Ukraine war updates: Russian-occupied territory comes under attack; Ukraine's need for ammunition 'very, very acute'

The U.S. and its allies may use further sanctions and export controls to halt trade between Russia and China as the war in Ukraine continues, a White House official said Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Countries may take measures to increase the costs of Russia using a so-called “shadow fleet” to circumvent the G7 oil price cap, said Daleep Singh, White House deputy national security adviser for international economics.

The “shadow fleet” is made up of oil tankers that often have opaque ownership structures, frequently change their national flag registration and have very limited insurance. They aim to transport Russian oil in a way that circumvents restrictions, like the oil price cap, imposed on Russian oil by other countries.

Singh said sanctions language around financial retaliation could be expanded as Russia is moving toward putting its economy on a war footing.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the West provoked the country’s offensive on Ukraine’s Kharkiv region.

Putin said the West ignored warnings from Russia to stop Ukraine from striking the border region of Belgorod, according to Reuters. Such strikes that use weapons provided by Western countries require support from Western specialists, he added, saying that this could have serious consequences.

Putin said that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that had brought previous peace negotiations to an end without a solution being reached, Reuters reported. Russia was ready to return to talks, while Ukraine has withdrawn from them, he said.

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC.

A peace summit is set to take place in June in Switzerland, which will be attended by Ukraine and a series of its allies. Russia has repeatedly said that it would not attend such a meeting.

Putin was speaking in Uzbekistan at the end of a multi-day state visit. Putin has met with Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to discuss relations between the two countries. Russian state media agency Ria Novosti reported earlier that Putin and Mirziyoyev also talked about the war in Ukraine.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Ukraine will receive its first supplies of F-16 fighter jets “very soon”, but around half of its desperately needed foreign military aid is arriving late, Kyiv’s defence minister has said.

Rustem Umerov, 42, told Reuters in an interview in Kyiv late on Monday that Russia was deploying more manpower and equipment to the front, more than 27 months after its full-scale invasion.

Kyiv’s forces have managed to stabilise the new front in the northeastern Kharkiv region where Russia attacked earlier this month. But Umerov said Moscow was preparing for a new push.

“Their objective is to open a new front in the north to start using all their manpower, firing power, against us, they are continuing with their objective to destroy the nation,” he said.

“We are withstanding, but of course we need more weapons, we need more firing power, we need long-range missiles, not to allow them to enter our state.”

He said Ukraine was grateful for the military aid and weapons supplied by its partners, but that only half of the promised deliveries arrived on time.

Every delay benefited Ukraine’s much larger and better-equipped foe, with a front line stretching 1,200 km (750 miles).

— Reuters

French military instructors will soon visit Ukraine for the first time to train the country’s forces, according to the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“I welcome France’s initiative to send instructors to Ukraine to train Ukrainian military personnel,” Oleksandr Syrskyi wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app on Monday, following a video meeting with French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu.

“I have already signed the documents that will allow the first French instructors to visit our training centers soon and familiarize themselves with their infrastructure and staff,” the post said, according to a Google translation from Ukrainian.

Syrskyi did not give any further details on the plan. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry later issued a “clarification” on social media platform X, writing in a post: “Starting from February 2024, Ukraine expressed interest in the prospect of receiving foreign instructors in Ukraine. As of now, we are still in discussions with France and other countries on this issue.”

— Natasha Turak

Troops from the Polish 18th Mechanised Division and the 82nd Airborne Division (USA) take part in tactical and fire training on April 8, 2022 in Nowa Deba, Poland. 

Jeff J Mitchell | Getty Images

Poland should not rule out sending its troops to Ukraine, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski said in an interview with a Polish news outlet, whose quotes were cited by Reuters.

Asked about his thoughts on sending soldiers to help Kyiv repel Russian advances, Sikorski said: “We shouldn’t rule it out. We should leave [Russian President Vladimir] Putin guessing as to our intentions.”

Sikorski has previously said that such an idea was “not unthinkable,” but he is not the first European leader to appear open to the possibility. French President Emmanuel Macron suggested in previous months that sending NATO troops to Ukraine shouldn’t be dismissed — a statement that drew shock and condemnation from some other EU leaders, including that of Germany.

Sikorski did not elaborate on the potential role of those troops.

— Natasha Turak

The Twitter logo is displayed on a smartphone screen and on a computer screen in Athens, Greece, on April 20, 2024. 

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Unrestricting public access to the X social media platform in Russia seems “premature,” a meeting of the Russian cabinet of ministers pronounced Tuesday, as not all “illegal materials” have been removed.

The decision was reported in a Google-translated Telegram update carried by Russian state news agency Tass.

Russia began restricting access to X following its full-fledged February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Fellow social media platforms Facebook and Instagram were also blocked.

The Kremlin has been limiting public access to information since the start of the war in Ukraine under its anti-extremism and disinformation policies, which are implemented alongside a broader crackdown on journalists and dissenting voices active locally.

Ruxandra Iordache

U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy react during a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 12, 2023. 

Leah Millis | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden’s absence from a planned peace summit in Switzerland would benefit Russia President Vladimir Putin, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday.

The U.S. president’s attendance at the June summit, which will focus on the war in Ukraine, is needed to make the event a success, Zelenskyy told a news conference in Brussels, according to Reuters.

The Kremlin has repeatedly said that the planned peace summit is useless without Russia’s participation.

– April Roach

The “most critical need” for Ukraine is still ammunition, Estonia’s Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said Tuesday.

“The urgency is very, very acute,” Pevkur told journalists at the Foreign affairs Council meeting in Brussels, noting that there was good news coming from some member states such as Spain.

“We see what is happening in Kharkiv region and this is why I believe it’s very important to send ammunition. But additionally to that, I also believe that we have to send a very clear message to Russia, but also to Ukraine, that we are ready to increase the training missions,” he said.

The minister added that it was important for the European Union to move forward with plans to use profits from frozen Russia assets to boost Ukraine’s military. “I hope we can have quick next steps on European Union level,” regarding the use of frozen assets, said Pevkur.

April Roach

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s president, center, with Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s prime minister, center right, beside an F-16 fighter jet and flight personnel at the Melsbroek military base in Melsbroek, Belgium, on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

Ksenia Kuleshova | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ukraine and Belgium signed a bilateral security and long-term support agreement on Tuesday which includes the delivery of 30 F-16 fighter jets and at least 977 million euros ($1.06 billion) worth of Belgian military aid.

The deal was struck in Brussels during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Belgium.

The F-16 jets will be delivered to Ukraine by 2028, with the first arriving this year. The two countries also pledged to deepen their cooperation in intelligence, cyber security and countering disinformation, Zelenskyy said in a post on social media platform X.

“The agreement guarantees Belgium’s timely security assistance, modern armoured vehicles, equipment to meet Ukraine’s air force and air defense needs, naval security, mine clearance, participation in the artillery ammunition coalition, and military training,” Zelenskyy said.

– April Roach

The Netherlands proposed to contribute core parts from its existing stocks, in a bid to assemble a Patriot air defense system in collaboration with other countries and deliver it to Ukraine, the Dutch government said in a Tuesday statement.

“We are engaged in talks with partners to compile a Patriot system, including training for Ukrainian crews,” Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said. “With our offer, and consulting with partner countries providing several key parts and munitions, we can provide Ukraine with at least one fully operational system in a short time frame.”

The Netherlands said it has already identified which countries can offer additional parts and munitions for a surface-to-air Patriot missile system, which is primarily used by the U.S. and its allies.

Ukraine currently operates a handful of Patriot systems and has been requesting further donations of such systems, amid a bolstered long-range bombardment of its infrastructure by invading Russian forces. The U.S. has committed to supply further Patriot munitions under the $60 billion military air package for Ukraine agreed earlier this spring.

Ruxandra Iordache

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky (L) and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (R) shake hands at the end of a press conference at Moncloa Palace on May 27, 2024 in Madrid, Spain

Pablo Blazquez Dominguez | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Volodymyr Zelenskiy is set to visit Belgium on Tuesday and sign a security pact with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Reuters reports.

The diplomatic trip comes on the footsteps of the Ukrainian leader’s visit to Spain, which pledged to supply Ukraine with military support worth 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion) this year under a freshly inked agreement.

“In this context, where it is crucial to increase support for Ukraine, your visit to Spain allows us to reiterate our firm commitments in all areas with Ukraine,” Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said during a Monday press conference alongside Zelenskyy, according to a CNBC translation.

The Ukrainian head of state also had an audience with Spanish King Felipe VI as part of his visit.

Ruxandra Iordache

A Russian air defense system last night shot down a drone in the city of Balashikha just east of Russian capital Moscow, according to the regional governor of the Moscow region.

The incident took place at 9 p.m. local time in the Kuchino district and resulted in debris falling on a private residence, Andrey Vorobyov said in a Google-translated Telegram post.

“The people in the house managed to evacuate, and no one was injured,” he added, noting that residents of Balashikha could hear “popping noises.”

CNBC could not independently confirm the attack.

Ruxandra Iordache

A fire broke out in the Russian-occupied city of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine last night, following an offensive with cluster munitions, according to a Russian official.

“Ukrainian nationalists launched another rocket attack on Lugansk with cluster munitions. The attack started a fire,” said Russia-installed Governor Leonid Pasechnik in a Google-translated Telegram post.

“Employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, law enforcement agencies and doctors went to the scene. Information about the damage and casualties is being clarified,” he added.

Rodion Miroshnik, a senior Russian diplomat, suggested that a second shelling may have been carried out against Luhansk.

“A second strike on the place where rescuers are working to eliminate the consequences of the recent missile attack cannot be ruled out,” he noted in a Google-translated Telegram update without supplying further details.

Luhansk was annexed by Russia in September 2022, alongside the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

CNBC could not confirm developments on the ground.

Ruxandra Iordache

Drones in possession of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on May 2, 2024 in Lviv, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images

Six NATO countries neighboring Russia are joining forces to build a “drone wall” to protect their borders, Lithuania’s interior minister announced on Friday.

“This is a completely new thing, a drone wall stretching from Norway to Poland, and the goal is to use drones and other technologies to protect our borders,” Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said in an interview with local news agency BNS.

“Not only with physical infrastructure, surveillance systems, but also with drones and other technologies, which would allow us to protect against provocations from unfriendly countries and to prevent smuggling,” she said.

The other states taking part are Lithuania’s Baltic neighbors Latvia and Estonia, as well as Poland, Finland, and Norway. Details such as funding, timeline and technical aspects of the project were not provided.

— Natasha Turak

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