Ukraine says foreign aid ‘critically important’ for macroeconomic stability
A Ukrainian soldier holds a shell while standing on a T64 tank in the Bakhmut direction on January 9, 2024 in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.
Roman Chop | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images
Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said on Thursday that financial aid from the European Union and the United States was “critically important” for maintaining macroeconomic stability and ensuring growth.
“It is very important for us to maintain macroeconomic stability. It is a prerequisite for economic growth,” Svyrydenko, who is also the economy minister, told Reuters in an interview.
“Partners’ aid is critically important to maintain this stability,” she said, adding that she expected the United States to follow the example of the EU, which approved a 50 billion euro four-year aid package for Ukraine earlier on Thursday.
Viktor Orban says Ukraine aid package will not use Hungarian money
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban holds an annual international media briefing in Budapest, Hungary, December 21, 2023.
Marton Monus | Reuters
Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban took to social media Thursday afternoon to break his silence over the European Union’s earlier agreed 50 billion euro ($54 billion) support package for Ukraine, saying that the deal would not include funds from Budapest.
Orban said on Facebook, according to a translation, that a “control mechanism” had been negotiated for the use of funds, which guarantees that “Hungary’s money can’t end up in Ukraine.”
Orban has been a sole holdout in passing the funding package for Ukraine, blocking the plans at the group’s last meeting in December.
His political director, Balázs Orbán (no relation) said in a social media post that the funding agreement would be renegotiated after one year, and that it would be reconsidered full after two years, “in the context of the EU budget for the next period.”
— Karen Gilchrist
Thu, Feb 1 20247:37 AM EST
Ukraine claims to have sunk Russian missile boat in Crimean lake
Ukrainian intelligence services claimed to have sunken a Russian missile boat belonging to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, saying the vessel was destroyed in a special operation.
Ukraine’s defence intelligence directorate said on Telegram on Thursday that the Russian corvette Ivanovets was “at the bottom of the sea,” adding that “an enemy missile boat was destroyed as a result of the special operation” of the military intelligence service, or GUR, by a specialist group.
“The enemy ship was on the raid of Lake Donuzlav” in Russian-occupied Crimea, the post said, according to a Google translation.
“As a result of a series of direct hits to the hull, the Russian ship suffered damage incompatible with further operation – the “Ivanovets” rolled to the stern and sank,” the post stated.
Six years on from the day Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty of accession to absorb Crimea in the Russian Federation on March 18, 2020 in Sevastopol, Ukraine.
Pierre Crom | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Ukraine estimated the boat was worth approximately $60-70 million and said that Russia’s search and rescue operation on the Donuzlav lake was not successful, according to preliminary information.
The Navy Recognition website described the Ivanovets are part of the Tarantu class of Russian missile corvettes. It says the Ivanovets is armed with the the Moskit missile system and guns and describes the vessel as “a small but highly capable warship, designed for coastal defense missions and equipped with potent anti-ship weaponry.”
CNBC was unable to verify the information in the intelligence report. Russia’s ministry of defense has not publicly commented on the claims.
— Holly Ellyatt
Thu, Feb 1 20245:52 AM EST
EU summit agrees 50 billion euro aid package for Ukraine
European Council President Charles Michel takes part in a press conference on the day of a European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium February 1, 2024.
Johanna Geron | Reuters
EU member states on Thursday agreed on an additional aid package totaling 50 billion euros ($54 billion) for Ukraine, European Council President Charles Michel said on social media.
“All 27 leaders agreed on an additional €50 billion support package for Ukraine within the EU budget,” he said. “This locks in steadfast, long-term, predictable funding for #Ukraine. EU is taking leadership & responsibility in support for Ukraine; we know what is at stake.”
EU leaders have been struggling to reach a consensus over the support package, amid opposition from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban who vetoed the aid deal in December. Hungary wants to have an annual review that would allow it a right to veto the disbursements each year, Reuters has reported.
— Ruxandra Iordache
Thu, Feb 1 20244:35 AM EST
Polish PM says there is no ‘Plan B’ on EU aid for Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk take part in a meeting with Ukrainian students in Kyiv on January 22, 2024. (Photo by Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Thursday there was no “Plan B” on European Union aid for Ukraine and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban who is stalling it must decide if Hungary is “part of our community”.
“We need to play hard and play fair, but there is no room for compromise. There is no middle way – either you are on the Ukrainian side or on the Russian side,” Tusk said ahead of a summit of leaders of the 27 EU member countries.
Orban is the only one of the 27 to have voiced disapproval of an EU aid package and to request a yearly vote on the long-term aid.
Thursday summit’s is seen as a last opportunity to reach agreement on a four-year plan for 50 billion euros ($53.93 billion) of economic aid for Ukraine, which has been fighting a Russian invasion since 2022.
Hungary, which cultivates close ties with Moscow, has been pushing for an annual review that would give it a right to veto the disbursements every year.
Thu, Feb 1 20243:52 AM EST
Now is the time for EU to reach decision on Ukraine help, Scholz says
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 on Thursday pushed for a unanimous decision by all 27 EU members to agree a joint plan offering stable financing to Ukraine in the coming years.
“I believe now is the time to reach a decision,” he told reporters as he arrived for a special EU summit in Brussels. “I will work very hard to come to an agreement of all 27.”
Thu, Feb 1 20243:16 AM EST
Ukraine’s army chief could be dismissed within days, media reports
Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Valerii Zaluzhnyi attends a ceremony marking the Day of Ukrainian Statehood, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine July 28, 2023.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters
Ukraine’s army chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi is expected be dismissed from his post by the end of the week, news outlet CNN reported Wednesday, citing sources.
The news outlet reported that Zaluzhnyi, popular with the public but more problematic for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy amid a rift between the leaders, was called to a meeting at the president’s office on Monday and was told he was being fired, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
The move had come after months of tension between the officials, particularly after Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces since July 2021, gave an interview last November in which he described the war with Russia as being at a “stalemate,” a characterization Zelenskyy denied.
Zaluzhnyi reportedly refused a request from Zelenskyy to step down earlier this week and remains in post for now. But one of CNN’s sources said a presidential decree officially firing the military commander is expected by the end of the week
The move would be one of the biggest military shake-ups in Ukraine since the start of the war and could prove controversial if seen to be the result of a personal vendetta. Defense analysts point out that it’s standard practice for military commanders to be replaced during times of war, if new strategy and vision are deemed necessary.
Ukraine’s forces are seen to be making little headway in reclaiming Russian-occupied territory, instead having adopted a more defensive stance to retain the positions held.
— Holly Ellyatt
Wed, Jan 31 202410:08 AM EST
Putin to meet Erdogan in Turkey
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) talks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) during their meeting on September 4, 2023 in Sochi, Russia.
Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to NATO-member Turkey next month to meet with his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Reuters cited a Turkish official as saying Wednesday.
According to the official, the meeting is scheduled for Feb. 12, before Erdogan travels on to Egypt.
Putin’s international visits have been curtailed since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant in March 2023 for his role in deporting Ukrainian children. However, Turkey is not party to the ICC’s Rome Statute, meaning it is not under obligation to detain Putin.
— Karen Gilchrist
Wed, Jan 31 20249:51 AM EST
Putin says Ukraine used U.S. Patriot missile system to down POW plane
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Ukraine used a U.S.-supplied Patriot air defense system to down a military transport plane in the Belgorod region last week, and called for an international investigation into the incident.
Russia previously accused Ukraine of using Western missiles to down the Ilyushin Il-76 plane over the border region, killing 74 people on board, including 65 captured Ukrainian soldiers it said were en route to a prisoner exchange.
“The plane was downed, and it’s been definitively established by an American Patriot system — the expert analysis has already established that,” Putin said, suggesting that two missiles had been used for the downing.
“We insist that an international investigation be carried out,” he added.
Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied that it downed the plane, and has demanded proof of who was on board.
— Karen Gilchrist
Wed, Jan 31 20248:28 AM EST
Ukraine and Russia conduct prisoner swap a week after downed plane kills POWs
Ukraine and Russia have carried out a prisoner of war (POW) swap, a week after a scheduled prisoner exchange was canceled following the downing of a Russian plane carrying 65 POWs.
“Our people are back. 207 of them,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday.
“We return them home no matter what. We remember each Ukrainian in captivity. Both warriors and civilians. We must bring all of them back. We are working on it. The Ukrainian team has done another excellent job. Budanov, Yermak, Usov, Maliuk, and Klymenko. Well done!,” the president said, praising the efforts of senior government officials.
Russia’s defense ministry confirmed the swap, saying 195 Russian military personnel had been returned, saying the personnel had been “in mortal danger in captivity” without further details. It’s likely the comment was an attempt to discredit the conditions within Ukrainian prisoner of war facilities, however.
LVIV REGION, UKRAINE – AUGUST 3: Russian POWs are seen waiting in line to call home to Russia in a prisoner of war detention camp on August 3, 2023 in the Lviv region, Ukraine. Hundreds of captured Russian POWs including conscripts, mercenaries, Wagner militia and Storm-Z Russian prisoners are being held in up to 50 sites around Ukraine. Storm-Z is a series of penal military units established by Russia since April 2023. (Photo by Paula Bronstein /Getty Images
Paula Bronstein | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Russia said that, in exchange, 195 Ukrainian POWs had been exchanged. The discrepancy for the figures cited by both sides was not immediately clear. It’s also unknown where or when the latest exchange took place.
In any case, the swap comes just days after a Russian military transport plane carrying 65 Ukrainian POWs, and nine Russians, crashed over the Russian border region of Belgorod.
Russia accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane with Western-provided missiles. Ukraine has not confirmed nor denied it shot down the plane and called for an international investigation into the incident. Russian law enforcement agencies were quoted yesterday by Russian media as saying that black box data suggested that there had been an “external impact” on the plane before it crashed.
— Holly Ellyatt
Wed, Jan 31 20246:21 AM EST
‘Stop fooling around’ with artillery production, Russian defense minister says
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu inspects implementation of the state defence order at a military-industrial complex facility in the Nizhny Novgorod region, Russia, in this picture released April 6, 2023.
Vadim Savitsky | Russian Defence Ministry | Via Reuters
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has told military manufacturers to “stop fooling around” when it comes to the ramping up the production of self-propelled artillery systems.
Russian news outlet RBC published a video online showing Shoigu visiting arms-producing factories in the Urals industrial city of Yekaterinburg. During the tour of a manufacturing facility, Shoigu reportedly chides the management for not producing enough self-propelled artillery.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends an expanded meeting of the Defence Ministry Board at the National Defence Control Centre in Moscow, Russia December 19, 2023.
Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik | Reuters
“Listen, stop fooling around here, guys. We got busy with this in 2022. We should have had these machines operating at full capacity in 2023,” he told the plant’s bosses, in comments translated by Reuters.
“I’d like to receive within a week a specific proposal on how we’ll reach the indicators set by the president [Vladimir Putin] … this must be done, because all these orders are connected with the performance of very specific work on the battlefield,” he said.
The director reportedly responded that the factory had already increased production six-fold in the last two years.
The comments illustrate Russia’s determination to increase weapons and ammunition production, two years into its so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Moscow has called upon the country’s domestic military industrial complex to dramatically increase its manufacturing of a variety of combat hardware, from drones and tanks to artillery and military vehicles. Russia’s biggest weapons producer reportedly said last fall that Russia had ramped up the production of some military hardware by more than tenfold to supply Russian forces in Ukraine.
Western nations are also striving to increase weapons production in order to maintain the supply of arms to Ukraine.
— Holly Ellyatt
Wed, Jan 31 20245:00 AM EST
Russian anti-war candidate Nadezhdin says he has enough signatures to run for president
Boris Nadezhdin, the Civic Initiative Party presidential hopeful, talks to the media as he submits signatures collected in support of his candidacy at the Central Election Commission in Moscow on January 31, 2024.
Vera Savina | Afp | Getty Images
Russian anti-war candidate Boris Nadezhdin said on Wednesday he had submitted 105,000 signatures in his support to the Central Election Commission (CEC) to underpin his bid to challenge Vladimir Putin in an upcoming presidential election.
The CEC will check the authenticity and quality of the signatures submitted by Nadezhdin and other would-be candidates and announce next month who will join Putin on the ballot paper.
Putin’s victory is widely seen as a foregone conclusion, but Nadezhdin has surprised some observers with trenchant criticism of what the Kremlin calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
After a series of heating outages across Russia during an unusually cold winter, Nadezhdin said earlier this month that the country would be able to afford to spend more on its citizens if it was not pouring so much money into the military.
As a candidate nominated by a political party, he needed to gather 100,000 signatures across at least 40 regions in order to stand in the March 15-17 election.
Putin, who has chosen to run as an independent rather than as the candidate of the ruling United Russia party, needs 300,000 signatures but has already collected over 3.5 million, according to his supporters.
Thu, Feb 1 20242:37 AM EST