in Geneva, Switzerland on March 13 between Russia's delegation and United Nations representatives, Zakharova added.

Some context: Much importance is placed on grain exports as Ukraine and Russia are both significant suppliers of food to the world. In normal times, Ukraine -- known as one of the globe’s breadbaskets -- would export around three-quarters of the grain it produces.

According to data from the European Commission, about 90% of these exports were shipped by sea, from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

The war and its impact on grain exports therefore has major implications, particularly in the global South which relies heavily on them.

8 hr 49 min ago

Supply routes are still functioning in battleground Bakhmut, Ukrainian commander says

From CNN's Kostan Nechyporenko and Allegra Goodwin

Logistical routes in and out of Bakhmut are still functioning, meaning “the supply of ammunition” to the besieged city is possible, a Ukrainian army commander said Sunday. 

“The weather imposes its restrictions. But at the moment, the logistics routes are functioning. The supply of ammunition is possible, although it is difficult. Evacuation of the wounded is possible. Supply of reinforcements is also possible,” Mykola Volokhov, head of Ukraine’s 'Terra' aerial reconnaissance unit, said on local television. 

The eastern Ukrainian city is a key battleground in Russia’s invasion and has seen weeks of bloody fighting between Ukraine’s army and fighters from the Russian private military group Wagner. 

Rather than drive directly towards the center, Wagner groups have sought to encircle the city in a wide arc from the north. In January they claimed the nearby town of Soledar, and have since taken a string of villages and hamlets north of Bakhmut. 

Bakhmut has important road connections to other parts of the Donetsk region; eastwards to the border with Luhansk, north-west to Sloviansk and south-west to Kostiantynivka.

However a Russian victory would carry greater symbolic than military significance.

It comes as Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed his fighters have made further advancements in Bakhmut, posting a video Saturday in which he claims to be standing about 1.2 kilometers (less than a mile) away from the administrative center of the city.

9 hr 33 min ago

US authorities seized smuggled artifacts that were stolen from Ukraine – and returned them where they belong

From CNN's Christina Maxouris

Stolen Ukrainian artifacts attempted to be smuggled into the US were seized by CBP officers and returned to the people of Ukraine, authorities said.Stolen Ukrainian artifacts attempted to be smuggled into the US were seized by CBP officers and returned to the people of Ukraine, authorities said. (From @UKRintheUSA/Twitter)

Six months after US authorities in New York seized three metal swords and a stone axe head that had been stolen from Ukraine, the cultural artifacts were returned to the people they belong to.

The Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, DC, accepted the artifacts Friday, according to a Twitter post.

“Honored to host the repatriation ceremony of the ancient Ukrainian (artifacts) that had been stolen from Ukraine,” the embassy said.

Ukrainian officials thanked US Customs and Border Protection officials “for helping (Ukraine) repatriate our cultural property and a part of our history,” the post added.

The items were seized in early September by CBP officers working at the John F. Kennedy International Airport’s International Mail Facility, according to a news release from the agency.

Read the full story here.

The Ukrainian stolen artifacts included three metal swords, US authorities said.The Ukrainian stolen artifacts included three metal swords, US authorities said. (From @DFONewYork/Twitter)
3 hr 3 min ago

Ukraine's foreign minister compares Bakhmut offensive to a thief breaking into a house

From CNN's Sophie Tanno

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks to media after a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, New York on February 23.Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks to media after a United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, New York on February 23. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says Ukraine will fight on in the city of Bakhmut, comparing the Russians' advance to a thief breaking into your house and trying to "steal everything."

He made the comments in an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper on Sunday.

When asked whether he thought the city could still be held, Kuleba told the publication: "When someone breaks into your house, you don't ask yourself how long you can resist the guy who broke into your house and is trying to kill you and your family and steal everything in the house, right?
"You think what else can you do to evict him from your home and get the police to arrest him."

Speaking on who is behind the sabotage of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Kuleba said: “I can say that the Ukrainian government is not behind it that they didn't do it.

"This was not a government-directed action.”

Kuleba also expressed disdain for protests in Germany calling for an end to the war and to stop the Berlin government from providing Ukraine with more weapons.

“I think these people need to be honest and they need to rewrite their slogans, instead of protesting under the slogan 'Stop the war! Advertisement No arms sales', they should write what they really mean: 'Let the Russians kill, torture and rape Ukrainians,' because if we don't have weapons to defend ourselves, that's what will happen.
He added: "I assure you that every single Ukrainian, even the soldier in the trenches who kills the Russian soldier who is attacking him at this very moment, wants peace more than the most peaceful protester at the Brandenburg Gate.”
11 hr 12 min ago

Russian wives and mothers call on Putin to stop sending mobilized men "to the slaughter"

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Heather Chen

A group of Russian wives and mothers have called on President Vladimir Putin to stop sending their husbands and sons “to the slaughter” by forcing them to join assault groups without adequate training or supplies.

In a video shared by the independent Russian Telegram channel SOTA, the women said their loved ones had been “forced to join assault groups” at the beginning of March despite having just four days training since their mobilization in September.

The video shows the women holding a sign in Russian that reads, “580 Separate Howitzer Artillery Division,” dated March 11, 2023.

“My husband… is located on the line of contact with the enemy,” says one woman in the recording.

“Our mobilized [men] are being sent like lambs to the slaughter to storm fortified areas – five at a time, against 100 heavily armed enemy men,” she continued.

“They are prepared to serve their homeland but according to the specialization they’ve trained for, not as stormtroopers. We ask that you pull back our guys from the line of contact and provide the artillerymen with artillery and ammunition.”

CNN could not independently verify the claims made by the group of women in the video.

Russia’s move to send hundreds of thousands to fight on the battlefields of Ukraine has generated dissent and protest and prompted many Russians – young men in particular – to flee the country.

Read the full story here.

10 hr 59 min ago

Power fully restored across Kharkiv, says regional administration

From CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne and Maria Avdeeva

Power across the Kharkiv region has been fully restored, a spokesperson for the regional military administration told CNN.

The metro in Kharkiv city has reopened but the trams remain at a standstill, the spokesperson - who asked not to be named for security reasons - added. 

Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv region military administration, said Saturday that power to all customers in the Kharkiv region was expected to be restored in full by the end of the day.

"We have almost completely eliminated the consequences of the enemy attack that took place on March 9," he said.

"Our power engineers have been working for two days -- first to stabilize the situation, then to restore and eliminate the consequences of these enemy attacks.

"At the moment, I can say that the power supply has been restored by 100% for the population of Kharkiv [city]. And, of course, the power supply to Kharkiv's critical infrastructure, including the water utility and sewage treatment plants, has also been restored.

"Yes, there is an issue with the city's electric public transportation, but this issue is being resolved."

The outage follows a barrage of Russian missiles last week, including a type Ukraine finds difficult to defend.

Read Entire Article