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Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

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Carlsberg CEO says he was ‘shocked’ by seizure of subsidiary by Russian state

Picture taken on February 8, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark, shows Danish brewer Carlsberg’s CEO Cees ‘t Hart.

Ida Guldbaek Arentsen | Afp | Getty Images

The chief executive of Danish brewing giant Carlsberg said he was “shocked” by the seizure of its Russian subsidiary Baltika Breweries by the state in July.

“In June, we were pleased to announce the sale of the Russian business. However, shortly afterwards, we were shocked that a presidential decree had temporarily transferred management of the business to a Russian federal agency,” Cees ‘t Hart said in a statement as part of the company’s first-half results.

“We’re assessing the situation and the legal consequences of this highly unexpected move and will seek to protect our assets and the value of the business.”

A presidential decree also seized the Russian subsidiary of French food producer Danone. It was the first time it had taken hold of western subsidiaries since the seizure of Finnish and German energy companies Fortum and Uniper in April. The Kremlin has previously suggested that this was retaliation for Western seizures of Russian assets.

Dmitry Birichevsky, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s department for economic cooperation, dismissed “speculation” that more companies’ assets would be nationalized by Russia.

“I would like to emphasize that companies that are still interested in conscientiously continuing their work in our country and comply with Russian legislation are not in danger,” he said last week in an interview with state news agency RIA.

— Jenni Reid, Elliot Smith

Ukraine says cargo ship using Black Sea corridor despite continued tensions

Grain ship on the Black Sea on July 17, 2023.

Dia Images | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine said Wednesday a cargo ship was using a temporary corridor for cargo ships exiting and entering Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea amid continued uncertainty over Russia’s response to such vessels.

The ship was named as the Joseph Schulte, traveling under the Hong Kong flag.

“The first vessel is moving along the temporary corridor established for civilian vessels to/from the Black Sea seaports,” Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Telegram, according to a Google translation.

Ukraine’s navy announced the corridor on Aug. 10. Russia in July pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had facilitated the export of Ukrainian agricultural goods through the war, sparking concerns over global food supply.

Cargo ships have been stuck in various ports since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Russia said in July it would consider all Ukraine-bound ships as potential carriers of military equipment. Tensions heightened on Sunday when Moscow said one of its warships had fired warning shots at a cargo vessel in the Black Sea, a move Ukraine called “provocative.”

— Jenni Reid

Russia deploying domestically made drones based on Iranian designs, UK defense ministry says

British intelligence believes Russia has “almost certainly” started to deploy domestically made one-way attack drones based on Iranian Shahed designs, it said in a briefing Wednesday.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia has been importing Iranian-made Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (OWA-UAVs) since September 2022.

“Indigenous manufacturing will likely allow Russia to establish a more reliable supply of OWA-UAVs. The performance of these weapons has been variable and Ukraine has proved effective in neutralising the majority of incoming OWA-UAVs,” it said in a statement.

The ministry added Russia is likely aiming for self-sufficiency but that it’s still shipping components and weapons from Iran.

— Jenni Reid

Zelenskyy advisor slams idea of giving up territory for NATO membership

Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, during an interview with AFP in Kyiv, on July 19, 2023.

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

Mykhailo Podolyak, advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, described any suggestion Ukraine could cede territory in exchange for NATO membership as “ridiculous.”

“That means deliberately choosing the defeat of democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law, and passing the war on to other generations,” Podolyak wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

It follows a report in the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that NATO chief of staff Stian Jenssen said in a Tuesday panel discussion: “I think that a solution could be for Ukraine to give up territory, and get NATO membership in return.”

CNBC did not attend the panel event and has reached out to Jenssen for comment.

— Jenni Reid

Russia drone strikes damage grain storage in Danube port, governor says

Russian drone attacks on a Ukrainian port on the Danube river caused a fire and damaged warehouses and granaries, Odesa regional governor Oleh Kiper said in a Telegram post, according to a Google translation.

There were no deaths or injuries, Kiper said, later adding anti-aircraft defense systems had destroyed 11 attack drones.

Images posted by Kiper show grain spilled onto the ground and structural damage. CNBC has not independently verified the report or images.

Danube ports have become the primary export route for Ukrainian grain since Russia pulled out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July.

— Jenni Reid

Ukraine deputy defense minister says Urozhaine in Donetsk retaken

Ukrainian forces have recaptured the eastern village of Urozhaine in the partially occupied Donetsk region, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said in a Telegram post.

“Urozhaine liberated. Our defenders are entrenched on the outskirts,” Maliar said, according to a Reuters translation. CNBC has not independently verified the report.

Earlier in the week, Russian officials admitted that Ukraine had gained a foothold in the strategically important settlement, the Kyiv Post reported.

Ukraine continues to push forward with its counteroffensive in occupied areas, though gains have been limited.

Maliar said Tuesday forces continued to push toward Melitopol and Berdyansk in the southeast.

Russia claims strike on Ukrainian military locations

The Russian army said Tuesday it launched a “concentrated strike” with long-range air- and sea-based weapons against “key enterprises” of the Ukrainian military.

“The goal of the attack has been reached. All the assigned targets have been neutralised. Ukraine’s military-industrial complex has suffered significant damage,” it said in a statement, according to a Google translation. CNBC has not independently verified the report.

Russia said Ukrainian soldiers continued to push against its forces in Zaporizhzhia, Kupyansk, Donetsk, Krasny Liman, and South Donetsk.

— Jenni Reid

Ukraine to bolster defenses in regions bordering Russia and Belarus

Ukraine is to strengthen its defenses in northeastern regions that border Russia and Belarus by funding new fortifications and military infrastructure, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday.

“At the request of Kharkiv and Chernihiv … we are allocating 911.5 million hryvnias ($24.7 million) for Kharkiv and 363 million ($9.8 million) for Chernihiv to build military engineering and fortification structures,” Shmyhal said on Telegram, according to a translation by Reuters.

Chernihiv, which borders both Russia and its ally Belarus, was partially occupied when Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022 but was later liberated, while a large part of Kharkiv in northeastern Ukraine was liberated last year, although it is nearer to intense fighting on the eastern frontline.

An external view shows hotel ‘Ukraine’ destroyed during an air strike, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in central Chernihiv, Ukraine March 12, 2022.

Oleh Holovatenko | Reuters

The move to fortify northern areas comes as Ukraine continues to watch Belarus closely for any signs it will actively join Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.

Minsk has so far given logistical support to Russia, allowing part of its invasion to be launched from its territory, as well as sheltering Russian mercenary fighters following a failed mutiny.

– Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s central bank raises rates to 12% from 8.5%

A woman walks past the Russian Central Bank headquarters in downtown Moscow on July 21, 2023. 

Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images

Russia’s central bank on Tuesday raised its key interest rate to 12% from 8.5%, the bank said in a statement on its website.

The bank called an extraordinary meeting for Tuesday amid pressure from Moscow to halt a rapid depreciation of the country’s ruble currency.

“Inflationary pressure is building up,” the bank said in a statement.

“The decision is aimed at limiting price stability risks,” it added.

The ruble slumped near 102 to the dollar on Monday as anxiety around the state of the economy and the impact of Western sanctions weighed heavily on the beleaguered currency.

President Vladimir Putin’s economic advisor, Maxim Oreshkin, on Monday blamed the plunging currency and the acceleration of inflation on “loose monetary policy.”

The bank last made an emergency rate hike in late February 2022 with a rate raise to 20%.

— Karen Gilchrist

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here



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