Ukraine war live updates: Kyiv says Russia could launch new offensive on war anniversary; Zelenskyy meets with EU officials






Ukraine hopes to join EU quickly may clash with bloc’s timeline, says former U.S. envoy to Russia

Ukraine wants to fast-track its membership application for the European Union, but that could clash with the bloc’s timeline, according to a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

“With respect to fast track, the Ukrainians are very set on this. They think that these long timelines don’t apply to them because they’ve done so many of the reforms necessary before they got on the track,” Michael McFaul, now a director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, at Stanford University, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“I think Brussels has a somewhat different view and let’s wait to see what they come out with tomorrow, in terms of the update where Ukraine is,” he added.

His comments come ahead of the Ukraine and EU summit due to take place in Kyiv on Friday.

It will host European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other top EU officials, with hopes high in Kyiv that its application to join the EU will progress quickly.

— Sumathi Bala

Backlog of 27 ships with Ukrainian agricultural goods wait to depart for global destinations

Ships, including those carrying grain from Ukraine and awaiting inspections, are seen anchored off the Istanbul coastline on November 02, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of Ukrainian crops said there is a backlog of 27 vessels loaded with agricultural goods that are waiting to depart for their global destinations.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations, eased Russia’s naval blockade and saw the reopening of three key Ukrainian ports.

Since the deal was signed, more than 690 ships carrying 19.2 million metric tons of grain and other food products have left Ukrainian waters.

Kyiv has previously blamed Moscow for holding up inspections and delaying vessel movements.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian soccer great Shevchenko urges IOC to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from Olympic Games

A supporter waves a Russian flag in front of the logo of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at their headquarters on December 5, 2017 in Pully near Lausanne, Switzerland.

Fabrice Coffrini | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian former soccer player Andriy Shevchenko urged the International Olympic Committee to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing in the Olympic Games until the war in Ukraine ends.

“There is no politics in sport. But this war is more than just politics,” Shevchenko wrote on Facebook.

“Sports competitions of a high level, like the Olympics, are opportunities to share a message to all people on Earth at once. If athletes from Russia or Belarus enter the arena, with or without flags, it reflects this statement from the Olympics Committee to the whole world — the war is over,” he wrote.

“But the war is not over. Every day war destroys our cities, ruins the childhood of our kids and threatens our existence,” the former Ukrainian national team and Chelsea player added.

The International Olympic Committee has mulled a process by which

— Amanda Macias

‘It is impossible to imagine a united Europe without Ukraine,’ Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen speak after a joint press conference after talks in Kyiv on February 2, 2023.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that he aims to start the negotiations toward Ukraine joining the European Union.

“I hope that we will be able to announce that soon,” Zelenskyy said.

“Ukraine and the European Union are no longer separate subjects of European life. Our values are common. Our fate is shared. Our enemy is common. Our defense is joint. And therefore, our lives are united. It is impossible to imagine a united Europe without Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said on his official Telegram channel, according to an NBC News translation.

— Amanda Macias

Residents in Kramatorsk receive donated plywood to repair their homes after Russian missile strikes

Citizens are given pieces of plywood to repair their houses damaged in the attack after a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk region.

A Russian missile attack on the city destroyed garages and streets in the center of the city, with at least 3 people killed and 20 citizens wounded in the attack.

People receive plywood to close broken windows after a rocket strike hit a residential building in Kramatorsk on February 2, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. – At least three people were killed on February 2, 2023, and 20 wounded when a Russian rocket struck a residential building in the centre of Kramatorsk, located in Ukraine’s eastern industrial region of Donetsk.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

Citizens carry piece of wood which will use to repair their house damaged in the attack after a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on February 02, 2023. 

Marek M. Berezowski | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Citizens use piece of wood to repair damaged window after a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on February 02, 2023.

Marek M. Berezowski/ | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Citizens carry piece of wood which will use to repair their house damaged in the attack after a Russian missile strike in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on February 02, 2023. 

Marek M. Berezowski | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Marek M. Berezowski/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Zelenskky vows to ‘drive out the evil’ from Ukraine

Zelenskyy said winter shelters with basic services including heat, water and a first-aid kit would be freely available to citizens across the country.

Handout | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukrainians will “drive out the evil” from his country.

“We believe in God. We do not allow despair. Thanks to the bravery of our soldiers. Thanks to the help of friends of freedom in the world, thanks to President Biden and all of you, the leaders and people who help,” Zelenskyy said during a taped address before the National Prayer Breakfast.

“We have been standing against evil for almost a year. We are united, as we have not been for a long time. And we are brave our heroic soldiers have already hit evil on the battlefield,” he added.

— Amanda Macias

Key U.S. officials hold call with Zelenskyy’s office

U.S. Joint Chiefs Chair Army General Mark Milley speaks during a news briefing after participating a virtual Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, November 16, 2022.

Tom Brenner | Reuters

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to Andriy Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, according to a Ukrainian readout of the call.

Milley and Sullivan were briefed on the current situation on the frontline, particularly in the Donetsk region.

Yermak thanked the U.S. for its recent security assistance package and assured Milley and Sullivan that “Zelenskyy and the entire government team are committed to comprehensively contributing to cleansing the authorities from corruption risks.”

— Amanda Macias

Norway PM says oil profits to fund more aid to Ukraine

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere visits Equinor’s LNG facility in Melkoeya, outside Hammerfest, on January 31, 2023.

Ole Berg-Rusten | AFP | Getty Images

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store of Norway said that the oil-rich Scandinavian country will become one of the world’s top donors to Ukraine when his two-party center-left government presents another planned military and civilian aid package.

Norway’s profits from oil will finance the additional aid, and there will be a temporary increase in the use of oil money, Gahr Store told the Norwegian parliament. He did not reveal how large the contribution will be, but he said the government would make it soon.

“We are in a situation where we have room for action due to extraordinary income from the petroleum sector,” said the prime minister, who leads Norway’s Labor Party. He said the aid would be arranged in a way that has very little impact on the level of activity in the Norwegian economy.

Norway is one of Europe’s largest fossil-fuel exporters, and the conflict in Ukraine has boosted its gas revenues. However, Norway has fended off accusations that it’s profiting from the war in Ukraine. Last year, the country gave Ukraine more 10 billion kroner ($1 billion) in civilian and military aid.

— Associated Press

U.S. Treasury official addresses Russian sanctions evasion during UAE visit

A man jogs past the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, January 20, 2023.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

A U.S. Treasury official reiterated the department’s commitment to unearth and quash sanctions evasions in Russia and Iran.

Brian E. Nelson, under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, met with UAE senior officials this week to discuss collaborative efforts toward counter-financing terrorism and anti-money laundering. The under secretary also shared that the U.S. will take additional measures against sanctions evaders and those who aid them.

On Wednesday, Treasury issued 22 sanctions against a global sanctions evasion network supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

—Chelsey Cox

Zelenskyy meets with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen meet in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ukraine has sought military, financial and humanitarian aid from the European Union in the nearly one year since Russia invaded. Zelenskyy has also aimed to deepen ties with the EU in hopes of joining the bloc eventually.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen speak after a joint press conference after talks in Kyiv on February 2, 2023.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (R) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L) sign a Ukrainian flag after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 02, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (C) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (L) pose for a photo with Ukrainian and European Union flags after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 02, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Kuleba thanks EU for latest 500 million euro security assistance package

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba thanked the European Union for its latest security package of 500 million euros for Kyiv’s fight against Russia.

“I am thankful for the EU’s vital security assistance which brings us closer to defeating the Russian aggressor,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

— Amanda Macias

European delegation in Kyiv to discuss strengthening ties, EU membership

Ukraine’s President Volodymy Zelenskyy welcomed a delegation of top European Union officials to Kyiv on Thursday for two days of important talks of strengthening ties between the country and the bloc, as well as the more thorny issue of Ukraine’s application to join the EU.

“We are starting two very important European integration days in Ukraine. This is the time when our joint agreements and decisions here in Kyiv will mean the strengthening of the entire Europe,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram.

Earlier Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Kyiv with other EU officials, tweeting that it was good to be back in Ukraine’s capital for talks. An EU-Ukraine summit is due to take place Friday.

Zelenskyy said Tuesday that Kyiv was preparing new reforms as it looks to woo the EU to fast-track its membership application. The reforms, Zelenskyy said, would “change the social, legal and political reality in many ways, making it more human, transparent and effective.”

“We are expecting news for Ukraine. We are expecting the decisions from our partners in the European Union that will be in line with the level of cooperation achieved between our institutions and the EU, as well as with our progress,” Zelenskyy added.

Ukraine applied to join the 27-member political and economic bloc last year, just days after Russia invaded in February, and wants its application fast-tracked. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said earlier this week that Kyiv hopes it can join the EU within two years.

Other counties in Europe, such as North Macedonia and Montenegro, have been waiting more than a decade to have their membership applications progress, however, and there are expectations that EU officials could try to temper Ukraine’s expectations during their visit.

—Holly Ellyatt

Russia could launch large-scale offensive on Feb.24, Ukraine’s defense minister says

Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov speaks during presentation of distinctions and diplomas to residents of Kyiv on January 17, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Kyiv believes Russia will launch a new offensive on February 24, the one-year anniversary of the invasion.

Speaking to France’s BFM TV network Wednesday evening, Reznikov said Ukraine’s armed forces are expecting a new, large-scale military action by Russia in the coming weeks

“We think that, given that they [the Russians] live in symbolism, they will try to try something around February 24,” Reznikov said, BFM TV reported, in comments translated by Google.

“We do not underestimate our enemy,” Reznikov said. He claimed that the true number of troops Russia has mobilized since last September to fight in Ukraine could be around half a million — far more than announced by President Vladimir Putin.

“Officially, they announced 300,000 [soldiers were being mobilized], but when we see the troops at the borders, according to our assessments it is much more,” the minister said.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hinted that his country has plans to overshadow pro-Ukrainian events around the world to mark the first anniversary of the war, Reuters reported.

Lavrov said Russian diplomats were working on something to ensure Western-led events were “not the only ones to gain the world’s attention,” without providing further details.

— Holly Ellyatt

More explosions reported in Kramatorsk, day after deadly missile strike

More explosions have been reported in the city of Kramatorsk in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, less than 24 hours after residential buildings were destroyed and damaged during a missile strike Wednesday night.

“Kramatorsk again suffered from the explosions — the Russians launched two more missile strikes,” Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, said on Telegram, according to a Google translation of his comments.

“Once again — the center of the city was hit, residential buildings. According to preliminary information, there are wounded among civilians.”

More details would be released soon, he said. CNBC was unable to immediately verify the report.

Rescue workers conduct search and rescue operation after Russian missile hits the residential building in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on February

Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Search and rescue teams were already looking for survivors of a deadly rocket attack on residential buildings in Kramatorsk which occurred Wednesday evening. During the attack, an apartment block was completely destroyed and eight other buildings were damaged, killing at least three people and wounding 20 others, Donetsk’s police force said.

It added that Russian troops had targeted a residential sector of the city with an “Iskander-K” cruise missile.

— Holly Ellyatt

Top Ukrainian and U.S. officials discuss war, possible next moves by Russia

Ukraine’s presidential office said Thursday that the Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak and Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, had spoken on the phone with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley (pictured) on Thursday.

Andre Pain | AFP | Getty Images

Top Ukrainian officials have held talks with their U.S. counterparts regarding the military situation in Ukraine, looking ahead to Russia’s offensive action expected imminently.

Ukraine’s presidential office said Thursday that the Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak and Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, had spoken on the phone with U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley on Thursday.

“They were informed about the current situation at the front, in particular in the Donetsk and Southern directions,” the president’s office said in a statement, adding that “there was an exchange of views regarding the possible actions of the enemy in the near future.”

Ukraine thanks the U.S. for its ongoing support, the statement read, in terms of its defense capabilities and its anti-corruption crackdown, saying the government is “determined to comprehensively contribute to the cleansing of authorities from corruption risks.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Austria expels four Russian diplomats

Austrian police stand guard in front of the Russian embassy in Vienna.

Alex Halada | Afp | Getty Images

Austria named four Russian diplomats, two at the Russian Embassy and two working at Moscow’s mission to the United Nations in Vienna, as personae non gratae, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

The diplomats are alleged to have acted “in a manner incompatible with their diplomatic status,” the ministry said, without giving further details. The move is unusual for Austria, which has traditionally enjoyed cordial relations with Russia before Moscow invaded Ukraine.

The four diplomats have a week to leave Austria, the ministry said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s Lavrov promises to overshadow pro-Ukraine anniversary events

A Russian soldier walks amid the rubble in Mariupol’s eastern side where fierce fighting between Russia/pro-Russia forces and Ukraine on March 15, 2022.

Maximilian Clarke | SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that Moscow had plans to overshadow pro-Ukrainian events arranged by Western and allied countries around the world to mark the anniversary of Russia sending its armed forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Lavrov said Russian diplomats were working on something to ensure Western-led events in New York and elsewhere were “not the only ones to gain the world’s attention,” without providing details.

— Reuters

Russia likely damaging its reputation as an arms exporter, UK says

Military vehicles at a plant that is part of Russian missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey, in St. Petersburg, on Jan. 18, 2023.

Ilya Pitalev | Afp | Getty Images

It’s highly likely that Russia’s role as a reliable arms exporter is being undermined by its invasion of Ukraine and international sanctions and could be disrupted for several years, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Thursday.

“Even before the invasion, Russia’s share of the international arms market was declining. Now, when faced with conflicting demands, Russia will almost certainly prioritise deploying newly produced weapons with its own forces in Ukraine over supplying export partners,” the ministry said in its daily intelligence update.

A shortage of components is likely affecting the production of equipment for export, such as armored vehicles, attack helicopters and air defense systems, the ministry noted.

“In addition, Russia’s ability to sustain support services for existing export contracts, such as providing spare parts and maintenance, is likely to be seriously disrupted for at least the next three to five years,” it added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Rescue operations continue in Kramatorsk

Firefighters work among debris of a building destroyed by a rocket strike in Kramatorsk on February 2, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

Emergency services continue to work in Kramatorsk Thursday after a residential building was destroyed during a Russian rocket attack last night.

As a result of the attack, three storeys of a four-story residential building were destroyed, with the blast then setting fire to parked cars, the State Emergency Service said on Telegram.

Rescue workers conduct search and rescue operation after Russian missile hits the residential building in Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on February 02, 2023. At least three people were killed and 20 wounded in an attack.

Marek M. Berezowski | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Three people died in the attack and two others have been rescued. A total of 18 people were injured as a result of the attack, and eight of them have been hospitalized. The emergency services said 183 people and 18 units have been involved in rescue operations.

— Holly Ellyatt

‘We all want this to end’ but what matters is war’s outcome — not duration, Lavrov says

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said everyone wants the conflict in Ukraine to end, but what matters to Russia is the outcome of the war, not the duration.

Alexander Zemlianichenko | Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said everyone wants the conflict in Ukraine to end, but what matters to Russia is the outcome of the war, not the duration.

“We all want this to end, but it’s not the time factor that matters here … [but] the quality of the results that we will provide for our people, for those people who want to remain part of Russian culture,” Lavrov told TV journalist Dmitry Kiselev on Thursday in comments reported by state news agency Tass.

Lavrov added that the more long-range weapons are supplied to Kyiv, the further they need to be moved away from Russia and territory that it considers Russian (such as Crimea and four Ukrainian regions it declared it had annexed last year).

“If now we are striving to move the artillery of the Ukrainian armed forces to a distance that will not pose a threat to our territories, then the more long-range weapons are supplied to the Kyiv regime, the further they will need to be moved away from the territories that are part of our country,” Lavrov said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Search for survivors continues after Kramatorsk rocket attack

Rescuers remove debris to search for survivors at a destroyed apartment building hit by a rocket in downtown Kramatorsk on Feb. 1, 2023.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

The search for survivors is continuing in Kramatorsk after a deadly rocket attack on residential buildings in the city in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

More than 100 police officers are working at the site of the attack in which three civilians were killed and 20 wounded, the Donetsk police said in a statement Wednesday night.

The police said Russian troops had targeted a residential sector of the city with an “Iskander-K” missile — a Russian-made mobile short-range cruise missile, adding that at least eight apartment buildings were damaged and one of them was completely destroyed.

“People may still remain under the rubble. The enemy attack took place at 21:45 [local time]. A search and rescue operation is currently underway,” the police said in comments translated by NBC News.

Rescuers remove debris to search for survivors at a destroyed apartment building hit by a rocket during the night in Kramatorsk on February 1, 2023.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

It added that 11 investigative and operative groups, explosives experts, dog experts, paramedics, patrol police and other units were working on site. The police said that they are documenting the incident as a war crime.

Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilian infrastructure during the war but numerous residential buildings, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure such as schools and theaters have been damaged or destroyed during the almost one-year long conflict.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine says Russia is actively conducting reconnaissance, preparing for offensive

Russia is actively conducting reconnaissance operations and is preparing for an offensive in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, the military said Thursday.

Russia “is active in reconnaissance and preparing for an offensive on certain axes,” a spokesperson for the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Oleksandr Shtupun, said in an update Thursday morning.

“Despite heavy losses, Russians continue to attempt offensives on Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Novopavlivka axes,” he said.

On the previous day, Russia launched six missile strikes, four of which targeted civilian infrastructure in the settlements of Sloviansk, Kramatorsk, and Druzhkivka (in the Donetsk region), as well as four air strikes and 73 strikes using MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket Systems), Shtupun said.

CNBC was unable to verify the information, although missile strikes were reported in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk on Wednesday, including a deadly attack on residential buildings in Kramatorsk in which at least three people died and 20 others were injured.

“The threat of Russian air and missile strikes across Ukraine remains high,” Shtupun said.

Ukrainian servicemen make a trench near Bakhmut on Feb. 1, 2023, as they prepare for a Russian offensive in the area.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

Russian forces and mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a private military company, have been attempting to capture Bakhmut in Donetsk for months and have claimed to have made advances toward their target in recent weeks. Several Russian officials said Wednesday that Bakhmut was essentially surrounded on three sides.

Ukraine’s General Staff said Wednesday that its forces had repelled attacks in the vicinities of various settlements in Donetsk, including Bakhmut, and neighboring Luhansk.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukrainian prosecutor general says Russia has committed more than 65,000 war crimes, reiterates calls for special tribunal

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin participates in a panel discussion at Georgetown Law in Washington, D.C., on February 1, 2023.

Amanda Macias | CNBC

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said Wednesday that regional authorities have registered more than 65,000 Russian war crimes since Moscow’s conflict began nearly a year ago.

“We have all witnessed with horror the evidence of atrocities committed in Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol, Izium, Kherson, Kharkiv regions and other liberated cities and towns,” Kostin said, adding that Ukrainian authorities have discovered mass burial sites in areas occupied by Russian troops.

“These crimes are not incidental or accidental, they include indiscriminate shelling of civilians, willful killing, torture, conflict-related sexual violence, looting and forced displacement on a massive scale,” he added in remarks at the Georgetown Law School in Washington.

His comments add to an emerging picture of the horrors experienced during nearly a year of war in Ukraine. The conflict has shown few signs of ending soon, even as local and international officials try to probe potential crimes committed over recent months in Ukraine.

In a separate discussion with journalists, Kostin said he believed Kyiv was close to gaining U.S. support to establish a special tribunal to prosecute Russia’s crimes of aggression.

Read the full story here.

— Amanda Macias

Russian journalist sentenced for speaking out on Ukraine

Television journalist Alexander Nevzorov speaks in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Feb. 24, 2012.

Sergei Konkov | AP

A court in Moscow sentenced a Russian journalist in absentia to eight years in prison on charges of disparaging the military, the latest move in the authorities’ relentless crackdown on dissent.

Alexander Nevzorov, a television journalist and former lawmaker, was convicted on charges of spreading false information about the military under a law that was adopted soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine. The law effectively exposes anyone critical of the Russian military action in Ukraine to fines and prison sentences of up to 10 years.

Nevzorov was accused of posting “false information” on social media about the Russian shelling of a maternity hospital in the Sea of Azov port of Mariupol. Moscow has fiercely denied its involvement.

Nevzorov, who moved abroad after the start of the Ukrainian conflict, didn’t have an immediate comment on the verdict.

— Associated Press

Ex-Wagner Group member apologizes to Ukrainians in Norway

A pedestrian walks past a mural depicting the logo of the Russian mercenary ‘Group Wagner’ and a slogan in Russian by the informal pro-Russia organisation ‘Narodna Patrola (lit.: People Patrol), on January 20, 2023 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Srdjan Stevanovic | Getty Images

A former member of the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group who’s seeking asylum in Norway has apologized to Ukrainians living in the Scandinavian country, who object to his presence there.

“I’m a scoundrel to you, but I only ask you to take into account that I have come to realize that, albeit belatedly, and I spoke against all that,” Andrey Medvedev said in an excerpt from his interview to Norwegian broadcaster NRK that was posted online Tuesday. “I ask you not to condemn me, and in any case I apologize.”

Medvedev who has said that he fears for his life if he returns to Russia, lives in a center for asylum seekers in Oslo. He illegally crossed into Norway, which has a 198-kilometer (123-mile) -long border with Russia, earlier this month.

Medvedev has said that he left the Wagner Group after his contract was extended beyond the July-November timeline without his consent. He said he’s willing to testify about any war crimes he witnessed and denied participating in any himself.

— Associated Press

Ukraine raids home of billionaire in war-time anti-corruption crackdown

A picture taken on March 2015 by Unian agency shows Ukrainian billionaire Igor Kolomoisky speaking during the Ukrainian Football Federation session in Kiev. Ukraine’s president has dismissed Igor Kolomoisky, one of the country’s most controversial tycoons from his regional governor’s post, his office said on March 25, 2015.

Vladyslav Musienko | AFP | Getty Images

Security services searched the home of one of Ukraine’s most prominent billionaires, moving against a figure once seen as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s sponsor in what the authorities called a war-time anti-corruption purge.

Photographs circulating on social media appeared to show Ihor Kolomoiskiy dressed in a sweatsuit and looking on in the presence of an SBU security service officer at his home.

The action, days before a summit with the European Union, appears to reflect determination by Kyiv to demonstrate that it can be a steward of billions of dollars in Western aid and shed a reputation as one of the world’s most corrupt states.

The SBU said it had uncovered the embezzlement of more than $1 billion at Ukraine’s biggest oil company, Ukrnafta, and its biggest refiner, Ukrtatnafta. Kolomoiskiy, who has long denied wrongdoing, once held stakes in both firms, which Zelenskiy ordered seized by the state in November under martial law.

Separate raids were carried out at the tax office, and the home of Arsen Avakov, who led Ukraine’s police force as interior minister from 2014-2021. The SBU said it was cracking down on “people whose actions harm the security of the state in various spheres” and promised more details in coming days.

— Reuters

Vladimir Putin is now fighting for his own political survival: former German ambassador to Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inability to score a decisive win on the battlefield or subjugate Ukraine to his will means he is now fighting for his own political survival via the war, according to Rüdiger von Fritsch, former German ambassador to Russia and partner at Berlin Global Advisors.

Bakhmut surrounded on three sides, Russian official says

Ukrainian soldiers return from the front line in Bakhmut, Ukraine on Jan. 29, 2023.

Marek M. Berezowski | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian forces have almost completely surrounded Bakhmut in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, according to a Russian-installed official.

“Artemovsk [the Russian name for Bakhmut] is now in an operational encirclement, our forces are closing the ring,” Yan Gagin, an aide to Denis Pushilin, the acting head of the pro-Russian, separatist “Donetsk People’s Republic,” told the Rossiya-24t tv channel, according to state news agency Tass.

Gagin said battles are now taking place to control the highway between Bakhmut and the nearby town of Chasiv Yar. He said “this is the only artery through which Ukraine can supply its group in Artemovsk.”

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the claims but Russian forces have been trying to capture Bakhmut for months and have been seen to have been advancing in the area in recent weeks.

— Holly Ellyatt

Zelenksyy signals Kyiv ready to unroll new reforms as it pursues EU membership

Ukraine will host European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other top EU officials on Friday, with hopes high in Kyiv that its application to join the EU will continue to progress.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that Kyiv is preparing new reforms as it prepares for a summit with top EU officials at the end of the week.

“We are preparing new reforms in Ukraine. Reforms that will change the social, legal and political reality in many ways, making it more human, transparent and effective. But these details will be announced later, based on the results of the relevant meetings,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

Ukraine will host European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other top EU officials on Friday, with hopes high in Kyiv that its application to join the EU will continue to progress.

“This week will be a week of European integration in every sense of the word,” Zelenskyy said. “We are expecting news for Ukraine. We are expecting the decisions from our partners in the European Union that will be in line with the level of cooperation achieved between our institutions and the EU, as well as with our progress. Progress, which is obvious – even despite the full-scale war,” he said.

“We are preparing Ukrainian positions for negotiations with EU representatives,” he added.

Ukraine applied to join the 27-member political and economic bloc last year, just days after Russia invaded last February, and wants its application fast-tracked. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said earlier this week that Kyiv hopes it can join the EU within two years.

Other counties in Europe, such as North Macedonia and Montenegro, have been waiting more than a decade to have their membership applications progress, however, and there are expectations that EU officials could try to temper Ukraine’s expectations during their visit.

— Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:








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