Ukraine war - latest: Ukraine children returned from Russia were 'living with rats and cockroaches'; US justice department probes secret documents 'leak' (2023)

Key points
  • Investigation launched into 'leaked secret NATO plans' for war in Ukraine IDeborah Haynes
  • US justice department launches probe into apparent leak
  • Ukraine children returned from Russia were 'living with rats and cockroaches'
  • Russian 'anxiety' over documents leak 'highlights fear of possible Ukraine counteroffensive'
  • Bid by Russia to degrade Ukraine's energy system has failed - MoD
  • Claims that Russia is preparing for forced evacuations to Crimea
  • Is Ukraine a new Cold War? Why NATO expansion may lead to 'axis of evil' | Sean Bell
  • Live reporting by Bhvishya Patel and (earlier) Katie Williams


In pictures: Children deported to Russia reunited with families

We have been reporting on the 31 children who were reunited with their families after being captured by Russian forces from the regions of Kherson and Kharkiv.

Moscow denies abducting children and says they have been transported away for their own safety.

But Mykola Kuleba, the founder of the humanitarian group Save Ukraine, said that children who had been brought backto Ukraine had said that no one in Russia wastrying to find their parents in Ukraine.

These pictures show volunteers helping the children as they were reunited with their families this week.


Ukraine renews calls for F-16 fighter jets

Ukraine's Air Force has renewed calls for allies to send the country F-16 fighter jets.

In a statement on Telegram, Mykola Oleshchuk, commander of Ukraine's Air Force, said the jets would be able to "effectively destroy" air threats at the borders of the country.

He went on to say that Russian aviation outnumbered Ukrainian "by many times" and Ukraine's Air Force did not have enough forces and assets, both on the ground and in the air, to effectively protect the airspace.

"F-16 will allow to gain air supremacy, significantly weakening the enemy, saving many lives every day," he said.

Mr Oleshchuk noted that Russian forces were using "guided air bombs" along the entire frontline.

He added: "The F-16 is armed with air-to-air missiles with a range of up to 180km.

"This will make it possible to drive enemy aircraft away from our borders and the line of combat, which will minimise the likelihood of using guided aerial bombs and other air-based weapons."

NATO members Poland and Slovakia recently began to hand overMiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, as Kyiv prepares for amuch-vaunted counteroffensive to retake territory occupied byRussia.

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ButSerhiy Holubtsov, one of the most senior commanders in the Ukrainian Air Force, has said that while Soviet-era warplanes werebetter than nothing, they would not be able to fully counteractRussia's vast air force.

Washington has ruled out sending F-16 jets to Ukraine for now.


Russia has lost 177,680 troops during invasion, Ukraine claims

Ukraine has provided its latest update on the number of losses Russia has suffered since the start of the war.

It claims 177,680 Russian troops have been killed and 7,020 armoured combat vehicles have been destroyed.

Other military equipment that has been wiped out includes 3,636 tanks and 2,727 artillery.

It should be noted that Sky News has not been able to independently verify these claims.


Kremlin-backed news outlet declared bankrupt

RT France has been put into liquidation by a French court, the organisation's former president has confirmed.

The French arm of Russia's RT broadcaster has been facing bankruptcy since its accounts were frozen over Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Xenia Fedorova, RT France ex-president, tweeted: "The court of Nanterre took the decision to put RT France into liquidation - a media outlet which has not pleased Emmanuel Macron since its launch and which was sanctioned by the EU a year ago as [a preventative measure] due to the conflict in Ukraine."

More than 100 employees will be made redundant in the coming days, she said.

The EU banned Russian state-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik in March last year, in a bid to crack down on disinformation over the war in Ukraine.


Ukraine children returned from Russia were 'living with rats and cockroaches'

We reported earlier that children kidnapped by Russian forces from the regions of Kherson and Kharkiv had been reunited with their families (see post at 3.25pm).

More information is now emerging about the operation.

The unitarian organisation Save Ukraine reports that 31 children were reunited with their families in Ukraine this week after a long operation to bring them back from Russia, where they had been taken from occupied areas during the war.

"Now the fifth rescue mission is nearing its completion. It was special regarding the number of children we managed to return and also because of its complexity," Mykola Kuleba, the founder of the Save Ukraine, said.

Kyiv estimates nearly 19,500 children have been taken to Russia since Moscow invaded in February last year, in what it condemns as illegal deportations.

Moscow, which controls chunks of Ukraine's east and south, denies abducting children and says they have been transported away for their own safety.

MrKuleba said that all the children who have been brought backto Ukraine by Save Ukraine had said that no one in Russia wastrying to find their parents in Ukraine.

"There were kids who changed their locations five times in five months, some children say that they were living with rats and cockroaches," he said.

The children were taken to what Russians called stays in summer camps from occupied parts of Ukraine's Kharkiv and Kherson regions, Mr Kuleba added.

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Funeral held for Russian military blogger killed in cafe bombing

The funeral of prominent Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky - who was killed after an explosion tore through a St Petersburg cafe last week - has taken place in Moscow today.

Scores of people including Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the private mercenary Wagner Group, turned out for the service, with many carrying red flowers.

Russian news reports said the bomb, which injured dozens of other people at the cafe last Sunday, was hidden in a bust of the blogger that was handed to him just before the blast.

Investigators in Russia have charged Darya Trepova, a26-year-old St Petersburg resident, with terrorist offences over Mr Tatarsky's killing.

Moscow and Kyiv have pointed the finger at each other for the attack, though no one has produced clear evidence.

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Arms dealer offers Trump political asylum in Russia

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout has urged Donald Trump to seek refuge in Russia, telling him his "life is in danger" after he became the first former US president to face criminal charges.

In a statement, shared by BBC journalist Francis Scarr, Bout, who is also known as the "Merchant of Death", said he had sent a Telegram message to the former president.

"First and foremost, I consider that his life is in danger and that the legal process which has now begun in New York won't just end in Donald Trump being convicted and barred from the election," he said.

"Most likely he will simply be eliminated there.

"Therefore, I think it's in the interests of all of humanity and primarily of the American people to invite Donald Trump here, to Russia, to give him security and protection here."

Bout was released from prison in the US last year after 14 years for illegal arms dealing and swapped for WNBA star Brittney Griner.

He has since joined the ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia.

The party has been largely supportive of the Kremlin, despite providing token opposition to the ruling United Russia bloc.


Top Russian officials 'can only leave country with PM's permission'

High-ranking Russian officials are only allowed to leave the country with permission from Russian Prime MinisterMikhail Mishustin, a US-based thinktank reports.

According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Mr Mishustin has restricted international travel to official business - meaning it would require his sign off.

The thinktank was citing a report from Russian news outlet The Bell.

However, the outlet reported that employees of Vladimir Putin's administration are not subject to the same restrictions.

The ISW has previously reported that Russian security services were thought to be confiscating the passports of Russian officials, ex-officials and executives of state companies in order to prevent them flying out of Russia.

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Ukrainian children abducted by Russians reunited with families

Children kidnapped by Russian forces from the regions of Kherson and Kharkiv have been reunited with their families, Ukraine's children ombudsman Mykola Kuleba reports.

Mr Kuleba said the children were "now safe" but "in need of psychological and physical recovery" after being separated from their families.

He did not provide any other details.

Since the beginning of the war, reports have emerged that Russian troops are removing thousands of Ukrainian children and taking them to Russia.

The Kremlin has claimed that these children do not have parents or guardians to look after them but last month the Associated Press (AP) found that officials had deported Ukrainian children to Russia or Russian-held territories without consent.


Two injured by explosives in Kharkiv -reports

Two people have been injured by explosives in the northeast region of Kharkiv, the region's governor Oleh Syniehubov reports.

In a Telegram post, Mr Syniehubov said a 53-year-old woman had stepped on an anti-personnel mine while in a cemetery and had been hospitalised.

In addition, a man had been left seriously injured while trying to disassemble an unknown object in the village of Slobozhanske.

The governor went on to say that doctors were now providing all the necessary assistance to the victims.

"I urge everyone to be very attentive and careful," Mr Syniehubov said.

"Do not visit forests, fields, banks of reservoirs and do not go to the side of roads.

"Refrain from visiting cemeteries and other areas not checked by sappers."


What did Russia do to Ukraine children? ›

What did Russia do to Ukraine children?

What happened to the kids in Ukraine? ›

What happened to the kids in Ukraine?

How many Ukrainian children have been sent to Russia? ›

How many Ukrainian children have been sent to Russia?

How many children have been kidnapped from Ukraine? ›

How many children have been kidnapped from Ukraine?


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