- Russia’s Federal Security Service said two Ukrainians were arrested for a plot to blow up power lines and two nuclear plants in Russia, according to Russian news agencies.
- The United States is hosting a virtual meeting of Ukraine Defense Contact Group with the Pentagon saying it expects the talks Thursday to focus on ground-based air defenses, ammunition and training Ukrainian forces on F-16 fighters.
Ukraine said Thursday its forces shot down 36 Iranian-made Shahed drones that Russia used to attack areas in western Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Russian forces “presumably aimed to attack critical infrastructure and military facilities.”
Russia has repeatedly used aerial attacks, including attacks involving crashing drones into targets to damage infrastructure sites in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted on Telegram that it had been an “uneasy night.”
“Continuing to terrorize Ukraine, the enemy used 36 Shaheds. None of them reached their target. Thanks to our air defense forces for the 100% result," Zelenskyy said.
In Crimea, the Russian-appointed governor said Thursday that air defenses shot down six drones overnight.
Sergei Aksyonov said on Telegram no one was killed or injured.
The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said in a video published Thursday that his forces had begun withdrawing from the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
Prigozhin said the Russian military was coming in to replace the Wagner forces and that his units would complete their withdrawal by June 1.
The announcement came a day after Prigozhin said the lengthy battle for Bakhmut left 20,000 of his fighters dead.
Prigozhin said about half of those killed were Russian convicts who were promised their freedom from sentences for criminal offenses if they fought in Ukraine for six months. But the mercenaries were often sent to the battle front with scant training and often were killed soon after in fierce combat with better-trained Ukrainian troops.
White House officials said Prigozhin’s casualty estimate was in line with their own that Russian losses have accelerated. Russia claimed in recent days it has captured Bakhmut, while Ukrainian officials say they have not given up the fight for the city and are trying to surround it.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.