Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

IAEA sends staff to all Ukraine nuclear plants in safety bid

In this photo provided by the IAEA Press Office, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi, right, visits the Chernobyl nuclear power plant near Chernobyl, Ukraine, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023.

IAEA Press Office via AP

The International Atomic Energy Agency is placing teams of experts at all four of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants to reduce the risk of severe accidents as Russia’s war against the country rages on, agency head Rafael Grossi said Wednesday.

The IAEA, which is affiliated with the United Nations, already has a permanent presence at Ukraine’s — and Europe’s — largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia that is held by Russian forces.

The IAEA’s permanent presence at all of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, with at least 11 staff in total, marks an unprecedented expansion for the agency. IAEA technicians will also be at Chernobyl, the now-closed nuclear plant that was the site of a deadly nuclear accident in 1986 that spread fallout over much of Europe.

“From tomorrow, there will be two flags at all of the nuclear facilities in Ukraine; one of Ukraine and the second of the international nuclear agency,” Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at a joint press conference with Grossi at the government headquarters in Kyiv on Wednesday.

— Associated Press

Uber CEO says the ride sharing app is helping to save lives in Ukraine

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that his company’s segment in Kyiv was not concerned with profitability because the popular ride sharing app was helping to save lives.

“They are risking their lives there getting doctors to hospitals, teachers getting to school transporting refugees and getting winter supplies to families in need,” Khosrowshahi told CNBC during an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Khosrowshahi said that he recently visited Kyiv to see how Uber, which has been operating in the country since 2016, was contributing to Ukrainians’ daily lives as Russia’s war continues.

“There is a lot more work to be done,” he added.

— Amanda Macias

Two ships leave Ukrainian ports under Black Sea Grain Initiative

A cargo ship carrying Ukrainian grain, and another originating from Ukraine, sail at the entrance of Bosphorus, in the Black Sea off the coast off Kumkoy, north of Istanbul, on November 2, 2022.

Ozan Kose | AFP | Getty Images

Two vessels carrying 64,200 metric tons of grain and other food products have left Ukrainian ports, the organization overseeing the export of agricultural products from the country said.

One ship is destined for Germany and is carrying rapeseed. The other vessel is headed to Libya with corn.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia’s naval blockade and saw three key Ukrainian ports reopen.

So far, more than 660 ships have sailed from Ukrainian ports.

— Amanda Macias

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson receives honorary citizen of Kyiv award

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson waits for the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry for a meeting on the situation in Syria at Lancaster House on October 16, 2016 in London, England.

Justin Tallis | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko presented former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson with an “honorary citizen of the city of Kyiv” award.

“Boris repeatedly visited the Ukrainian capital – both in peace and in the most dramatic time of our struggle against the Russian aggressor. As Prime Minister of Great Britain, Johnson did everything possible to help Ukraine,” Klitschko said.

Johnson, who was one of the first world leaders to visit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv following Russia’s invasion, quickly became one of the most visible Western supporters of Ukraine. He resigned from the prime minister post in July.

— Amanda Macias

Bidens send condolences following helicopter crash in Ukraine

The helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in Brovary, Kyiv.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden expressed their condolences to the families of those killed in the helicopter crash in Ukraine.

“Our hearts are also with the dozens of civilians who were killed or injured, including precious children, and their families,” the first couple wrote in a statement.

The Bidens highlighted the work of Denys Monastyrsky, Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, who was killed in the crash along with several other Ukrainian officials.

The Bidens called him a “reformer and patriot,” and said he “championed the will of the Ukrainian people.”

“We will continue to honor that legacy through efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s institutions, and in our unfailing partnership with the people of Ukraine to keep the flame of freedom bright,” the Bidens wrote.

— Amanda Macias

NATO warns Russia is preparing for a long war in Ukraine, vows to be ready

A fire engulfed a CHP power station hit by Russian missile on October 10, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russia is preparing for an extended war so NATO must get ready “for the long haul” and support Ukraine for as long as it takes, the alliance’s deputy secretary general told top military chiefs from across Europe.

Speaking at the opening of the military chiefs’ meeting in Brussels, Mircea Geoana said NATO nations must invest more in defense, ramp up military industrial manufacturing and harness new technologies to prepare for future wars.

As Russia’s war on Ukraine nears the one-year mark, NATO chiefs are expected to discuss how allies can expand the delivery of weapons, training and support to Ukraine in the coming months, and how they can further shore up their own defenses.

“We have no indication that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goals have changed,” said Geoana, adding that Russia has mobilized more than 200,000 additional troops. “So we must be prepared for the long haul. 2023 will be a difficult year and we need to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

— Associated Press

Zelenskyy says Western countries should send tanks before another Russian attack

“Mobilization of the world must outpace a next military mobilization of our joint enemy,” Zelenskyy said via videoconference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that Western countries should send tanks before Russia’s next offensive.

His comments come as analysts fear the Kremlin could soon launch a new mobilization drive — and once again pile the pressure on the country’s Western allies to deliver heavily armored vehicles to Kyiv.

Speaking via videoconference, Zelenskyy said, “Mobilization of the world must outpace a next military mobilization of our joint enemy.”

“The supplying of Ukraine with air defense systems must outpace Russia’s next missile attacks. The supplies of Western tanks must outpace another invasion of Russian tanks,” he added.

Read the full story here.

— Sam Meredith

Australian Open bans flags from Russia and Belarus

In this file photo an Australian Open branded tennis ball is seen on court ahead of the 2015 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 11, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.

Graham Denholm | Getty Images

Flags from Russia and Belarus were banned from the site of the Australian Open after more than one was brought into the stands by spectators on Day 1 of the year’s first Grand Slam tournament.

Normally, flags can be displayed during matches at Melbourne Park. But Tennis Australia reversed that policy for the two countries involved in the invasion of Ukraine that began nearly a year ago.

Athletes from Russia and Belarus were barred from competing at Wimbledon and team events such as the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup last year because of the war in Ukraine.

— Associated Press

Death toll from missile strike on residential building in Dnipro rises to 45

Rescuers carry the body of a dead person during a missile attack by the Russian army in Dnipro.

Sergei Chuzavkov | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Mayor of Dnipro Borys Filatov said the death toll from a Russian missile strike on a residential building has risen to 45 people.

Filatov said that at least 17 people remain missing in Dnipro and 12 bodies have not been identified, according to an NBC News translation. Another 25 people are recovering in the hospital.

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy thanks Trudeau for latest military aid package of 200 armored vehicles

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for announcing a new security package for his country, which includes armored personnel carriers.

“Today the Ukrainian army needs 200 Senator APCs more than ever. Together we are moving towards victory,” Zelenskyy wrote in a tweet.

Anita Anand, Canada’s defense minister, during a news conference with Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov, during a news conference at the Military Press Centre in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023.

Ethan Swope | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand met with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv and said that Ottawa would buy a U.S. air defense system and donate it to Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Putin says war victory is ‘inevitable’ as NATO chief calls for more weapons for Kyiv

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that victory in the war in Ukraine was “inevitable” while NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Putin must realize he cannot win on the battlefield.

Speaking to workers at a weapons factory in St. Petersburg, Putin said “victory is assured, I have no doubt about it,” state news agency Tass reported. Putin made the comments on the same day on which he commemorated the 80th anniversary of Soviet forces breaking the Nazi siege of Leningrad (modern-day St. Petersburg, Putin’s hometown).

In this screen shot made on Ocober 12, 2022 French president Emmanuel Macron (R) speaks during an interview in front of pictures of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ludovic Marin | Afp | Getty Images

Meanwhile, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg commented Wednesday that we have reached a “pivotal moment” in the war.

“President Putin has shown no sign of preparing for peace and therefore he must realize he cannot win on battlefield. This is a pivotal moment in the war and the need for a significant increase in support for Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“If we want a negotiated peaceful solution tomorrow we need to provide more weapons today.”

— Holly Ellyatt

IEA chief expects Russia to lose the energy battle

The IEA’s Birol said that prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year, “Russia was the number one energy exporter to the world.”

Natalia Kolesnikova | Afp | Getty Images

International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol believes Russia will lose its energy war with the West.

“Russia will face major difficulties both for oil and gas exports and, in my view, when we look at the next couple of quarters and years, Russia will lose the energy battle,” Birol told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

His comments come shortly after an independent report showed that revenues from Russia’s fossil fuel exports collapsed in December, significantly hampering President Vladimir Putin’s ability to finance the war in Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

— Sam Meredith

Ukraine releases footage of helicopter crash aftermath

Ukraine’s National Police released footage showing the aftermath of a helicopter crash in Brovary, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

At least 17 people were killed in the incident, including Ukraine’s interior minister and two of his colleagues as well as the six others in the helicopter and four children.

The incident took place near a kindergarten and within a residential area. An investigation into the cause has started. The footage below shows the destruction caused by the crash that some viewers might find distressing.

Crash death toll revised down to 17

Firefighters work on the site where a helicopter crashed in Brovary in Kyiv.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The death toll in the helicopter crash that killed Ukraine’s interior minister and two of his colleagues has been revised down to 17 people, according to the latest update from the country’s emergency service.

“17 dead people have been identified, including 4 children and 9 people who were on board. 25 people were injured (including 11 children), who were hospitalized (information is being clarified),” the State Emergency Service said on Telegram.

It said search-and-rescue operations by units of the SES are ongoing in, with the fate of one child unknown.

— Holly Ellyatt

Images show helicopter crash destruction

Firefighters work near the site where a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in Brovary, outside the capital Kyiv.

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

A helicopter crash in Brovary on the outskirts of Ukrainian capital Kyiv has caused widespread destruction in the vicinity of the crash site, near a kindergarten and residential building.

A Ukrainian presidency handout shows firefighters at the site of the Brovary helicopter crash.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, First Deputy Minister Yevhenii Yenin and the Interior Ministry’s State Secretary Yurii Lubkovych were killed in the crash, as well as the other six passengers on board the state emergency service helicopter. The cause of the crash is being investigated.

Firefighters work on the site where a helicopter crashed in Brovary, Kyiv.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s Emergency Service put the death toll at 16, including three children, saying information about the victims was being clarified. The service said 30 people had been injured, including 12 children.

The helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in Brovary, Kyiv.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Saying it was a “black morning” for Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described the crash and loss of life as a “terrible tragedy,” and announced an investigation into the cause of the incident.

People mourn as police cordon off the site where a helicopter crashed in Brovary, Kyiv.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian officials killed in helicopter crash were flying to front line

The senior officials of the Ukraine’s Interior Ministry who died this morning in a helicopter crash were on their way to the front line, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential administration, said in a briefing Wednesday.

“The purpose [of the flight] was to make a working visit to one of the hot spots in our country. The Minister of Internal Affairs was heading there,” deputy head of the President’s Office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said at a briefing in comments reported by news agency Ukrinform.

Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi died in a helicopter crash in Ukraine.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, First Deputy Minister Yevheniy Yenin, and State Secretary of the Interior Ministry Yuriy Lubkovych were killed in the crash. Nine people were on board the helicopter and all perished in the crash near a kindergarten and a residential building in Brovary on the outskirts of Kyiv.

— Holly Ellyatt

Zelenskyy says investigation into ‘terrible tragedy’ has begun

Military stand at the site where a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten in Brovary, outside the capital Kyiv, killing Sixteen people, including two children and Ukrainian interior minister, on January 18, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has commented on the heliptor crash outside Kyiv that killed several of his colleagues in the Interior Ministry on Wednesday.

“Today, a terrible tragedy occurred in Brovary, Kyiv region. A SES [State Emergency Service] helicopter crashed, and a fire broke out at the crash site,” Zelenskyy posted on Telegram.

“I have instructed the Security Service of Ukraine, in cooperation with the National Police of Ukraine and other authorized bodies, to find out all the circumstances of what happened.”

He said the exact number of victims of the tragedy is currently being established. The head of Kyiv’s regional military administration said earlier that there were 18 known victims, including three children.

Police cordon off the site where a helicopter crashed in Brovary in the Kyiv region on Jan. 18, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Zelenskyy confirmed that officials from the Interior Ministry were on board as he sent his condolences to the victims of the crash.

“Among them [the victims] are Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Denys Monastyrskyi, his first deputy Yevhen Yenin, State Secretary of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yuri Lubkovych, their assistants and the helicopter crew.”

“25 people were injured, including 10 children. As of this minute, 3 children died. The pain is unspeakable. The helicopter fell on the territory of one of the kindergartens,” he said, in comments translated by NBC.

“All services are working on the scene of the tragedy,” he added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Shock and sadness after helicopter crash

Tributes to the victims of a helicopter crash near Kyiv that killed Ukraine’s interior minister and 17 other people, including three children, are pouring in, with officials expressing their shock at the incident.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget A. Brink tweeted Wednesday that she was “shocked and saddened by the terrible news from Brovary,” where the crash happened this morning.

All nine people on board the helicopter, which belonged to Ukraine’s state emergency service, were killed in the crash, according to the national police chief Ihor Klymenko.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro said his colleagues who had died in the crash, Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi and First Deputy Minister Yevhenii Yenin, were “true Ukrainian patriots.”

The helicopter came down near a kindergarten and residential building with Oleksiy Kuleba, the head of Kyiv’s regional military administration, stating that 29 people are known to have been wounded in the incident, including 15 children.

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska looked visibly upset as she attended the World Economic Forum on Wednesday morning. She and other Ukrainian officials observed a one-minute silence as they attended a meeting in Davos.

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska (2nd L) Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko (3rd R) and Ukrainian former professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko (2nd R) observe a moment of silence after the reported death of Ukraine’s interior minister as they attend a special dialogue with CEO’s meeting at the Congress centre during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 18, 2023.

Fabrice Coffrini | Afp | Getty Images

The cause of the crash is unknown and will be investigated, officials said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Helicopter death toll rises to 18

The number of victims from a helicopter crash near Kyiv that has killed Ukraine’s interior minister and other top-ranking officials has risen to 18.

As of 10:30 a.m. local time, there are 18 people known to have died, including 3 children, the head of Kyiv’s Regional Military Administration Oleksii Kuleba said Wednesday.

He said around 29 people, including 15 children, were known to have been wounded in the crash, that took place next to a kindergarten and residential building. All emergency services are at the site of the crash, he said.

Rescue teams work near the site where a helicopter crashed near a kindergarten outside the capital Kyiv, killing 18 people, including three children and Ukrainian interior minister, on January 18, 2023.

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

Tributes to the victims have begun with an advisor to one of the victims, Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi, posting his condolences on Twitter.

“Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrskyi, his 1st deputy Yevhen Yenin and Ministry’s state secretary Yurii Lubkovych died today in Kyiv region,” Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to Interior Minister Monastyrskyi said on Twitter.

“My colleagues, my friends. What a tragic loss. Deepest condolences to their families.”

The helicopter belonged to Ukraine’s state emergency service, according to the national police chief Ihor Klymenko.

— Holly Ellyatt

Interior minister and other officials reportedly die in Ukraine helicopter crash

The leadership of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry are reported to have died in a helicopter crash in the town of Brovary near Kyiv, on Wednesday.

“This morning, on January 18, a helicopter of the State Emergency Service crashed in Brovary.  As a result of the crash, the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs died: the minister, the first deputy minister and the state secretary,” the head of the National Police of Ukraine Ihor Klymenko said on Facebook.

The helicopter reportedly fell near a kindergarten and a residential building in the town, with Klymenko saying that 16 people are known to have died, including two children. Nine of the fatalities were on board the helicopter.

Twenty-two victims are in hospital, including 10 children, Klymenko said.

“All specialized and specialized services work on site.  The inspection of the scene is ongoing.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Putin might announce a second mobilization wave soon, analysts say

Russian President Vladimir Putin during bilateral talks at the Eurasian Economic Summit.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin could be ready to announce another round of mobilization as Russia looks to beef up its armed forces in Ukraine.

“Putin may announce a second mobilization wave to expand his army in the coming days — possibly as early as January 18,” analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said Tuesday.

The analysts noted that Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov announced on Tuesday that Putin will deliver a speech in St. Petersburg (Putin’s hometown) today in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of Soviet forces breaking the Nazi siege of Leningrad.

“Putin is fond of using symbolic dates to address the Russian people, and some Russian pro-war milbloggers noted that he will seize this opportunity to either declare mobilization or war with Ukraine,” the ISW analysts said in their daily analysis of the Ukraine war.

Read more on the story here

Russia should not be left out of international system after war, Kissinger says

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attends a luncheon at the US State Department in Washington, DC, on December 1, 2022.

Roberto Schmidt | AFP | Getty Images

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Tuesday said Russia must be given the opportunity to one day rejoin the international system following any peace deal in Ukraine and dialogue with the country must be ongoing.

“This may seem very hollow to nations that have been under Russian pressure for much of the Cold War period,” Kissinger told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, via video link.

However, he said it was important to avoid an escalation of conflict between Russia and the West as a result of it feeling the war had become “against Russia itself.”

This, he said “may cause Russia to reevaluate its historic position, which was an amalgam of an attraction to the culture of Europe and a fear of domination by Europe.”

“The destruction of Russia as a state that can pursue its own policies will open up the vast area of its 11 time zones to internal conflict and to outside intervention at the time when there are 15,000 and more nuclear weapons on its territory.”

Kissinger also said he believed Ukrainian membership in NATO would be an “appropriate outcome” one day, having previously caused a controversy by suggesting that the country should be prepared to cede territory to Russia in order to achieve peace.

Kissinger said Tuesday that the U.S. should continue to provide military support and if necessary intensify that support until a cease-fire line is reached or accepted in preliminary discussions. He also expressed admiration for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the “heroic conduct of the Ukrainian people.”

— Jenni Reid

Biden speaks with German Chancellor Scholz as Berlin taps new defense minister

Chancellor Scholz with Singaporean ministers ahead of his speech on Monday.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about ways to aid Ukraine, according to a White House readout of the call.

“The leaders discussed their steadfast support for Ukraine and condemned Russia’s aggression,” the readout added.

Earlier in the day, Scholz named Boris Pistorius as Germany’s next defense minister after Christine Lambrecht resigned Monday over criticism of her handling of the slow supply of offensive weapons to Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Hungary’s foreign minister says Brussels has failed on Russia sanctions

Brussels failed on Russia sanctions, Hungary's foreign minister says

Sanctions against Russia have not brought the country’s economy to its knees or ended the war so should stop, Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s minister for foreign affairs, told CNBC.

Read more on this story here

Ukraine’s agriculture minister warns that a major share of the country’s corn is unharvested

A combine harvester of Continental Farmers Group agricultural company harvests wheat on August 4, 2022 in the Ternopil region of Ukraine.

Alexey Furman | Getty Images

Ukraine Minister of Agriculture Mykola Solskyi said that a major share of the country’s corn crop is unharvested as Russia’s war disrupts agricultural work.

Solskyi said that the corn that remains on the stalk will deteriorate up until harvest, according to an NBC News translation.

He added that about 85% of the country’s corn has been harvested so far.

— Amanda Macias

US condemns ‘brutal and barbaric’ missile strike on Ukrainian residential building in Dnipro

Rescuers search for people trapped under the rubble of a high-rise residential building hit by a missile on Jan. 14, 2023, in Dnipro, Ukraine.

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The White House called Russia’s bombing of a missile strike on a residential building in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro “brutal and barbaric,” and a violation of international humanitarian law.

“We will continue our work to hold Russian forces accountable,” White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre said of the attack, which killed at least 40 people and wounded many more.

Pentagon spokesman U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder also condemned the attack, but declined to say whether the missile that hit the residential building was a hypersonic weapon.

— Amanda Macias

Finnish prime minister calls on allies to support Ukraine for ‘as long as needed’

Sanna Marin the Prime Minister of Finland at the European Council – Euro Summit – EU leaders meeting, during a press conference with President of European Council Charles Michel and President of Europe Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin says that if Russia were to win the war in Ukraine, it should send the message that invading another country leads to gains of land or natural resources.

She says Europe and other Western democracies should send Putin the message that “we will support as long as needed — five years, 10 years, 15 years, whatever it takes — we will support Ukraine, and this will not stop.”

Speaking at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Marin added, “it’s for Ukrainians to decide when they are ready to negotiate when they are ready to make some peace agreement.”

She says “the story might have been very different” if Western allies had acted stronger when Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014. The European Union member that shares a long border with Russia is seeking NATO membership.

Marin says Finland believed it was best to stay out of the alliance for its own security but then it saw “Russia is attacking another neighbor and we cannot rely on that relations anymore, so we have to seek partnership elsewhere.”

All 30 NATO states must approve Finland and Sweden joining the Western military alliance, with just Turkey and Hungary yet to sign on. Turkey is demanding the Nordic countries tighten counterterrorism measures.

— Associated Press

Former Wagner commander seeks asylum in Norway after fleeing Russia

A former commander of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group who fought in Ukraine said he has fled to Norway and is seeking asylum in fear for his life after witnessing the killing and mistreatment of Russian prisoners brought to the frontline.

Andrei Medvedev, who joined the group on July 6, 2022, on a four-month contract, said in a video posted by the rights group that he had crossed the border into Norway before being detained by Norwegian police.

Medvedev, an orphan who joined the Russian army and served time in prison before joining Wagner, said he had slipped away from the group after witnessing the killing of captured deserters from Wagner.

General view of the “PMC Wagner Centre”, associated with the founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, ahead of its opening in Saint Petersburg, Russia October 31, 2022.

Igor Russak | Reuters

“I am afraid of dying in agony,” Medvedev told Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the rights group, which said it had helped Medvedev leave Russia after he approached the group in fear for his life.

He said he crossed the border, climbing through barbed-wire fences and evading a border patrol with dogs, and heard guards firing shots as he ran through a forest and over thin and breaking ice into Norway.

Norwegian police said a foreign citizen had been arrested on the night of Thursday to Friday after illegally crossing the Russian-Norwegian border in the Arctic and was seeking asylum.

His Norwegian lawyer said Medvedev was now in the “Oslo area” but did not give details.

“What is important for him (Medvedev) is that immigration authorities clarify his status as soon as possible,” lawyer Brynjulf Risnes told Reuters.

Medvedev had not yet talked with Norwegian security police and no agreement for an interview had been made, Risnes said. “I am sure that will be a question at some point,” said Risnes, who declined to say where Medvedev was fighting in Ukraine.

“He says he has taken part in battle, which he says were clear battle situations … and that he has not been in contact with civilians,” said Risnes.

— Reuters

Russia needs to be pushed harder with sanctions, Lithuania’s president says

Lithuania's president says sanctions on Russia must go further

Ukraine’s allies need to apply more pressure on Russia through sanctions, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Sanctions have some impact on the Russian economy. Sometimes our expectations are higher than [the] real result but it does not mean that sanctions are not effective. They are effective but with a certain time lag,” Nausėda told Joumanna Bercetche.

“Of course the success of Ukraine’s armed forces in the battlefield are just critically important,” Nausėda said, calling for the provision of better air defense systems and tanks to the country.

He also discussed the difficulty of Ukraine getting NATO membership in the near-term due to the ongoing conflict and the need for the alliance to find “guarantees” for the country without membership; and Lithuania’s commitment to strengthening its own armed forces and increasing military spend to 3% of GDP.

— Jenni Reid

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

News Rant