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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Russia says it can’t guarantee captured American fighters won’t face the death penalty

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov at an event during Russia’s Victory Day commemorations in Moscow on May 9, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s spokesman told NBC News on Monday that Moscow wouldn’t guarantee that two American veterans who were fighting in captured in Ukraine won’t face the death penalty.

“It depends on the investigation,” Dmitry Peskov told NBC News when asked whether Alexander Drueke and Andy Huynh would “face the same fate” as two British citizens and a Moroccan who were sentenced to death in a pro-Russian separatist “court” — widely seen as a kangaroo court — in eastern Ukraine this month.

Peskov said Drueke and Huynh were “involved in illegal activities” in Ukraine and said “those guys on the battlefield were firing at our military guys. They were endangering their lives,” NBC reported him as saying. 

“There will be a court, and there will be a court decision,” Peskov said, adding: “They should be punished.”

Holly Ellyatt

‘You’re my hero’: Ben Stiller meets President Zelenskyy

Hollywood actor Ben Stiller met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on Monday, calling the wartime leader “my hero.”

Stiller is a Goodwill Ambassador with the U.N. Refugee Agency, and has been in Ukraine for several days as part of his role, meeting Ukrainian refugees.

“It’s a great honor for me,” Stiller said as he was introduced to Zelenskyy, adding “you’re my hero. You’re amazing.”

Stiller also praised the president on his former acting career, saying “you quit a great acting career for this.” “Not so great as yours,” Zelenskyy replied.

Stiller added that the president’s wartime leadership was “inspiring” for the rest of the world.

— Holly Ellyatt

Mariupol residents ‘on bring of survival’

Residents of the southern port city of Mariupol, which was seized by Russian forces in May, are on the verge of survival due to a lack of drinking water, according to the city’s regional military administration.

Citing information from Mariupol’s Mayor Vadim Boychenko, the administration said “more than 100,000 people who still remain in the city do not have access to drinking water.”  

“Currently, the occupiers provide it once a week.  Residents stand in line for 4-8 hours.  They are on the verge of death.  This is a humanitarian catastrophe.  Therefore, we must do everything possible to open a green corridor and save people,” the mayor said.

He added that Russians and “collaborators” had also restricted residents’ access to food.  “At the same time, the city is left without gas, light and drainage system.”

CNBC was unable to verify the information from the administration and Boychenko.

— Holly Ellyatt

Battles move to villages around Severodonetsk and Lysychansk

Battles between Ukrainian and Russian forces are taking place in “multiple villages” around the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, with Ukraine’s forces losing control of one settlement, according to the head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, Serhiy Haidai.

In his latest update on Twitter, the official said Ukraine’s army has lost control of the village of Metiolkine just outside the regional center.

“Battles are underway in multiple villages around Siverodonetsk and Lysychansk. Unfortunately, we currently have no control over Metiolkine near the regional center,” he said, adding that Russian forces had “intensified artillery and air fire.”

Debris and destroyed cars along a street in Lysychansk.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Russian and Ukrainian forces have been engaged in intense fighting and street battles over recent weeks, with the conflict homing in on Severodonetsk, the last Ukrainian-held city in the Luhansk province, and its “twin” city across the Siverskyi Donets river, Lysychansk.

Haidai noted that Ukrainian fighters are successful in close-quarter warfare, but enemy artillery predominates in the area. He added that Russia is “pummeling” Lysychansk but said a “quiet” civilian evacuation is being carried out using armored vehicles.

“Lost settlement does NOT mean ‘lost war.’ Luhansk region will be defended to the last, we will restrain the horde as much as necessary,” Haidai said.

Flames rise from a structure after it was hit by projectile on June 20, 2022 in Druzhkivka, Ukraine. In recent weeks, Russia has concentrated its firepower on Ukraine’s Donbas region, where it has long backed two separatist regions at war with the Ukrainian government since 2014.

Scott Olson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

He added that “the Russians are hitting hard the Severodonetsk industrial zone and the city outskirts. The same is true in the Toshkivka and Ustynivka districts,” where the “orcs” seek to gain a breakthrough. “For this purpose, they have gathered a large amount of equipment there,” he said.

Ukrainian officials frequently liken Russian fighters to the fictional, monstrous “orcs” in J. R. R. Tolkien’s series “The Lord of the Rings.”  

Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:



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