Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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34 Mins Ago

At least 16 dead and 28 injured in Donetsk region, Ukraine says

At least 16 people have been killed and a further 28 injured in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko posted on Telegram, as translated by NBC News.

“Police paramedics and doctors provide medical assistance to the injured. Emergency personnel quickly extinguished the fire with an area of ​​300 square meters. About 30 trade pavilions were damaged,” Klymenko wrote in the post.

Material damage inside the building and caused by the impact of the S-300 missile launched by Russian troops and which affected several buildings in the area, there were no civilian or military casualties in Kostyantynivka, Ukraine, on July 22, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the attack struck innocent people, hitting a market, shops and a pharmacy.

“Heinous evil. Brazen wickedness. Utter inhumanity,” he wrote.

The small town of Kostyantynivka is next to a battlefield and has already come under Russian fire multiple times since the outbreak of the war.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

An Hour Ago

Russia seeks ‘revenge’ after Ukraine regains territory in the east, commander says

Russian forces are looking to take “revenge” for territory that Ukraine has regained in the east and hope to recapture the operational initiative on the front, the commander of Ukraine’s ground military said on Wednesday.

Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a briefing that the operational situation in eastern Ukraine remained “challenging,” with Russian forces pushing ahead with “their plans to reach the borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” in the east.

“They are stubbornly preparing to take revenge and recapture the operational initiative,” Syrskyi said, in comments published by Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform.

Ukrainian soldiers from the 60th Battalion of Territorial Defense, are shooting rounds into Russian positions with an S60 anti-aircraft canon placed on a truck, outside Bakhmut, Ukraine on June 19, 2023. 

Wojciech Grzedzinski | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister Hanna Maliar said on Telegram on Monday that 47 square kilometers (18 miles) of Russian-occupied land has been liberated in the Bakhmut area of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. During the past week, she said, three square kilometers of territory had been freed in the area.

Fighting remains intense in Donetsk, with Syrskyi stating that “fierce battles are underway” in the Bakhmut region, and that “Russian invaders are making attempts to hold the captured positions, but Ukrainian warriors are gradually pushing them away.”

Syrskyi said his priority is to prevent captured frontiers and positions in the Kupiansk and Lyman areas from being lost, and to successfully advance in the Bakhmut sector.

CNBC was unable to independently verify developments on the ground.

— Holly Ellyatt

2 Hours Ago

Putin’s strategy is to hope Western support for Ukraine wanes soon, officials say

In this pool image distributed by Sputnik agency, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with the regional head of Inigushetia in Moscow’s Kremlin, on August 15, 2023.

Alexander Kazakov | AFP | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy is to outlast the West in terms of its support for the war in Ukraine, Western officials said Wednesday.

The officials — who spoke in a press briefing on condition of anonymity — said Putin was banking on the Russian war effort outlasting Western support for Ukraine and continued military and humanitarian funding for the country.

In particular, Putin would be looking ahead to the 2024 U.S. presidential election and hoping for Republican win, with one official noting that Putin was gambling on Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, winning the next election.

Trump and Putin enjoyed cordial relations when he was president with critics saying Trump was far too friendly toward his Russian counterpart and that Putin was able to wield his influence over the U.S. during the Trump administration.

Discussing Ukraine’s counteroffensive, the officials said Kyiv’s forces were making incremental, methodical progress but acknowledged that deeply entrenched Russian forces and defenses had made the counteroffensive proceed at a slower pace than had been anticipated.

The comments came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kyiv in a show of U.S. support for the country. A recent CNN opinion poll showed public support for continued funding for Ukraine had fallen.

— Holly Ellyatt

3 Hours Ago

Kremlin says Blinken visit won’t affect outcome of war

The Russian flag flies on the dome of the Kremlin Senate building behind Spasskaya Tower, while the roof shows what appears to be marks from the recent drone incident, in central Moscow, Russia, May 4, 2023. 

Stringer | Reuters

The Kremlin claimed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Kyiv on Wednesday showed that the U.S. was willing to fund the war “to the last Ukrainian.”

The U.S. top diplomat is in Kyiv today to meet Ukraine’s president and foreign minister. His trip marks the first visit to the country by a high-profile U.S. diplomat since Ukraine’s counteroffensive began in June.

Asked to comment on the visit, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday that “we have repeatedly heard statements that they [the U.S.] intend to continue ‘helping’ Kiev as long as it takes. In other words, they will continue to support Ukraine, which is actually in a state of war, and fight this war to the last Ukrainian, sparing no expense. This is how we see it. We know that.”

“It will not be able to affect the course of the special military operation,” Peskov said, in comments reported by Russian state news agency TASS.

Russia has frequently framed the war in Ukraine as a proxy war with the West, blaming the roots of the conflict, which began after Russia invaded its neighbor in Feb. 2022, on Ukraine’s Western allies.

Kyiv’s international partners have said they will support Ukraine for “as long as it takes” for it to regain its sovereign territory following Russia’s unprovoked aggression.

— Holly Ellyatt

3 Hours Ago

Russia strikes very close to Romanian border, president says

Russian air strikes took place less than one kilometer (0.6 miles) from Romania’s border with Ukraine on Tuesday, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said, amid intense attacks on the Ukrainian port of Izmail.

Iohannis was speaking a day after Kyiv said Russian drones had detonated on Romanian territory, a claim Bucharest denied.

“We had attacks just today, the minister of defence told me, which were verified at 800 metres from our border. So very, very close,” said Iohannis, speaking in a joint press conference with Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.

“I can tell you no piece, no drone and no part of a device landed in Romania,” he added, according to a translation from Romanian broadcaster Digi TV.

Sea secerity motorboat is seen at Izmail river port on Danube river, in Odesa region, Ukraine, July 21, 2022.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Moscow has mounted long-range air strikes on targets in Ukraine since the start of its invasion last year. Since July, when Moscow abandoned a deal that lifted a de facto Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, it has repeatedly struck Ukrainian river ports that lie across the Danube from Romania.

Ukraine has reported suspected Russian weapons flying over or crashing into neighbors, including NATO members, several times during the war.

In the most serious incident, two people were killed in Poland by a missile that fell near the border last November. Poland and NATO allies later said it was a misfired Ukrainian air defence missile.

— Reuters

4 Hours Ago

Blinken’s visit to Kyiv comes amid shaky public support for additional aid

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s unexpected trip to Kyiv on Wednesday comes as the U.S. is looking to keep the Russia-Ukraine war in the spotlight, and amid what appears to be waning support for continued aid for Ukraine.

A senior State Department official described the visit to Kyiv as one intended to remind people that “dictators and autocrats” were not able “to bite off a piece of their neighbour and get to keep it with impunity,” Reuters reported, saying the official had spoken on condition of anonymity.

“So it’s also a good time to remind the American people why this matters,” the official added, the news agency said.

The White House is also keen to gauge how Ukraine’s counteroffensive is going following reports of frustration in Washington at its slow progress and tactics. Ukraine has been sensitive to criticism of its strategy, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba saying Ukraine’s critics should “shut up.”

US President Joe Biden (R) speaks with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) during a Trilateral Summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at Camp David, Maryland, on August 18, 2023. 

Jim Watson | Afp | Getty Images

5 Hours Ago

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken makes unexpected trip to Kyiv

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken works while traveling by train to Kyiv on September 6, 2023. Blinken arrived in Kyiv on an unannounced visit and is due to announce more than a billion dollars in fresh aid to Ukraine.

Brendan Smialowski | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday for meetings with key Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. 

Blinken’s trip to the Ukrainian capital had not been disclosed ahead of his arrival and comes as Ukraine prosecutes its counteroffensive in the south and east of the country.

The U.S.’ top diplomat is expected to announce more than $1 billion in new funding for Ukraine, a senior State Department official said during a briefing for reporters on the trip.

He will also participate in laying a wreath with Foreign Minister Kuleba in memory of soldiers who have died during the 19 month-long conflict.

The trip comes after Kyiv was targeted by Russian missiles overnight, which were intercepted, the city’s military administration said earlier. 

 — Holly Ellyatt

6 Hours Ago

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine becomes a key part of school curriculum

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and basic military training for older pupils have become a key part of the country’s new school curriculum, according to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense.

“Russia’s new school year has begun with a new curriculum incorporating both military skills and the Kremlin’s view of the history of Ukraine,” the ministry said on Wednesday in its latest analysis on the X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter.

It noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally held an open lesson with 30 schoolchildren on the first day of term.

“Topics in the updated national history exam include Crimean reunification with Russia and the ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine. Russia’s parliament approved the curriculum last year,” the ministry noted.

“The new curriculum serves three objectives: to indoctrinate students with the Kremlin rationale for the ‘Special Military Operation’, instil students with a martial mindset, and reduce training timelines for onwards mobilisation and deployment,” the ministry added.

A portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen on a page of the chapter “Russia Today – The Special Military Operation” in the newly published textbook for school children entitled “History of Russia 1945 – the start of 21st Century” in this illustration picture taken August 10, 2023. 

Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

One element of the new curriculum is called the “Basics of Life Safety” and is aimed towards older students. It includes a basic military training module that covers the handling of Kalashnikovs, the use of hand grenades, uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) operations, and battlefield first aid, the ministry said, adding that pupils may also be visited by Ukraine veterans.

“The introduction of UAV operations indicates their evolving importance on the battlefield and the lessons learnt about these systems directly from the conflict in Ukraine,” the U.K. defense ministry added.

— Holly Ellyatt

6 Hours Ago

Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine hit by massive drone, missile strikes

Ukraine was attacked with a barrage of drones and missiles overnight, officials said, with the capital Kyiv and the southern port of Odesa among the targets.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s air force said on Telegram that its air defenses destroyed 23 out of 33 air and ground-launched missiles and attack drones that were used against the country, according to a Google translation.

“A total of 33 enemy air targets were recorded: seven air-based Kh-101/Kh-555/Kh-55 missiles launched from nine Tu-95ms strategic bombers from the Engels area, one Iskander-M ballistic missile, 25 Shahed-136/131 attack UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] launched from the south-eastern and southern directions.”

Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kyiv city military administration, said the capital Kyiv was attacked by cruise missiles and, potentially, by ballistic missiles.

“The attack is not simple, but combined,” Popko said on Telegram, according to a Google translation. “Preliminary, from the Saratov region, the Russian Tu-95MS strategic aviation aircraft fired cruise missiles of the Kh-101/555/55 type. At the same time, missiles of a different type, probably ballistic, were launched over Kyiv.”

The sun rises behind the houses of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on February 24, 2023, the first anniversary of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

He said the missiles had been destroyed, and no injuries or damage to infrastructure were recorded as yet.

Oleg Kiper, the head of the Odesa Regional Military Administration said that the southern port was attacked by Russian drones for almost three hours. One person was wounded and died during the attacks, he said on Telegram.

“Destruction and fires were recorded in several settlements. Portside and agricultural infrastructure facilities were damaged: elevators, administrative buildings, agricultural enterprises,” Kiper said in Google-translated comments. Air alerts continued in the city this morning.

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information in the posts.

— Holly Ellyatt

22 Hours Ago

Cuba uncovers human trafficking ring, coercing citizens to fight in war

Cuban officials have detected, and are now working to dismantle, a human trafficking network within Russia attempting to get Cuban citizens to participate in military operations in Ukraine, Cuba’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a press release.

Cuban citizens living in Cuba were also targeted, the ministry said, and criminal proceedings have started against people who were involved.

“Cuba is not part of the war in Ukraine. It is acting and it will firmly act against those who within the national territory participate in any form of human trafficking for mercenarism or recruitment purposes so that Cuban citizens may raise weapons against any country,” the ministry wrote in the statement.

The Russian ministry of foreign affairs did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

23 Hours Ago

Return of American nuclear weapons to the UK will be seen as ‘escalatory step,’ Russian official says

The return of American nuclear weapons to the U.K. will be perceived by Moscow as an “escalatory step,” according to Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, as compiled and translated by NBC News.

There is increasing evidence to suggest that the U.S. may be looking to house American nuclear weapons in the U.K., according to the Federation of American Scientists, who listed a location around 100 kilometers away from the capital, London, as the planned dormitory.

Atomic bombs had been stored at the Lakenheath Royal Air Force base from 1954, before they were removed in 2008, according to the Federation.

Protesters gather outside the air force base behind a large ‘No Nukes in Britain’ banner on November 19, 2022 in Lakenheath, England.

Martin Pope | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Zakharova described the move as “leading exactly in the opposite direction from the solution of the urgent task of withdrawing all US nuclear weapons from European countries, where they are deployed in the framework of the so-called NATO joint nuclear missions.”

Moscow also regards the West’s plans to expand weapons production in Ukraine as further confirmation of its involvement in the war between Russian and Ukraine. Zakharova said the Kremlin “paid attention” to announcements by the likes of Rheinmetall and subsidiaries of BAE Systems to assist in maintaining equipment for Ukraine’s armed forces.

“We consider such intentions as another confirmation of the Western ruling circles and military-industrial complex’s direct involvement in the conflict and support for the criminal Kiev regime,” she added.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Tue, Sep 5 2023 9:09 AM EDT

Top Russian general resurfaces after Prigozhin mutiny, media reports

Sergei Surovikin, the former commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, seen here in 2021.

Mikhail Metzel | Afp | Getty Images

A photo has emerged online that appears to show Russian General Sergei Surovikin, a top military figure who was regarded as an ally of Yevgeny Prigozhin, alive and in public.

Surovikin had not been since since Prigozhin’s failed mutiny in June, prompting speculation that he had been detained for his links to the ill-fated mercenary boss. Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary Wagner Group, died last month in a plane crash.

The general’s last public appearance was on the day of the rebellion itself as he called on Prigozhin to turn back as he and a band of Wagner mercenaries headed to Moscow. The rebellion was seen as the culmination of a long-running dispute between Prigozhin and Russia’s defense ministry.

On Monday, however, a photo was posted on Telegram by Russian media personality Ksenia Sobchak purportedly of Surovikin and his wife. NBC News was unable to authenticate the image.

“General Sergei Surovikin is out. Alive, healthy, at home, with his family, in Moscow. Photo taken today,” Sobchak wrote in a caption on the picture on Telegram.

The general was reportedly arrested in June and then dismissed as the head of Russia’s Aerospace Forces in August, according to the Moscow Times.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that Surovikin appeared to have been freed but cited unnamed U.S. officials as saying it was not clear if his movement was restricted.

The Kremlin and Russian defense ministry have refused to answer reporters’ questions on the whereabouts and role of Surovikin now.

Surovikin had been appointed to lead Russia’s armed forces in Ukraine last October, and was credited for spearheading the building of deep lines of Russian defenses on occupied territory ahead of Ukraine’s counteroffensive. The defensive lines have proved a hard obstacle for Ukraine to overcome.

Surovikin was replaced by Putin loyalist General Valery Gerasimov in January 2023, with speculation that he was replaced because he had become too powerful.

— Holly Ellyatt

Tue, Sep 5 2023 7:30 AM EDT

Russian defense minister claims Ukraine’s counteroffensive has been unsuccessful

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talks to Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu (R) during the annual Navy Day Parade on July 30, 2023, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Contributor | Getty Images

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed Tuesday that Ukraine’s counteroffensive had been unsuccessful, but acknowledged the situation was tense in the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, where Ukraine’s forces claimed to have broken through a first layer of Russian defenses.

“The Kiev [Russia uses this spelling for the Ukrainian capital] regime, despite colossal losses, has been trying to conduct a so-called counter-offensive for three months now. The Ukrainian armed forces did not achieve their goals in any of the directions,” Shoigu said during a conference call to Russian defense officials, a statement released by the Ministry of Defense said.

Shoigu added that the Ukrainian leadership was “desperately trying to demonstrate to Western curators at least some success of offensive actions in order to further receive military-economic assistance, which only prolongs the conflict.”

The minister said the “most tense situation” had developed in the Zaporizhzhia area, saying Ukraine had “brought into battle brigades from the strategic reserve, whose personnel were trained under the guidance of Western instructors.”

Last weekend, Ukrainian officials said their units had broken through the first (and toughest) line of Russian defenses in the Zaporizhzhia area as they aim to push southwards toward Melitopol and Berdiansk and cut Russia’s so-called “land bridge” to occupied Crimea.

Ukraine has seen few territorial gains since launching its counteroffensive in June. Deep lines of Russian defenses, built in the winter and spring in the lead up to the counteroffensive, have proven tricky to surmount. It’s hoped in Kyiv that momentum will build following the recent breakthrough in the south.

— Holly Ellyatt

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