Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

‘They will not win’: Sweden’s finance minister says Ukraine can’t lose the war

Sweden’s Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson said on Thursday that Europe can’t afford to let Russian win its war with Ukraine as it would lead to troubling events in the coming years.

Speaking with CNBC’s Karen Tso at the International Monetary Fund’s Spring Meetings, Svantesson said that Ukraine can’t lose the war and that this isn’t something she’s willing to accept.

“They can’t lose,” Svantesson said. “We must help Ukraine so they don’t lose. If Russia wins here, we will have much trouble in the years ahead,” she added. “So no, they can’t win.”

Although the West has provided financial and military support to Ukraine to help combat the illegal invasion of Russian forces, it has been reluctant to assist Ukraine with direct military forces.

Kyiv has watched how Israel’s Western partners actively intervened last Saturday to help defend the state from a massive Iranian drone and missile strike.

The solid allied response prompted Ukraine’s leadership to ask why its international partners can’t do the same for Ukraine.

– Ryan Browne

Russia could be ready to attack NATO in 5-8 years, German official says

Russia could be ready to attack NATO in five to eight years, a top German military official said, according to Reuters.

Lieutenant General Carsten Breuer told reporters that Moscow could be ready to attack members of the Western military alliance once it has rebuilt its forces depleted by the war in Ukraine.

“By then, based on our analysis, Russia (will have) reconstituted its own forces to a degree that an attack against NATO soil could be possible,” he told journalists during a visit to Poland on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

“I am not saying it will take place but that it could be possible,” he said. “What we see is a threat in five to eight years.”

President Vladimir Putin has rebuffed concerns that NATO could be targeted directly by Russia but has frequently warned that the country, and its nuclear arsenal, are ready to be deployed if it perceives its sovereignty to have been violated.

A DPR army fighter is seen in front of the tank as Russian attacks continue in Mariupol, Ukraine on May 04, 2022.

Leon Klein | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian defense spending and production of military hardware has rocketed as the country looks to supply its forces in Ukraine in the years ahead, but Breuer said Russia also appeared to be holding military equipment back.

“We see that Russia is producing a lot of war-fighting materiel and it is not putting all of this materiel to the frontline in Ukraine… so in 2029 we have to be ready,” Breuer said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine ramps up diplomatic efforts amid pleas for urgent air defenses

Ukraine’s top officials are ramping up calls for urgent air defenses and weaponry amid a flurry of high-profile meetings and summits.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the Group of Seven foreign ministers’ meeting in Capri on Thursday. Kuleba stated on social media platform X that he went over in detail their “joint global efforts to get more ‘Patriot’ air defense systems and missiles to Ukraine as soon as possible.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba (R) attend a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting on Capri Island, April 18, 2024. 

Gregorio Borgia | Afp | Getty Images

Kuleba said the officials had “both emphasized the urgent need for the U.S. Congress to pass the supplemental aid package for Ukraine” that’s worth around $61 billion.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said he had also met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Thursday, stating on X that “we are counting on the swift unblocking of the aid package for Ukraine in Congress, including financial assistance.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Wednesday that Russian forces were gaining an upper hand in the war because Ukraine did not have the weaponry and air defense systems it needs.

“The Russian army feels its strength in almost everything related to the armed compоnent. And it is precisely because of this strength – in artillery, in equipment, in the ability to operate in the sky – that they are putting pressure on us at the front and are gradually moving,” he told EU leaders via videolink.

“Putin now hopes that he will succeed in his counteroffensive, and the only root of this hope is the shortage of weapons among our soldiers,” he said.

Zelenskyy said Kyiv was working with the U.S. “to get the proper decision of the Congress on the American support package” and asked European leaders to “engage in communication with our American partners to make their support really happen.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Officials at Zaporizhzhia power plant accuse Ukraine of shelling training center

Russian-installed officials at the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) in southern Ukraine on Thursday accused Ukrainian forces of shelling a training center within the facility.

“The APU [Ukrainian armed forces’] drone was neutralized over the roof of Building G of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant training center, where the world’s only full-scale reactor hall simulator is located,” the plant’s Russian overseers’ Telegram channel said.

Energoatom said on Telegram that the latest outage at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (seen here in March), the seventh since the start of the war, was due to Russian shelling of an external power line.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

There were no casualties or damage as a result of the attack. CNBC was unable to verify the claim and Ukraine has not commented on the alleged incident, one that follows a similar assault on April 9.

The ZNPP has been at the center of repeated accusation and counter-accusation between Russia and Ukraine, with both accusing each other of endangering the facility and risking a nuclear accident.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency are monitoring the plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since March 2022, and the agency’s head could visit the facility again in May, Russian news agencies reported Thursday.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin says U.S. aid won’t change ‘far from favorable’ front-line situation for Ukraine

The Kremlin said more U.S. aid for Ukraine won’t change a difficult battlefield situation for Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said even if a U.S. military aid package of $61 billion was approved by Congress, Ukraine would still be on the back foot.

“This is not capable of in any way influencing the outcome of the development of the situation on the fronts. All specialists, and even semi-specialists, are now recording with the naked eye the situation at the front, which is far from favorable for the Ukrainian side, so nothing can change this,” he said, news agency RIA Novosti reported.

A New Year decoration stylized as the “Kremlin Star,” a tactical insignia of Russian troops in Ukraine, in Moscow, on Jan. 2, 2023.

Natalia Kolesnikova | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian officials have themselves been warning that conditions are difficult at the front, particularly in eastern Ukraine. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, said Thursday that his forces have an “urgent” need for “modern means of air defence, artillery and ammunition, as well as heavy armoured vehicles.”

The Ukrainian commander has already warned that the battlefield situation in eastern Ukraine had “significantly worsened” and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that the country could lose the war if it’s not given more assistance.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia accuses Ukraine of shelling medical facilities and of killing medical staff

Russia accused Ukrainian forces of repeatedly shelling medical facilities in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine with Western weapons on Thursday and said the West and the World Health Organization (WHO) had turned a blind eye to the attacks.

There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of war crimes. Both deny each other’s allegations. There was no immediate comment from the WHO.

The accusation was made by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova who told reporters that Ukrainian forces had repeatedly targeted medical facilities and doctors in four Ukrainian regions which Moscow says it has annexed.

Spokeswoman of Russia’s Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova attends the annual press conference held by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, January 18, 2024. 

Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

Zakharova listed the dates and locations of the attacks in recent months and said the same information had been provided to the WHO which she said had done nothing with the data.

“Real doctors are dying from shelling by Kyiv with weapons supplied by the West,” Zakharova said.

She said that the West — and the Western media — had ignored any crimes carried out by Ukraine and only wanted to criticise Russia.

— Reuters

Death toll in Chernihiv attack rises to 18

Ukrainian rescuers clear the rubble at a destroyed building following a missile attack in Chernihiv on April 17, 2024. The Russian strike on the historic city in northern Ukraine killed 18 people and wounded dozens more on April 17, 2024, as Kyiv pleaded for allies to bolster its over-stretched air defence systems. 

Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine’s emergency services said 18 people are now known to have died in a missile attack on the northern city of Chernihiv on Wednesday.

A further 77 people, including four children, were injured in the attack and 40 of them were hospitalized, the state emergency service said on Telegram Thursday. Russian forces struck the city with three missiles, officials said. More than 20 apartment buildings were damaged.

Rescuers stand amid rubble during search and rescue operation in front of object of social infrastructure destroyed as result of Russian missile attack on April 17, 2024 in Chernihiv, Ukraine. Russian forces launched three missile strikes on Chernihiv, not far from the city center. A social infrastructure object was hit. Currently, it is known that more than a dozen people have died, and search and rescue operations continue. (Photo by Yan Dobronosov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

Global Images Ukraine | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the attack demonstrated the country’s need for more air defenses, asking allies why they were prepared to intervene to defend Israel against an Iranian drone and missile attack last Saturday, but would not offer an equal level of security to Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

Germany arrests two for alleged military sabotage plot on behalf of Russia

Two German-Russian nationals have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of plotting sabotage attacks, including on U.S. military facilities, in an effort to undermine military support for Ukraine, officials said on Thursday.

Authorities have searched the homes and workplaces of the two suspects accused of working for a foreign secret service. One of them, identified as Dieter S., had since October 2023 discussed possible plots with a person linked to the Russian secret service, prosecutors said.

Germany has become one of Kyiv’s biggest suppliers of military aid since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and is a major target for Russian spying operations, authorities have said.

“Our security authorities have prevented possible explosive attacks that were intended to target and undermine our military assistance to Ukraine,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.

“It is a particularly serious case of alleged spy activity for (President Vladimir) Putin’s criminal regime.”

U.S. soldiers line up at the United States Army military training base in Grafenwoehr, southern Germany, on March 11, 2022. 

Christof Stache | Afp | Getty Images

Dieter S. had been prepared to carry out bomb and arson attacks on military facilities, including those operated by U.S. forces, prosecutors said, adding that he took photos and videos of military transport and equipment.

According to Spiegel magazine, the facilities included the Grafenwoehr army base in the southern state of Bavaria where Ukrainian soldiers receive training to use U.S. Abrams tanks.

The Russian and U.S. embassies in Berlin did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

— Reuters

Ukraine shoots down 13 Russian drones, air force says

Ukraine’s air force said it had intercepted 13 Russian drones over the regions of Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk, Vinnytsia, Poltava, Khmelnytskyi, Ternopil, and Ivano-Frankivsk overnight.

The drones were Iranian-made “Shahed-131/136” models that were deployed from Primorsko-Akhtarsk, on the Sea of Azov in southwestern Russia, and Russian-occupied Crimea.

“All 13 ‘Shaheds’ were shot down by anti-aircraft missile units of the Air Force and mobile fire groups of the Defence Forces of Ukraine,” the air force said. CNBC was unable to immediately verify the report.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine has ‘urgent’ need for air defense, artillery and ammunition, army chief says

The commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces on Wednesday said that he had emphasized Ukraine’s “urgent needs” on the battlefield in a conversation with top U.S. General Christopher Cavoli.

Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi said he reiterated Ukraine’s immediate need for “modern means of air defence, artillery and ammunition, as well as heavy armoured vehicles” when he spoke to Cavoli, the U.S.’ top military commander in Europe and head of the joint NATO forces in Europe.

The officials “discussed the strengthening of military-technical cooperation with the United States and other allies, the strengthening of Ukrainian air defence equipment, and the replenishment of ammunition,” Syrskyi said on Telegram, according to a NBC translation.

Soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the unit of the mobile air defense group shoot down enemy drones using the ZU-23-2 Soviet 23-mm twin anti-aircraft gun on April 16, 2024 in an undisclosed location in Ukraine.

Kostiantyn Liberov | Getty Images

They also exchanged views on the tactical situation on the battlefield, he said.

Last weekend, the Ukrainian commander had warned that the battlefield situation in eastern Ukraine had “significantly worsened.” He and other officials in the country have said that artillery and ammunition shortages are threatening Ukraine’s chances of defeating Russia.

Cavoli has been advocating for more military aid for Ukraine at a time when a $61 billion aid package for broader foreign funding is still blocked in the U.S. Congress.

On Wednesday, Cavoli told Congress that Ukraine will run out of artillery shells and air defense interceptors “in fairly short order” without U.S. support. Addressing the House Armed Services Committee, Cavoli said that Russia was currently firing five artillery shells for every one fired by Ukrainian forces and that disparity could increase in coming weeks to 10 to one, Reuters reported.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia says it thwarted Ukrainian drone, missile and ‘balloon’ attack

Russia said its air defense systems intercepted almost 50 Ukrainian drones, missiles and “small-sized balloons” over several of its border regions Wednesday night.

“Over the past night, attempts by the Kyiv regime to carry out terrorist attacks on targets on the territory of the Russian Federation using Tochka-U operational-tactical missiles, the RM-70 Vampire multiple launch rocket system, aircraft-type unmanned aerial vehicles [drones] and small balloons were stopped,” the Ministry of Defense said on Telegram.

It said air defenses intercepted two “Tochka-U” missiles, 19 rockets, 20 drones and five “small-sized balloons” over the Belgorod, Rostov and Voronezh regions that border Ukraine. The regions, and oil industry infrastructure, have found themselves to be the targets of numerous drone and missile attacks in recent months.

A view shows the damaged Belgorod city hall hit by a drone attack in Belgorod on March 12, 2024.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

There have been several reports of small-sized “balloons” being involved in attacks recently, although it’s unclear whether these are reconnaissance “spy” balloons, involved in intelligence-gathering or are used to carry and deploy explosive devices.

The governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said two people were injured during the Ukrainian attacks last night. Voronezh’s governor said a woman was injured a drone attack and another civilian was injured in the Rostov region, the region’s governor said.

Ukraine has not commented on the alleged attacks and rarely does when it comes to attacks on Russian territory. CNBC was unable to verify the information from Russia’s Defense Ministry.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says Ukraine deserves the same support that Israel received

It’s been a difficult week for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he continues to plead with the country’s allies for more military aid, air defenses and backing to help beat Russia.

Kyiv has watched how Israel’s Western partners actively intervened last Saturday to help to defend the state from a massive Iranian drone and missile strike, with many of the projectiles intercepted by U.S., British, French and Jordanian forces.

The solid allied response prompted Ukraine’s leadership to ask why its international partners can’t do the same for Ukraine, with one of Zelenskyy’s advisors telling NBC News this week that the disparity in support from the U.S. and other Western countries “looks extremely strange.”

Although he has to tread a fine line between maintaining their support and goodwill, and campaigning for deeper assistance, Zelenskyy echoed that sentiment when addressing EU leaders Wednesday night.

“Here in Ukraine, in our part of Europe, unfortunately, we do not have the level of defense that we all saw in the Middle East a few days ago when, thanks to the combined power of the allies, they managed to shoot down almost all the missiles and drones that attacked Israel,” Zelenskyy said as he addressed EU leaders gathered in Brussels, via a video link.

“We are still convincing that we need to protect Europe from ballistic missiles and ‘Shaheds’ [Iranian-made drones], from cruise missiles and bombs, as it happened in the skies of Israel and other countries in the region. Our Ukrainian sky and the sky of our neighbors deserve the same security,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia-Ukraine war is the biggest threat to global economic growth, Polish finance minister says

Polish finance minister says 'main risk of inflation is behind us'

The Russia-Ukraine war is a major threat to the global economy and the war is impacting markets in several ways, Andrzej Domański, Poland’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday.

The war is the “single most important factor” when it comes to threats against global growth, he said.

Domański pointed out that increased defence spending and tensions in agriculture markets are additional economic areas that are being impacted by the war.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Ukraine’s 1+1 media group reports ‘hostile attack’ on satellite TV channels

Major Ukrainian media company 1+1 Media said it had been the subject of a “hostile attack” Wednesday and the broadcasting of its satellite TV channels had been suspended.

In a statement on its website, 1+1 Media said that 39 of its own and partner TV channels were affected by the “cynical attack.”

“We will remind you that from the beginning of March, the Russian Federation began actively jamming the satellite signal of Ukrainian TV channels,” it said, according to a translation.

“This is not the last attempt by the Russian Federation to silence the content of Ukrainian TV channels in order to disorient society and spread hostile narratives, especially in the territories bordering temporarily occupied cities and villages.”

1+1 Media urged Ukrainians to “observe information hygiene” in order to help prevent Russia spreading disinformation.

“All these actions are carried out by the Russian Federation with the aim of destabilizing the situation in Ukraine. We recommend, if possible, to ensure the reception of TV signals of TV channels from various alternative sources — T2, cable, OTT, Internet (websites of TV channels, YouTube),” it added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin refuses to confirm or deny if it was forewarned of Iran attack

The Kremlin has refused to confirm or deny whether it was forewarned of Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel last weekend.

When asked by reporters if Russia had been told by its ally that an attack was coming ahead of the assault on Saturday, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov appeared rattled and refused to answer.

“We don’t even want to talk about the escalation of this conflict. This is against the interests of Israel, Iran, and the entire region,” Peskov said, in comments translated by Reuters.

“The Russian Federation continues close, constructive working contacts with Iran,” Peskov said. “We also have constructive contacts with Israel.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov looks on during a visit of CIS heads of state to the Catherine Palace at the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum and Reserve in Saint Petersburg, Russia December 26, 2023. 

Sputnik | Via Reuters

Peskov reiterated calls for a de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East, calling on “countries in the region to exercise reasonable restraint.”

He said he would not characterize the current conflict between Iran and Israel as “indirect,” stating, “When the consulate of one country is destroyed it can hardly be called an indirect conflict.”

Iran attacked Israel after Israel launched an airstrike on an Iranian consular building in Damascus, Syria. Israel has vowed to retaliate against the attack by Iran. Russia and Western nations have called for cool heads in the region.

— Holly Ellyatt

‘Active hostilities’ unfolding in Chasiv Yar area, an immediate target for Russia

“Active hostilities” are unfolding in the area around the town of Chasiv Yar in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, with a Russian official claiming that Russian forces will soon seize the town.

Denis Pushilin, the head of the separatist, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said the “liberation” of Chasiv Yar, a town just a few kilometers west of Bakhmut in Donetsk, was approaching.

“Our units are advancing at different rates in certain areas, but in some areas it is faster,” he told Russian channel Soloviev Live, news agency RIA Novosti reported. “We see that now the most active actions are in the Avdiivka direction, and the Chasov Yar direction, which is also at the center of our attention,” Pushilin said.

This photograph taken on April 2, 2024, shows “dragon’s teeth” fortifications near the town of Chasiv Yar, Donetsk region, amid Russia’s invasion on Ukraine. The eastern city of Chasiv Yar is facing a “difficult and tense” situation, a Ukrainian army official said on March 25, 2024. If Russia took Chasiv Yar, it could step up attacks on the strategic city of Kramatorsk that is already facing growing bombardment. 

Roman Pilipey | Afp | Getty Images

Capturing the town, which Russia calls “Chasov Yar,” is seen as the immediate military objective for Russian forces in the eastern Ukrainian region, with analysts believing the Russians will then use it as a springboard to advance to other towns, including Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

The head of Ukraine’s armed forces warned Sunday that Russia wanted to seize the town by May 9, or Victory Day, when Moscow commemorates the Soviet victory in World War II.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War confirmed Tuesday that Ukrainian air defense shortages were assisting Russian forces’ advances in eastern Ukraine.

“Sparse and inconsistent Ukrainian air defense coverage along the front resulting from shortages in Ukrainian air defense systems and missiles has facilitated Russia’s intensification of guided and unguided glide bomb strikes, which Russian forces used to tactical effect in their seizure of Avdiivka in February 2024 and which Russian forces are using again during their current offensive operations near Chasiv Yar,” the ISW noted in its latest analysis.

— Holly Ellyatt

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