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Home International Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine


Austin reaffirms U.S. defense support for Ukraine in meeting with prime minister

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (L) take part in a welcoming ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2023. 

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal at the Pentagon to discuss additional security assistance packages.

“The United States is our biggest partner with regard to military assistance. So, once again, I want to say thank you for weapons that help us defend our land, especially for modern air defense systems for American tanks and for more vehicles, for artillery and light weapons,” Shmyhal said at the beginning of the bilateral meeting.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (2 L) speaks during a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (out of frame) at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2023. 

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

Austin reiterated that the United States “will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

“We also remain committed to sustainment and to ensuring that your forces receive adequate spare parts and training for maintenance. At the same time, we will keep investing in our own defense industrial base to further ramp up production,” Austin said, according to a Pentagon readout of the meeting.

“So, I’m confident that we will meet Ukraine’s defense needs through this spring and beyond. And as the president has repeatedly made clear, we will stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he added.

— Amanda Macias

Netherlands stops signing new contracts for LNG imports from Russia

23 February 2022, Netherlands, Rotterdam: LNG tanks in the port of Rotterdam Photo: Federico Gambarini/dpa (Photo by Federico Gambarini/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

The Netherlands stopped signing new contracts for liquefied natural gas imports from Russia this year and is working to wind down pre-existing contracts, Energy Minister Rob Jetten said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“We have to do what we can do to make sure there is no Russian fossil energy in our system, and we have been successful on coal, pipeline gas and oil,” Jetten said in the Bloomberg report.

The Netherlands still buys Russian LNG through older agreements signed before 2023, accounting for about 15% of its total imports of the fuel, according to Bloomberg.

— Melodie Warner

U.S. imposes fresh sanctions on financial network linked to Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov

Russian billionaire and businessman Alisher Usmanov arrives to the openings of new monument to former Russian Prime Minister Yegeny Primakov at Smolenskaya Square inin Central Moscow, Russia, October,29,2019. Politician and diplomat Yegeny Primakov died in 2015.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images

The Biden administration imposed fresh sanctions aimed at the financial network linked to Russian billionaire and business tycoon Alisher Usmanov.

Usmanov, one of Russia’s wealthiest billionaires with direct links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was sanctioned in March 2022 in the weeks after Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Treasury announced it will sanction 25 individuals and 29 entities across 20 jurisdictions for working with Usmanov. Meanwhile, the State Department also sanctioned several entities, including two that are “responsible for militarizing and propagandizing schoolchildren in occupied areas of Ukraine.”

Read the full story here.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal meets U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal arrived in Washington with a Ukrainian delegation where he met with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon. Shmyhal’s delegation includes Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko and Central Bank Governor Kyrylo Shevchenko.

The Ukrainian officials are set to meet with finance officials from G7 nations and partake in a Ukraine roundtable hosted by the World Bank as western finance institutions attempt to map out a recovery plan for the country, reports say.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (L) take part in a welcoming ceremony at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2023. 

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal (2 L) speaks during a meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (out of frame) at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2023. 

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

Jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny’s health is deteriorating, spox says; Germany is ‘worried’

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen via video link from the IK-2 corrective penal colony in Pokrov before a court hearing to consider an appeal against his prison sentence, in Moscow, Russia May 17, 2022. 

Evgenia Novozhenina | Reuters

Germany’s government is worried about the worsening health of jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, a government spokesperson said, after news emerged that he needed an ambulance for acute pain.

“The lawyer says that an ambulance was called for Alexey Navalny on the night of Friday to Saturday because of an acute stomach pain,” Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter.

“No one is treating him and they are not even telling him the diagnosis. He has lost 8 kilos(!) in the last 15 days in the punishment cell,” she said.

“The problems are not limited to his health. On Friday he was released from the punishment cell, but on Monday he was sent back there for the 13th time. One of the prison officers told Navalny that a provocation was being prepared against him. Alexey’s health and conditions worsen every day,” Yarmysh wrote. The “punishment cell” refers to a solitary confinement cell.

The Russian opposition leader was sentenced in March 2022 to nine years in a Russian penal colony on charges of embezzlement and contempt of court, after already serving 2.5 years. His supporters say the charges are false and that the arrests have always been political.

Navalny narrowly survived a poisoning attempt in August of 2020. Considered to be the most popular political opposition figure in Russia, Navalny has led large anti-Putin protests and gone on hunger strikes to push for reform in Russia.

— Natasha Turak

Kremlin calls video of apparent beheading ‘terrible’, stresses need for verification

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov at a news conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin after a meeting of the State Council on youth policy in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 22, 2022.

Valeriy Sharifulin | Sputnik | Reuters

The Kremlin responded to a video that has surfaced online showing an apparent beheading of a captured Ukrainian soldier, calling it “horrifying” but stressing that verification is needed.

“First of all, it is necessary to verify the authenticity of this terrible video. Without a doubt, this is a horrifying video,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to an NBC translation.

“First it’s necessary to check the authenticity of it,” he said. “And then, of course, this can become a reason to check whether it was so, whether it took place, and if it did, where and by whom exactly. But again, I want to say that first of all, in the world of fakes in which we live now, it is necessary to verify the authenticity of this video.”

CNBC has not been able to verify the authenticity of the video and it is not clear where it was taken. The people in the footage are speaking Russian, and appear to be wearing military-style uniforms.

Ukrainian officials have taken the video to be authentic and say they are investigating the incident as a potential war crime.

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy hits out at ‘beasts’ in purported beheading video, says ‘this is no accident’

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, arrives for a meeting with witnesses of alleged war crimes northeast of Kiev. 

Christoph Soeder | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered searing remarks in response to a video that has surfaced online appearing to show the beheading of a captured Ukrainian serviceman. CNBC has not been able to verify the authenticity of the video and it is not clear where it was taken.

Ukrainian officials say they are investigating the incident as a potential war crime.

“There is something that no one in the world can ignore: how easily these beasts kill. This video … The execution of a Ukrainian captive … The world must see it,” Zelenskyy said in a video posted to his Telegram account, according to a translation provided by his office.

“This is a video of Russia as it is. What kind of creatures they are. There are no people for them. A son, a brother, a husband … Someone’s child.”

“This is not an accident,” he said. “This is not an episode. This was the case earlier. This was the case in Bucha. Thousands of times.”

Zelenskyy urged the global community to respond. “Everyone must react. Every leader,” he said. “Don’t expect it to be forgotten. That time will pass.”

— Natasha Turak

UK announces sanctions on networks of Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov

The UK’s Foreign Office announced new sanctions on people and companies with financial ties to the Russian billionaire oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov.

“Today we are cracking down on oligarch enablers, including the financial fixers for Abramovich and Usmanov,” UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly wrote on Twitter.

“We are closing the net on the Russian elite and those who try to help them hide their money for war,” he wrote. “We won’t stop until Putin does.”

— Natasha Turak

‘Not an isolated incident’: Outrage spreads over purported beheading video

International officials are reacting to a gruesome video circulating on social media that appears to show someone in a military-style uniform beheading a captured Ukrainian serviceman with a knife as the victim lay on the ground.

CNBC has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the video, but Ukrainian officials say they are investigating the incident as a potential war crime. The people in the footage are speaking Russian, and it is not clear where it was filmed.

The EU vowed to hold perpetrators of war crimes to account.

EU spokesperson Nabila Massrali said, “We don’t have more information on the veracity of the video. Having said that, if confirmed, this is yet another brutal reminder about the inhumane nature of the Russian aggression.”

The U.N. said it was “appalled” at the “gruesome” videos, but added that this is “not an isolated incident.”

The U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said, “In recent reports the Mission documented a number of serious violations of international humanitarian law, including those committed against prisoners of war. The latest incidents must also be properly investigated, and the perpetrators must be held accountable.”

The Kremlin has responded to the video, calling it “horrifying” but saying that verification is needed.

“First of all, it is necessary to verify the authenticity of this terrible video. Without a doubt, this is a horrifying video,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “I want to say that first of all, in the world of fakes in which we live now, it is necessary to verify the authenticity of this video.”

— Natasha Turak

South Korea agrees to ‘lend’ U.S. 500,000 artillery rounds to prevent them going to Ukraine

South Korea is set to lend 500,000 155mm artillery shells to the U.S. to refill its stockpiles, according to local newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, rather than sell them, in an effort to prevent them ending up in Ukraine. The newspaper cited unnamed government sources.

While it supports Ukraine with non-lethal aid and partakes in sanctions against Russia, South Korea has a longstanding policy of not sending lethal weapons to conflict zones.

“We have opted to significantly increase the volume of shells, but to take the rental route after exploring how to respond to the request in good faith, while sticking to the government principle of not providing lethal weapons to Ukraine,” the South Korean newspaper wrote. The specifics of how a rental model would work are unclear.

While South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said he could not offer confirmation for the report, he said the government stood by its position of not sending lethal aid to Ukraine.

— Natasha Turak

Brazil’s President Lula visits China, will propose peace talks between Ukraine and Russia

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brasilia, January 12, 2023.

Adriano Machado | Reuters

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrived in China for an official visit to discuss trade and diplomatic relations, during which he will also propose an initiative to mediate peace talks between Russia and Ukraine.

Lula has previously discussed plans to form a group of nations that would work toward mediating an end to the war, and aims to convince Chinese President Xi Jinping to get onboard, with Brazil having a seat at the table.

Lula hopes to get China to convey the message to Russia, given the two countries’ close relationship. One European diplomat was cited by Reuters as saying that “people are waiting to see if it gets some traction from other countries, like France and Germany.”

“I am convinced that both Ukraine and Russia are waiting for someone else to say, ‘Let’s sit down and talk’,” Lula said earlier this month.

China has put forward a peace plan for the war, but it was roundly criticized by Ukraine and its allies as being too accommodating to Russia. China has refrained from calling Russia’s acts in Ukraine an invasion.

Lula suggested last week that Ukraine cede the Crimean peninsula to Russia to begin peace negotiations, an idea the government in Kyiv rejected outright. Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Lula’s foreign policy adviser Celso Amorim visited Moscow in March to promote peace talks, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Brasilia on April 17, Reuters reported.

Audrey Wan

Kremlin passes laws to digitize military draft registry and crack down on draft dodgers

The Kremlin passed legislation to improve its military mobilization efforts and crack down on draft dodgers, in a move that will harvest more of Russians’ data and intensify control over the population, a U.S.-based think tank reported.

The Russian State Duma adopted a bill in its third reading on April 11 to create a digital unified register of Russian citizens eligible for military service,” the Institute for the Study of War wrote in its daily update.

“The unified register harvests Russian citizens’ personal identification information — including medical, educational, and residence history, foreign citizenship status, and insurance and tax data — from multiple Russian legal entities,” it said. 

Those summoned cannot leave Russia and must show up at a military recruitment office within 20 days of their summons.

The new legislation “bans summoned individuals who are 20 days delinquent for reporting from driving vehicles, buying or selling real estate, and taking out loans,” the ISW wrote.

Many Russian lawmakers and military bloggers have been pushing for more aggressive mobilization efforts and enforcement for some time.

SW wrote that it “previously forecasted that the Kremlin would marry Soviet-style societal control measures with big data and 21st-century information technology to intensify control over the Russian population after Russia used facial recognition, QR codes, and mobile device geo-tracking technology to enforce a draconian COVID-19 quarantine in 2020.”

— Natasha Turak

U.S. deals with anger from allies over leaked Pentagon documents

The Biden administration is continuing to grapple with the fallout from a major leak of Pentagon intelligence documents that exposed details on Ukraine, the Middle East, China and more.

Among the revelations from the leaks are details of purported U.S. spying on allies like South Korea, Egypt and Israel.

“If the report is true, it would be an action that can never be acceptable between allies of 70 years, and an infringement of sovereignty and diplomatic foul play that breaks bilateral trust head-on,” South Korean lawmaker Park Hong-keun said of the espionage reports.

Leaked Pentagon documents contain 'instructive' revelations on the Ukraine war: Harvard professor

Israel also denied details from the leaks that said that the country’s intelligence agency, Mossad, encouraged its officers to protest against their own government over controversial judicial reforms. The leaks also revealed what appeared to be a secret plan by Egypt to sell ammunition and rockets to Russia, and exposed figures on how many British special forces are in Ukraine.

Australia’s defense chief called the intelligence breach a “serious incident” and stressed the importance of trust in alliances. Top Biden administration officials have been holding phone calls with foreign counterparts in an effort to mend ties.

The leaked files — the veracity of which CNBC is not able to confirm — are likely real, according to a senior U.S. official cited by NBC News. Officials warn, however, that some of the files may have been altered.

— Natasha Turak

Russia risks ‘becoming an economic colony of China,’ CIA director says

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping arrive for a signing ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia March 21, 2023.

Grigory Sysoyev | Sputnik | Reuters

Russia’s reliance on China as one of its key remaining allies is growing amid its increasing isolation as a result of its invasion of Ukraine. Because of that, Moscow risks becoming something of an economic dependent on Beijing, the director of the CIA said.

“Russia is becoming more and more dependent on China and, in some respects, runs the risk of becoming an economic colony of China over time, dependent for export of energy resources and raw materials,” CIA director WIlliam Burns said while delivering remarks at Rice University in Houston.

China’s yuan has already become much more prominent in Russian markets. According to Russia’s central bank, Russians purchased 41.9 billion rubles worth of the Chinese currency in March. That’s more than three times the 11.6 billion rubles worth of yuan bought in February, the bank said.

During Chinese premier Xi Jinping’s state visit to Russia in March, he and Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to continue their close friendship, while Western countries warned Beijing against supplying weapons to Moscow. So far, there has been no indication that China has done such a thing, U.S. officials say.

Trade overall between Russia and China jumped by 29.3% to $190 billion in 2022, up from $147 billion the year prior, according to Chinese customs figures cited by the South China Morning Post.

— Natasha Turak

FT reports yuan’s share of trade finance has doubled since Russia invaded Ukraine

A man arranges renminbi banknotes in Fuyang in central China’s Anhui province Friday, March 13, 2020.

Feature China | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

Financial Times analysis of SWIFT data found that the renminbi’s share of trade finance has more than doubled since the start of the Ukraine war.

Analysts told the FT that the shift could be attributed to the rising cost of dollar financing, as well as increased use of China’s currency to carry out trade with Russia.

FT analysis of data from the international payments and financing platform showed the yuan’s share of trade financing grew from less than 2% in February 2022 to 4.5% a year later. While that approaches the euro’s 6%, the newspaper noted that still pales in comparison to the dollar’s 84.3% as of February 2023.

Even before the war, Beijing had pushed to increase international usage of China’s currency. Last month, the Kremlin said it supports using the yuan in transactions between Russia and its trading partners.

The FT report comes after Western nations sanctioned Russia and tried to cut it off from the global financial system.

— Audrey Wan

Biden speaks with detained WSJ reporter’s family

A picture taken on July 24, 2021 shows WSJ journalist Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained in Russia.

Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

President Joe Biden spoke with the family of detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich reporter from Air Force One.

“We appreciate President Biden’s call to us today, assuring us that the U.S. government is doing everything in its power to bring him home as quickly as possible,” Gershkovich’s family said in a statement that was shared by Dow Jones, the parent company of the Wall Street Journal.

“There is a hole in our hearts and in our family that won’t be filled until we are reunited. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from his colleagues, friends and everyone standing with Evan and advocating for his immediate release.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Biden told reporters that he had previously tried to call Gershkovich’s family on Monday.

Gershkovich was arrested last month on allegations of espionage. The State Department formally moved to declare Gershkovich’s detention a wrongful one, which opens up additional resources to secure his release.

— Amanda Macias

Two ships depart Ukraine under Black Sea Grain Initiative as extension deadline looms

A ship carrying wheat from Ukraine to Afghanistan after inspection in the open sea around Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Turkiye on January 24, 2023.

TUR Ministry of National Defence | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Three ships carrying 62,460 metric tons of barley and sunflower meal left Ukraine’s ports of Chornomorsk.

The vessels are destined for China.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July between Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia’s naval blockade and reopened three key Ukrainian ports. Ukraine and the UN pushed for a 120-day extension of the deal in March but Russia agreed to only 60 days, which would expire in May.

So far, more than 750 ships have sailed from Ukrainian ports since the deal launched.

— Amanda Macias

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