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A Russian soldier surrendered to a Ukrainian drone on the battlefield of Bakhmut in May, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Reporters at the Wall Street Journal interviewed the Russian soldier at a detention facility in the Kharkiv region on May 19. According to the Wall Street Journal, the soldier spoke while under the supervision of a guard. CNN cannot verify whether the soldier spoke under duress.
The reporters also spoke with the drone pilot, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Wall Street Journal also published drone footage from a unit of Ukraine's 92nd Mechanized Brigade showing the surrender taking place. The video is edited with music playing. CNN has not viewed the raw video.
The drone footage appears to show a Russian soldier running from Ukrainian assault drones in the trenches of the battlefield Bakhmut, according to the Wall Street Journal. The soldier then stops and attempts to communicate with the drone through hand gestures.
The Ukrainian drone pilot told the Wall Street Journal he decided to spare his life after watching his pleas.
“Despite that he is an enemy […] I still felt sorry for him,” he said to the Wall Street Journal.
In a statement to CNN, Yuriy Fedorenko, commander of the assault drone division "Achilles" of the 92nd Brigade, confirmed the surrender had occurred.
“When he realized that he was going to die, he threw his machine gun aside, raised his hands and said that he would not continue to fight. At that time, we had a copter with explosives ready to eliminate him. But since the enemy threw away his weapon and gestured that he was going to surrender, it was decided to give him an order to surrender,” Fedorenko said in the statement.
The pilot dropped a note to the soldier telling him to follow the drone if he wanted to surrender, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The footage appears to show the soldier following the drone, dodging a mortar along the way. Upon arriving at a Ukrainian position, the soldier dropped to his knees and removed his helmet and flak jacket, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Ukrainian forces took him into their custody, loaded him into a Humvee truck, and he was later brought to a detention facility in the Kharkiv region, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“This is probably an unprecedented case when, through the coordinated work of the brigade and the aerial reconnaissance component, we managed to capture the occupier,” Ukrainian commander Fedorenko said.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Russian soldier and former prison marshal who was working as a liquor-store manager said he was drafted in September of last year.
Before being sent to Bakhmut, he said he had performed guard duties and built fortified positions in Luhansk, the Wall Street Journal reported.
President Joe Biden and his team are in the midst of a high-stakes conversation with fellow NATO members on how and when Ukraine may join — a debate that could expose strains in the alliance ahead of a summit.
The matter of Ukrainian membership in NATO is one of several issues leaders will tackle when they meet in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in mid-July. Also up for discussion are new defense spending commitments and a successor to Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is planning on leaving his post in the autumn.
Yet it is the issue of Ukrainian membership that will prove one of the biggest flash points for the group, which has managed to remain remarkably united amid Russia's unprovoked invasion.
At past NATO summits, the allies have produced a joint declaration outlining their shared views. A failure to reach a consensus this year would be hugely consequential and would signal trouble for the unity of the alliance as the war in Ukraine continues.
Where there is a dispute: Some allies, particularly those in Eastern Europe who are located closer to Ukraine and Russia, have advocated for a more concrete path for Kyiv to join the defensive alliance once the war ends.
Other European officials, particularly those in western and southern Europe, have argued an expedited entrance of Ukraine into NATO could be too provocative and that it could amount to an extremely risky gamble for the alliance even if there is an end to the fighting, particularly if Russia still stakes claim over Ukrainian territory.
Biden and members of his administration have remained committed to the alliance's current posture — which states Ukraine will eventually join NATO but without any certainty of when.
The divide has prompted urgent discussions ahead of the summit. The result of the conversations could determine whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends.
“If we are not acknowledged and given a signal in Vilnius, I believe there is no point for Ukraine to be at this summit,” he told the Wall Street Journal earlier this month.
The invasion and its aftermath have increased pressure on all NATO members to provide Ukraine with some type of security guarantee going forward, even as there remains disagreement on exactly what they might look like.
Read more here.
There is a "fierce battle" happening on Ukraine's front lines, according to its deputy defense minister, as Kyiv's fighters also start to carry out counteroffensive attacks in the southeastern parts of the country.
NATO allies are continuing to pledge their support for Ukraine and making it clear that "Russia doesn't get a voice or a veto" in whether or not Kyiv joins the alliance, according to Julianne Smith, Washington's top diplomat to NATO.
Here's what else to know:
- Gains in Zaporizhzhia: Ukrainian military officials said they had "partial success" in attempted advances in the region, with fighting ongoing in several areas. Kyiv is mounting the early stages of a sweeping counteroffensive across southeastern parts of the country. Both sides have also reported clashes in the Donetsk region.
- US military aid: The US Defense Department announced Tuesday it will supply 15 more Bradley fighting vehicles to Ukraine as part of a $325 million assistance package after a report said Kyiv lost multiple US-supplied armored vehicles in its counteroffensive.
- Nord Stream investigation: The investigation into who was behind the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage is entering its "final phase," according to the lead prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist. Swedish and Danish authorities have been investigating four holes in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that link Russia and Germany via the Baltic Sea, which investigators believe were caused by explosives last year. Ukraine has denied any involvement in the sabotage.
- Nova Kakhovka dam collapse: Floodwaters from the dam in southern Ukraine are expected to fully recede by early next week, said the Russian-backed head of the government of the Kherson region. On the Ukrainian side of the river, Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said "everything" is being done to return citizens "to a normal, peaceful and safe life as soon as possible."
- NATO: The alliance is making it clear it supports Ukraine’s aspirations to join the group, but added that Russia doe not have a say in NATO’s open-door policy. Julianne Smith, Washington's top diplomat to NATO, said "Russia doesn't get a voice or a veto" in the matter. She said allies are working to provide Ukraine with aid for the war against Russia, but also longer-term efforts.
There is a "serious confrontation ongoing" on Ukraine’s front lines, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said Wednesday, describing it as a "fierce battle."
"We've got an offensive in several directions, but the enemy also conducts an offensive in several directions. So as of now we are simultaneously on the defense and [on the] offensive but in different directions," Hanna Maliar told Ukrainian national TV.
Russian forces are trying to stop Ukraine’s offensive by increasing shelling and aviation strikes, Maliar said. "We also see the enemy actively using anti-tank guided missiles and self-destroying drones in attempts to stop our offensive and inflict various damage."
Ukraine’s troops are experiencing "difficulties" advancing in the south as "the fields are mined," she added, saying the troops are advancing "slowly but surely."
In an update that echoed Maliar's description of the fighting, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Russia had carried out "37 air strikes and fired 32 times from multiple launch rocket systems at Ukrainian troops' positions and settlements" in the past day.
Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is calling on the global community to "react strongly" to Russia's deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to the country.
The opposition leader said that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s statement announcing that the deployment has begun "creates a serious threat to regional security and sets us on a dangerous path for nuclear escalation."
“The world must show Lukashenko and Putin that it won’t give in to nuclear blackmail,” Tsikhanouskaya added.
Lukashenko claimed that Belarus has already received some tactical nuclear weapons from Russia, in an interview with Kremlin propagandist Olga Skabeeva released Tuesday.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has pushed back against the move, calling it "dangerous and reckless" in a tweet Tuesday.
“The nuclear ban treaty is crystal clear — hosting another country's nuclear weapons is illegal. Deploying nuclear weapons outside your own territory is wrong — and no state (we're looking at you US) can be considered responsible when they do,” it added.
Some context: Belarus is one of Russia’s few allies in its war on Ukraine. While the country’s military isn’t directly involved in the fighting, Belarus helped Russia launch its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, allowing the Kremlin’s troops to enter the country from its territory.
CNN's Brad Lennon, Anna Chernova and Lindsay Isaac contributed reporting to this post.
Ukrainian military officials have claimed some success in attempted advances in the Zaporizhzhia region on Wednesday, as Kyiv mounts early stages of a sweeping counteroffensive across southeastern parts of the country.
Both sides have reported clashes in the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions.
Ukraine's top general also said Tuesday that the military has seen “certain gains” in its offensive and is “moving forward.”
These are the areas of focus right now:
Floodwaters from the Nova Kakhovka dam collapse in southern Ukraine are predicted to fully recede by June 20, according to Andrey Alekseenko, the Russian-backed head of the government of the Kherson region.
The breach of the Nova Kakhovka dam on the morning of June 6 unleashed a mass of water down the Dnipro River and flooded towns and villages on both sides.
"As of today, the water in Oleshky and the district remains only in the lowlands - up to 1.6 m. Supplies have returned to normal - vehicles with food products were able to enter," he said on Telegram. Oleshky is around 70 kilometers (about 43 miles) west of Nova Kakhovka.
The head of the Russian-appointed Kherson region administration, Vladimir Saldo, said Tuesday that the water level in Nova Kakhovka was unchanged at 5 meters.
Remember: Ukraine controls the west bank of the Dnipro River and the city of Kherson after its counteroffensive last year, while Russian troops remain on the east bank in the larger Kherson region.
On the Ukrainian side: Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said "everything" is being done to return citizens "to a normal, peaceful and safe life as soon as possible" nine days after the collapse.
"Starting today, we have planned the work of sappers - 33 groups are working in Kherson region. 66 motor pumps are pumping out water from basements and streets," he said in a message on Telegram.
"We are also examining transformer substations that were flooded. Power engineers are already ordering equipment to restore vital communications for our citizens, such as electricity and gas, as soon as the water subsides," Klymenko said.
He said more than 3,000 people in Ukraine-controlled Kherson have filed police reports about flooded homes, and 3,761 people have been evacuated from Ukrainian-controlled parts of the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to meet with leaders of African countries on Saturday in St Petersburg, according to presidential aide Yuri Ushakov.
The grain deal will be one of the key issues the leaders will discuss, he said.
"African leaders are interested in the constant supply of grain to their continent, which so far has not been possible under the Istanbul deal," Ushakov said, according to state media TASS.
Russia has been dissatisfied with the deal and will carefully consider a decision on whether to extend it, Ushakov said, echoing Putin's Tuesday comments to war correspondents at the Kremlin, where he said he is considering exiting the deal.
Before they meet with Putin, the leaders will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday, the non-profit organization Brazzaville Foundation earlier announced.
Participating leaders will include:
- Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa
- Azali Assoumani, chair of the African Union and Union of Comoros
- Denis Sassou Nguesso, president of Republic of Congo
- Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda
- Macky Sall, president of Senegal
- Hakainde Hichilema, president of Zambia