Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Air raid alerts over Crimea’s port of Sevastopol, Russian officials say

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

Air raid alerts were activated in the port of Sevastopol in Russian-occupied Crimea, an official said early on Wednesday.

The Russia-installed Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev said on Telegram that there had been two air raid alerts this morning, and later said a smoke camouflage screen was being tested in Sevastopol bay.

Car traffic on the Crimean Bridge had has also been suspended twice Wednesday morning. No reason was given for the air raids or suspension of traffic and CNBC was unable to verify the information.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s ‘Lancet’ drones highly effective against Ukraine, UK says

Russian “Lancet” drones — small, one-way-attack unmanned aerial systems, or “OWA UAVs” have highly likely “been one of the most effective new capabilities that Russia has fielded in Ukraine” over the last 12 months, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Wednesday.

Lancet drones are designed to be piloted over enemy territory, loitering until a target is identified, before diving toward it and detonating.

“Russia deploys Lancets to attack priority targets and they have become increasingly prominent in the key counter-battery fight, striking enemy artillery,” the British Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Traditionally, Russia has used small UAVs mainly for reconnaissance. With its attack capability, Lancet has been a step change in how Russia uses this category of weapons,” it noted.

BAKHMUT, UKRAINE – OCTOBER 29: A Ukrainian military man corrects a missile hit through a drone, as the Military special unit “Kurt & Company group” armed with homemade mini-MLRS fires at Russian positions on the frontline of the Russian Ukrainian war, on October 29, 2023 in Bakhmut District, Ukraine. Ukrainian forces continue to fight to retake Bakhmut, which was captured by Russian forces in May, following a yearlong war battle. Over the summer, Ukraine regained territory north and south of Bakhmut but Russia has held the city itself. (Kostya Liberov /Libkos via Getty Images)

Libkos | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The use of attack drones has been one of the main characteristics of the Russia-Ukraine war, with the UAVs being used to devastating effect on civilian infrastructure, from residential buildings to energy networks. Russia says it does not target civilians in the war.

Lancets are manufactured by the ZALA Aero Group. “ZALA also make the small, unarmed Orlan 10 UAV which Russia often deploys alongside Lancet to spot targets,” the U.K. noted, adding that “Ukraine has also experienced success with small OWA UAVs.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine defends counteroffensive, says modern world is too used to quick victories

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visit the Transfiguration Cathedral damaged during summer by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine October 13, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said there will be no easy victories in the counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied territory, amid concerns over the relatively slow progress it has made to recapture land.

“The modern world is designed in such a way that it gets used to success too quickly,” he said in his nightly address, adding that “when the full-scale aggression began, many in the world expected that Ukraine would not survive.”

“Now the colossal things that our people, all our warriors are doing, are taken for granted,” he added.

Zelenskyy thanked “those who do not retreat, who are not burned out, who believe in Ukraine as much as on February 24 [when Russia invaded in 2022], and who are fighting for Ukraine.”

Ukraine is under pressure to deliver tangible results in its counteroffensive, which it launched in June, but its the front line spanning from southern to eastern Ukraine has not changed substantially. Ukraine has only has a few weeks left in which to make gains before the weather changes, bringing rain and mud, making movement difficult until the ground freezes over in winter.

There are also concerns that military aid for Kyiv could decline, particularly given rising disaffection and war fatigue among Western publics and some politicians, and as the Israel-Hamas war continues.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukrainian oil refinery attacked with drones, official says

Russian forces hit an oil refinery in the Poltava region of central Ukraine with drones overnight, a Ukrainian official said.

“Last night, the enemy repeatedly attacked the Poltava region. The air alert lasted more than four hours … Unfortunately, the oil refinery in Kremenchuk was hit,” Poltava regional governor Philip Pronin said on Telegram. He added that Ukrainian forces shot down part of the Russian drones used to attack the region.

The attack caused a fire at refinery which has since been extinguished, and the extent of the damage is being ascertained. CNBC was not able to immediately verify the information.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian foreign minister discusses Israel-Hamas conflict with Syrian counterpart

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the Israel-Hamas conflict with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Miqdad Tuesday, the ministry of foreign affairs said, according to a Google translation of the ministry’s statement.

“The government officials paid special attention to the dramatic development of the situation in the Israel-Hamas conflict zone,” a press statement said, following a telephone conversation between the pair.

Lavrov and Miqdad agreed that “an immediate end to the bloodshed in Gaza, a solution to all humanitarian problems arising as a result of the fighting, and a transition to discussing a long-term settlement through political and diplomatic methods” was needed.

The impacts of the Israel-Hamas war on neighboring countries, such as Syria, is being closely watched as the violence continues in the Gaza Strip.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Antisemitic incident at Dagestan airport to be analyzed to avoid recurrences, Kremlin says

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting of Russian President and Armenian Prime Minister at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 25, 2023. 

Ilya Pitalev | AFP | Getty Images

An antisemitic mob incident at an airport in Russia’s republic of Dagestan will be analyzed to deter similar incidents in the future, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

“The relevant authorities will take investigative actions. And after that, of course, the situation will be analyzed,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in Google-translated comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass. “What is necessary to minimize or completely eliminate such illegal manifestations in the future.”

Kremlin officials held a special closed meeting following the unrest in Dagestan, where an anti-Israel group stormed an airport on Sunday, reportedly looking for passengers that had come on a flight from Tel Aviv. Russian President Vladimir Putin levelled accusations at the U.S., claiming it had orchestrated the incident in Dagestan — which Washington denies.

Demonstrations either against Israel or supporting Palestinian people have been on the rise since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict and Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip enclosure.

Ruxandra Iordache

Putin and top officials discussed measures to counter ‘external interference’

The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin and top government and security officials discussed bolstering measures to counter external “interference” after a riot at an airport in Dagestan on Sunday.

Putin met senior officials on Monday evening to discuss the incident, which involved several hundred protesters storming the Makhachkala airport, targeting passengers who arrived on a flight from Israel.

During the televised meeting, Putin blamed the West and Ukraine for inciting unrest and division in Russia and for stirring up tensions that led to conflict in the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, on Feb. 8, 2023.

Grigory Sysoev | Sputnik | via Reuters

Ukraine and the U.S. both rejected the allegations, with the White House calling them “absurd.”

On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that top Russian officials had discussed “strengthening measures to counteract that same outside interference, including external information manipulations that can provoke the situation in our country, exploiting the theme of the same events in the Middle East,” according to comments reported by RIA Novosti.

— Holly Ellyatt

Moscow under pressure to confront rising ethnic tensions

Moscow is coming under increasing pressure to protect the country’s Jewish community after the latest episode of antisemitism highlighted growing interethnic tensions in Russia.

An angry anti-Israel mob stormed an airport in the Russian republic of Dagestan on Sunday, reportedly looking for passengers that arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv. Russian media reported that at least several hundred pro-Palestinian “protesters” stormed the airport terminal and runway in the Muslim-majority republic because of their opposition to the war between Israel and Hamas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on January 30, 2020.

Maxim Shemetov | Afp | Getty Images

Some of the group shouted antisemitic slogans, reports and social media footage suggested, while others waved Palestinian flags and shouted “Allahu Akbar,” (“God is the greatest” in Arabic). A plane from Tel Aviv was surrounded, with passengers forced to hand over their passports for their nationality to be checked.

The incident has put divisions in Russia’s ethnically and religiously diverse population in the spotlight, with tensions rising between Russia’s rapidly declining Jewish community (both in terms of practicing and ethnically Jewish people) and its Muslim populace, with Islam being the second-largest religion in Russia, after Orthodox Christianity.

Read more on the story here: Rampage by antisemitic mob puts pressure on Moscow to confront rising ethnic tensions in Russia

U.S. rejects Putin claims on airport mob as ‘absurd’

White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The U.S. rejected accusations by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the West and Ukraine had orchestrated an anti-Israel riot in an airport in the Russian republic of Dagestan over the weekend, calling the allegations “absurd.”

In a televised meeting, Putin said the West and Ukraine had organized the “deadly chaos,” saying it is “the current ruling elites of the U.S. and their satellites who are the main beneficiaries of world instability.”

John Kirby, spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, told reporters at a White House briefing on Monday that the claims were “classic Russian rhetoric.”

“When something goes bad in your country, you blame somebody else, blame it on outside influences” he said, adding that “the West had nothing to do with this. This is just hate, bigotry and intimidation, pure and simple.”

Kirby said a good leader “would call it out for what it is.”

— Holly Ellyatt

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