Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Russia carries out new overnight air strikes on Ukraine

A response effort is underway at an apartment building hit by a Russian missile in Zaporizhzhia on Oct.17, 2023.

Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Russian forces carried out new air strikes overnight on targets in eastern, southern and northern Ukraine, Kyiv’s military said on Thursday. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The air force said 17 different weapons, including ballistic and cruise missiles and attack drones, had been used to strike industrial, infrastructure, civilian and military objects.

Ukrainian forces shot down three drones and one cruise missile, it said.

Russia has carried out frequent air strikes since launching its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, including hitting population centres far behind front lines.

Moscow denies deliberately targeting civilians. It did not immediately comment on the latest reported air strikes.

Ukraine began a counteroffensive in the south and east in early June but has made only gradual progress against vast Russian minefields and heavily entrenched Russian forces.

— Reuters

Crimea bridge repaired but likely a heavy ‘security burden’ now, UK says

A road-and-rail bridge constructed to connect the Russian mainland with the Crimean peninsula, seen here in 2018.

REUTERS | Pavel Rebrov

The Crimea bridge linking the annexed Crimean peninsula and Russian mainland has likely become a heavy “security burden” for Russian forces, given repeated attempts to attack the strategically and symbolically important structure.

Last week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin declared that damage from Ukraine’s strike on the Crimean bridge in July had been repaired ahead of schedule.

However, Britain’s Ministry of Defense commented Thursday that although the bridge may now be fully operational, use of it remains restricted in light of procedures that were enacted after the first Ukrainian attack in October 2022. Trucks and fuel supplies continue to be moved by ferry, for example.

“The Crimean bridge will remain a vital link in sustaining Russia’s occupation of Crimea and its forces in southern Ukraine,” the ministry said in an intelligence update on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“However, it is now almost certainly a significant security burden requiring multi-domain protection, including the use of air defence systems and crews who would otherwise be deployed elsewhere.”

The ministry noted that·Russian security forces’ “confidence in their ability to protect this large and vulnerable structure will continue to be threatened by the ingenuity of Ukraine’s military and security services.”

Ukraine typically does not claim responsibility for attacking Russian infrastructure but, in July, the head of its security service said his agency had been responsible for last October’s attack.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia says relations with North Korea have reached a ‘new, strategic level’

Relations between Russia and North Korea have reached a “new, strategic level,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the beginning of his trip to Pyongyang Thursday, Russian state media reported.

Speaking at the meeting with his North Korean counterpart Choe Son Hui at the Kumsusan government residence, Lavrov said relations continued to improve after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“After the historic summit between President Putin and Chairman of State Affairs Kim Jong Un at the Vostochny Cosmodrome on September 13, we can say with confidence that these relations have reached a qualitatively new, strategic level,” Lavrov said, according to comments published by Tass.

Russia’s top diplomat did not give further details, but the comments will fuel concerns that Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are deepening military ties, such as through weaponry supplies, amid the ongoing war in Ukraine. Russia and North Korea deny the allegations.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur region on Sept. 13, 2023.

Vladimir Smirnov | Afp | Getty Images

North Korea’s foreign minister commented that “private meetings of the foreign ministers of the two countries, during which ties of comradeship are strengthened, serve as proof that Korean-Russian bilateral relations, with a long history of friendship, show dynamics of development and are developing with new vitality.”

Western officials expressed concerns that Moscow and Pyongyang were discussing arms deals ahead of, and during, Putin and Kim’s meeting. North Korea denied it would supply weapons to Russia.

Last week, the White House said North Korea recently provided Russia with a shipment of weapons, showing satellite images that it said showed cargo from an ammunition depot in North Korea being loaded onto a Russian-flagged ship before it was taken by rail to a depot near Russia’s southwestern border.

The delivery took place between Sept. 7 and Oct. 1, the U.S. said, as reported by Reuters. The Kremlin rejected the allegations, saying the U.S. did not provide evidence for the claims.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine looks to shake up defense ministry

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country’s defense ministry is working to improve communication with troops and to reduce paperwork and bureaucracy.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense has gone through a number of shake-ups in recent months, losing several key officials after a procurement scandal and then seeing former Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov replaced by Rustem Umerov in early September.

Ukraine’s new Defense Minister Rustem Umerov.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Zelenskyy said he met Umerov and his new team Wednesday to discuss how to the make the ministry more agile and responsive.

“I held a meeting with the Minister of Defense of Ukraine – he presented his team, his program. The composition of the ministry has been updated. There are already the first steps to resolve the issues that the military talked about,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

“Reduce bureaucracy, simplify document flow, all procedures, free up commanders’ time for combat work instead of paperwork,” he added.

Zelenskyy said there will be more “digitalization and clarity” in supplies to troops and that there should also “be more readiness for feedback from the military and overcoming the accumulated problems.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine condemns Russian bill to revoke nuclear test ban treaty

Ukraine released a statement Wednesday condemning Russia’s moves to withdraw from a global nuclear test ban treaty.

A law to revoke Russia’s ratification of the treaty passed through the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, earlier in the day.

“The world is witnessing another provocative step of the aggressor state, aimed at increasing nuclear blackmail,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, according to a Google translation.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) “remains one of the key legal elements of the global security architecture in the area of ​​nuclear arms limitation and nuclear non-proliferation,” the statement said.

“Ukraine condemns Russia’s steps to withdraw ratification of the Treaty and calls on the international community to respond accordingly to Moscow’s provocations aimed at harming the object and purpose of the CTBT.”

The treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996, though eight nations have not ratified it, including the United States.

— Jenni Reid

Putin says U.S. supplying long-range missiles to Ukraine is ‘a mistake’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the U.S. deciding to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles was “a mistake,” in a news conference in Beijing, as reported by Reuters.

“Firstly, this of course causes harm and creates an additional threat. Secondly, we will of course be able to repel these attacks. War is war,” Putin said.

“But most importantly, it fundamentally lacks the capacity to change the situation on the line of contact at all … This is another mistake by the United States,” he added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that Ukraine had fired the first U.S.-supplied, long-range ATACMS missiles in a nightly address. Zelenskyy had repeatedly asked Washington for the weapons to help in its offensive.

BEIJING, CHINA – OCTOBER 18: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his press conference at the Third Belt and Road Forum on October 18, 2023, in Beijing, China. President of Russia Putin and other leaders gathered at the Belt and Road forum, hosted by Chinese Government. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Putin also criticized U.S. involvement in the war more widely.

“A mistake of a larger scale, as yet invisible but still of great importance, is that the United States is becoming more and more personally drawn into this conflict. And let no one say that they have nothing to do with this. We believe they do,” Putin said.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Putin’s ‘nuclear briefcase’ caught on camera, media reports say

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been captured on camera with his so-called “nuclear briefcase,” Reuters news agency reported.

The briefcase, which can allegedly be used to order a nuclear strike, is said to never stray far from Putin’s side and is rarely filmed.

A video still showing an officer with the Russian nuclear briefcase on Oct. 18th, 2023.


The footage shows the Russian leader walking between meetings, the report says, ahead of an entourage of naval officers.

“There are certain suitcases without which no trip of Putin’s is complete,” the Kremlin correspondents of state news agency RIA said in a post on Telegram under the footage, as reported by Reuters.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Putin and Xi ‘exchanged views’ on Israel-Hamas conflict, state media reports

This pool photograph distributed by Russian state owned agency Sputnik shows Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping shaking hands during a meeting in Beijing on October 18, 2023. 

Sergei Guneyev | AFP | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had an “in-depth exchange of views” on the Israel-Hamas conflict, Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported, according to a Google translation.

The two leaders met during Putin’s closely-watched trip to Beijing for the third Belt and Road Forum. The pair also discussed the “no limits” partnership between their two countries during the meeting.

Xi said that “China supports the Russian people in pursuing the path of national rejuvenation independently and safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests,” Xinhua reports.

The Chinese president said that both sides should promote the high-quality development of China-Russia cooperation and “actively explore cooperation in strategic emerging industries.”

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Ukraine strikes Russian field camps in Kursk region

Ukrainian forces launched at least 18 drone strikes on Russian field camps in the Kursk region of Russia, Ukrainian security service sources reportedly told the Kyiv Post and Ukrinform.

The drones hit military field camps near the village of Postoyalye Dvory, which is around 110 kilometers (68 miles) from the Ukrainian border, the Post reported.

Up to 3,000 Russian soldiers and approximately 80 units of military equipment are stationed in the area, according to the reports.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

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