Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Russia unlikely to achieve a military breakthrough in Bakhmut in the coming weeks: UK MoD

A vehicle is seen destroyed at an electricity repair depot on December 17, 2022 in Bakhmut, Ukraine.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russia is unlikely to achieve a breakthrough in terms of gaining territory in Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut, the UK’s Ministry of Defence believes. The beleaguered city, ravaged by shelling, is in Ukraine’s Donetsk oblast, much of which is occupied by Russia.

“In mid-December, Russian military and Wagner proxy forces likely increased the frequency of their infantry assaults around the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut,” the ministry wrote in its daily intelligence update on Twitter. “However, many of these operations were poorly supported.”

“Over the last ten days, Ukraine has committed significant reinforcements to defend the sector and the frequency of Russian assaults have likely reduced from the peak in mid-December,” it continued, adding that both sides have suffered tremendous casualties.

“Russian offensive operations in the area are now likely being conducted at only platoon or section level,” the ministry wrote. “It is unlikely Russia will achieve a significant breakthrough near Bakhmut in the coming weeks.”

— Natasha Turak

Zelenskyy holds phone call with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke by phone with his British counterpart Rishi Sunak, during which time the two spoke about “concrete decisions” on defense cooperation, Zelenskyy wrote in a Twitter post.

“Together with prime minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak, we discussed further defense cooperation. We agreed to intensify our efforts to bring victory closer this year already. We already have concrete decisions for this,” he wrote.

— Natasha Turak

Ukrainian officials describe Russian military equipment destroyed in Donetsk strike

Up to 10 units of Russian military equipment were damaged or destroyed during a strike on Russian-occupied Makiivka in Donetsk, the general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said in a statement. While Ukraine does not generally claim official responsibility for attacks on Russian-controlled territory, the general staff of the armed forces wrote on its Facebook page: “Up to 10 units of enemy military equipment of various types were destroyed and damaged in the area of concentration in the settlement of Makiivka, Donetsk oblast.”

CNBC could not independently verify the information. Moscow says the attack led to 63 soldier deaths and comprised four rockets fired from U.S.-made HIMARS, which hit an ammunition dump that was in the same building as its troops housing. Ukraine claims the death toll is in the hundreds.

— Natasha Turak

Joint Ukraine-EU summit planned for next month in Kyiv

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attend a joint statement, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 11, 2022. 

Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

The EU and Ukraine will hold a summit in Kyiv on Feb. 3 focused on military and financial assistance, nearly one year since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country.

“The parties discussed expected results of the next Ukraine-EU summit to be held on 3 February in Kyiv and agreed to intensify preparatory work,” said a statement from the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It was read after he spoke with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Monday.

Zelenskyy said the first EU tranche of macro-financial aid for Ukraine — a package of 18 billion euros ($19 billion) — will arrive in January. He thanked Von der Leyen, saying the EU’s financial support “is extremely important right now, when Russia is trying to gather new forces for aggression.”

— Natasha Turak

NATO to discuss increasing military spending requirements: Stoltenberg

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during the plenary session of the third day of the 68th Annual Session of the Parliamentary Assembly in the Auditorium Ground Floor Room at the Hotel Melia Castilla, Nov. 21, 2022, in Madrid, Spain.

Alberta Ortego | Europa Press | Getty Images

NATO members plan to discuss military spending requirements in the coming months as some countries call for the current 2% target for each country to become the minimum contribution level, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg was quoted as saying by German media.

“Some allies are strongly in favour of turning the current 2% target into a minimum,” German outlet DPA reported Stoltenberg as saying in an interview.

“We will meet, we will have ministerial meetings, we will have talks in capitals,” Stoltenberg said, adding that he would lead the negotiations.

The next NATO general meeting will take place on July 11-12 in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, by which time Stoltenberg said he aims to reach an agreement.

— Natasha Turak

Russia aims to ‘exhaust’ Ukraine with continued attacks, Zelenskyy says

“The morning is difficult. We are dealing with terrorists. Dozens of missiles, Iranian ‘Shahids’,” Zelenskyy wrote on his Telegram official account, referencing the Iranian-made Shahid drones increasingly used by Russian forces.

Ukrinform | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Russia aims to “exhaust” Ukraine with a prolonged stream of attacks across the country, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

“We must ensure – and we will do everything for this – that this goal of terrorists fails like all the others,” he said. “Now is the time when everyone involved in the protection of the sky should be especially attentive.”

Russian strikes on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure have ramped up of late, marking three consecutive nights of bombardment in the latest stream of attacks that began on New Year’s Eve. The strikes target Ukraine’s energy facilities in particular, leaving millions of people without heating and power amid the bitter winter cold.

Russian forces are increasingly leaning on deadly Iranian-made Shahed drones, which have wrought havoc on Ukraine’s cities. Zelenskyy said that Ukrainian air defenses shot down more than 80 of such drones in the first days of January.

— Natasha Turak

Russian anger at its commanders over troop deaths from Ukraine attack

Russia made a rare public acknowledgment of human loss after dozens of soldiers were killed in a Ukrainian strike on a temporary barracks in Russian-occupied Donetsk on New Year’s Eve.

Russian emergency workers remove the rubble of vocational school 19 destroyed by shelling in Makeevka, Donetsk People’s Republic, Russia. The armed forces of Ukraine attacked the vocational school building in Makeyevka of the Donetsk People’s Republic from the HIMARS MLRS on December 31 to January 1.

Sputnik via AP

Its admission that 63 soldiers were killed — a figure that CNBC has not been able to independently confirm, but that Kyiv officials claim is much higher — signifies one of the most brazen Ukrainian moves in the war to date. It has stoked public anger in Russia, with calls that commanders who allegedly put their troops in danger be punished.

Russian military bloggers said the barracks, situated in the city of Makiivka, were in the same building as a large ammunition storage dump, and that commanders knew it was in the range of Ukraine’s rockets, Reuters reported. The amount of stored ammunition is believed to have caused the high level of destruction.

Russia’s defense ministry said the attack was carried out with four rockets fired by HIMARS launchers, which are made and provided to Ukraine by the U.S. Ukraine has not officially claimed responsibility for the attack, as is typical when the attack is on Russian-controlled land.

Ukraine’s Armed Forces described the Makiivka attack as “a strike on Russian manpower and military equipment.”

— Natasha Turak

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