Russia’s Medvedev says the conflict in Ukraine could last for decades

Former Russian President and close Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that the conflict in Ukraine could continue for decades, adding that negotiations with Ukraine could not happen while President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is still in charge.

“This conflict will last for a very long time. For decades, probably. This is a new reality,” Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said, according to reports from Russian news agencies cited by Reuters.

Medvedev described Zelenskyy as “the clown” and said negotiations with the current government were impossible.

“Everything always ends in negotiations, and this is inevitable, but as long as these people are in power, the situation for Russia will not change in terms of negotiations.”

Medvedev, who was seen as a liberal modernizer during his 2008-2012 presidency, now presents himself as an anti-Western Kremlin hawk, and his views are seen as closely aligned with those at the highest levels of government.

—Karen Gilchrist

Zelenskyy says one killed in Russian attack on Ukrainian clinic

At least one person was killed and 15 injured after a Russian missile attack on a clinic in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Friday.

“Russian terrorists once again confirm their status as fighters against everything humane and honest,” Zelenskyy wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

“A rocket attack on a clinic in the city of Dnipro. So far, one person has been killed and 15 injured. The aftermath of the shelling is being eliminated and the victims are being rescued.”

The post was shared under a video, which showed a building with smoke pouring out of it.

It comes after reports from Ukrainian officials earlier on Friday, which said air defenses had shot down 10 missiles and more than 20 drones fired by Russia in overnight attacks on the capital Kiev, Dnipro and eastern regions. CNBC could not independently verify the development.

—Karen Gilchrist

Negotiations are ‘impossible’ while Zelenskyy is in power, says Russian official

Russian Security Council Vice President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday that negotiations with Ukraine are “impossible” as long as Volodymyr Zelensky’s government in Kiev remains in power, in comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass.

“Everything always ends with negotiations, and this is inevitable, but as long as these people are in power, the situation for Russia will not change in terms of negotiations,” he said, according to a Google translation.

Similarly, Ukraine has previously said that negotiations were not possible as long as Vladimir Putin is at the helm of the Russian leadership. Zelenskyy nevertheless presented a 10-point peace plan proposal to G20 leaders on November 15.

Global powers – including Russia’s close trading partner China – have been vying for a chance to mediate the conflict.

Russia carried out an intensive attack with drones and missiles overnight, Ukrainian officials say

The Ukrainian air force said 10 missiles, 23 Iranian-made Shahed drones and two reconnaissance drones were shot down in a night attack by Russia, focused on the eastern parts of the country.

The strike began around 10:00 p.m. local time on May 25 and lasted until 5:00 a.m. on May 26, the Ukrainian Air Force said on Telegramadding that several of Moscow’s strikes hit targets in Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk regions.

Serhiy Lysak, Dnipropetrovsk Regional Governor, said on Telegram that it was a difficult night and that Russia had carried out a massive drone and missile strike, damaging homes and private businesses and starting a fire.

Air raid sirens also sounded in Kyiv, according to Kyiv City State Administration.

CNBC could not independently verify the situation on the ground.

Ruxandra Iordache

Russian official says Moscow to consider pre-emptive strike if Ukraine gets nukes

Russia will have to launch a pre-emptive strike if Ukraine is provided with Western nuclear weapons, says Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council.

“There are some irreversible rules of war. If it comes to (supplies of) nuclear weapons (to Ukraine), a pre-emptive strike will have to be carried out,” he said, in comments made by Russian state news agency Tass. He admitted that it was possible that NATO countries will provide Kiev with fighter jets and nuclear arsenal to help Ukraine in hostilities against Russia.

Western powers have sought to limit the risk of nuclear escalation throughout the conflict — whether intentionally or through inadvertent fire around nuclear facilities, such as Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia plant.

Ruxandra Iordache

Russia moved forward with plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signaled that Russia has moved forward with plans to deploy Russian tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory, leaving open the possibility that some equipment may have already reached the country.

According to Belarus’ state news agency BeltaLukashenko said he and his counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the topic ahead of the Eurasian Economic Forum which took place in Moscow on May 24-25.

“He told me that he had signed a decree on our actions regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus. I mean a concrete document was discussed. A decision had been made to promote an oral discussion,” Lukashenko said.

“We had to prepare storage facilities and the rest over there (in Belarus). We’ve done all that. That’s why the move of nuclear weapons started.”

Asked if Russian nuclear warheads were already in Belarus, he said: “Maybe. I’ll go and look.”

Russia’s intention to station tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil was announced on March 25. Washington has condemned the plan.

Ruxandra Iordache

Russia summons ambassadors for Nord Stream investigations

Russia’s foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of Germany, Denmark and Sweden to “strongly” protest what it saw as a “complete lack of results” of their investigations into the causes of explosions that damaged Nord Stream gas pipelines last September.

The Ministry said in a statement that it had summoned the officials because of what Russia saw as their countries’ “inability to ensure transparency in investigative measures”.

Germany, Denmark and Sweden launched their own investigations into what happened to the gas pipelines, which run across the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, but said they were exchanging information. Russia has repeatedly asked for its own experts to participate in investigations into explosions that severely damaged the pipeline. But Moscow has rejected it, a decision it has called “unthinkable”.

Investigators in Europe believe the pipelines were sabotaged but said it is difficult to determine and confirm exactly who carried out the attacks and whether it was a state-sponsored group or not and no definitive conclusions have yet been published. Kyiv denied any involvement in the incidents.

Gas originating from a leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea on September 27, 2022.

Swedish Coast Guard | Getty Images

On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry again criticized “the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark and Sweden for cooperating with the Russian side in this case” and accused them of “obviously dragging their feet and trying to cover the tracks” and true perpetrators of the crime, who, which we believe, are well-known countries.”

Russia said it would continue to press the countries’ authorities to “conduct an objective and comprehensive investigation into the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines with the mandatory involvement of Russia.”

—Holly Ellyatt

Russian soldiers replacing Wagner mercenaries in Bakhmut, official says

Smoke rises from buildings in this aerial view of Bakhmut, the site of the heaviest fighting with Russian troops, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on April 26, 2023.

Libko | AP

Ukraine said Russian troops are replacing Wagner Group mercenary fighters who have begun withdrawing from Bakhmut in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

“In the suburbs of Bakhmut, the enemy replaced Wagner’s units with the army’s regular units. At the moment, the Wagnerites remain in the city of Bakhmut,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Telegram Thursday.

She said Ukrainian forces still controlled the city’s southwestern outskirts but that Russian forces were trying to halt Ukrainian advances on its flanks and “pulled up additional units to the flanks for reinforcements.”

The head of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said earlier on Thursday that his fighters had already begun withdrawing from Bakhmut, where they have been fighting for months. Prigozhin said the withdrawal process would take several days.

“Before June 1, most units re-base to rear camps, hand over to the military, ammunition, positions, everything, including dry rations,” he said.

—Holly Ellyatt

Russian mercenaries begin to withdraw from Bakhmut

The entrance to the “PMC Wagner Centre”, associated with Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block on National Unity Day, in St. Petersburg, November 4, 2022.

Olga Maltseva | AFP | Getty Images

The head of the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, said his soldiers are beginning to withdraw from Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said the Wagner group had fully captured Bakhmut in the hotly contested Donetsk region last weekend, adding that it would hand the city over to regular Russian army units around May 25.

“PMC ‘Wagner’ started withdrawing units from Bakhmut,” said a message on Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Concord Group Telegram channel.

“We are withdrawing our units from Bakhmut today, it is now 5 o’clock in the morning on May 25,” Prigozhin said, although NBC could not verify whether the footage had been filmed in Bakhmut.

“Before June 1, most units re-base to rear camps, hand over to the military, ammunition, positions, everything, including dry rations,” Prigozhin added, according to a translation by NBC. He said his forces would have a “new objective” after resting after prolonged fighting in Bakhmut.

Ukraine has denied it has lost Bakhmut, and defense officials say its forces still control a southwestern part of the city and have made progress in their bid to regain control of the city’s northern and southern flanks.

—Holly Ellyatt

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