China’s Xi plans Russia visit as soon as next week, sources say
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping plan to meet next week in Uzbekistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization forum, a Russian official said on Wednesday.
Photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to travel to Russia’s capital, Moscow, to meet his counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as soon as next week, people familiar with the matter said.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment and the Kremlin declined to comment.
No other details were immediately available. The sources briefed on the matter declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the issue.
Ukraine claims more than 1,000 Russians killed in Bakhmut in last week
Ukrainian servicemen from 24th brigade along the front line south of Bakhmut near New York, Ukraine, on March 10, 2023.
Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said ongoing fighting in the besieged city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine is taking a big toll on Russia’s forces.
In his nightly address Sunday, Zelenskyy said that “in less than one week — since March 6 — in the Bakhmut sector alone, they managed to eliminate more than 1,100 enemy soldiers.”
He added that Russia had also seen 1,500 soldiers suffer wounds that would prevent them from fighting. In addition, dozens of units of Russian equipment were destroyed, Zelenskyy said, and more than 10 Russian ammunition depots were burned. CNBC was not able to verify the claims.
There have been questions over how long Ukraine could choose to defend Bakhmut, a city almost completely surrounded by Russian forces, with mercenary fighters from the Wagner Group advancing into parts of the city. Last week, Ukraine said it would continue to defend Bakhmut, however, and would send in reinforcements.
The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi said Monday that that “the situation around Bakhmut remains difficult,” noting that “Wagner’s assault units are advancing from several directions, trying to break through the defenses of our troops and advance to the central districts of the city,” according to the latest post on the Military Media Centre, translated by NBC News.
“In the course of fierce battles, our defenders inflict significant losses on the enemy. All enemy attempts to capture the city are repelled by artillery, tanks, and other firepower,” Syrskyi said, adding that “the defense of the fortress continues.”
— Holly Ellyatt
Wagner Group chief likely pivoting recruitment toward Russian citizens
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of Russia’s mercenary force known as the Wagner Group, has likely lost access to recruiting in Russian prisons because of his ongoing disputes with top Russian defense officials, and is “highly likely pivoting recruitment efforts towards free Russian citizens,” the U.K. said Monday.
Since the start of March 2023, Wagner has set up outreach teams based in sports centers in at least 40 locations across Russia, Britain’s Ministry of Defense noted in an intelligence update on Twitter.
“In recent days, masked Wagner recruiters also gave career talks in Moscow high schools, distributing questionnaires entitled ‘application of a young warrior’ to collect the contact details of interested pupils.”
Visitors in military camouflage stand at the entrance of the “PMC Wagner Centre,” associated with the founder of the Wagner private military group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block on the National Unity Day, in St. Petersburg, on Nov. 4, 2022.
Olga Maltseva | Afp | Getty Images
The Wagner Group has been fighting in eastern Ukraine for months, alongside regular Russian units, but Prigozhin has had a high-profile spat with Russia’s Ministry of Defense after criticizing the military strategy in Ukraine.
The Wagner Group had been allowed to recruit prisoners to fight in its forces in Ukraine and the U.K. said it believed that around half of the prisoners Wagner has already deployed in Ukraine have likely become casualties. “The new initiatives are unlikely to make up for the loss of the convict recruit pipeline,” the British defense ministry said.
“If the ban endures, Prigozhin will likely be forced to reduce the scale or intensity of Wagner operations in Ukraine.”