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Russia-Ukraine war updates for July 5, 2023

BusinessRussia-Ukraine war updates for July 5, 2023


No news to share on detained WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich, White House says

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

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the Biden administration did not have news to share regarding the release of detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich in Russia.

“I wish I can stand in front of you and say that we have news to share on Evan. Sadly, we do not have any news to share,” Jean-Pierre told reporters during a White House briefing.

“What I can say is Evan, along with Paul Whelan, who are both wrongfully detained, as you know, should be home. They should be home with their families. I just don’t have anything to share at this time,” she added.

Gershkovich was arrested by Russian authorities on March 29 on allegations of espionage. The Biden administration has denied that Gershkovich worked on behalf of the U.S. government as a spy.

— Amanda Macias

‘We cannot relax,’ IAEA chief says of tensions at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

A view of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on June 15, 2023. 

Olga Maltseva | Afp | Getty Images

The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi warned about rising tensions at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

“Nuclear power plants should never under any circumstances be attacked, nuclear power plants should not be used as a military base,” Grossi told reporters during a press conference in Japan.

“The IAEA is there to observe, to monitor this, and to inform the world community if this happens. In our latest inspections, we haven’t seen any activity, but, we remain extremely alert. As you know there is a counter-offensive ongoing, there is a lot of combat,” he said, according to an NBC News report.

“I have been there a few weeks ago and there is combat there, very close to the plant, so we cannot relax and we will be informing and updating constantly,” the head of the nuclear watchdog agency added.

— Amanda Macias

Two ships leave Ukraine’s ports carrying agricultural products as Black Sea grain deal faces expiry

The Barbados-flagged ship “Nord Vind” coming from Ukraine loaded with grain and anchored in Istanbul, on Oct. 11, 2022.

Yasin Akgul | Afp | Getty Images

Two ships left Ukraine’s port of Chornomorsk carrying a combined total of 84,834 metric tons of corn and sunflower meal, according to the U.N.-backed organization responsible for tracking agricultural exports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

The Black Sea grain deal, which was brokered last July, faces expiry this month unless it is renewed by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations.

Since the inception of the agreement, more than 32 million metric tons of agricultural products have left from three Ukrainian ports for global destinations.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine’s interior minister said perpetrator in Kyiv court bombing died at the scene

Ukranian security personnel gather at the entrance to a district court in Kyiv on July 5, 2023, following reports of an explosion. 

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko said there was an explosion at the Shevchenkiv Court in Kyiv on Wednesday.

“According to preliminary information, the currently unidentified device was detonated by a man who was brought to a court hearing,” Klymenko said on his official Telegram channel, according to an NBC News translation.

Ukranian security personnel gather at the entrance to a district court in Kyiv on July 5, 2023, following reports of an explosion. 

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

Klymenko added that the suspect died at the scene and two people with the Ukrainian security forces were injured.

“Stay calm and stay away from the scene. Let the relevant services execute effectively,” Klymenko wrote in another Telegram post.

— Amanda Macias

Biden hosts Swedish counterpart at White House ahead of NATO summit

U.S. President Joe Biden (R) meets with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in the Oval Office of the White House July 5, 2023 in Washington, DC. The two leaders are expected to discuss Sweden’s bid to join NATO.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden will host Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at the White House ahead of the NATO leader’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania next week.

Last year, Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership. All NATO members ratified Finland’s ascension to the alliance in April, making Helsinki the 31st government to join the military group. Turkey and Hungary have expressed concerns with Sweden’s addition to the NATO alliance and have yet to ratify Stockholm’s ascension protocols.

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— Amanda Macias

No increased military presence at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, IAEA says

“I am astonished by the complacency – what are we doing to prevent this happening? We are the IAEA, we are meant to care about nuclear safety,” IAEA director general Rafael Grossi said in a Thursday statement.

Joe Klamar | AFP | Getty Images

The chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency said that there were no reports of increased military presence at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement that the team of IAEA representatives at the nuclear power plant have not reported recent shelling or explosions nor additional Russian forces at the site.

“The IAEA experts have requested additional access that is necessary to confirm the absence of mines or explosives at the site,” wrote Grossi in a statement. “In particular, access to the rooftops of reactor units 3 and 4 is essential, as well as access to parts of the turbine halls and some parts of the cooling system at the plant,” he added.

Grossi’s comments come as Ukraine and Russia accuse each other of preparing for an attack on the nuclear power plant facility, which is Europe’s largest.

— Amanda Macias

Hungarian foreign minister vows to keep ‘channels of communications open’ with Russia

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Wednesday that Hungary intends to keep “channels of communications open” with Moscow, according to Reuters.

In a joint press conference in Budapest with visiting Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, Szijjarto added that Hungary condemns the war in Ukraine in “the most decisive manner,” according to Reuters, but reiterated the country’s opposition to the supply of arms to Ukraine from fellow members of the NATO military alliance.

Hungary is the only European Union country to maintain close diplomatic ties with the Kremlin since the invasion of Ukraine last year, and still imports the majority of its oil and natural gas from Russia.

— Elliot Smith

Saudi energy minister says oil cuts show Russia cooperation is still strong

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told a conference on Wednesday that cooperation between Riyadh and Moscow is still strong as part of the OPEC+ alliance of major oil producers.

Both Russia and Saudi Arabia, the world’s two largest oil exporters, on Monday announced further supply cuts in a bid to increase global crude prices.

The move defied calls from the U.S., which is not part of the alliance, for OPEC+ to boost production in order to support the global economy. Washington has also criticized Saudi Arabia for continuing to cooperate with Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

“Part of what we have done with the help of our colleagues from Russia was also to mitigate the cynical side of the spectators on what is going on between Saudi and Russia on that specific matter,” Abdulaziz told the conference.

The event is being held in Vienna, Austria, though the host country has boycotted it in protest at OPEC’s refusal of access to reporters from certain news organizations including Reuters, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

— Elliot Smith

Russian ruble falls to 15-month low against the dollar

Double-headed eagle national symbol is seen behind Russian 5 rouble coin in Moscow, Russia.

Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia’s ruble fell below 90 against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, its lowest point since March 2022.

By late morning in Europe, the currency was trading at around 90.6 to the dollar, while also falling sharply against the euro and the Chinese yuan.

The Russian government implemented capital controls in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine which helped to insulate the currency against geopolitical blowback and international sanctions.

However, mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s aborted mutiny against Moscow late last month sent the ruble tumbling, and it is now one of the world’s worst performing currencies in 2023.

— Elliot Smith

Russian oil and gas budget revenues fall by 26% year-on-year in June; Car sales jump more than 150%

A view of the the petrol station of Gazprom in Moscow, Russia, on June 6, 2017.

Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia’s budget revenues derived from oil and gas fell by 26.4% year-on-year in June to 528.6 billion rubles ($5.88 billion), new finance ministry data showed Wednesday.

On a monthly basis, oil and gas budget revenues declined by 7.4%.

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Russian analytics agency Autostat said Wednesday that car sales in Russia jumped by an annual 151.8% in June, Reuters reported, as the country’s automotive industry continued to recover from a sharp decline in 2022 on the back of Western economic sanctions.

— Elliot Smith

Top Zelenskyy advisor says China’s position on Russian nuclear threat ‘important’

Andriy Yermak, a top advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said China’s reported opposition to Russia’s threats of nuclear force is “an important position.”

Posting on the Telegram messaging app, the head of the president’s office shared a screengrab of the Financial Times article reporting that Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a visit to Moscow in March, personally warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

— Elliot Smith

China’s Xi warned Putin against using nuclear weapons in Ukraine: FT

Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Moscow in March warned Vladimir Putin against the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the Financial Times reported Wednesday citing western and Chinese officials.

Chinese officials have privately taken credit for the Kremlin backing away from veiled threats of nuclear force expressed earlier in the conflict, the sources said.

NBC News has not yet been able to independently verify the report.

Read more here.

Putin claims Russian economy faring better than expected

Russian President, Vladimir Putin talks during The Strong Ideas For The New Times Forum, on June 29, 2023 in Moscow, Russia. President Putin visited the annual forum, hosted by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI). 

Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said late Tuesday that the country’s economy was exceeding expectations, following an update from Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

During a meeting at the Kremlin, Mishustin reported that GDP growth may top 2% in 2023 while inflation might not exceed 5% annually. The International Monetary Fund has projected 0.7% GDP growth this year after a 2.1% contraction in 2022.

According to a transcript on the Kremlin’s website, Putin said “at least for the time being” that the results were “better than previously expected, better than predicted.”

Russia has been on the receiving end of several waves of sweeping economic sanctions from Ukraine’s allies since the unprovoked invasion of its neighbor in February 2022.

— Elliot Smith

Russia and Ukraine trade attack plot accusations at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is seen as Russian militaryâs presence at nuclear power plant continues, on August 11, 2022, in Zaporizhzia, Ukraine.

Metin Aktas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that he had warned French President Emmanuel Macron that Russia was planning “dangerous provocations” at the Moscow-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

“Now we have information from our intelligence that the Russian military has placed objects resembling explosives on the roof of several power units of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Perhaps to simulate an attack on the plant. Perhaps they have some other scenario,” Zelenskyy added alongside the video posted on Twitter.

“But in any case, the world sees – can’t but see – that the only source of danger to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is Russia and no one else.”

Russian troops seized the power station, Europe’s largest nuclear facility, in the early days of the invasion in February 2022, and both sides have since frequently accused one another of endangering it via shelling.

Russian state news agencies quoted an advisor to Russia’s nuclear network as claiming that the Ukrainian military is planning to attack the station using “long-range precision equipment and kamikaze attack drones,” though no evidence was offered in support of this allegation.

— Elliot Smith

Ukraine claims destruction of Russian unit; Moscow alleges civilian casualties

Ukraine’s military claimed late on Tuesday to have destroyed a Russian unit in Makiivka, a Moscow-held territory in the Donetsk region.

“As a result of precision firing by Defence Forces units, another formation of Russian terrorists in the temporarily occupied Makiivka ceased to exist,” the strategic communications office for Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on the Telegram messaging app, alongside a video of apparent explosions in the distance.

The Russian-installed head of the region, Denis Pushilin, claimed on Telegram that the Ukrainian shelling had resulted in civilian casualties.

“Late in the evening, the enemy launched fierce attacks on residential areas and the hospital complex of the Chervonogvardeisky district of Makeevka. The blast wave was felt by the majority of residents of Makeevka and Donetsk,” Pushilin said.

“At the moment, 25 victims are known, including two children wounded: a girl 2 years 9 months old. and a 7 year old boy.”

Neither claim could be independently verified. Since the start of the Russian invasion, both sides have accused one another of targeting civilians and denied doing so themselves.

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— Elliot Smith

At least 31 wounded, including nine children, in Russian shelling on Ukraine

Burning cars on the parking lot near residential building on July 4, 2023, in Pervomaiskyi, Ukraine. 

Oleksandr Magula | Getty Images News | Getty Images

At least 31 people, including nine children, were wounded in Russian shelling on the small town of Pervomaiskyi in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, officials said Tuesday.

The windows of multi–story buildings were smashed and cars were set alight in the shelling which occurred at 1:35 p.m. Kyiv time, Kharkiv regional governor Oleh Synehubov wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

A man stands on the balcony of a damaged residential building on July 4, 2023, in Pervomaiskyi, Ukraine. Shell hit a parking lot near a multi-story building located in a residential neighborhood. 

Oleksandr Magula | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russia did not immediately comment on the incident and CNBC was unable to independently verify the reports.

— Karen Gilchrist

Russia claims ‘certain contacts’ with U.S. over detained reporter Gershkovich

Russia said Tuesday that “certain contacts” had been made with the U.S. regarding the detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

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

Speaking a day after U.S. ambassador Lynne Tracy visited Gershkovich in a Moscow prison, the Kremlin said that it did not want to make its conversations with the U.S. public.

“We said that there are certain contacts on this matter, but we do not want to make them public, they must be carried out and continued in complete silence,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to a Reuters translation.

“As for the legal right to consular contacts, this right, of course, must be ensured on both sides.”

Russia has accused Gershkovich of espionage, something he denies.

— Karen Gilchrist

Voice recording said to be of Wagner’s Prigozhin surfaces

Head of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin left the Southern Military District headquarters on June 24, 2023 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. 

Stringer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin appears to have resurfaced on social media after being exiled to Belarus since his failed insurrection 11 days ago.

A voice recording said to be of Prigozhin was posted on the Grey Zone Telegram page — an account supportive of Russian mercenaries, with more than 500,000 subscribers.

NBC News is unable to authenticate the audio message.

“Today, more than ever, we need your support. Thank you for that,” the voice said.

“I want you to understand that our “March of Justice” was aimed at fighting traitors and mobilizing our society. And I think we have achieved a lot of it,” it added.

“In the near future, I am sure that you will see our next victories at the front. Thanks guys!”

NBC’s Moscow bureau said the voice does sound like Prigozhin’s, but that he is speaking more slowly than usual.  

The mercenary leader has not been seen in public since the uprising 11 days ago.

— Karen Gilchrist

NATO extends Stoltenberg’s mandate for a year after failing to agree on new leader

NATO general secretary Jens Stoltenberg is talking to media prior the start of the first day of an EU Summit, in the Europa, the EU Council headquarter on June 29, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.

Thierry Monasse | Getty Images

NATO on Tuesday agreed to extend Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s term by a further year after members were unable to agree on a new leader.

Stoltenberg, 64, who has been in the role since 2014, said he was honored by the decision, despite recently saying he had no plans to remain in situ beyond his current term, due to end October 1.

Stoltenberg’s reappointment had been widely expected since last month. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said last week that “the new NATO secretary-general is the good old NATO secretary-general.”

Kallas was one candidate under discussion to replace Stoltenberg, alongside Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, though neither candidate drew sufficient support.

The extension of Stoltenberg’s term comes one week before NATO leaders gather in Vilnius, Lithuania, for their annual summit.

— Karen Gilchrist

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:


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