Latest news on Russia, Ukraine and the war


Russia’s VTB bank suspends coupon payments on some subordinated bonds

VTB bank logos outside a branch in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2019.

Evgenia Novozhenina | Reuters

Sanctions-hit VTB bank has temporarily suspended coupon payments on a number of subordinated bond issues, the Russian state-controlled lender said in a statement.

VTB, Russia’s second largest lender, was placed under sanctions by the West over what Moscow calls its special military operation in Ukraine.

“VTB complies with all capital adequacy ratios set by Russia’s central bank and is implementing measures to strengthen its capital position, which will allow a return to coupon payments on these bond issues in the future,” it said.

The suspension will affect a coupon payment on VTB’s perpetual subordinated Eurobond which was due on Tuesday, the bank said.

— Reuters

EU, Western Balkans boost partnership amid Ukraine war

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses journalists during a press conference following the EU Western Balkans summit in Tirana on December 6, 2022.

Ludovic Marin | AFP | Getty Images

For the six Western Balkans countries aspiring to join the European Union, gaining full membership in the 27-nation club remains a distant goal.

But Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia are getting more concrete signs that they have a future place in the EU as Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens to reshape the geopolitical balance in southeastern Europe.

EU and Western Balkans leaders worked to strengthen their partnership at a summit Tuesday in Albania’s capital, Tirana, where they covered topics that included migration, cybersecurity and diplomatic ties.

The EU “reconfirmed its full and unequivocal commitment to the European Union membership perspective of the Western Balkans” and called for the acceleration of accession talks with the membership hopefuls.

As proof of the bloc’s commitment, European Council President Charles Michel underscored the EU’s energy support to the region as the war impacts supplies and prices.

— Associated Press

Latvia cancels license of exiled Russian television station TV Rain

A view of the TV Rain (Dozhd) online news channel studio in Moscow, Russia August 20, 2021.

Denis Kaminev | Reuters

Latvia has cancelled the licence of Russian independent television station TV Rain after the company was branded a threat to national security, the state broadcasting regulator said.

The liberal-leaning TV Rain, or Dozhd, shifted to broadcasting from Latvia and other countries in July, after being forced to shut its Moscow studio following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, the station has courted controversy recently and was fined 10,000 euros ($10,500) by the regulator on Friday for displaying a map of Russia which included occupied Crimea and for calling Russian troops in Ukraine “our army”.

The regulator chairman Ivars Abolins told reporters on Tuesday that Latvia’s counterintelligence and internal security service had informed his office that the station represented a threat to the security of the European Union member state.

“Everyone must follow Latvian laws and respect them,” he said, adding that the broadcasts would cease on Thursday.

— Reuters

Turkey says Finland must end arms embargo to join NATO

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks during a press conference with in Istanbul, Türkiye, on Nov. 3, 2022.

Shadati | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Finland must publicly declare that it’s lifting an arms embargo on Turkey to win Ankara’s approval for its membership to NATO, the Turkish foreign minister said.

Mevlut Cavusoglu made the comments ahead of visit by Finland’s Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen, who will be discussing his nation’s bid to join the military alliance with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Thursday.

“The Finnish defense minister’s visit to Turkey is important because we have not yet heard a statement from Finland saying they’ve lifted their arms embargo against us,” Cavusoglu told reporters. “We’re expecting such a statement from there.”

Sweden and Finland abandoned their longstanding policies of military nonalignment and applied for membership in the alliance after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, amid concerns that Russia might target them next.

— Associated Press

Hungary vetoes 18 billion euro EU aid package for Ukraine

Hungary vetoed an 18 billion euro ($18.9 billion) EU aid package for Ukraine, meaning it cannot go forward and the European Commission will have to find other ways to continue providing aid to Ukraine into 2023.

“Orban is going into full escalation,” a Green Party member of the European Parliament tweeted in response to the news.

The move is seen as a way for Hungarian President Viktor Orban, a longtime ally of Putin, to force the EU into giving Hungary its share of recovery funds, some of which have been blocked by the EU because of breaches of the bloc’s laws.

The European Commission will now examine ways to “provide the necessary solution to Ukraine already as of January,” EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn said.

Czech Finance Minister Zbynek Stanjura said he asked his EU colleagues to work toward “a solution supported by 26 member states” that could bypass Hungary’s veto.

“We were not able to adopt the package as a whole but we will not be discouraged,” Stanjura said. “Our ambition remains that we will start disbursements to Ukraine in January.”

— Natasha Turak

Ukrainian embassies in Europe receive more bloody packages, foreign minister says

More Ukrainian embassies and consulates in Europe reported receiving bloody packages containing animal parts, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, after several embassies and consulates representing Ukraine received similar parcels last week.

Kyiv has described the trend of “bloody packages” as part of a “campaign of terror and intimidation.”

As of Friday, Ukraine said that 17 embassies had received such packages, and that embassies and consulates in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia, Italy, and the Czech Republic had been targeted.

Police in Spain said they intercepted three additional parcels on Monday containing animal eyes. They were addressed to Ukraine’s embassy in Madrid, and its consulates in Malaga and Barcelona.

One package delivered to the Spanish embassy on Wednesday and addressed to the Ukrainian ambassador in Spain contained a letter bomb, and injured an embassy staffer. Several more letter bombs were sent to different places in Spain, including the U.S. embassy in Madrid, the Spanish prime minister and a Spanish arms manufacturer that makes weapons that have been given to Ukraine.

In a Friday interview with CNN, Kuleba described the events as “weird” and “even sick.” He said he felt “tempted to name Russia” as being behind the deliveries, but said he would wait till ongoing investigations were completed.

— Natasha Turak

Russian state-owned bank VTB hit by ‘unprecedented cyber attack’

VTB bank logos outside a branch in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2019.

Evgenia Novozhenina | Reuters

Russian state-owned bank VTB says it was hit by the largest cyberattack it has ever experienced, describing it in a statement as “unprecedented.”

“The bank’s technological infrastructure is under an unprecedented cyber attack from abroad. The largest not only this year, but in the whole time the bank has operated,” a statement from the bank read.

“An analysis of the DDoS attack indicates that it was planned and large-scale, and its purpose has been to interfere with the operations of banking services, VTB indicates,” the statement added.

“The majority of requests for bank services during the attack have generated from foreign segments of the internet, though there has also been malicious traffic from Russian IP addresses.”

VTB said that it was working to counter the attack and warned that customers may face temporary difficulties accessing its website and mobile app. VTB is Russia’s second-largest lender, according to a February 2022 ranking by The Banker magazine.

— Natasha Turak

Ukraine and Russia exchange 60 prisoners of war each

Russia and Ukraine carried out another prisoner swap, this time exchanging 60 prisoners of war (POWs) each, Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak confirmed.

“Another successful POWs swap. Symbolically, it took place on the Armed Forces Day. 60 people are coming home. Among them are army servicemen, the National and Border Guards,” Yermak wrote in a Twitter post.

He said that among the released prisoners were dozens of personnel who had fought to defend the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, which had been almost entirely destroyed by Russian bombings.

“Their dearest and nearest have been waiting for so long. And soon, very soon hugs and kisses will follow,” Yermak wrote in a separate tweet. “Thanks to the Coordinating Headquarters for the Treatment of POWs. We keep working to get all our people back.”

— Natasha Turak

Ukraine plans to reduce power deficits ‘significantly’ by Tuesday night following missile strikes

A pedestrian walks down a street during a power cut in downtown Odesa on December 5, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Oleksandr Gimanov | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine plans to reduce its power outages significantly by Tuesday evening after the latest wave of missile strikes from Russia knocked out power and destroyed homes in some areas.

“We are now bringing the nuclear blocks (power stations) back into operation and the deficit will be significantly reduced by evening,” Energy Minister German Galushchenko said on local television.

He said that power generation infrastructure and substations were hit and that Kyiv, Vinnytsia and Odesa were the worst affected. Those cities are important population centers in the country’s center, center-west and south.

Ukrainian air defense systems intercepted the majority of the incoming missiles, Ukrainian officials said, making Monday’s strikes less damaging than those that took place in late November. Russian missiles have regularly struck power facilities of Ukraine’s major urban centers, reflecting what appears to be the Kremlin’s aim to make much of the country unlivable as the winter sets in.

— Natasha Turak

Kremlin says no prospect for peace talks with Ukraine at the moment

Moscow says it agrees with the U.S. in that lasting peace is needed in Ukraine, but that it sees no prospect for talks in that direction at the present time.

“That the outcome should be a just and durable peace, one can agree with this,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told press, in reference to remarks U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made on Monday. Blinken said that the Ukraine war “would end almost certainly with diplomacy” and that a “just and durable peace” was essential.

“But as for the prospects for some sort of negotiations, we do not see any at the moment,” Peskov said.

He added that for talks to take place, Russia would need to have completed the objectives of its “special military operation,” the term the Kremlin has used since February to describe its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

— Natasha Turak

Russian oil cap will work, EU ministers insist, despite Kremlin opposition and broad skepticism

Oil storage tanks stand at the RN-Tuapsinsky refinery, operated by Rosneft Oil Co., at night in Tuapse, Russia.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A price cap on Russian seaborne oil will work, EU ministers told CNBC, despite attempts from the Kremlin to escape sanctions and a broad market skepticism over the measure.

The EU, alongside the G-7 and Australia, agreed on Friday to limit the purchases of Russian oil to $60 a barrel as part of a concerted effort to curtail Moscow’s ability to fund its war in Ukraine.

The price cap came into force on Monday. In essence, the measure stipulates oil produced in Russia can only be sold with the necessary insurance approval at or below $60 a barrel.

However, Russia has already said it will not sell oil to nations complying with the cap and that it is ready to cut production to maintain its revenues from the commodity.

Read the full report here.

— Silvia Amaro

Zelenskyy and army chief praise military’s bravery on Armed Forces Day

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised and congratulated the country’s military on Armed Forces Day in the country.

“Our Armed Forces protect their native land, and this gives the strongest possible motivation. They fight for freedom, and this always increases any strength. They defend the truth, which means they defend the future of Ukraine,” the president posted on Telegram.

“We are proud of you, we admire you, thank you. To each and every one! With deep respect [from] the President of Ukraine. Glory to the Ukrainian Armed Forces! Glory to Ukraine!” Zelenskyy said.

Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy visits Kherson City for first time after the withdrawal of Russian troops in Ukraine, on Nov. 13, 2022.

Narciso Contreras | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said earlier today that he believes the country’s armed forces will triumph against Russia.

“I am proud to serve my country side by side with you. Proud to be your Commander-in-Chief in this difficult time. I believe in each of you and in our victory,” he said on Telegram.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces Day takes place on Dec. 6 and was established by the Ukrainian Parliament in the early 1990s.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian air base attacks likely to be seen as a failure of force protection, UK says

If attacks on two separate Russia air bases on Monday are found to have been deliberately carried out by Ukraine, Russia is likely to “consider them as some of the most strategically significant failures of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine,” the U.K. said Tuesday.

Explosions were reported at Russian air bases yesterday, one incident taking place at the Engels air base in the Saratov region, and the other at the Dyagilevo airfield near Ryazan, southeast of Moscow.

Two Tu-95 heavy bombers were reportedly damaged in the Engels blast, and three people were killed when a fuel tank exploded at Dyagilevo. The causes of the explosions have not been confirmed and Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks. Russia says the blasts were caused by drone attacks.

Russia’s Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bomber.

Source: Sergey Krivchikov – Russian AviaPhoto Team

Britain’s Ministry of Defense noted that the Engels site “is the main operating base of Russia’s Long Range Aviation (LRA) within western Russia and is home to more than 30 heavy bombers.”

“These aircraft contribute to Russia’s nuclear deterrent and have also frequently been used to launch conventional cruise missiles at Ukraine. The LRA is likely to respond by temporarily moving bombers to dispersal airfields,” the ministry said.

“The Russian chain of command will probably seek to identify and impose severe sanctions on Russian officers deemed responsible for allowing the incident,” the ministry said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Parts of southern Ukraine shelled ‘all night long’

Parts of southern Ukraine have come under sustained bombardment overnight, local officials reported Tuesday morning.

Russian forces launched a missile attack on the suburbs of the southern city of Zaporizhzhia overnight, according to the head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration.

“One of the missiles hit the territory of Stepne [to the southeast of Zaporizhzhia]. As a result, critical infrastructure facilities and residential buildings were damaged. According to preliminary information, no one was injured,” Oleksandr Starukh posted on Telegram.

He said the priority for Russian forces is in “holding captured lines” in the Zaporizhzhia region, which is partially occupied by Russia.

Russian forces launched a missile attack on the suburbs of the southern city of Zaporizhzhia overnight, according to the head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The area around Nikopol, to the southwest of Zaporizhzhia and in the neighboring Dnipropetrovsk province, has also come under more shelling “all night long,” an official said.

“The shelling of [the] Nikopol district does not abate… The Russians were firing heavy artillery at Nikopol town, Chervonohryhorivka and Marhanets communities all night long. Almost 50 enemy shells slammed into peaceful towns and villages,” Valentyn Reznichenko, the head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Military Administration, said on Telegram. He said there were no casualties.

In Nikopol, more than 10 private houses, farm buildings, gas pipelines and power lines were damaged, he said. CNBC was unable to immediately verify the reports.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian official says airfield in Kursk region has been attacked

The governor of Russia’s Kursk region said Tuesday that there was a drone attack near an airfield there.

Posting on Telegram, Governor Roman Starovoyt said “as a result of a drone attack, an oil storage tank caught fire in the area of ​​the Kursk airfield.” He said there were no casualties and the fire was localized.  “All intelligence agencies are on site,” he added.

CNBC was not able to immediately verify the information in Starovoyt’s post. Russian state news agencies reported the incident but did not add further details.

If verified, the incident comes a day after two separate explosions at Russian military air bases. Russia accused Ukraine of attacking its air bases using drones on Monday. Three people were killed in one of the incidents

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were unusual given that they took place deep within Russian territory. Kursk is on the border with Ukraine. Officials in Kyiv have not commented on the Kursk incident.

— Holly Ellyatt

India signals it will keep buying oil from Russia

India will prioritize its own energy needs and continue to buy oil from Russia, its foreign minister signaled Monday, as Western governments press Moscow with a price cap to squeeze its earnings from oil exports.

Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made the comments after holding talks with his visiting German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, in which they discussed bilateral relations and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Jaishankar said it isn’t right for European countries to prioritize their energy needs but “ask India to do something else.”

“Europe will make the choices it will make. It is their right,” he told reporters.

India has so far not committed to the $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil set by the Group of Seven major industrialized countries and European Union that is expected to come into effect Monday. The move is an attempt by Western governments to limit fossil fuel earnings that support Moscow’s budget, its military and its invasion of Ukraine, while also avoiding a possible sharp price spike if Russia’s oil is suddenly taken off the global market.

— The Associated Press

Russian terror is not only a threat to Ukraine, but to the entire region and beyond, Zelenskyy says

Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked European nations to stop buying Russian oil.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized the need for cooperation in combatting Russian aggression and terror in his nightly address, following another deadly wave of Russian missile attacks across Ukraine.

“When one terrorist destabilizes everyone’s lives, stopping terror is a joint task,” Zelenskyy said.

The strikes also caused power interruptions in neighboring Moldova once again, prompting Zelenskyy to acknowledge the spillover effects of the war.

“Russian terror again affects neighboring states,” he said. “And this once again proves that Russia’s ability to carry out such massive terrorist attacks is a threat not only to Ukraine, but also to our entire region. At least,” he added.

Ukrainian air defense shot down “most of” the 70 missiles launched by Russia, according to Zelenskyy. At least four people were killed and several others injured by the strikes, he reported. Energy infrastructure was also targeted, prompting more emergency blackouts in regions across the country still reeling from prior attacks.

— Rocio Fabbro

Air defense a top priority for U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, Defense Secretary says

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin attends a media statement after a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the American military’s Ramstein Air Base, near Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany, September 8, 2022.

Thilo Schmuelgen | Reuters

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin underscored U.S. commitment to supporting Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression in a phone call with Ukrainian Defense Minister, Oleksii Reznikov.

“Secretary Austin reiterated air defense as a top priority for U.S. security assistance efforts, made evident by recent commitments to provide Ukraine additional munitions for U.S.-provided National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) as well as capabilities to counter Unmanned Aerial System,” Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder said in a readout of the call.

Ukraine first received NASAMS in early November. The interceptor systems have proved invaluable to Ukraine’s defense and security efforts, giving Ukraine the capability to shoot down Russian missiles before they strike.

Austin also pledged his “unwavering support” to Ukraine in its war against Russia, condemning “Russia’s brutal air attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure,” according to Ryder.

— Rocio Fabbro

Moscow says three killed in Ukrainian drone attacks on air bases deep inside Russia

A satellite image shows an overview of Engels Air Base, in Saratov, Russia, December 4, 2022. 

Maxar Technologies | Reuters

Russia said that three of its military personnel were killed in what it said were Ukrainian drone attacks on two Russian air bases hundreds of miles from the front lines in Ukraine.

Ukraine did not directly claim responsibility. If it did carry out the attacks, they were the deepest military strikes it has conducted inside the Russian heartland since Moscow invaded on Feb. 24.

One of the targets, the Engels air base near the city of Saratov, houses bomber planes that are part of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.

“The Kyiv regime, in order to disable Russian long-range aircraft, made attempts to strike with Soviet-made unmanned jet aerial vehicles at the military airfields Dyagilevo, in the Ryazan region, and Engels, in the Saratov region,” the Russian defence ministry said.

It said the drones, flying at low altitude, were intercepted by air defences and shot down. The wreckage caused slight damage to two aircraft, it said, and four people were wounded.

The ministry called it a “terrorist act” aimed at disrupting its long-range aviation.

— Reuters

Russia launched a new wave of missile attacks, says Ukrainian air force spokesperson

A militant of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic inspects the remains of a missile that landed on a street in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine February 26, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Russia launched another wave of missile attacks against Ukraine Monday, Ukrainian air force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said in a press briefing that took place amid air raid alerts in Kyiv and across the country.

“This is not a drill,” Ihnat told reporters. “The missiles are already launched.”

The attacks used strategic aviation launched from three separate sites: the Volgodonsk region in western Russia, the Caspian Sea and from ships in the Black Sea, according to Ihnat. The most recent missile launches are a continuation of Russia’s attacks on critical Ukrainian infrastructure that began in early October, he said. To date, Russian strikes damaged approximately half of Ukraine’s energy systems, leaving many Ukrainians without electricity as temperatures drop.

Ilhnat warned that Monday’s launch could result in several waves of strikes, cautioning Ukrainians to take shelter. “Russians do this in order to disperse and confuse our air defense forces,” he said of the launch waves.

Several top Ukrainian officials have requested additional air defense capabilities, including fighter jets and advanced missile deterrent systems, over the past weeks as Russia ramps up its missile strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure.

— Rocio Fabbro

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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