Ukraine war latest: Pro-Russian actors 'likely' spoofed vessel data to create Z symbol in Black Sea; anti-Putin paramilitary group vows there will be more incursions (2023)

Key points
  • Pro-Russian actors 'likely' spoofed vessel data to create 'Z' symbol in Black Sea
  • Anti-Putin paramilitary group says there will be more incursions
  • Russia claims warshiptargeted by Ukrainian drone boats
  • White House will look into claims US vehicles used in Belgorod incursion
  • Your questions answered: Can the UK defend itself after sending weapons to Ukraine?
  • Got a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live reporting by Olive Enokido-Lineham


Zelenskyy: First Ukrainian F-16 jet will be a 'signal' that Russia has 'lost'

Ukraine's president has said his country is doing "everything we can" to reduce the time until new aircraft with Ukrainian pilots emerge in the skies.

In his nightly address, Mr Zelenskyy said the first Ukrainian F-16 fighter jet will be "one of the strongest signals" that "Russian terror has lost."

He said: "We are doing everything we can to reduce the time until the result is achieved, until new and powerful aircraft with Ukrainian pilots emerge in the Ukrainian skies.

"The first Ukrainian F-16 will be one of the strongest signals from the world that Russia will only lose because of its own aggression, becoming weaker and more isolated.

"This will be a signal that Russian terror has lost, and our world, which is based on respect for independent nations and the right of peoples to choose their own path, has endured."

It comes a day after Russia warned that any US-built F-16 fighter jets supplied to Ukraine would be a "legitimate target" for Moscow.

Ukraine has long pushed for the sophisticated fighter jets, which can travel at speeds up to 1,500mph and have a range of more than 2,002 miles.

While the US has authorised Western allies to give F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine - and endorsed the training of Ukrainian pilots to fly the warplanes, the Biden administration is still examining whether it will directly provide its own F-16s to Ukraine.


Russia's FSB detains two Ukrainian 'saboteurs'

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) - the successor agency to the KGB - has reportedly detained two Ukrainian saboteurs.

The service claims the pair were plotting to blow up the power pylons of nuclear power stations in Russia, the Russian RIA Novosti news agency reported.


Pro-Russian actors 'likely' spoofed vessel data to create 'Z' symbol in Black Sea

Pro-Russian actors are "likely" to have remotely spoofed vessel tracking data to create a Russian pro-war 'Z' symbol on Black Sea, the UK ministry defence says.

In its daily intelligence update, it said data indicates that since 14 May, analysis of the commercial vessels data has been "remotely spoofed" to create the "impression" of a 65km long Russian pro-war 'Z' symbol on the Black Sea.

It said pro-Russian actors likely conducted the spoofing as an "information operation" ahead of Kyiv’s long awaited counteroffensive and warned that the spoofing of the data "increases the risk of maritime accidents".

The analysis by Geollect, a geospatial intelligence company, looked at Automatic Identification System (AIS) data which is used to track vessels, including to ensure their safety.

Tracks making up the image suggested vessel speeds of up to 102 knots (188 km/h), further suggesting they were fake.

The ministry added: "Despite Russian virtual information operations in the Black Sea, its physical navy remains vulnerable: the Ivan Khurs intelligence gathering vessel was likely attacked on 24 May."

The 'Z' symbol has been widely used by Russia's military to promote its war in Ukraine.


Six drones downed overnight across Crimea, local official claims

The Russian-installed governor of Crimea says six drones were downed across the region overnight.

Sergei Aksyonov said in a Telegram post that there were no casualties.

He claimed the six drones were planted and shot down by air defence forces.

Crimea was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, but is internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.

Strikes on Russian-held targets have intensified in the past two weeks, especially in Crimea.

Ukraine, without confirming any role in those attacks, says destroying infrastructure is preparation for its planned ground assault.


Anti-Putin paramilitary group says there will be more incursions

A group claiming to be behind the recent strike in the Russian border region of Belgorod have said they will launch more incursions in future.

The commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps, whose group claimed to have been behind an armed raid in the Belgorod area on Monday, said: "I think you will see us again on that side".

Denis Kapustin (also known as Denis Nikitin), claimed that his anti-Putin fighters had held "around 42 square kilometres" of Russian territory "for quite a while".

For more on this, read our story below.


Good morning - here's the latest

Welcome to our live coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Before we bring you all the latest updates, here's a reminder of the key events from yesterday:

  • Russia was accused of ‘staging’ images apparently showing abandoned US-made vehicles used in an incursion in Belgorod;
  • Moscow warned it will react 'extremely harshly' to further attacks on its territory;
  • Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin warned Russia's elite must get serious about fighting the war or Moscow could face a revolution;
  • Moscow claimed a warship was attacked by Ukrainian drone speedboats in the Black Sea - Sky News was unable to independently verify the footage;
  • Russian military 'struggled to enforce discipline' in its ranks, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.


Devastation of Bahkmut revealed in before and after satellite images

Smoke rising, buildings collapsed, a city turned to rubble.

Here, satellite images from the town of Bakhmut reveal the destruction of war.

The pictures were taken of the same locations in the city in May 2022 and again in May 2023.

Bakhmut, a small city in eastern Ukraine, has been backdrop for one of the fiercest battles since the invasion last February.

After months of fighting, Russia's Wagner mercenary group, which has been involved in the bulk of the fighting, claimed control of the city last week.

But Ukraine, which claims it has been heavily defending the city to deplete Russian forces in a so-called meat grinder, has yet to admit defeat and says the battle is not over.

"They destroyed Bakhmut. They haven't taken it," said one Ukrainian commander.


'We s*** our pants in Kyiv and Kherson,' Wagner boss says

Russia "s*** our pants and retreated" from Kyiv in the early days of the war, the founder of the Wagner Group of mercenaries has said.

Speaking in an interview with pro-Kremlin strategist Konstantin Dolgov, posted on Telegram, Yevgeny Prigozhin said: "We approached Kyiv, then, as we say it in Russian, s*** our pants and retreated. Then s*** our pants and retreated in Kherson, then Izyum, Krasny Liman... And somehow everything didn’t work out."

Despite describing the invasion as a "special military operation" in the Donbas and Luhansk regions, Russian troops attacked Kyiv from Belarus at the start of its February 2022 invasion.

But Russia retreated after meeting stern Ukrainian resistance and then a counteroffensive which threatened to encircle its forces.

Russian forces also retreated from Izyum in September - leading to the discovery of mass graves - and Kherson in November.

Mr Prigozhin praised Ukraine's army as "one of the strongest armies", adding: "They have a high level of organisation, training, intelligence, they have various weapons.

"They work with any system - Soviet, NATO, whatever - and they are equally successful. And they are absolutely philosophical about what losses they bear.

"Everything goes in order to achieve the supreme goal, as we had during the Great Patriotic War. But more technological and well-managed."

He also addressed the recent Belgorod invasion - which he blamed on "saboteurs".

"Our defence is absolutely not ready to thwart them in any way..."


Norway to support efforts to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s

Norway will support efforts to teach Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets.

The announcement was made by Bjorn Arild Gram, the defence minister.

However, he said the Norwegian government had not yet decided whether to give their own F-16s.

It comes after the US agreed to allow Western nations to send American-made fighter jets to Ukraine.

Watch our explainer below about how F-16s could help Ukraine defend against Russia's invasion...


Russia releases footage of alleged Black Sea drone attack

The Russian defence ministry has released footage of what it claims is the Black Sea marine drone attack.

Sky News has not been able to independently verify the footage, which shows a small boat powering through the water while under fire.

One of the shells hits the craft, creating a huge explosion.

Russia claims the attack on the ship - the Ivan Hurs - was carried out by what it describes as uncrewed speedboats near the Bosphorus Strait.

In a statement posted on Telegram, the defence ministry said the warship had been protecting the TurkStream and Blue Stream gas pipelines at the time.

The pipelines carry gas from Russia to Turkey, partly across the Black Sea.

"All enemy boats were destroyed," the ministry added.

Here are some stills from the video...

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