Thu, Nov 30 202311:14 AM EST
Germany’s Scholz stresses ‘unwavering solidarity’ with Ukraine on call with Zelenskyy
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz holds a speech during the GermanDream Awards 2023 in Berlin, Germany, November 30, 2023.
Lisi Niesner | Reuters
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz discussed the latest political, military and humanitarian situation in Ukraine in a phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday, the German government said in a statement.
Scholz told the Ukrainian president that Germany would continue to support Ukraine along with European and international partners.
Scholz also reiterated Germany’s “ongoing and unwavering solidarity” with Ukraine and said that its “future lies in the European Union,” according to the statement.
Zelenskyy discussed recent Russian attacks on Ukrainian civil energy infrastructure and thanked Germany for its military support.
— Jenni Reid
Thu, Nov 30 20239:09 AM EST
Top Russian court bans LGBT movement as ‘extremist’
Oleg Nefedov, a judge of Russia’s Supreme Court, reads a decision on a ministry of justice’s request to brand the “international LGBT movement” an extremist organisation and ban its activity, in Moscow on November 30, 2023.
Natalia Kolesnikova | Afp | Getty Images
Russia’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that LGBT activists should be designated as extremists, in a move that representatives of gay and transgender people fear will lead to arrests and prosecutions.
A Reuters reporter in court heard it announce that it had approved a request from the justice ministry to recognise what it called “the international LGBT social movement” as extremist and to ban its activities.
The move is part of a pattern of increasing restrictions in Russia on expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity, including laws outlawing the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual relations and banning legal or medical changes of gender.
President Vladimir Putin, expected shortly to announce that he will seek a new six-year term in March, has long sought to promote an image of Russia as a guardian of traditional moral values in contrast with a decadent West.
TOPSHOT – LGBT activists take part in a May Day rally in Saint Petersburg on May 1, 2018. (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP) (Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images)
Olga Maltseva | Afp | Getty Images
In a speech last year, he said the West was welcome to adopt “rather strange, in my view, new-fangled trends like dozens of genders, and gay parades” but had no right to impose them on other countries.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters before the court decision was announced that the Kremlin was “not following” the case and had no comment on it. The Supreme Court took around five hours to issue its ruling, after opening its session at 10 a.m. local time.
Thu, Nov 30 20238:51 AM EST
Lavrov tells the OSCE it’s ‘on the brink of an abyss’
SKOPJE, NORTH MACEDONIA – NOVEMBER 30: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends the 30th Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Skopje, North Macedonia on November 30, 2023. (Photo by Umeys Sulejman/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Thursday that the group was “on the brink of an abyss.”
Attending the OSCE’s latest meeting in Skopje, North Macedonia, Lavrov accused the 57-member security-oriented organization that it was “essentially being turned into an appendage of NATO and the European Union.”
“The organization, let’s admit it frankly, is on the brink of an abyss,” he said, according to comments reported by Interfax.
“A simple question arises: does it make sense to invest efforts in reviving it?,” he asked, questioning the equality of member countries and approach to regional security problems.
So far, he said, “there are many more questions than answers.”
“But in the meantime, life does not stand still, the processes of Eurasian integration and equal cooperation based on an honest balance of interests are developing on our continent in constructive formats, regardless of the OSCE’s ever deeper immersion in the imposed confrontational agenda,” Lavrov said.
Ukraine and the Baltic nations boycotted this year’s OSCE meeting because of Lavrov’s attendance. The OSCE has also largely been hamstrung when it comes to decision-making because Russia has used its vetoes to thwart the process, putting its future into question.
— Holly Ellyatt
Thu, Nov 30 20237:35 AM EST
EU’s defense strategy needs to include Ukraine, von der Leyen says
The European Union should take Ukraine’s military needs into account as it determines the future strategy of Europe’s defense industry, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.
“Our strategy can only be complete if it also takes into account Ukraine’s needs and Ukraine’s industrial capacity,” von der Leyen said in a speech at the annual conference of the European Defence Agency.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (not pictured), amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 4, 2023.
Thomas Peter | Reuters
Von der Leyen said Ukraine should be integrated into EU defense programs to help cater to its needs in its war against the Russian invasion.
“The first step to achieve this, is to involve Ukraine in the consultation process of the Industrial Strategy,” von der Leyen said.
“This should lead to integrating Ukraine in some of our defense programs, with the agreement of the European Parliament and Council, where necessary.”
The commission aims to propose its European Defence Industry Programme early next year, von der Leyen said, which would also look at ways to fund the industry.
As part of this, the commission will try to see how it can get the defense industry’s contribution to Europe security recognised by sustainable financial investors, she said.
The EU’s defence industry would next year meet a target to increase its production capacity of ammunition rounds to 1 million rounds per year, von der Leyen added.
The target is separate from an EU plan to provide 1 million artillery shells and missiles to Ukraine within a year – a goal that German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and other officials have said the bloc is unlikely to reach.
Thu, Nov 30 20236:16 AM EST
Putin will address the Russian nation on Dec. 14
Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold his annual press conference as well as a public phone-in on Dec. 14, the Kremlin said Thursday.
The two events are usually held separately but will be combined next month.
There’s speculation that Putin will use the occasion to announce that he is running for president yet again in the 2024 election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an annual televised phone-in with the country’s citizens “Direct Line with Vladimir Putin” at the Moscow’s World Trade Center studio in Moscow on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Sergei SAVOSTYANOV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI SAVOSTYANOV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
Sergei Savostyanov | Afp | Getty Images
The Kremlin has repeatedly refused to say whether Putin will run for another six years in office although it’s widely expected that he will do so.
Putin has been in power for 23 years, both as prime minister or president, and has presided over the systematic oppression of critics and political opponents during that time, meaning he is very likely to win the next election when it takes place in March.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s press secretary, told CNBC that he had “no doubt that if he puts forward his candidacy, he will win confidently. Society is consolidated around the president,” Peskov added.
It’ll be interesting to see how much the war in Ukraine features in Putin’s press conference and public phone-in with reports suggesting Putin would try to avoid focusing on the continuing conflict ahead of the election, and as the war heads toward a two-year anniversary in February next year.
— Holly Ellyatt
Thu, Nov 30 20235:41 AM EST
Russia slams Bulgaria’s diplomatic flight refusal
The Kremlin said Thursday that Bulgaria’s decision to refuse to allow Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s plane to fly through its airspace was “stupid.”
Lavrov’s plane was forced to take a longer route over Greece as he traveled to Skopje in North Macedonia for the latest meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called Bulgaria’s position “absurd and stupid.”
“Of course, such a position of the Bulgarian authorities can hardly be explained by anything. It does not fit into any framework. It is absolutely absurd, one might even say stupid,” Peskov told reporters, state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation attends press briefing by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at UN Headquarters.
Lev Radin | Lightrocket | Getty Images
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in earlier comments that the reason given for the refusal to allow the Russian plane to travel through Bulgarian airspace was the fact that she was on board the plane.
“The evil stupidity of the Russophobes reached the point that for the first time in our history, the official authorities banned not an airplane, but a person on the airplane from being in the sky — this is what was written in the official note of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry: an airplane can fly over Bulgaria, but Maria Zakharova cannot fly on an airplane,” she wrote on Telegram.
Zakharova was sanctioned by the EU as she was deemed “a central figure of [Russian] government propaganda” and promoted the deployment of Russian forces in Ukraine. Sanctions on individuals consist of travel bans and asset freezes.
In her Telegram post, Zakharova argued that “the already illegal European Union sanctions cannot extend to the non-stop flight on an aircraft of a person who is prohibited from entering the territory of the state.”
Bulgaria has not commented on the incident.
— Holly Ellyatt
Thu, Nov 30 20234:49 AM EST
One killed in overnight strikes on eastern Ukraine
Officials treat a wounded man after Russian shelling at night in the center of Pokrovsk, Ukraine, on Nov. 30, 2023.
Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images
One person is now known to have died as a result of overnight missile strikes on Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
Russia attacked the towns of Pokrovsk, Novogrodivka and Myrnograd in the western part of Donetsk overnight in what Ihor Moroz, the acting head of the regional military administration, described as “a massive rocket attack.”
One person is known to have been killed in the strikes and 10 others were injured. It’s believed that four people, including one child, are still trapped under the rubble, Moroz said on Telegram Thursday.
“At the site of the shelling of a residential building in Novogrodivka, the body of a dead man was recovered from the rubble,” he said. The search and rescue operation is ongoing.
In Pokrovsk, five people were injured, with damage caused to 11 private houses, as well as a multi-story building, administrative building and an educational institution. Five people were injured in Novogrodivka, and in Myrnograd, an administration building was damaged, he said.
Search and rescue operations are ongoing.
— Holly Ellyatt
Thu, Nov 30 20233:06 AM EST
Russian missiles and drones strike Ukraine overnight, injuring at least 10 people
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a destroyed building after a Russian shelling at night, in the center of Pokrovsk, Ukraine, on Nov. 30, 2023.
Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images
Ukrainian officials said the country came under attack from Russian drones and missiles overnight, with a number of people, including a baby, hurt in strikes on the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said 10 people were hurt in overnight Russian missile attacks on three areas of Donetsk, a region which is occupied in large part by Russian forces.
“Pokrovsk, Novogrodivka and Myrnograd came under fire. As a result of shelling, 10 people were injured, including 4 children. Five more people are being searched for under the rubble,” Klymenko said on Telegram.
In one strike, a family with two children were among the injured in one of the attacks, he said.
“Among the victims is a family with two children: a 16-year-old boy and a 6-month-old baby. A 13-year-old boy was also injured. An apartment building and 9 private buildings, a police station, cars, and garages were previously damaged.”
Klymenko said a police paramedic helped a man with an injured baby to get out from under the rubble of a building. The baby was not in a life-threatening condition, he said.
Ukrainian servicemen stand atop of their Sweden-made CV90 armored infantry combat vehicle on a position pointing in the direction of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region on Nov. 27, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images
Fighting is intense in Donetsk as Ukraine and Russian forces battle over key towns in the region, such as Bakhmut and Avdiivka. Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed Wednesday that Russian forces captured Khromove, on the western outskirts of Bakhmut, although this has not been confirmed.
Ukraine’s air force said Thursday that 14 out of 20 Iranian-made Shahed drones were destroyed overnight with anti-aircraft defenses in action in the southern, eastern and central regions of Ukraine.
— Holly Ellyatt
Thu, Nov 30 20232:54 AM EST
Russia’s Lavrov sparks rift at European security meeting
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov both blamed the West for creating global insecurity and instability.
Member countries are divided over the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s annual foreign ministers’ meeting on Thursday with Baltic nations and Ukraine refusing to attend over the presence of Russia’s Sergei Lavrov.
The 57-member OSCE is the successor to a Cold War-era organisation for Soviet and Western powers to engage but is now largely paralysed by Russia’s ongoing use of the effective veto each country has.
The U.S. and its allies are seeking simultaneously to keep the OSCE alive and hold Russia to account for its invasion of Ukraine. They are attending while making a point of denouncing Moscow’s actions – a stance that some of Ukraine’s closest allies have little truck with.
“How can you talk with an aggressor who is committing genocide, full aggression against another member state, Ukraine?” Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna told reporters on Wednesday in Brussels where he attended a NATO meeting.
Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are siding with Ukraine on the issue. Russia’s Tass news agency reported Lavrov arrived in Skopje on Wednesday after a circuitous five-hour flight that avoided the airspace of countries that have barred Russian aircraft.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said he understood unease about Lavrov attending the meeting in Skopje, North Macedonia. But he said it was a chance for Lavrov to hear broad condemnation of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Your decision to allow Lavrov to participate is in line with our common objective to keep multilateralism alive,” Borrell told North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski at a joint press conference in Skopje.
“Lavrov needs to hear again, from everyone, why Russia is being condemned and isolated,” Borrell said. “Then he will be able to come back to the Kremlin and report to the Kremlin master.
Estonia had been due to take over the annually rotating OSCE chairmanship but Russia blocked it for months. A last-minute deal for neutral Malta to take over the chairmanship must be formally approved at the meeting on Thursday and Friday.
Wed, Nov 29 20239:27 AM EST
NATO has ‘unwavering’ support for Ukraine, Blinken says
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – NOVEMBER 29: US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken arrives at the NATO-Ukraine Council meeting during the second day of the NATO foreign affairs ministers’ meeting on November 29, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium. Speaking ahead of the NATO meeting, the military alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said Ukraine will become a NATO member after the war, and that a halt in fighting in Gaza should be extended. (Photo by Omar Havana/Getty Images)
Omar Havana | Getty Images News | Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that support for Ukraine was strong and would continue, as NATO foreign ministers met Ukrainian officials in Brussels to discuss the war on Wednesday.
“I have to tell you, listening to all of our colleagues around the table, every single one expressed strong enduring support for Ukraine,” he told reporters.
“Some are questioning whether the United States and other NATO allies should continue to stand with Ukraine as we enter the second winter of Putin’s brutality. But the answer here today at NATO is clear, and it’s unwavering: We must and we will continue to support Ukraine.”
Questions have been raised about the longevity of U.S. support for Ukraine given the forthcoming 2024 election and rumblings of discontent among some Republicans about continued military assistance.
Blinken insisted Wednesday that “the United States is not standing alone.”
“So we often talk about burden sharing and the imperative of burden sharing when it comes to Ukraine. That’s clearly what we’ve seen and what we continue to see.”
— Holly Ellyatt
Wed, Nov 29 20239:30 AM EST
Russian man who traced ‘No to War’ in the snow gets 10 days in jail
A Russian court has ordered a man to be jailed for 10 days after he used his finger to write “No to War” on a snow-covered turnstile at the entrance to an ice-skating rink at Moscow’s Gorky Park.
According to court papers, the incident happened on Nov. 23 and the man, named as Dmitry Fyodorov, was sentenced the following day after being detained by the police.
Police decided his actions could amount to a civil offence under a law which targets anyone deemed to have acted publicly to discredit Russia’s armed forces, a crime which in his case was punishable by a fine.
New laws cracking down on dissent were brought in soon after President Vladimir Putin sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022 in what he called a “special military operation.”
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JANUARY 15: (RUSSIA OUT) People walk past a giant letter “Z”, installed by Moscow’s authorities as the symbol of support for the military invasion on Ukraine, at the entrance to the Gorky Park, January 15, 2023, in Moscow, Russia. The letter “Z” became the sign of Russian military propaganda, as a symbol of support for the war against in Ukraine since February 2022. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)
Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images
For those opposed to Russia’s war in Ukraine, speaking out in public has since become a risky thing to do and critics say nearly 20,000 people have been detained and over 800 criminal cases opened.
Fyodorov, who admitted in court that he’d written the anti-war slogan, was handed ten days in jail for disobeying the police and allegedly refusing to go to a police station, something he denied according to the court papers.
He was also fined an unknown sum — apparently for writing “No to War” — according to Russian media reports, though there was no mention of that in court papers posted online.
The authorities say maximum unity is needed at a time when Russia is locked in what Putin — who is expected to seek another six-year term in office next year — has described as an existential battle with the West. Critics accuse the authorities of brutally shutting down and punishing any dissenting voices.
Wed, Nov 29 20238:10 AM EST
Russia says it has taken control of village outside Bakhmut
Russia’s defense ministry claimed Wednesday that its forces had taken control of a village on the outskirts of the wartorn town of Bakhmut in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
The ministry said units of its southern group of forces had “liberated” the village of Artemovskoye (called Khromove in Ukrainian) in what Russia calls the Donetsk People’s Republic, a self-proclaimed republic and pro-Russian separatist region.
“Units of the Southern Group of Forces, with the support of aviation and artillery fire, improved the situation along the front line and liberated the village of Artemovskoye,” the ministry said, according to comments reported by the TASS news agency.
Ukrainian soldiers fire artillery at their fighting position in the direction of Bakhmut, Ukraine, 18 November 2023.
Diego Herrera Carcedo | Anadolu | Getty Images
The village had a pre-war population of 1,000 people, Reuters noted, and lies just east of Bakhmut, a town captured by Russian forces earlier this year after months of fighting that left the town largely destroyed.
CNBC could not verify the defense ministry’s claim and Ukraine is yet to comment.
— Holly Ellyatt
Wed, Nov 29 20235:43 AM EST
Russia slams Finland’s border closure, saying it’s ‘not threatened by anyone or anything’
The Kremlin slammed Finland’s decision to close all of its border crossing points with Russia, saying the decision was unjustified.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that the decision to close the last open border crossing until Dec.13 was excessive.
“Finland is not threatened by anyone or anything, and in this case this is, of course, an absolutely redundant measure to ensure border security, because there is no threat there and in reality there is no tension,” the Kremlin spokesman told reporters, according to Google-translated comments carried by state news agency Tass.
Finnish border guard officers walk in the snow at the Raja-Jooseppi border crossing station to Russia in Inari, northern Finland, on November 25, 2023. Raja-Jooseppi in the far north of Finnish Lapland is the only crossing point open on the country’s eastern border. Finland has closed seven checkpoints in response to Russian officials allowing increasing numbers of undocumented asylum seekers to pass through to the Finnish side of the border. (Photo by Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva / AFP) / Finland OUT (Photo by EMMI KORHONEN/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)
Emmi Korhonen | Afp | Getty Images
Finland made the decision to close its border Tuesday, after repeatedly accusing Russia of purposefully sending undocumented migrants through crossing points in a bid to create instability in Finland. Helsinki sees the “hybrid attack operation,” as it has described it, as retaliation for its joining NATO earlier this year.
Russia denies “weaponizing” migration — an accusation made by Finland and other countries, including Estonia and Latvia.
There have been media reports Wednesday that Poland plans to send troops to Finland’s border with Russia in an effort to shore up security there. Asked about those reports, Peskov said that this would represent a “completely unprovoked, unjustified concentration of armed units on the Russian border.”
He added that “tension may arise as a result of the concentration of additional units on the border.”
“The Finns must be clearly aware that this will pose a threat to us by increasing the concentration of military units on our borders,” Peskov warned.
— Holly Ellyatt
Fri, Dec 1 20232:32 AM EST