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Ukraine war latest updates: Putin has stolen years of peace, Zelenskyy says; Ukraine's foreign minister muses about 'punching' Russia's Lavrov

1 month ago 829

Zelenskyy decries West's 'weakness' in failing to sanction Russia's nuclear industry

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine's president, during a special address on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday decried the failure of Western allies to sanction Russia's nuclear industry.

In a special address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Zelenskyy said President Vladimir Putin had shown himself a "terrorist" after Russian forces seized Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in 2022.

"It's a clear weakness of the West that Russia's nuclear industry is still not under global sanctions, even though Putin is the only terrorist in the world who took a nuclear power plant hostage," Zelenskyy said.

Tensions around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have persisted throughout the war with Russia and Ukraine accusing each other of endangering the safety and security of the plant during missile strikes around the facility.

Though the European Union has largely weaned itself off Russian fossil fuels, it has found it harder to shake ties with the country's civil nuclear industry, which is a key energy source for several eastern European countries.

— Karen Gilchrist

One man has stolen at least 13 years of peace, Zelenskyy says

Russian President Vladimir Putin has stolen years of peace and threatens not just Ukraine but the wider world, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the World Economic Forum Tuesday.

"One man has stolen at least 13 years of peace, replacing them with pain, pain, pain and crisis that impact the entire world," Zelenskyy told delegates in a keynote speech in Davos.

Saying Putin "embodies war," Zelenskyy said "he will not change."

Ukraine's relationship with Russia started to deteriorate following the election of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2010. He was in office until 2014, when pro-European and anti-Russian protests swept across Ukraine, leading to his removal from power, a move that angered Moscow. Russia accused the West of orchestrating a coup in Ukraine, which it denied, and soon after invaded and annexed Crimea. Russia also supported pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine before it invaded the country in 2022.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine's president, center, is escorted by security from a bilateral meeting on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. The annual Davos gathering of political leaders, top executives and celebrities runs from January 15 to 19. Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Zelenskyy said that anyone who believed the war would be contained to Ukraine was mistaken, warning it could easily spread beyond the country's borders.

The president met international investors in Davos earlier Tuesday, pressing Ukraine's case for private investment. The forum is an opportunity for Zelenskyy to plead Ukraine's case for continuing military and humanitarian aid in front of dozens of heads of state and government, as well as business leaders.

The forum comes at a time when ongoing support for Kyiv looks shaky, given increasing war fatigue and forthcoming elections in the European Parliament and U.S. that could change the dial on military aid.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine's Zelenskyy meets JPMorgan executives, other major investors in Davos

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., left, shakes hands with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukraine's president, center, on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024. The annual Davos gathering of political leaders, top executives and celebrities runs from January 15 to 19. Photographer: Sridhar Natarajan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with JPMorgan's management and other international investors in Davos Tuesday.

"It is important for us to attract private capital to the reconstruction of Ukraine. We hope that JPMorgan will help attract a large number of global investors and corporations to the Ukrainian economy," Zelenskyy said on Telegram.

Ukraine's presidential office released a statement saying that the president had "met with the largest financial funds in the world" Tuesday.

The meeting was also attended by the chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, James Dimon, and other members of the management team, as well as U.S. Special Representative for Economic Recovery of Ukraine Penny Pritzker.

The Vice Chairman of BlackRock Philip Hildebrand also attended as well as the founder of Bridgewater Associates Ray Dalio, the co-founder and co-chairman of the private investment company The Carlyle Group, David Rubinstein, founder and owner of Dell, Michael Dell, head of the investment company Blackstone Group, Stephen Schwartzman, Australian entrepreneur Andrew Forrest and the founder of ArcelorMittal, Lakshmi Mittal.

Zelenskyy discussed "the importance of attracting private capital to projects for the reconstruction of Ukraine," the statement said.

He also emphasized the importance of developing and implementing "blended financing mechanisms that combine private and public capital."

"This is where we see your direct role right now. I know that you are actively cooperating with our team. I look forward to a concrete result," Zelenskyy told business leaders.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine needs to rebuild its revenue base inside the country, economist says

Ukraine is becoming increasingly aware that it needs to boost revenue sources inside the country, rather than external ones.

"The biggest challenge is securing flows of financing from outside," Beata Javorcik, chief economist at the EBRD, told CNBC at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday.

"I think the Ukrainian authorities are understanding that they cannot rely only on external financing and that it is important to get the economy going and to bring the people back and to rebuild the revenue base," she said, speaking to CNBC's Silvia Amaro in Davos, Switzerland.

Communal services and volunteers helping to clear debris from the territory of a residential building that was partly destroyed after a missile attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 3, 2024.

Oleksandr Khomenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Earlier, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told WEF that the West must maintain aid for Kyiv if it wants Kyiv to succeed in its war against Russia.

"Ukraine can prevail in this war but we must continue to empower their resistance," she told delegates during a keynote speech at the economic forum, stating that "Ukrainians need predictable financing throughout 2024 and beyond."

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia is 'failing' on its strategic goals, EU chief says

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen looks on during a press conference.

John Thys | Afp | Getty Images

Russia is "failing" both militarily and economically, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday.

"Russia is failing on strategic goals," von der Leyen said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"It is first and foremost a military failure," she said, noting that Ukraine has thus far retained its "freedom and independence" in its near-two year war with Moscow.

"Russia's failure is also economic," she said, highlighting the impact sanctions have had in isolating the country from trade with Western allies.

"Russia is now dependent on China," she said. Ukraine, meanwhile, is "closer than ever" on its path toward joining the European Union, she added.

— Karen Gilchrist

Neither Russia nor Ukraine has made any real progress in past week, UK says

Neither Russia nor Ukraine has made any notable gains on the battlefield over the past week, Britain's Ministry of Defense said Tuesday.

"Neither Russian nor Ukrainian armed forces have taken significant ground," the ministry said in its latest intelligence update on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Despite progress in late December 2023 in capturing Marinka, Russia has been unable to capitalise and advance either westwards towards Kurakhove or south towards Novomykhalivka," the ministry said, referring to continuing, intense fighting in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

A recently bombed residential area on Dec. 31, 2023, in Avdiivka, Ukraine.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The ministry said the encirclement of Avdiivka in Donetsk likely remains "Russia's key line of effort," although to date, Russia has made "very limited territorial gains at a significant cost in both materiel and personnel."

The ministry said Ukrainian Marines continue to hold a bridgehead in Krynky on the eastern, Russian-occupied bank of the Dnipro river, despite Russian attempts to dislodge them. Ukraine will most likely continue to defend this area throughout next week, the ministry said.

Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin declines to discuss Bloomberg report that Chinese banks tighten curbs for Russians

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

The Kremlin declined to comment on Tuesday on a Bloomberg report that Chinese state-owned banks are tightening curbs on funding to Russian clients for fear of U.S. secondary sanctions, describing it as a highly sensitive topic.

Asked about the report, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was a matter for the companies and departments involved, and not for the Kremlin.

"This is a very, very sensitive area and it is unlikely that anyone will undertake to talk about it - you shouldn't expect that," he said.

"We continue to develop relations with China; it's our very important strategic partner."

Peskov said this was reflected in the higher-than-expected volume of bilateral trade with China, adding "we have confidently surpassed 200 billion (dollars) and continue to grow."

-- Reuters

28 settlements in Kharkiv evacuated due to 'security situation'

Several thousands of people are being evacuated from settlements in Kharkiv, northeast Ukraine, in light of the "security situation" there, the head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration said Tuesday.

"Taking into account the security situation, we are introducing the mandatory evacuation of the population from the Kindrashivska and Kurylivska communities of the Kupiansk district," Oleg Synehubov said on Telegram, listing 28 settlements to be evacuated.

Currently, 3,043 people live in these settlements, and 279 of them are children, he added.

"All evacuees are provided with housing and support from international humanitarian organisations," he said.

Rescuers cordon off the area surrounding a destroyed hotel following a missile strike in Kharkiv, on January 11, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK / AFP) (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images)

Sergey Bobok | Afp | Getty Images

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that airstrikes had hit the Kharkiv region, among others.

"More than 110 towns and villages in the Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, and Mykolaiv regions came under artillery fire," the military update noted.

Zelenskyy and NATO chief meet in Davos

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 16, 2024. 

Denis Balibouse | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier Tuesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Zelenskyy said on Telegram that "many important issues were discussed" during his meeting with the NATO chief.

"The situation on the battlefield, the defence needs of our country, the further strengthening of the Ukrainian air defence system, the preparation of the next NATO summit in Washington, work with partners on bilateral security agreements within the framework of the G7 declaration, which will be in effect until Ukraine joins NATO," he said, thanking the military alliance for its "steady support."

Ukraine is pressing NATO to speed up its accession to the organization, although the chances of membership in the near term are vanishingly slim given the active war in Ukraine and reservations of countries such as Turkey and Hungary.

Russia predicated its February 2022 invasion of Ukraine partly on its opposition to Ukraine's future NATO membership and the bloc's expansion, even though Ukraine's accession was, even then, a remote possibility. NATO refused to bow to Russia's pre-war demands for guarantees that Ukraine would not join the alliance.

Zelenskyy will address delegates in Davos on Tuesday and is expected to use the opportunity to plead Ukraine's case for continuing military and humanitarian aid at a time when ongoing support for Kyiv looks shaky, given increasing war fatigue and forthcoming elections in Europe and the U.S.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine foreign minister muses about 'punching' Russia's Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (not pictured) attend their meeting in Antalya, Turkey March 10, 2022.

Turkish Foreign Ministry | Reuters

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, in an interview made public on Monday, said there had been times when he had felt the urge to "punch in the face" his Russian opposite number Sergei Lavrov in talks during the early stage of Moscow's invasion.

Kuleba's brief remarks were part of an hour-long informal interview with a Ukrainian video blogger focusing on topics ranging from cooking to hobbies and Ukrainian soccer.

When asked, as part of a series of rapid-fire questions, about his most difficult set of negotiations, Kuleba said: "The most difficult talks are those in which you feel simply that you want to go and punch your opposite number in the nose, but you really can't do that.

"And I can say that this occurred two or three times. One occasion was with Lavrov in (the Turkish resort of) Antalya in spring of 2022."

Ukrainian and Russian negotiators met for several rounds of talks in the early weeks after the February 2022 invasion -- first near Ukraine's border with Belarus and later in Turkey.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a news conference after meeting with his counterparts Russian Sergei Lavrov and Turkish Mevlut Cavusoglu, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Antalya, Turkey March 10, 2022.

Murad Sezer | Reuters

Kuleba said at the time that the talks in Turkey had been difficult and dealt with a ceasefire and arranging humanitarian corridors. No agreement was clinched in those talks and there have been no negotiations since.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejects talks with Moscow until Russian troops are withdrawn from the slightly less than 20% of Ukraine they now hold. Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin says Russia is ready for talks but has vowed to pursue what Moscow calls its "special military operation".

In Moscow, Russia Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Kuleba's latest remarks underscored the incompetence of Ukraine's leadership.

"And that is the problem: uneducated, aggressive people were recruited under the guise of serving as ministers to ruin Ukraine for American money," Zakharova told the daily Izvestia.

"Perhaps he belongs in a no-holds-barred bout rather than the foreign ministry?"

— Reuters

Russian city of Voronezh declares state of emergency after drone attack

The Russian city of Voronezh introduced a state of emergency Tuesday morning after an alleged Ukrainian drone attack injured a 13-year-old girl and damaged apartment buildings.

The city's mayor Vadim Kstenin said on Telegram that a "night raid" damaged four residential buildings, breaking dozens of windows. He said a state of emergency had been introduced in the city to allow an assessment of the damage and repairs to be made.

Russia's Ministry of Defense stated on Telegram that five drones (UAVS) were shot down over the Voronezh region overnight.

"Tonight, attempts by the Kyiv regime to carry out terrorist attacks using aircraft-type UAVs against targets on the territory of the Russian Federation were stopped," the ministry said.

"Duty air defense systems destroyed five and intercepted three Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles over the territory of the Voronezh region, four UAVs were intercepted over the territory of the Belgorod region," it noted.

Earlier, the governor of the wider Voronezh region, Alexander Gusev, said Russian air defense systems had "repelled an attack by Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles," or drones.

Gusev noted on Telegram that the Ministry of Emergency Situations had stated that debris from one of the UAVs fell into an apartment and a 13-year-old girl had been injured as a result.

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information and Ukraine has not commented on the attack. Ukraine and Russia both deny targeting civilians in the war. Ukraine increased drone attacks against Russian territory, with the border city Belgorod coming under repeated attack around the New Year, causing Russia to retaliate.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine's Zelenskyy prepares to address business, political elite at Davos

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday.

The address offers Zelenskyy an opportunity to plead Ukraine's case for continuing military and humanitarian aid in front of dozens of heads of state and government, as well as business leaders. The forum comes at a time when ongoing support for Kyiv looks shaky, given increasing war fatigue and forthcoming elections in the European Parliament and the U.S. that could change the dial on military aid.

The address will take place at 14:15-15:00 CET, or 13:15 London time.

View of Davos, Switzerland ahead of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting on Jan. 15th, 2024.

Adam Galici | CNBC

Ukrainian officials presented Kyiv's 10-point peace plan on the eve of WEF. But with Russia and its ally China absent from the event, little tangible progress was made toward actual peace talks.

Presenting the "peace formula" to delegates from 83 countries, Ukraine's presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said Sunday that China needs to be involved in future talks to end the war with Russia. Moscow said peace plan talks were useless without its presence.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine posts $24.35 billion trade deficit for Jan to Nov

Ukraine posted a trade deficit of $24.35 billion in the first 11 months of 2023, the statistics service said on Monday.

Exports of goods totaled $32.98 billion from January to November while imports reached $57,33 billion in the same period, the service said in a statement.


EU's eastern members demand import duties on Ukraine grains

The European Union's eastern states are demanding the EU impose import duties on Ukraine grains, citing unfair competition, Hungary's agricultural ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said the farm ministers from Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia had sent a letter to the European Commission requesting the measures, saying cheaper agricultural products from Ukraine are eating into their export markets.

The five signatories are among six EU member states that produce significantly more wheat and maize than they need, which is key for European food safety and the EU's strategic sovereignty, the ministers said.

"This is why Brussels needs to introduce measures that protect the markets of member states bordering Ukraine while helping them make use of their full export potential," the letter signed by the ministers including Hungary's Farm Minister Istvan Nagy, said.

"One of these [measures] could be introducing import duties on the most sensitive agricultural products."

Polish protesters block the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing Hrebenne during a strike on December 1, 2023 in Hrebenne, Poland.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine's larger farm sizes make the country's grain exports cheaper and that is pushing EU farmers out of their traditional export markets, the ministers said. Farmers in Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia "have suffered significant damages" since the EU suspended import quotas and customs on grain from Ukraine last year, they said.

The ministers are also calling on the European Commission, the bloc's executive, to examine in a report whether Ukraine's production guidelines are in line with EU standards.

The complaints were addressed to EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and Farm Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski.

Grain exports have been a rare source of tension between Kyiv and its EU neighbours as Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia became alternative transit routes for Ukrainian grain to help offset slower exports via Ukraine's Black Sea ports after the Russian invasion in 2022.

— Reuters

Mon, Jan 15 20248:59 AM EST

Kremlin says it has no information on war planes allegedly downed by Ukraine

The Kremlin said Monday it has no information about two Russian war planes that Ukraine claimed to have shot down.

Ukraine said on Monday it had destroyed a Russian Beriev A-50 spy plane and an Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command post in the Sea of Azov area. If the information is verified, the destruction of costly air force assets would be a blow to Russia.

The Kremlin's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said he had no information on the incident, however.

"No, there is no information," Peskov said when asked about the alleged strikes, news agency TASS reported.

"Then, after all, this is a topic that concerns the progress of a special military operation." Russia's Ministry of Defense has not commented on Ukraine's claims.

— Holly Ellyatt

Mon, Jan 15 20247:22 AM EST

Russian and Iranian ministers hold talks, set to sign 'major' agreement

Russian and Iranian foreign and defense ministers held telephone calls and are due to sign a major agreement, Russian state news agency RIA reported.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke to their Iranian counterparts and the defense ministry later announced Moscow and Tehran would sign "a major interstate agreement."

"The parties emphasized their commitment to the fundamental principles of Russian-Iranian relations, including unconditional respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity, which will be confirmed in the major interstate agreement being prepared for signing between the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran," the statement said, RIA reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdoulahian hold a joint press conference following their talks in Moscow on March 29, 2023.

Yuri Kochetkov | Afp | Getty Images

It's unclear what the agreement pertains to. Russia and Iran have grown closer in recent years, particularly since Russia invaded Ukraine and started procuring Iranian-made drones. Russia has not commented on its drone supply, while Tehran has admitted to supplying drones but said it did so before the war.

Russia and Iran have also become more aligned over Middle Eastern affairs, criticizing Israel for its attacks on Palestinian territory and Iran-backed militant group Hamas.

Shoigu noted that Moscow and Tehran are increasing joint efforts "to create an equal multipolar world," the RIA news agency added, saying that both parties had discussed "issues of military and military-technical cooperation and exchanged views on regional security issues."

— Holly Ellyatt

Mon, Jan 15 20246:54 AM EST

Ukraine says it destroys Russian spy plane and airborne command post

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 9 : Beriev A-50, airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76 transport, performs during a Victory Day military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, the Eastern Front of World War II, amid coronavirus (Covid-19) precautions at Red Square in Moscow, Russia on May 09, 2020. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

Ukraine said on Monday it had destroyed a Russian Beriev A-50 spy plane and an Ilyushin Il-22 airborne command post in the Sea of Azov area, dealing a blow to Russian military operations in occupied southern Ukraine.

"Ukraine's Air Force destroyed an enemy A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft and an enemy IL-22 air control centre," army chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

"I am grateful to the Air Force for the perfectly planned and executed operation in the Azov Sea region!"

Reuters was unable to verify the statement independently. The Russian defence ministry did not immediately respond to a written request for comment.

The Ukrainian defence ministry valued the A-50 aircraft at $330 million. Kyiv's statements did not say how the planes had been destroyed.

The A-50, which first came into service near the end of the Soviet era, is a large Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft that can scan an area several hundred kilometres across for enemy aircraft, ships and missiles.

Some Russian military bloggers said the downing of the aircraft would be a huge loss for Russia's air force, since there was a limited number of the planes in service.

"It will be another dark day for the Russian Aerospace Forces and Air Defense," wrote Rybar, a blogger with nearly 1.2 million subscribers that supports and provides running commentary on Russia's war in Ukraine.

"There are not many A-50s. And the specialists operating them are generally rare. If an aircraft of this type is hit, the crew will not be able to escape." It was not clear how many A-50s Russia has in service.

— Reuters

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