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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Battle for Luhansk ‘not over yet,’ region’s governor says

Plumes of smoke rising to the sky during heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Lysychansk, Ukraine, on July 1, 2022. Russia claimed it had captured Lysychansk on Sunday, a development later confirmed by Ukraine.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The battle for Luhansk — the part of the Donbas that Russian forces claimed to have captured last weekend — is not over yet, accoding to Serhiy Haidai, the head of the region’s military administration.

Haidai reiterated his comments yesterday that the “Luhansk region is 100% NOT occupied. Fighting continues in the outskirts of the area,” saying again on Facebook on Thursday that “the battle for [the] Luhansk region is not over yet.”

“Fights continue on the outskirts of Luhansk region,” he said, with Russian forces trying to establish complete control over the area and the main road between Lysychansk (in Luhansk) and Bakhmut (in the neighboring Donetsk region).

CNBC was not able to immediately verify Haidai’s claims.

Holly Ellyatt

Calm before the storm? Russia makes few advances as its forces re-group

Ukrainian service members are seen at a position on the front line, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the town of New York, Donetsk region, Ukraine June 9, 2022. 

Gleb Garanich | Reuters

Russian forces on the frontline in Donetsk have made few advances over the last 24 hours, according to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence, but this is likely to be due to its troops regrouping before a renewed push into the Donetsk region.

“Russian units involved in last week’s gains are now likely re-constituting,” the ministry said on Twitter Thursday.

Russia has not claimed to have taken any new territory in recent days but analysts say it is likely due to its forces regrouping before launching another assault on the Donetsk region in the Donbas. Russia has already seized the neighboring Luhansk province following the capture of the city of Lysychansk last weekend.

Analysts from the Institute for War said Wednesday evening that “the Russian Defense Ministry claimed territorial gains every day from the start of the war but has not claimed any new territory or ground force movements since completing the encirclement of Lysychansk on July 3.

However, Russian forces still conducted limited and unsuccessful ground assaults across all axes on July 6. Such attempts are consistent with a Russian operational pause, which does not imply or require the complete cessation of active hostilities.”

It means, in this case, the analsysts said that Russian forces will likely confine themselves to relatively small-scale offensive actions as they attempt to set conditions “for more significant offensive operations” and rebuild the combat power needed to attempt those more ambitious undertakings.   

— Holly Ellyatt

Humanity at risk if the West seeks to punish Russia over Ukraine, official warns

Former President Dmitry Medvedev said on Telegram on Wednesday that he thought it was a “crazy” idea “to create tribunals or courts for the so-called investigation of Russia’s actions” in Ukraine.

Ekaterina Shtukina | Sputnik | Reuters

A top Russian official has warned that humanity could be at risk if the West tried to punish Russia for its actions in Ukraine, in response to U.S. calls for an international tribunal to prosecute potential war crimes in the country.

Former President Dmitry Medvedev, once known for his more liberal stance but now a decided hawk as the the deputy secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said on Telegram on Wednesday that he thought it was a “crazy” idea “to create tribunals or courts for the so-called investigation of Russia’s actions” in Ukraine.

“These proposals are not only legally void. The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd in itself. And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity.”

He said the U.S. had itself sown “chaos and devastation around the world under the guise of ‘true democracy’,” criticizing the U.S. for killing Native Americans, nuclear attacks on Japan and for taking part in wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

At the end of his Telegram message, Medvedev referenced the Bible, saying that if the U.S. judges Russia it could face the wrath of God.

“The US and its useless stooges should remember the words of the Bible: ‘Judge not, lest you be judged; so that one day the great day of His wrath will not come to their house, and who can stand?,'” Medvedev said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s claims that it destroyed 2 U.S.-made HIMARS are fake, Ukraine says

A Ukrainian serviceman on a HIMAR system on July 1, 2022, in eastern Ukraine. “HIMARS jet systems provided by American partners constantly deliver devastating strikes at strategically important enemy points, resulting in colossal losses among equipment, personnel and occupying forces,” Ukraine said.

The Washington Post | The Washington Post | Getty Images

Russia claimed on Wednesday that it had destroyed two U.S.-made rocket systems (Ukraine was given eight such systems by the U.S. in recent weeks) but Ukraine has denied this, saying it was propaganda and fake news.

“Russian propagandists actively spread false messages about the alleged destruction of the American artillery system ‘HIMARS’,” Ukraine’s armed forces said on Facebook yesterday, adding that it’s “nothing but another Russian fake.” HIMARs refers to High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

“HIMARS jet systems provided by American partners constantly deliver devastating strikes at strategically important enemy points, resulting in colossal losses among equipment, personnel and occupying forces,” Ukraine said.

Ukraine’s rebuttal came after Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed on Wednesday that it destroyed two U.S.-made HIMARS.

“High-precision air-based missiles have destroyed 2 U.S.-made Himars multiple-launch rocket launchers and 2 ammunition depots near Malotaranovka in Donetsk People’s Republic,” the ministry claimed in its latest military update on Wednesday.

CNBC and NBC News were unable to immediately verify the claim or a video that the ministry published claiming to be of the strike on the HIMARS.

Holly Ellyatt

Russian forces are finally feeling the impact of Western artillery, Zelenskyy says

“Finally, it is felt that the Western artillery – the weapons Ukraine received from its partners – started working very powerfully,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Wednesday.

Alexey Furman | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Heavy weaponry given to Ukraine by its Western allies is finally having an effect on Russia, Ukraine’s president has said.

“Finally, it is felt that the Western artillery – the weapons Ukraine received from its partners – started working very powerfully,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Wednesday.

The accuracy of such weapons is exactly what Ukraine needs at this point, Zelenskyy said, particularly as it tries to repel Russia’s aggressive tactics in the east of the country.

“Our defenders inflict very noticeable strikes on depots and other spots that are important for the logistics of the occupiers and this significantly reduces the offensive potential of the Russian army. The losses of the occupiers will only increase every week, as will the difficulty of supplying them,” Zelenskyy said.

Ukraine has been pleading for more heavy weaponry from its NATO allies to try to match Russia’s near-constant bombardment of towns and cities on the front line, particularly in Luhansk (which has been seized by Russia), and as it tries to pound its way into the neighboring Donetsk region.

Both make up the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, with Moscow saying a key aim of its invasion is to “liberate” the region.

Holly Ellyatt

Think tank says the West could help Ukraine source Soviet-era equipment from non-NATO countries

Rescue operations underway after Russian missile attacks in Serhiivka district of Odessa, Ukraine which left at least 17 people dead and 31 injured on July 1, 2022.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine requires sustained support from countries outside of NATO to provide sufficient Soviet-era arms and ammunition to continue its fight with Moscow, according to a new report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

While the West should continue working to transition Ukraine to NATO-standard equipment, the report noted this will take time and training. For now, Ukraine is set to remain partially dependent on Soviet-standard equipment, the report said.

“Although Washington has scoured the stocks of NATO allies and the Pentagon has explored other potential options, an exhaustive search focusing on non-NATO countries reveals a robust supply of untapped Soviet- and Russian-made arms (and their attendant spare parts and ammunition) that Washington could help Kyiv expeditiously acquire,” said the report.

FDD, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute focusing on foreign policy and national security, identified more than 6,300 relevant systems from countries outside of NATO most likely to handover weapons to Ukraine. These countries were defined as those that voted in favor of Russian withdrawal from Ukraine at the U.N. General Assembly, voted to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council or attended at least one meeting of the U.S.-organized Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

Natalie Tham

Russia earns approximately $1 billion a day in export revenues from oil and gas, expert says

Model of petrol pump is seen in front of Ukraine and Russian flag colors in this illustration taken March 25, 2022. 

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Despite a slew of coordinated global sanctions, Russia still brings in about $1 billion a day in export revenues from oil and gas.

In the weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, Washington and its allies have imposed rounds of coordinated penalties that vaulted Russia past Iran and North Korea as the world’s most-sanctioned country.

However, Russia still receives significant revenues from energy exports, according to research compiled by Gerard DiPippo, a senior fellow at the Economics Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

DiPippo found that oil and gas accounted for 47% of Russia’s revenues from January to May this year. And while Russian oil production fell in April, revenues increased by 80%.

“For comparison, Russian fiscal data suggests that Moscow spent $325 million per day on military expenditures in April, the latest data available,” DiPippo writes, referencing Moscow’s ability to still finance its war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

British foreign secretary urges NATO allies to bring Finland and Sweden into Article 5 umbrella

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomes British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss before their bilateral meeting in Brussels, Belgium, January 24, 2022.

Olivier Matthys | Reuters

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss urged NATO allies to bring Sweden and Finland into the alliance’s Article 5 umbrella “as swiftly as possible.”

“Both countries’ decision puts them at risk of a potentially aggressive Russian response. Russia has already made several threatening comments in the public domain regarding the possibility of Swedish and Finnish membership of NATO,” Truss wrote in a statement.

The 30-member-strong alliance has consistently warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that an attack on one NATO member state will be viewed as an attack on all, triggering the group’s cornerstone Article 5 mutual defense clause.

To date, the 30-member alliance has only invoked Article 5 once — in defense of the United States in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine tries to hold back Russian forces at the border of Donetsk

A view of damaged artillery equipment facing Severodonetsk from a hillside in Lysychansk, Ukraine, Monday June 13, 2022.

Marcus Yam | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Ukrainian forces are trying to hold back Russian fighters at the border between the neighboring regions of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, according to Serhiy Haidai, the head of Luhansk Regional Military Administration.

Haidai said on Telegram Wednesday that the Russian occupiers were suffering “significant losses” as they tried to advance from one region, which they captured last weekend, into Donetsk as part of their mission to, as Moscow calls it, “liberate” the Donbas.

He said Russian forces had been trying to advance toward Donetsk but had been cut off at the Bakhmut-Lysychansk highway, running near Bilohorivka. “Under the pressure of our defenders, the enemy was forced to retreat,” Haidai wrote.

The official said that Russian forces were not able to carry out orders to advance because of “significant losses in terms of personnel.”

“During the assault on Lysychansk alone, thousands of Russian soldiers were killed and injured. In addition, Russian occupiers are facing problems with ammunition supplies, as the Ukrainian military have destroyed several ammunition depots in the occupied areas in recent weeks,” Haidai said.

Haidai was confident that Russia’s advantage in terms of the number of personnel would be reduced as soon as the Ukrainian military receive more long-range weapons.

— Holly Ellyatt

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