Ukrainian officials say the country’s forces have recaptured 193 square kilometers of territory since launching a counteroffensive last month. Poland, which serves as a hub for military aid to Ukraine, says it detained a 15th member of a Russian spy network. Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said the person “kept surveillance of military facilities and seaports.”
The Kremlin said Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and several Wagner commanders days after Prigozhin led a brief mutiny.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the three-hour meeting included Putin giving his assessment “of the events of June 24,” the date of the rebellion, and listening to the commanders giving their account of what happened.
Peskov said the commanders pledged to continue to fight for Russia.
Wagner has taken part in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Prigozhin had criticized Russia’s military leadership ahead of the mutiny, in which Wagner forces briefly seized control of the headquarters for Russia’s southern military command.
The rebellion ended with a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, allowing Prigozhin and his fighters to move to Belarus.
The mutiny prompted speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin would reshuffle his military leadership.
Russia’s defense ministry shared a video Monday showing Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, the country’s most senior general, in his first public appearance since the mutiny.
The video shows Gerasimov receiving a report and giving directions to Russia’s aerospace forces and the military’s intelligence service.
Gerasimov was one of the main targets of Prigozhin’s criticism, along with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Still absent from public view is Gerasimov’s deputy, General Sergei Surovikin, who has longtime links to Prigozhin.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday his country could support Sweden joining NATO if the European Union opens the way for Turkey’s long-sought accession to the EU.
Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members not to give final approval to Sweden’s bid, with Turkey expressing opposition to what it says is a lack of action by Sweden against groups that Turkey considers terrorists.
“Turkey has been waiting at the door of the European Union for over 50 years now, and almost all of the NATO member countries are now members of the European Union,” Erdogan said ahead of the NATO summit this week in Lithuania. “I am making this call to these countries that have kept Turkey waiting at the gates of the European Union for more than 50 years.”
The EU and Turkey launched membership negotiations in 2005. The process has been stalled since 2016 due to concerns about democracy and human rights.
Sweden applied to join NATO along with Finland last year in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland was admitted in April. Swedish officials say they have lived up to an agreement with Turkey to institute reforms, including enacting a new anti-terror law.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was due to hold talks with Erdogan and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Monday.
Stoltenberg said leaders at the Vilnius summit this week in Lithuania will agree on a “multi-year package of support” for Ukraine.
This package will help Ukraine rebuild its defense and security sector, so that it can defend against further aggression,” Stoltenberg said in a Foreign Affairs article published Monday. “It will ensure that the Ukrainian armed forces are fully interoperable with NATO forces.”
The NATO chief said the alliance will host the first meeting of a new NATO-Ukraine council that will serve as “a platform for decisions and crisis consultation, where NATO allies and Ukraine will sit as equals to tackle shared security concerns.”
Stoltenberg has reiterated that NATO members agree Ukraine will one day join the alliance, while cautioning that adding Ukraine while Russia’s invasion is ongoing is not on the agenda.
U.S. President Joe Biden said in an interview with CNN broadcast Sunday that if Ukraine were to become a NATO member before the war’s end, it would drag the whole alliance into the conflict against Russia. Biden also said that before Ukraine is considered for NATO membership, it will take time to meet all the qualifications required “from democratization to a whole range of other issues.”
Officials in southern Ukraine said Monday that Russian shelling hit a humanitarian aid hub, killing at least four people and injuring 11 others.
The attack happened in the town of Orikhiv in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Yuriy Malashko, the regional governor, said on Telegram that Russia forces used a guided bomb to strike the site in a residential neighborhood and that all four of those killed died at the scene of the attack.
Russia has been accused of striking numerous civilian targets during its invasion that began in February 2022, while denying it targets civilian sites.
Zelenskyy tweeted a note of thanks to Turkey on Monday along with a video from his trip that included bringing home five commanders from Ukraine’s Azov unit who were involved in the defense of the city of Mariupol.
The commanders were taken to Turkey as part of a September prisoner swap and were supposed to stay there until the end of the war under the conditions of the deal.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Saturday that Turkey had violated the terms of the agreement and that Russia was not informed in advance that the commanders would be released back to Ukraine.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.