U.S., Europe restrict Russian trade as Putin’s forces advance on Kyiv
More cities in Ukraine have been targeted by Russian airstrikes Friday, local authorities say, in a move that suggests Moscow is expanding its attack further into the country.
It comes after new satellite images appear to show that a large Russian convoy approaching Kyiv has been redeployed to towns and forests outside the city, potentially signaling a renewed push to bear down on the capital.
The Ukraine Ministry of Defense on Friday night posted a video which it says shows a Ukraine drone attack on the “enemy control point” near Kyiv.
“A few minutes ago, the enemy control point in the Kyiv direction was destroyed. Our Air Force is working!” the Ukraine ministry’s post on Telegram said, according to an NBC News translation.
CNBC was unable to independently verify the content of the video.
A senior U.S. Defense official told CNBC on Friday that Russian forces near Kyiv have moved forward some of their rear elements, including troops and military equipment, but the frontline has not advanced on the capital.
Russian forces are about 10 miles (16 km) outside Kyiv’s city center, according to the most recent Pentagon assessment.
— Ted Kemp and Amanda Macias
Russia’s ‘dumb’ munitions are likely to increase civilian deaths, UK ministry says
Russian aircraft are relying on unguided, “dumb” munitions to support their troops on the ground, raising the likelihood of Ukrainian civilians being killed and wounded.
Dumb bombs and rockets are less accurate than guided weapons, which means they’re less likely to strike what they’re aimed at and more likely to randomly hit something else.
Russia is using rockets and other weapons that fire from greater distances — so-called “stand-off” weapons — so its pilots can avoid being shot down, the U.K. ministry said in an intelligence update on Friday night local time.
“The staunch resistance of the Ukrainian air defence forces is compelling Russia to rely on ‘stand-off’ munitions to conduct attacks against targets deep inside Ukraine,” the ministry said.
The ministry said Russian air and missile forces had carried out strikes on two cities in Ukraine’s west in the last 24 hours.
Ukraine’s Parliament reported strikes on Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk at around 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time respectively on Friday. Those locations are further west than most Russian attacks on Ukraine so far.
In a video message posted to Telegram on Friday morning, Yurii Pohuliaiko, head of the Lutsk regional council, said four rockets had been fired into the city’s military airport, killing two soldiers and injuring six.
The Treasury Department on Friday announced the addition of more than 20 Russians to its list of sanctioned nationals, the latest step in an ongoing campaign to respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by targeting Russian elites and military contractors.
The newly sanctioned individuals and entities include:
The wife and two children of Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov.
Two Russian nationals who helped North Korea obtain material for ballistic missiles and WMDs.
12 members of Russia’s parliament who led the effort to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics. This vote was a key step in establishing Russia’s false pretext for invading Ukraine.
All 10 members of the management board of VTB Bank, the second-largest bank in Russia.
Two planes and a yacht owned by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba spoke over the phone following Kuleba’s trilateral meeting with his Russian and Turkish counterparts, the State Department said.
Blinken updated Kuleba on efforts by the Biden administration, the European Union and the Group of Seven powers to “raise the costs on Russia” by revoking its “most favored nation” trade status, State spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Blinken reaffirmed the U.S.′ commitment to “continue surging security, economic, and humanitarian support to the people of Ukraine as they face increasingly brutal bombardment by Russian forces,” the statement said.
The two diplomats also “shared their concerns that Russia is escalating its disinformation campaigns to deceive the world, including at the United Nations,” Price said.
The major U.S. stock averages fell Friday to end another week of losses as Russia’s war in Ukraine continued.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down more than 200 points, or 0.7%. The S&P 500 slid 1.3%, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.2%.
For the week, the Dow fell 2% — notching its fifth straight week of losses. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted back-to-back weekly losses, dipping 2.9% and 3.5%, respectively.
Ten of the 11 S&P 500 sectors ended the week lower. Energy as the only advancer. Energy stocks have gotten a recent boost as oil prices rallied amid the conflict.
European leaders say so-called golden passport programs have become a backdoor for dirty money, creating an easy route for many Russian oligarchs to live and conduct business in Europe.
Russian billionaires have been among the world’s largest buyers of multiple citizenships, using alternate passports to help protect their assets and allow freer travel.
The EU Parliament voted this week to phase out citizenship-by-investment programs run by some EU countries. The three EU countries offering golden passports — Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta — are all phasing out or considering ending their programs. The 12 EU countries offering golden visas, or residency permits for investments, including Greece, Spain and Hungary, are also now considering new limits or phasing them out.
The U.K. is planning to abolish its golden visa program, which gives foreign nationals a path to residency if they invest at least $2.7 million.
The Russian ambassador to the United Nations told the international forum that Moscow did not start the current war in Ukraine.
“We did not start this war. We want to end it and it is true that the war was not begun by us. It started eight years ago by Kyiv,” Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said referencing the ongoing conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
Russia has been condemned by global leaders for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
“We are dismayed by the dirty campaign to blame us for intentionally shelling civilian infrastructure,” he said, adding that the West is dismissing legitimate claims as Russian propaganda.
President Joe Biden emphatically rejected the idea of sending American troops or offensive weaponry into Ukraine, telling House Democrats on Friday that such a move would trigger a third World War.
“We will not fight the Third World War in Ukraine,” Biden said at a House Democratic retreat in Philadelphia.
“Putin’s war in Ukraine must never be a victory,” he said. “We are showing strength and we’ll never falter. But, look. The idea, the idea that we’re going to send in offensive equipment and have planes and tanks and trains going in with American pilots and American crews? Don’t kid yourself.”
“That’s called World War III. Okay? Let’s get it straight here guys,” Biden said.
The United States has provided the Ukrainian military with munitions, defensive weaponry and intelligence support. But Biden has so far resisted appeals from Ukrainian leaders for NATO to institute and defend a no-fly zone in the air over Ukraine.
Biden is also under pressure from a faction of congressional Republicans to deliver fighter planes from Poland to Ukraine. But senior Defense Department officials caution that this would be “very risky.”