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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine Hot news


Zelenskyy scheduled to arrive at White House at 2 p.m. ET

A worker installs Ukrainian and U.S. flags near the U.S. Capitol ahead of a visit by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for talks with U.S. President Joe Biden and an address to a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, U.S., December 21, 2022. 

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

A worker installs Ukrainian and U.S. flags near the U.S. Capitol ahead of a visit by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for talks with U.S. President Joe Biden and an address to a joint meeting of Congress in Washington, U.S., December 21, 2022. 

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive at the White House at 2 p.m. ET for a 2:30 p.m. bilateral meeting with President Joe Biden.

The two are scheduled to hold a joint press conference at 4:30 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. address by the Ukranian leader to Congress.

“I hope you’re having a good flight, Volodymyr. I’m thrilled to have you here. Much to discuss,” Biden tweeted early Wednesday morning.

Zelenskyy’s visit comes as the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on an omnibus spending bill that includes approximately $45 billion of both military and economic aid to Ukraine in the coming year, billions more than Biden initially requested in November.

— Christina Wilkie

Russia’s Shoigu proposes raising conscription age

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia, October 28, 2022. 

Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | Reuters

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday proposed raising the age range for mandatory Russian military service to cover Russian citizens aged 21-30 as he said Russia’s forces would continue fighting in Ukraine next year.

Under the current law, Russians aged between 18-27 can be called up for mandatory military service – though Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin have repeatedly said that such conscripts are not being sent to fight in Ukraine.

Speaking at an end-of-year conference with Russia’s military chiefs and Putin, Shoigu also said Russia was accelerating the deployment of modern weapons supplies to the army.

— Reuters

Putin promises unrestricted financing for Russia’s army

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects, via video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia December 15, 2022. 

Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin has pledged to improve the country’s military forces, promising to equip the army with modern weaponry and claiming there would be no restrictions on financial support for the armed forces.

Speaking to various military officials and members of Russia’s defense ministry Wednesday, Putin discussed what Russia calls the “special military operation” in Ukraine and how the war was progressing.

He said Russia’s armed forces had gained huge experience in Ukraine and that Russia will “increase its military potential,” according to comments reported by Reuters, saying “we don’t have any restrictions on the financing of the army.”

He said the war in Ukraine had shown the importance of drones in combat (Russia has repeatedly deployed Iranian-made drones to attack Ukrainian energy infrastructure, with devastating impact on the country’s power grid) and he also claimed Russia’s intercontinental ballistic “Sarmat” missile — nicknamed “Satan II” — would be ready to deploy in the “nearest future.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian forces shell entire front line in Donetsk, official says

A Ukrainian serviceman walks past an armoured personnel carrier (APC) near Lyman, Donetsk region on December 14, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

There is no sign that the intensity of fighting in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk is decreasing with one Ukrainian official saying that Russian forces shelled the entire fron line in the Donetsk region Tuesday night.

“At night, the Russians shelled the entire front line from Vuhledar to Lyman,” Pavlo Kyrylenko, head of the Donetsk Regional Military Administration, posted on Telegram, according to a Google translation. One person was killed and two injured in separate shelling incidents, he said.

Vuhledar lies to the southwest of Donetsk city while Lyman lies around 125 miles to the north and is situated just northeast of Sloviansk. Fighting in Donetsk has been intense for months as Russian and Ukrainian forces battle to retain, or occupy, the region.

Kyrylenko said that various civilian infrastructure and buildings had been damaged during the shelling, including houses and outbuildings. CNBC was unable to verify the information in Kyrylenko’s post.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kyiv still experiencing ‘difficult’ power situation

Firefighters at work after Russia’s unmanned aerial vehicle attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine on Dec. 19, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s state power grid operator said there’s still a “significant power deficit” in the country’s power system while the situation around Kyiv remains difficult after drone strikes at the start of the week again damaged power supplies in the region.

“As of the morning of December 21, there is still a significant power deficit in the power system, as well as restrictions caused by damage to main networks by systematic missile and drone attacks. In connection with this, consumption limits have been set for all areas, exceeding which leads to the application of emergency restrictions,” Ukrenergo said on Telegram.

 “At the same time, the situation in the central region, in particular in Kyiv, remains difficult.”

Ukrenergo said Russian forces had again shelled de-occupied areas in the east and south with artillery, damaging power grids there as a result. The company said it was doing what it could to restore supplies and repair damage.

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin says no chance of Ukraine talks as Zelenskyy travels to Washington

Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Kremlin said that nothing good would come from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s trip to Washington on Wednesday and that Russia saw no chance of peace talks with Kyiv.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that continued Western arms supplies to Ukraine would lead to a “deepening” of the conflict — something which could backfire on Kyiv, he warned.

“The supply of weapons continues and the range of supplied weapons is expanding. All of this, of course, leads to an aggravation of the conflict. This does not bode well for Ukraine,” Peskov said.

Zelenskyy was due to meet U.S. President Joe Biden and Congressional leaders on Wednesday in his first foreign trip since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into his country on Feb. 24.

Asked whether Moscow had any expectations that something positive could come from Zelenskiy’s trip, Peskov answered: “No”.

During his visit, the United States is also set to approve the delivery of advanced Patriot missile systems to Ukraine as part of the latest multi-billion dollar package of military support for Kyiv.

— Reuters

Top Russian official Medvedev holds surprise talks with Xi Jinping

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday during a surprise trip to Beijing. The war in Ukraine was among the topics that were discussed, as was deepening ties between the two countries.

“We discussed cooperation between the two ruling parties of China and Russia … bilateral cooperation within our strategic partnership, including on the economy and industrial production. We also discussed international issues – including, of course, the conflict in Ukraine,” said Medvedev, according to a Reuters report. He is now the chairman of the leading United Russia party. “The talks were useful,” he added.

China also issued a statement on the talks, saying Xi “pointed out that over the past 10 years, China-Russia relations have withstood the test of international changes and have always developed at a healthy and stable level.”

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 in Beijing, China.

Pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“China is ready to work with the Russian side to push forward the China-Russia relations in the new era and jointly promote the development of global governance in a more just and reasonable direction,” the statement, published by state media and translated by NBC, added.

With regard to the war in Ukraine, China said, “Xi said that on the Ukrainian crisis, China has always decided its own position and policy according to the matter itself, upholding an objective and impartial position, and actively promoting peaceful talks. It is hoped that all parties concerned will maintain rationality and restraint, engage in comprehensive dialogue and resolve common security concerns through political means.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian infantry now likely to have ‘a foothold’ in Bakhmut, UK says

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Wednesday that Russian forces have seen gains toward the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk but are likely to find it challenging to fight in built-up areas of the city.

“Over the last week, Russian military and Wagner proxy forces have made small advances on the eastern edge of the Donetsk Oblast town of Bakhmut,” the ministry said in its latest intelligence update on Twitter.

“Russian infantry likely now has a foothold in the eastern industrial areas of the town, and at times has advanced into the residential district of the city. Street fighting is ongoing,” the U.K. added.

Intense fighting has been taking place around Bakhmut since June, but the U.K. noted that the front lines have primarily been in open country around the eastern approaches to the town.

Ukrainian soldiers of a special forces unit prepare to fire mortar shells at Russian forces amid artillery fights on Dec. 20, 2022, in Bakhmut, Ukraine.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The ministry said that the conflict in Ukraine has, so far, not been characterized by “fighting in built up areas” since the Russian advances into Lysychansk and Severodonetsk in July.

“With FIBUA [fighting in built-up areas] demanding highly trained infantry with excellent junior level leadership, this type of combat is unlikely to favour poorly trained Wagner fighters and the Russian army’s mobilised reservists.”

Holly Ellyatt

Zelenskyy to visit Washington today for talks with Biden

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden on the phone in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Dec. 11, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to visit Washington on Wednesday in what will be his first known trip outside Ukraine since the war began in February.

U.S. President Joe Biden will host Zelenskyy at the White House, where they will have an “extended” meeting Wednesday afternoon, a senior administration official said Tuesday. Zelenskyy will also address Congress and have other bilateral meetings.

The senior administration official told reporters that Biden will announce a package of nearly $2 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, which will include a Patriot missile system. Russia warned the U.S. against sending the missile defense system to Ukraine.

Zelenskyy tweeted earlier Wednesday that the meeting would be focused on strengthening the “resilience and defense capabilities” of Ukraine.

When asked why the visit is taking place now, and about the risk assessment for Zelenskyy to leave Ukraine, the senior administration official said the U.S. had consulted with Zelenskyy on “security parameters” for him to be able to leave the country, come to U.S. briefly, and return home to Ukraine after “a few short hours on the ground.”

“He makes his own determinations about that travel based on what he believes is best going to deliver for his people. He made the same calculus when it comes to coming to the United States. He feels this is something is going to aid the fight for Ukraine, and we are determined to ensure that they fight in Ukraine by projecting a strong message of unity and resolve from the White House, from Washington,” the official said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Washington prepares for possible Zelenskyy visit

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivers a virtual address to Congress at the U.S. Capitol on March 16, 2022 in Washington, DC. Zelenskyy addressed Congress as Ukraine continues to defend itself from an ongoing Russian invasion.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

White House and congressional security officials were laying the groundwork for a possible visit Wednesday from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, five other sources familiar with the planning told NBC News.

U.S. Capitol Police, State Department agents and emergency management personnel have reportedly been preparing for Zelenskyy’s possible arrival. The Ukrainian president, who is currently the target of Russian forces amid its brutal assault on his country, could address lawmakers during a joint session of Congress in the House chamber, they said.

Plans are flexible and dependent on security, the sources say. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., confirmed to NBC News that she invited Zelenskyy to D.C., but she wouldn’t say whether he was coming.

— Chelsey Cox

Electricity supply in Kyiv region in ‘critical’ state after overnight Russia attacks, Ukrainian power company says

Electricity workers from a team brought in from Odessa and wearing bulletproof vests and helmets prepare to start work to repair a destroyed high voltage power line on December 01, 2022 in Kherson, Ukraine. Teams of electrical workers have been brought in from across Ukraine to help restore power to Kherson City and surrounding areas. 

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

Ukraine’s state electric company said that much of the area surrounding Kyiv is experiencing significant outages due to Russian shelling and drone attacks on Monday night.

“In the capital, less than half of the consumption needs are provided, and the priority is the critical infrastructure supply,” the company wrote in an update on its Facebook page.

“It is expected that today it will be possible to turn on certain equipment that will allow to slightly increase the level of power reliability, reduce the power deficit in the capital’s power hub and bring power to more consumers,” the company added, according to an NBC News translation.

— Amanda Macias

More than half of the homes in Ukraine damaged from Russia’s war as harsh winter season sets in

Vasily Melnik lives inside a basement next to the building beside where graffiti artist Banksy has displayed a picture on a the wall of a destroyed building on November 22, 2022 in Horenka, Ukraine.

Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images

The International Rescue Center, or IRC, said that more than 25% of those displaced by Russia’s war do not have access to sufficient heating as the region’s brutal winter season settles in.

The IRC also said that approximately 61.3% of the homes in Ukraine are damaged due to Russian shelling.

“People’s capacity to cope with cold is further impaired by the destruction and failure of critical infrastructure, lack of heating and electricity and the trauma of living under constant shelling,” wrote Michael Despines, IRC’s regional director for Ukraine, in a release.

“We are seriously concerned that these compounded factors will lead to a serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation and spark further displacement and increase the vulnerabilities of those who are forced to stay,” Despines added.

Despines said that the ongoing shelling makes it impossible to repair individual homes as well as shelters. He added that IRC teams “are determined to stay and deliver, amidst blackouts and freezing winter temperatures.”

— Amanda Macias

‘They are superhumans,’ Zelenskyy says of soldiers in eastern frontline city

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the Kharkiv region for the first time since Russia started the attacks against his country on February 24, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine on May 29, 2022.(Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised the armed forces fighting in the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut in a surprise visit to thank soldiers in the frontline city, which has experienced intense Russian shelling for weeks.

“The East is holding out because Bakhmut is fighting. This is the fortress of our morale. In fierce battles and at the cost of many lives, freedom is being defended here for all of us,” Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel.

“Bakhmut defenders deserve our maximum support and our highest gratitude,” he added. “That’s why I am with them today. They are superhumans. They are our strength and our heroes,” Zelenskyy said.

— Amanda Macias

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:



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