Ukraine’s allies pledge fresh aid as Kyiv marks one year of war and ‘invincibility’






Ex-Trump VP Mike Pence says no GOP leaders should be ‘apologists for Putin’

Former Vice President Mike Pence said there can be “no room” in the Republican Party’s leadership for “apologists” for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Pence, a possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate, made that declaration while delivering a full-throated call for the U.S. to ramp up its support for Ukraine.

“While some in my party have taken a somewhat different view, let me be clear: There can be no room in the leadership of the Republican Party for apologists for Putin,” Pence said in a speech marking the one-year anniversary of the conflict.

“There can only be room for champions of freedom,” he said.

Pence, who served in the White House for four years under former President Donald Trump, did not call out any of his fellow Republicans by name.

In an interview earlier Friday, Trump boasted that he was “tougher on Russia than anybody else,” but added, “I still got along with Putin.”

Pence also took a shot at President Joe Biden’s administration for being too hesitant to provide Ukraine with the supplies it needs to keep up the fight.

Kevin Breuninger

Chinese military aid to Russia ‘would be a game changer,’ says U.S. envoy to the United Nations

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks to the media after a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the situation between Russia and Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 17, 2022.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

If China goes ahead with reported plans to send lethal weapons aid to Russia, that “would be a game changer” in the bilateral relationship between Washington and Beijing, said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Thomas-Greenfield is the latest U.S. official to sound the alarm this week, after intelligence showed China was leaning towards providing the battered Russian army with drones and potentially ammunition.

“We’ve made clear that that is unacceptable, that [China] cannot engage in with the aggressor on this war. And Russia is the aggressor,” Thomas-Greenfield told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell.

She said the same message was delivered “from President Biden to President Xi,” and from Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the recent Munich Security Conference.

On Thursday, Beijing released what it called a 12-point peace plan for the Russia-Ukraine war. It calls for negotiations toward a ceasefire and the lifting of Western sanctions against Russia.

Thomas-Greenfield was skeptical of the plan, and of Beijing’s broader goals.

“If China is truly interested in peace, they have to act and behave like a country that wants peace,” she said.

— Christina Wilkie

 

Russia suspended from the international Financial Action Task Force in a historic first

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin Wall on the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia, February 23, 2023.

Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | via Reuters

The International Financial Action Task Force, the international standard-setting entity on illicit finance, has suspended Russia from its membership, the U.S. Treasury Department announced.

The decision, made on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is the first time in the task force’s 34-year history that it has taken such an extreme measure.

In a statement, the task force said Russia’s “gross violation of the commitment to international cooperation” and its failure to implement task force standards with mutual respect and international cooperation factored into its decision to suspend the nation’s membership.

The group said Russia will remain accountable for its obligation to meet FATF standards, must continue to meet financial obligations and will retain membership to the global network as an active member of the Eurasian Group on Money Laundering.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen praised the group’s decision.

“Russia’s disregard for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine is at odds with the FATF’s foundational values of international cooperation and the rule of law,” Yellen said in a statement. “Further, Russia’s dealings with suppliers of last resort such as Iran and North Korea, its government-driven efforts to evade international sanctions and export controls, and other activities like harboring cybercriminals or the Wagner Group make it a haven for illicit finance – the very thing the FATF works to combat.”

—Chelsey Cox

One ship left Ukraine’s port under Black Sea Grain Initiative

A ship carrying wheat from Ukraine to Afghanistan after inspection in the open sea around Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Turkiye on January 24, 2023.

TUR Ministry of National Defence | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

One ship carrying about 12,500 metric tons of grain and other food products left Ukraine’s Chornomorsk port, the organization overseeing the export of agriculture from the country said.

The ship is destined for Romania and is carrying sunflower oil.

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 three key Ukrainian ports reopen.

So far, more than 700 ships have sailed from Ukrainian ports.

— Amanda Macias

U.S. moves to seize luxury real estate from sanctioned Russian Viktor Vekselberg

Russian billionaire and businessman Viktor Vekselberg seen during the 24th Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, on June 3, 2021, in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Justice Department has filed civil asset forfeiture claims against six luxury properties in the United States that are owned by the sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

Valued at $75 million in total, they include a duplex at 515 Park Avenue in Manhattan, a 9,000-square foot weekend house in Southampton, New York, and two luxury beachfront condominiums on Fisher Island, an exclusive enclave of Miami Beach, Florida.

According to DOJ, the properties were purchased between 2008 and 2017 by shell companies controlled by Vekselberg, the billionaire chairman of the Renova Group, a Russian metals conglomerate.

After Vekselberg was placed under U.S. sanctions in 2018 over his Kremlin ties, he relied on these shell companies and a network of middlemen to evade the sanctions and continue to spend millions maintaining his U.S. real estate.

“For years, Russia’s weaponization of corruption has relied on opaque legal structures – and Western enablers – to move, hide, and spend stolen wealth, enriching its oligarchs and ultimately resourcing the war in the Ukraine,” said Homeland Security Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo.

The yacht called “Tango” owned by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who was sanctioned by the U.S. on March 11, is seen at Palma de Mallorca Yacht Club in the Spanish island of Mallorca, Spain March 15, 2022.

Juan Medina | Reuters

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Vekselberg’s 255-foot yacht was seized by Spanish officials. Weeks later, federal prosecutors in Florida served a subpoena to longtime Vekselberg associate Viktor Voronchenko, seeking records related to the real estate. One week later, Voronchenko flew to Dubai and then to Moscow. He has not returned to the U.S.

These actions are part of a broad effort by American law enforcement officers, said Arvelo, who have spent the last year working “tirelessly to cut Russia’s elites and their assets out of the American financial system.”

“Today we continue our active measures and remove jewels from the crown of yet another oligarch, stripping him of the luxury assets he so cherishes,” said Arvelo.

— Christina Wilkie

U.S. has admitted 271,000 Ukrainian refugees since Russian invasion

A man holds his child as families, who fled Ukraine due to the Russian invasion, wait to enter a refugee camp in the Moldovan capital Chisinau on March 3, 2022.

Nikolay Doychinov | Afp | Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security said that more than 271,000 Ukrainian refugees have been admitted to the U.S. since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine started one year ago.

President Joe Biden had originally set a goal of admitting 100,000 Ukrainians.

More than 117,000, of those who were admitted came via the Biden administration’s “Uniting for Ukraine” program, which allows U.S. citizens to sponsor Ukrainians. The Department of Homeland Security said more than 200,000 Americans offered to be sponsors.

Read the full story by NBC News here.

— Amanda Macias

Russia and Iran are expanding military cooperation, White House says

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi greets Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 19, 2022. Putin likely wanted to show that Moscow is still important in the Middle East by visiting Iran, said John Drennan of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Sergei Savostyanov | AFP | Getty Images

The White House said new U.S. intelligence indicates that Iran has expanded its support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“In November, Iran shipped artillery and tank rounds to Russia for use in Ukraine. Russia is planning to cooperate with Iran to obtain more military equipment in return,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on a call with reporters.

Kirby added that Iran is “seeking billions of dollars” of Russian military equipment.

“We believe that Russia might provide Iran with fighter jets. Iran is also seeking to purchase additional military equipment from Russia including attack helicopters, radars and combat trainer aircraft,” he added.

In January, the Biden administration announced a slew of fresh sanctions and additional measures targeting Iran’s aviation and defense sector.

— Amanda Macias

Haunting photos show a year of Russia’s war in Ukraine

Editor’s note: The following article contains graphic photos of dead bodies.

In the predawn hours of Feb. 24, the long-feared Russian invasion of Ukraine began. The now yearlong war has become the largest air, sea and ground assault in Europe since World War II.

The conflict has claimed the lives of more than 8,000 civilians and led to nearly 13,300 injuries. More than 8 million people have left the war-weary country since the invasion, in what has become the greatest exodus of refugees that Europe has witnessed since World War II.

Over the past year, Western weapons have poured into Ukraine in one of the world’s largest arms transfers, and allies have imposed rounds of coordinated international sanctions against Russia.

Olena Kurylo, a 52-year-old teacher, stands outside a hospital after the bombing of the eastern Ukraine town of Chuguiv on Feb. 24, 2022. Russian armed forces attempted to invade Ukraine from several directions, using rocket systems and helicopters to attack Ukrainian position in the south, the border guard service said.

Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images

Children look out from a carriage window as a train prepares to depart from a station in Lviv, western Ukraine, enroute to the town of Uzhhorod near the border with Slovakia, on March 3, 2022.

Daniel Leal | AFP | Getty Images

This photograph taken on April 6, 2022, shows a toy and personal belongings among rubble in front of a destroyed residential building in the town of Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv.

Genya Savilov | AFP | Getty Images

EDITOR’S NOTE: Graphic content. Cemetery workers unload bodies of civilians killed in and around Bucha before they are transported to a morgue at a cemetery on April 7, 2022.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer applauds ‘heroism’ of Ukrainian people on one-year anniversary of Russian invasion

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news conference ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address in Washington, U.S., February 7, 2023. 

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people for “bravery, patriotism and valor” displayed during one year of invasion by Russian forces.

“One year ago, Vladimir Putin committed his greatest mistake by underestimating the resolve of Ukraine,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement released on the anniversary of the start of the war.

“Since then, we have seen bravery, patriotism, and valor personified by President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people,” he added.

Schumer said he was proud to lead the Senate in delivering $113 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid to the embattled country.

“Now, and for as long as it takes, the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine,” he said.

—Chelsey Cox

Russian national smuggled U.S. counterintelligence tech to Russia and North Korea, DOJ alleges

A Russian national illegally smuggled dozens of devices used in counterintelligence operations out of the U.S. and into the hands of the Russian and North Korean governments, according to a new federal indictment.

Ilya Balakaev, a 47-year-old Moscow resident, cultivated a network of people in the U.S. to help him buy equipment that was then used to repair devices used by Russia’s intelligence agency, known as the FSB, prosecutors alleged in federal court in Brooklyn.

Balakaev purchased about 43 spectrum analyzers and signal generators in the U.S. as part of at least 10 contracts with an FSB military unit that is “responsible for Russia’s communication security and cryptology,” prosecutors said in a press release. Balakaev is also accused of providing U.S. hazardous gas detectors to a North Korean government official, violating sanctions against the DPRK.

“The devices BALAKAEV purchased, repaired and sold to the FSB and DPRK were items commonly used as part of sensitive foreign counterintelligence and military operations, including to scan a room to determine if it was bugged, to transmit encrypted communications and to detect hazardous gases,” the indictment alleged.

Balakaev is charged in a five-count indictment with conspiring to defraud the United States and violate sanctions under the Export Control Reform Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. If convicted, Balakaev faces a maximum of 75 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice.

The indictment against Balakaev was one of two cases made public Friday by the DOJ’s task force “KleptoCapture,” which was launched last year to slap sanctions on Russian oligarchs in response to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. In the other case, prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of six luxury U.S. properties owned by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, reportedly a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The cases are part of the U.S. effort “to disrupt sanctions evasion and smuggling networks supporting the Russian regime,” the DOJ said in a press release.

Kevin Breuninger

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen praises U.S.-U.K. partnership in response to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Alex Wong / Staff / Getty Images

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen marked her first in-person meeting with Jeremy Hunt, United Kingdom chancellor of the Exchequer, by underlining joint efforts between the U.S. and U.K. governments to hinder Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“We are continuing to impose significant costs on Russia for its illegal war against Ukraine, including through additional sanctions measures,” Yellen said in India, where G-20 finance ministers are currently meeting. “Our global coalition is working relentlessly to disrupt Russian military supply chains, limit the Kremlin’s revenue, and make it harder for them to use the money they have to source military equipment from abroad.”

Yellen committed to cracking down on attempts to evade global sanctions sanctions, said a coordinated price cap on Russian oil is reducing Russia’s revenue.

“Russian tax revenue from energy and gas was down 46% in January. That means we are effectively hitting their most important source of revenue,” Yellen said.

The Treasury Secretary finished by urging the International Monetary Fund to work with Ukraine to produce a fully-funded IMF program by the end of March.

—Chelsey Cox

McConnell makes the Republican case for more military aid to Ukraine

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following the Senate Republicans weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2022.

Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters

The U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell used the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion to make the case for why the U.S. must continue to arm the Ukrainian war effort.

“It is not an act of charity for the United States and our NATO allies to help supply the Ukrainian people’s self-defense. It is a direct investment in our own core national interests,” McConnell said in a statement.

“America is a world power with worldwide interests. Our security and prosperity are deeply intertwined with a secure and stable Europe,” he said.

After a year during which Congress showed unanimous support for passing massive financial and military aid packages for Ukraine, a bloc of far-right Republicans in the House has recently begun to oppose maintaining this support for Ukraine at the same level.

McConnell’s counterargument appealed in part to America’s self-interest.

“If Putin were given a green light to destabilize Europe, invading and killing at will, the long-term cost to the United States in both dollars and security risks would be astronomically higher than the miniscule fraction of our GDP that we have invested in Ukraine’s defense thus far,” said McConnell.

“The road to peace lies in speedily surging Ukraine the tools they need to achieve victory as they define it,” he added.

— Christina Wilkie

‘I really want to go back to fight:’ A wounded Ukrainian soldier reflects on his recovery

“He wants to know if he can shake your hand?” Roman Horodenskyi’s translator said alongside the 20-year-old Ukrainian soldier.

“He’s only had his arm for two weeks so he’s still getting used to operating it,” his translator added before he told Horodenskyi in their native Ukrainian that he could practice the greeting.

The 6-foot-3-inch Ukrainian marine smiled and extended his right arm, a lightweight fusion of silicon, carbon fiber composites and thermoplastic. Taking several deep breaths, the 230-pound gentle soldier gazed down at the dynamic limb, widened his fingers and slowly tightened his grip around a reporter’s hand.

Horodenskyi, a double amputee as a result of the Kremlin’s war, was one of the Ukrainian defenders who survived the Russian carnage in the strategic port city of Mariupol last spring.

He shared his story of fighting for his country, surviving Russian capture and torture and his road to recovery with CNBC.

Read the full story here.

— Amanda Macias

Russian representative interrupts moment of silence for Ukraine during UN Security Council meeting

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba speaks during a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly on the situation between Russia and Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 23, 2022.

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba requested a minute of silence following the completion of his remarks before the United Nations Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

As Kuleba and other ministers rose to acknowledge the moment of silence, the permanent Russian representative to the United Nations interrupted to ask for the floor.

“We are rising to remember the memory of all lives lost,” Russia’s Vasily Nebenzya said in a brief statement before the international forum.

Nebenzya then rose to participate in the moment of silence.

— Amanda Macias

The Eiffel Tower lights up blue and yellow for one anniversary of war in Ukraine

France’s famed Eiffel Tower donned blue and yellow lights in solidarity for the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Sweden will send up to 10 Leopard tanks to Ukraine

Leopard 2 tanks destined for Ukraine delivery stand parked at the training ground in Augustdorf, western Germany on February 1, 2023, during a visit of the German Defence Minister of the Bundeswehr Tank Battalion 203, to learn about the performance of the Leopard 2 main battle tank.

Ina Fassbender | AFP | Getty Images

Sweden announced it plans to send as many as 10 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, joining a number of European allies including Poland and Germany who pledged to do so in recent weeks.

“Sweden is joining the ‘Leopard family’ in support of Ukraine, through Swedish Leopard 2 tanks,” a tweet from the Swedish prime minister’s official account read. “Today’s military package also includes further air defence components. We will continue to help Ukraine win the war.”

Kyiv received its first delivery of the powerful, German-made tanks on Friday from Poland, after months of requesting them.

The green-lighting of their delivery by their country of origin, Germany, took several months and prompted criticism of Berlin for what other Western partners said was reluctance to take more serious action.

Germany’s leadership stressed that it did not want to provoke Russia, but has since pledged tank deliveries to Ukraine and is urging allied countries to send their tanks to the country as well.

— Natasha Turak

France’s finance minister rejects attempts to ‘water down’ language in G-20 communique

French Finance Minister: Not time to water down G-20 communique on Ukraine war

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire hit out at attempts to soften the language of the G-20 communique during the meeting of the world’s top 20 economies in India.

India wants Russia’s war in Ukraine to be referred to as a “crisis” or “challenge,” and is trying to build a consensus toward a more neutral term than “war.” Western nations oppose this. The communique is meant to be issued Saturday night.

“There has been a very clear condemnation of the decision of Russia to attack Ukraine, during the G-20 in Bali, we should stick and we must stick to this statement,” Le Maire told CNBC, referring to the previous such summit in November of last year.

“The second reason why I strongly oppose any water down of this statement, is that things are not moving in the right direction. We have losses in Ukraine, we have destruction in Ukraine. Many countries are facing the very deep and strong consequences of the war on their growth and inflation, so it is not time to water down the communique, its time to stick to very strong wording,” he said.

“France, and I think all European countries, cannot accept any water down of the G-20 communique.”

— Natasha Turak

UK imposes export ban on every piece of equipment Russia is found using on the battlefield

The U.K. announced its latest export ban package on Russian goods, this time targeting every item of equipment Russia is known to be using in battle in Ukraine.

“Ukrainians are turning the tide on Russia but they cannot do it alone. That is why we must do more to help Ukraine win,” U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

“Today we are sanctioning the elites who run Putin’s key industries and committing to prohibit the export to Russia of every item Russia has been found using on the battlefield.”

The new sanctions target “aircraft parts, radio equipment and electronic components that can be used by the Russian military industrial complex,” the Guardian newspaper reported, citing the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

— Natasha Turak

U.S. Commerce Department announces new export restrictions to mark one-year anniversary of Russian invasion of Ukraine

Soldiers carry the coffins of fellow soldiers Roman Tsyganskyi, 34, at his funeral and that of Yuriy Gubyak, 37, at the Church of the Most Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on February 24, 2023 in Lviv, Ukraine.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images

The U.S. Commerce Department announced four new rules aimed at controlling exports to countries participating in Russia’s one-year old full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The rules were announced in conjunction with a historic tranche of over 200 sanctions released by the White House on the anniversary of the invasion.

Existing sanctions against Russian and Belarusian oil and gas production, commercial, industrial, chemical and biological industries are enhanced under the new rules. Iran has also been targeted with export control measures to limit the use of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles in Russian warfare.

The Commerce Department is also adding 86 global entities under 89 entries to its Entity List targeting those at risk for participating in weapons of mass destruction programs for actions supportive of Russia’s war effort. The rules will revise four existing entities under the destination of Russia.

Matthew S. Axelrod, assistant secretary for export enforcement at the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, also issued a temporary denial order suspending the export privileges of Russia-based Radiotester LLC and Russian individual Ilya Balakaev for unauthorized export of controlled counterintelligence items to Russia and North Korea.

In tandem with the agency’s actions, the Justice Department also unsealed a five-count indictment in the Eastern District of New York charging Balakaev. It alleges he smuggled devices used in counterintelligence and military operations out of the U.S. to Russia to aid the Russian and North Korean governments.

“The past year has painfully demonstrated that we need to remain constantly vigilant in protecting those ideals and defending our values. In the coming year, Export Enforcement will continue to work with our allies and partners, both internationally and domestically, to enforce our export control laws and bring violators to justice,” Axelrod said in a statement.  

— Chelsey Cox

U.S. unveils $2 billion in aid for Ukraine, sanctions and tariff hikes on Russia a year after invasion

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks ahead of the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, during an event outside the Royal Castle, in Warsaw, Poland, February 21, 2023.

Aleksandra Szmigiel | Reuters

The United States authorized $2 billion in aid to Ukraine on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion Friday, and ramped up sanctions and tariffs on Moscow as it tries to bolster Kyiv’s war effort.

The weapons package announced by the Defense Department includes funding for contracts for HIMARS rockets, drones and counter-drone equipment, mine-clearing devices, 155-millimeter artillery ammunition and secure lines of communication.

President Joe Biden met virtually with leaders of the G-7 and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday morning to mark the occasion, one year after the group first met to discuss aid.

The Biden administration also announced it would sanction more than 200 individuals and entities tied to the Russian war effort, including by targeting the country’s metals and mining sector. The U.S. also said it would ramp up its export controls on Russian goods and increase tariffs on Russian products like metals and minerals.

— Emma Kinery

Poland delivers first Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine

A Leopard 2 A6 heavy battle tank.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Poland delivered its first Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, the country’s President Andrzej Duda announced, roughly one month after Germany’s government agreed to allow the German-made tanks to be sent by allied countries to Ukraine’s front lines.

Duda said he was happy that the first of the advanced and powerful tanks going to Ukraine were coming from Poland, which has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest allies since the war began.

Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that “the prime minister couldn’t be here, he went to Kyiv to bring Leopard tanks which are the first batch delivered to Ukraine.”

In a tweet, Polish government spokesperson Piotr Müller also confirmed the delivery of the Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Poland has pledged to send 14 tanks to its embattled neighbor; it is not clear how many were delivered on Friday.

— Natasha Turak

White House and Treasury Department sanction over 250 entities on the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during her visit at the Microsoft India Development Center in Noida at Uttar Pradesh India on November 11, 2022.

Imtiyaz Khan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Treasury Department has issued sanctions against 22 individuals and 83 entities and has targeted the metals and mining sector of the Russian economy on the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The announcement comes as the U.S. government, in partnership with G-7 countries, announced a historic tranche of sanctions against 250 Russian entities, according to the White House.

The Treasury sanctions will affect over a dozen Russian financial institutions and wealth management agencies as well as firms that produce or import high-tech equipment used for warfare. The over 20 individuals targeted for sanctions evasion include bad actors from Switzerland, Italy and Germany, the announcement said.

Joint Stock Company Burevestnik Central Scientific Research Institute, OOO Metallurg-Tulamash, TPZ-Rondol OOO and Mtsenskprokat are the four companies within the metals and mining sector designated for sanctions for manufacturing arms for the Russian military.

Access to all property on U.S. soil or in the hands of a U.S.-based individual belonging to those sanctioned will be blocked. The U.S. has sanctioned more than 2,500 individuals and entities involved in Russia’s war since 2022, according to the Treasury.

— Chelsey Cox

Despite a ravaged economy, Ukraine’s IT sector has grown in the last year

Ukraine’s IT sector grew in 2022, despite a devastated economy and reduced population due to Russia’s invasion.

The World Bank estimates that Ukraine’s economy shrank by 35% over the last year. But the country’s export of IT services was up 5.8%, and revenue from IT was up 13%, according to the IT Ukraine Association and the National Bank of Ukraine.

By May 2022, Ukraine’s IT sector “managed to restructure, relocate and adjust to the war realities,” and was “the only sector of Ukrainian economy that was and is growing despite all odds, bringing revenue in the budget of the devastated nation,” an information technology blog from tech consulting firm Gartner wrote.

Ukraine’s IT sector has long been one of its strongest exports. In 2021, Ukraine was the number one IT outsourcing market in Central and Eastern Europe by number of engineers and hosted more than 110 multinational R&D centers, the Gartner blog post wrote, citing national data.

There were 200,000 Ukrainian developers in the country in 2020, according to Amsterdam-based software development outsourcing company Daxx, which says that 20% of Fortune 500 companies have their remote development teams in Ukraine.

— Natasha Turak

Destroyed Russian tank parked in front of Russia’s embassy in Berlin

German supporters of Ukraine parked a destroyed, rusty Russian T-72 tank in front of Russia’s embassy in Berlin, marking what they said was a memorial to the war in Ukraine, one year after Moscow’s full-scale invasion.

“The tank was destroyed by an anti-tank defense … it is also assumed that at least one person died, so in the end we are also facing a soldier’s grave,” one of the activists said while next to the tank, according to a Google translation.

A key aim of the effort is to force the Russian embassy and others to “be faced with the suffering that this war has caused,” the activists said.

The tank was destroyed by an anti-tank mine on March 31, 2022, close to a village near Kyiv, Reuters cited the organizers as saying. It was later moved to Germany with the assistance of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and of the Ukrainian National Museum of Military History, they said.

Destroyed Russian tanks have become a symbol of triumph for Ukrainians, who also lined the streets of their capital Kyiv with many of the ruined Russian vehicles while commemorating Ukrainian independence day on Aug. 24 of last year.

— Natasha Turak

Von der Leyen: Putin ‘failed to achieve a single one of his strategic goals’

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen at the European Council Building in Brussels, on December 21, 2022.

John Thys | Afp | Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered a stinging rebuke of Moscow’s war in Ukraine and of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s performance in the war, one year since the fully-fledged conflict began.

“One year on, from the start of his brutal war, Putin has failed to achieve a single one of his strategic goals,” von der Leyen said, during a press conference in Estonia to commemorate the country’s independence day.

“Instead of dividing the European Union, he finds us united and determined to stand by Ukraine for as long as it takes. Instead of dominating the global energy market, he has seen his main source of revenue slashed. Instead of wiping Ukraine off the map, he is confronted with a nation more vigorous than ever.”

Von der Leyen stressed that Europe would stand firm with Ukraine, but warned that Putin is now pushing a more intense phase of the war.

“Putin has upped the stakes. He is sending hundreds of thousands of young Russians as cannon fodder in the trenches in Ukraine… it also comes with real and renewed danger for Ukraine. So now is the time to double down.”

The EU leader vowed to continue enforcing sanctions on Russia while economically and militarily supporting Ukraine “until the Russians end this war and leave Ukraine.”

— Natasha Turak

Putin is preparing for ‘more war,’ not peace, NATO chief says

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his address dedicated to the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia, in this picture released February 23, 2023.

Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin is only preparing for more war, not peace, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during remarks in Estonia on Friday.

Putin “has not given up on his goals” and is “not preparing for peace, but for more war,” Stoltenberg said, adding that the Russian leader wants a Europe where his country “can dictate what neighbors do.”

The NATO leader was speaking alongside EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, where they were commemorating the Baltic state’s independence day. It also comes a year after Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow routinely rejects NATO’s accusations, instead claiming that NATO and the West started the war in Ukraine, despite Russia itself launching a physical military invasion of its neighbor one year ago.

— Natasha Turak

Ukraine’s Zelenskyy sends defiant message on war’s anniversary: ‘This is a year of our invincibility’

“On 24 February, millions of us made a choice. Not a white flag, but a blue and yellow flag. Not fleeing, but facing. Facing the enemy. Resistance and struggle,” Zelenskyy wrote in a post on Telegram.

Julien De Rosa | Pool | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a defiant message on the day marking one year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“On 24 February, millions of us made a choice. Not a white flag, but a blue and yellow flag. Not fleeing, but facing. Facing the enemy. Resistance and struggle,” Zelenskyy wrote in a post on Telegram.

“It was a year of pain, sorrow, faith and unity. And this is a year of our invincibility. We know that this will be the year of our victory!”

— Natasha Turak

Turkey, Finland and Sweden to resume talks on NATO accession in mid-March

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference at the end of a two-day meeting of the alliance’s defense ministers at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on Feb. 15, 2023.

Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced Friday that talks among Sweden, Finland and Turkey will resume next month after coming to a standstill in January.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the defense alliance back in May. So far, 28 out of the 30 NATO member nations have approved their membership, but Hungary and Turkey have yet to do so. Budapest says it will hold parliamentary debates on the two accessions in the coming weeks, but the timeline from Ankara is a bit more vague given upcoming elections and tensions with Stockholm.

Back in January, discussions between Turkey, Finland and Sweden were put on hold after far-right activists burnt a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Signaling an improvement in relations, Stoltenberg said on Friday that the three nations will resume talks and come together in Brussels in mid-March.

“We agreed to restart the talks and convene a trilateral meeting between Finland, Sweden and Turkey at NATO headquarters in mid-March,” he said at a press conference in Estonia.

“Our aim is both for Sweden and Finland to join as soon as possible,” he added.

Speaking at a press conference that also marked one year since Russia began its full-invasion of Ukraine, Stoltenberg said that Putin “has not given up on his goals” and that he is “not preparing for peace, but for more war.”

— Silvia Amaro

Ukrainian refugees could help Germany’s labor market, but not for long: They’re ‘ready to go home’

Pupil Marharyta (l) sits next to her German classmate Milena (r) during geography lessons in a classroom at Lorup primary and secondary school (Werlte municipality).

Friso Gentsch | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Germany’s labor market is under severe pressure, and the recent influx of Ukrainian refugees is unlikely to solve the country’s workforce issues in the long term. More than half of German companies are struggling to find skilled workers to fill vacancies, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry reported in January.

Aside from Poland, Germany has taken in more refugees than any other region since Russia invaded Ukraine one year ago. The conflict has ravaged swathes of Ukraine and seen 8 million people leave in search of safety.

Over a million of these Ukrainian refugees have been recorded as arriving in Germany, a country that has warmly welcomed them.

The arrival of these often highly educated Ukrainians could bring benefits for Germany, particularly when it comes to bolstering its workforce. Sylvain Broyer, chief EMEA economist at S&P Global Ratings, said the presence of refugees would be “positive” for the Germany economy right now.

Read the full story here.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Ukraine and the West prepare for the biggest reconstruction since World War II

Ukraine needs $40 billion to $48 billion this year to function, IMF says

One year since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure are in tatters, with the government and its allies planning the largest rebuilding effort since World War II.

The World Bank estimates that Ukrainian GDP shrank by 35% in 2022, and projected in October that the population share with income below the national poverty line would rise to almost 60% by the end of last year — up from 18% in 2021.

The World Bank has so far mobilized $13 billion in emergency financing to Ukraine since the war began, including grants, guarantees and linked parallel financing from the U.S., U.K., Europe and Japan.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that the Ukrainian economy contracted by 30%, a less severe decline than previously projected. Inflation has also begun to decelerate, but ended 2022 at 26.6% year on year, according to the National Bank of Ukraine.

In a statement following a visit to Ukraine this week, IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said she saw “an economy that is functioning, despite the tremendous challenges,” commending the government’s vision to move from recovery to a “transformational period of reconstruction and EU accession.”

Read the full story here.

— Elliot Smith

After a year of death and destruction, Ukraine braces itself for major escalation in the war

Destruction seen through a broken car window in Lyman, Ukraine, on Feb. 20, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

As Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine enters its second year, military analysts say they believe that capturing the Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk (regions where two self-proclaimed, pro-Russian “republics” are located), remains a key aim for Russia as it launches a new large-scale offensive using several hundred thousand conscripts drafted by Putin last September.

How that offensive proceeds, and how quickly and effectively Ukraine can counter it, will be decisive, defense experts warn.

Russia’s “main strategic goal remains to destroy Ukraine, all of it,” Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Ukraine’s former defense minister, told CNBC ahead of the one-year anniversary.

Read the full story here.

— Holly Ellyatt

Both Russia and Ukraine face an ammunition shortage, Eurasia Group chairman says

China is likely to offer a peace plan for Russia and Ukraine, consultancy says

The Russia-Ukraine war is characterized by an ammunition shortage, Eurasia Group chairman Cliff Kupchan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

China providing Russia with the ammunition it lacks could “swing … the war in Russia’s favor,” said Kupchan. “That’s one of the reasons I’m so concerned and focused on China right now,” he added.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government’s “main concern” is getting more ammunition to the Ukrainians, who are running out, said Kupchan.

“I don’t think either side has a structural advantage, in that they’re both hurting pretty bad,” he said.

It is also unlikely that Putin will invade Poland, said Kupchan. Putin “can’t get a straight yes out” that Ukraine is a sovereign, independent country, he added.

“I don’t think that he thinks of any other country like he thinks about Ukraine.”

— Audrey Wan

China reiterates call for cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia

China reiterated its call for peace talks and a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine

“All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire,” China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

China added that it supports the International Atomic Energy Agency in playing a “constructive role in promoting the safety and security of peaceful nuclear facilities.”

China said the international community should “help parties to the conflict open the door to a political settlement as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiation.” It added it is ready to “play a constructive role in this regard”

— Jihye Lee

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:








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