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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

BusinessLatest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Czech PM says EU in talks over how to use Russian assets to help Ukraine

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said Friday that European Union members were discussing ways to use frozen Russian assets to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

“This is not a simple topic, either from a legal or other points of view, but intensive negotiations are also taking place here precisely so that we can also use these frozen assets to help Ukraine,” Fiala said, according to Reuters.

His comments came shortly after a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

CNBC has previously reported on how the 27-nation bloc may look to use frozen Russian assets to reconstruct Ukraine. Read the full story here.

— Sam Meredith

German FM opposes sending cluster munitions to Ukraine

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Friday that Berlin opposes the U.S. potentially sending cluster bombs to Ukraine.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

German ministers on Friday said Berlin opposed sending cluster bombs to Ukraine, shortly after U.S. officials suggested Washington was considering sending such weapons to Kyiv.

“I have followed the media reports. For us, as a state party, the Oslo agreement applies,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said when asked for comment at a climate conference in Vienna, Reuters reported.

Baerbock was referring to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a disarmament treaty of more than 100 countries that prohibits the use, transfer and stockpiling of these weapons.

Berlin is a signatory of the CCM, so such a munitions delivery “is not an option for us,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said, in comments reported by Reuters.

He added, “As for those countries that have not signed the convention — China, Russia, Ukraine and the U.S. — it is not up to me to comment on their actions.”

Washington has yet to confirm or deny it will be sending these munitions, but a Pentagon official has acknowledged the move is under consideration.

— Sam Meredith

Ukraine reports new advances near eastern city of Bakhmut

Ukrainian troops have advanced by more than a kilometre in the last day against Russian forces near the eastern city of Bakhmut, a military spokesperson said on Friday.

His comments were the latest by Kyiv signalling that the counteroffensive it launched in early June is gradually making progress although Russian accounts of fighting in the Bakhmut sector differ from Ukraine’s.

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“The defence forces continue to hold the initiative there, putting pressure on the enemy, conducting assault operations, advancing along the northern and southern flanks,” military spokesman Serhiy Cherevatyi told Ukrainian television.

“In particular, over the past day, they have advanced more than one kilometre (0.62 mile).”

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian armed forces general staff said Ukrainian forces had had “partial success” near the village of Klishchiivka, just southwest of Bakhmut.

— Reuters

Human rights group urges U.S. not to send cluster bombs to Kyiv

The Human Rights Watch said the U.S. should not transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine, following reports that Washington has decided to do so.

“The U.S. government should not be providing cluster munitions to any country due to the foreseeable and lasting harm to civilians from these weapons,” said Mary Wareham, acting arms director at Human Rights Watch.

“Transferring cluster munitions disregards the substantial danger they pose to civilians and undermines the global effort to ban them.”

In a report published Thursday, the international NGO said cluster munitions used by Russia and Ukraine were currently harming civilians and leaving bomblets behind “that will continue to do so for many years.”

The group called on Russian and Ukrainian forces to immediately stop using cluster munitions and not seek out more.

— Sam Meredith

U.S. considers sending cluster bombs to Ukraine

The remains of a cluster bomb on the international airport on January 6, 2023 in Kherson, Ukraine.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images News | Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s administration is poised to announce on Friday that it will send thousands of cluster bombs to Ukraine, as part of a new military aid package worth $800 million, the Associated Press reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the decision.

Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Pat Ryder said Thursday he had no announcement to make on the report, but disclosed that cluster munitions known as Dual-Purpose Conventional Improved Munitions were under consideration.

Cluster munitions are a type of explosive weapon that open in mid-air and disperse dozens or even hundreds of smaller so-called bomblets over an area the size of a city block. More than 100 countries have banned the use, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, due to concerns that these weapons can cause civilian casualties.

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The U.S., Russia and Ukraine are not signatories of the international treaty.

— Sam Meredith

Zelenskyy pushes for a ‘clear signal’ on NATO membership

Czech President Petr Pavel (2nd L) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) review a military honor guard in front of the Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, on July 6, 2023.

Milan Kammermayer | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on NATO to clearly indicate the country is on track to join the alliance, saying Kyiv needed more assurances than a general statement that the door to NATO remains open.

His comments come ahead of a two-day NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, next week. Zelenskyy seeks a straightforward indication from the alliance that Ukraine can join the 30-member group when the war ends.

“We are talking about a clear signal, some concrete things in the direction of an invitation,” Zelenskiy said at a news conference in Prague alongside Czech President Petr Pavel, Reuters reported. “We need this motivation. We need honesty in our relations.”

— Sam Meredith

EU agrees to boost production of ammunition and missiles

The European Union reached a provisional agreement to speed up the region’s production of ammunition and missiles, in a move it says will benefit Ukraine and the 27-nation bloc.

The EU presidency, currently held by Spain, said early Friday that member states and EU Parliament representatives agreed to “urgently mobilize” 500 million euros ($545 million) from its budget for an Act in Support of Ammunition Production.

The deal must now be endorsed by the European Council and Parliament, with entry into force expected before the end of the month. It comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for more weapons from allies to help reduce the scale of Russia’s war.

“This is yet another proof of the EU’s unwavering commitment to supporting Ukraine, strengthening the EU’s defence technological and industrial base, and ultimately ensuring the long term security and defence of EU citizens,” Spanish Defense Minister Margarita Robles said in a statement.

— Sam Meredith

10 people killed in Russian missile strike in western Ukraine

A Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Lviv in western Ukraine has killed 10 people, according to city Mayor Andriy Sadovyi.

The official on Friday said on Telegram that emergency employees were now freeing the deceased from the rubble. “This will complete the search and rescue operation,” he added, in remarks translated by NBC.

— Sam Meredith

Zelenskyy calls for more weapons as counteroffensive stalls

Ukrainian serviceman holds a Next Generation Light Anti-armour Weapon (NLAW) on the position not far from the front line in the south of Kharkiv region, on July 11, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Anatolii Stepanov | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy renewed calls for additional weapons as Kyiv’s weekslong counteroffensive slows.

“It is important for Ukraine to receive the necessary weapons and ammunition in time for a successful counteroffensive and further de-occupation of its territories, and it is in the interests of other states to help the Ukrainian army stop Russian aggression before it moves further into Europe,” Zelenskyy said, according to a readout provided by the Ukrainian government.

“If Russia goes further, your weapons will not be enough,” the Ukrainian leader added, referring to gains made by Russian forces.

— Amanda Macias

Detained WSJ reporter enters 100th day in Russian prison

US journalist Evan Gershkovich (REAR) arrested on espionage charges looks on as he stands inside a defendants’ cage before a hearing to consider an appeal on his extended detention at The Moscow City Court in Moscow on June 22, 2023.

Natalia Kolesnikova | AFP | Getty Images

Friday will mark the 100th day since Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested on espionage charges in Russia. Gershkovich has been held at the Lefortovo prison in Moscow.

The Wall Street Journal and the Biden administration have denied Russian allegations that Gershkovich was operating as a spy on behalf of the U.S. government.

Earlier this week, the U.S. was granted consular access to Gershkovich for the second time since he was detained in March.

— Amanda Macias

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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