Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

North Korea and Russia to team up on ‘military cooperation plan,’ state media reports

North Korean state media site Yunhap reported that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reached an agreement with Kim Jong Un on a “large-scale military cooperation plan” during his time in North Korea last month, according to a Google translation of the report.

“It is judged that Minister Shoigu met with Chairman Kim Jong-un alone and agreed on a plan for military cooperation in a broad framework,” North Korea’s National Intelligence Service said, according to the report.

Russia allegedly proposed sales of artillery shells and missiles, and joint training, while North Korea requested loans of Western weapons and technical support, the report said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited North Korea in late July for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, celebrated in North Korea as “Victory Day.”

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Shoigu visited North Korea in late July for the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, celebrated in North Korea as “Victory Day.”

He accompanied Kim Jong Un to a defense exhibition featuring the North’s banned ballistic missiles as the neighbors pledged to boost ties, North Korean state media reported at the time.

CNBC was unable to independently verify the claims made in this report.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Putin does not care about global food security, U.S. government spokesperson says

The U.S. once again condemned Russia’s attacks on grain infrastructure in Ukraine in a press briefing by government spokesperson Vedant Patel Wednesday.

Patel made the comments on reports of Russian drone attacks having damaged warehouses and granaries in a Ukrainian port near the Danube River, in addition to port infrastructure in Odesa, Reni and Izmail.

Wheat grain in a storage facility in the village in Kyiv region, Ukraine.

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“This escalation demonstrates Moscow continues to prevent grain and foodstuffs from reaching those who need it most throughout the world,” Patel said.

“It is unacceptable. Putin simply does not care about global food security,” he added.

Danube ports have become the primary export route for Ukrainian grain since Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Ukraine says it has no hope of using F-16 fighter jets this year

Ukraine will not be able to use U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets in 2023, air force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat told Ukrainian television Wednesday night, according to Reuters.

“It’s already obvious we won’t be able to defend Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets during this autumn and winter,” Ihnat reportedly said in a joint telethon broadcast by Ukrainian channels.

Ukraine has repeatedly asked Western allies to provide F-16 fighter jets, which the country sees as a key element in defeating Russian forces.

A media bus next to the Main Media Center in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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U.S. President Joe Biden endorsed training Ukrainian pilots to use F-16s in May, but has not given a timeline for when planes would be delivered.

“We had big hopes for this plane, that it will become part of air defence, able to protect us from Russia’s missiles and drones terrorism,” Ihnat said, as reported by Reuters.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Zelenskyy advisor slams idea of giving up territory for NATO membership

Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during an interview with AFP in Kyiv, on July 19, 2023.

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Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, described any suggestion Ukraine could cede territory in exchange for NATO membership as “ridiculous.”

“That means deliberately choosing the defeat of democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law, and passing the war on to other generations,” Podolyak wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

It follows a report in the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that NATO chief of staff Stian Jenssen said in a Tuesday panel discussion: “I think that a solution could be for Ukraine to give up territory, and get NATO membership in return.”

CNBC did not attend the panel event and has reached out to Jenssen for comment.

— Jenni Reid

Russia drone strikes damage grain storage in Danube port, governor says

Russian drone attacks on a Ukrainian port on the Danube river caused a fire and damaged warehouses and granaries, Odesa regional governor Oleh Kiper said in a Telegram post, according to a Google translation.

There were no deaths or injuries, Kiper said, later adding anti-aircraft defense systems had destroyed 11 attack drones.

Images posted by Kiper show grain spilled onto the ground and structural damage. CNBC has not independently verified the report or images.

Danube ports have become the primary export route for Ukrainian grain since Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July.

— Jenni Reid

Ukraine says cargo ship using Black Sea corridor despite continued tensions

Grain ship on the Black Sea on July 17, 2023.

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Ukraine said Wednesday a cargo ship was using a temporary corridor for cargo ships exiting and entering Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea amid continued uncertainty over Russia’s response to such vessels.

The ship was named as the Joseph Schulte, traveling under the Hong Kong flag.

“The first vessel is moving along the temporary corridor established for civilian vessels to/from the Black Sea seaports,” Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Telegram, according to a Google translation.

Ukraine’s navy announced the corridor on Aug. 10. Russia in July pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had facilitated the export of Ukrainian agricultural goods through the war, sparking concerns over global food supply.

Cargo ships have been stuck in various ports since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia said in July it would consider all Ukraine-bound ships as potential carriers of military equipment. Tensions heightened on Sunday when Moscow said one of its warships had fired warning shots at a cargo vessel in the Black Sea, a move Ukraine called “provocative.”

— Jenni Reid

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