news

Russia's Medvedev Cites Risks of Nuclear War; Moscow Calls Loss of Wagner Forces ‘No Threat' to Combat Abilities

Yekaterina Shtukina | Afp | Getty Images

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See here for the latest updates

Moscow's combat position in the war in Ukraine will not be impacted by the loss of troops belonging to Russian paramilitary group Wagner, according to a senior Russian defense official.

Wagner forces were integral to Moscow's advance in Kyiv before the group staged an attempted insurrection at the end of last month, damaging relations with the Kremlin's top military brass irreconcilably.

The failed rebellion propelled Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin into exile in Belarus and the militia group said it has now suspended recruitment as it relocates to the country.

Members of Wagner group looks from a military vehicle in Rostov-on-Don late on June 24, 2023. 
Roman Romokhov | AFP | Getty Images
Members of Wagner group looks from a military vehicle in Rostov-on-Don late on June 24, 2023. 

Elsewhere, a new center for the prosecution of aggression in Ukraine opens on Monday, bolstering the capabilities of the Dutch-based International Criminal Court, which is limited in its mandate to pursue crimes of aggression.

The ICC already has open warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and a top aide for the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children. Over 700,000 Ukrainian minors have been taken across the Russian border in recent years, a senior Russian official said over the weekend, reiterating the Kremlin's stance that it offers these children refuge.

In further evidence of solidarity with Ukraine, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez carried out a visit to Kyiv on July 1 — the first day of his country's assumption of the EU Council's rotational presidency.

Zelenskyy thanks Germany's Scholz for continued military support

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping via phone line, in Kyiv on April 26, 2023.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping via phone line, in Kyiv on April 26, 2023.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the phone Monday to discuss the ongoing war in Ukraine, according to a readout provided by the German government.

Zelenskyy thanked Scholz for continued military aid and Germany's support for the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is set to expire on July 17.

The two leaders also agreed to continue to stay in close contact as Russia's war marches into its 500th day.

— Amanda Macias

Kremlin casts doubt on renewal of Black Sea grain deal as expiry looms

A team inspects the produce in the ship carrying wheat from Ukraine to Afghanistan after inspection in the open sea around Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Turkey, on Jan. 24, 2023.
TUR Ministry of National Defence | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
A team inspects the produce in the ship carrying wheat from Ukraine to Afghanistan after inspection in the open sea around Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Turkey, on Jan. 24, 2023.

The Kremlin casted doubt on the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a U.N.-backed deal that established a humanitarian sea corridor for agricultural products amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Under the agricultural deal, more than 32 million metric tons of foodstuffs have left from three Ukrainian ports for 45 global destinations.

The Black Sea grain deal is slated to expire later this month.

"Part of the agreements [with regards to Russia] is still not fulfilled. There is still some time before the deadline, but there are not so many hopes," Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov told reporters at the Kremlin when asked about a possible extension.

Peskov added that he had nothing further to report on negotiations to renew the deal.

In recent months, Moscow has argued that the Black Sea Grain Initiative only benefits Kyiv and has called on all signatories of the deal to also include the export of Russian fertilizer.

— Amanda Macias

More than 6.3 million Ukrainians have become refugees, UN estimates

Evacuees from Mariupol area get settled at a refugee camp in the settlement of Bezymennoye during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 8, 2022.
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters
Evacuees from Mariupol area get settled at a refugee camp in the settlement of Bezymennoye during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the Donetsk region, Ukraine March 8, 2022.

More than 6.3 million people from Ukraine have become refugees and moved to neighboring countries since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion in February of last year, according to U.N. Refugee Agency estimates.

The majority of refugees have settled in nearby European countries and about 362,000 have traveled beyond Europe's borders, according to data collected by the agency.

— Amanda Macias

Memorial honors 501 civilians killed in Bucha

Ukrainians in Bucha pay their respects at a recently inaugurated memorial to remember civilians who were killed by Russian troops during their occupation of the area north of Kyiv.

The memorial includes more than 500 names, but more were suspected to have been killed and some remain unidentified. Bucha was the site of a brutal Russian occupation that left hundreds of civilians dead in the streets and in mass graves, some with signs of torture.

Ukrainian authorities have said they documented more than 1,400 civilian deaths, including 37 children, in the Bucha district, and more than 175 people were found in mass graves and alleged torture chambers.

Russian troops occupied Bucha for weeks after they invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and stayed for about a month before Ukrainian forces retook the area. International investigators are conducting war crimes investigations in the area.

A young woman holds a baby as she stands at a recently inaugurated memorial including 501 plates bearing the names of identified local civilians killed by Russian troops during their occupation of Bucha, north of Kyiv, on July 3, 2023. 
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images
A young woman holds a baby as she stands at a recently inaugurated memorial including 501 plates bearing the names of identified local civilians killed by Russian troops during their occupation of Bucha, north of Kyiv, on July 3, 2023. 
A young woman holds a baby as she stands at a recently inaugurated memorial including 501 plates bearing the names of identified local civilians killed by Russian troops during their occupation of Bucha, north of Kyiv, on July 3, 2023. 
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images
A young woman holds a baby as she stands at a recently inaugurated memorial including 501 plates bearing the names of identified local civilians killed by Russian troops during their occupation of Bucha, north of Kyiv, on July 3, 2023. 
A young woman holds a baby as she stands at a recently inaugurated memorial including 501 plates bearing the names of identified local civilians killed by Russian troops during their occupation of Bucha, north of Kyiv, on July 3, 2023. 
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images
A young woman holds a baby as she stands at a recently inaugurated memorial including 501 plates bearing the names of identified local civilians killed by Russian troops during their occupation of Bucha, north of Kyiv, on July 3, 2023. 
A young woman holds a baby as she stands at a recently inaugurated memorial including 501 plates bearing the names of identified local civilians killed by Russian troops during their occupation of Bucha, north of Kyiv, on July 3, 2023. 
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images
A young woman holds a baby as she stands at a recently inaugurated memorial including 501 plates bearing the names of identified local civilians killed by Russian troops during their occupation of Bucha, north of Kyiv, on July 3, 2023. 
Girls mourn near the memorial, erected in the center of Bucha, on July 2, 2023.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Girls mourn near the memorial, erected in the center of Bucha, on July 2, 2023.

— Michele Luhn and Getty Images

One ship left Ukraine carrying agricultural products as Black Sea Grain Initiative faces expiry

Grain corridor traffic seen from Istanbul on April 18, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. 
Cemal Yurttas | Getty Images
Grain corridor traffic seen from Istanbul on April 18, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. 

One ship left Ukraine's port of Chornomorsk under the U.N.-backed Black Sea Grain Initiative carrying 40,000 metric tons of wheat, according to the organization tasked with monitoring export activity. It was headed for Turkey.

Over the weekend, two ships left carrying 63,000 metric tons of sunflower oil for Djibouti and India.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was established last July between Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations to establish a humanitarian sea corridor for agricultural exports amid the war.

The deal faces an expiration date this month.

— Amanda Macias

Elections in Russian-controlled Ukraine may be cancelled, official says

Local elections set to be held in Russian-controlled parts of Ukraine in September could be cancelled if the situation on the ground deteriorates further, Moscow's top election official said Monday.

"Since the situation is really difficult, anything can happen," Ella Panfilova, who chairs Russia's Central Election Commission, told Putin at a meeting in the Kremlin, according to Reuters .

"If unforeseen circumstances arise — in some areas the situation may deteriorate dramatically — and we see that there is a serious danger to the life and health of residents, then we have the right to postpone these elections," she said.

Russia is due to hold regional and municipal elections on Sept. 10, including polls to decide 21 regional leaders and 20 regional legislatures, Panfilova said.

Russia currently claims control of just under one fifth of Ukraine. That includes Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, which it has seized since the start of its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

— Karen Gilchrist

One killed in Russian drone strike in northern Ukrainian city, Kyiv official says

At least one person was killed in the northern Ukrainian city of Sumy on Monday, after a Russian drone struck a residential building, a senior Ukrainian official said.

The head of Ukraine's presidential staff, Andriy Yermak, said that the drone had hit a five-storey building, according to Reuters.

CNBC could not independently confirm developments on the ground.

— Karen Gilchrist

Zelenskyy says Ukraine's forces are 'making progress' despite setbacks

Ukrainian servicemen move with a Howitzer through Vuhledar frontline amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on July 01, 2023. 
Ercin Erturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Ukrainian servicemen move with a Howitzer through Vuhledar frontline amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on July 01, 2023. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday that Ukraine was making progress in its counteroffensive, despite facing difficulties.

"Last week was difficult on the front line. But we are making progress," he wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Ukrainian servicemen move with a Howitzer through Vuhledar frontline amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on July 01, 2023. 
Ercin Erturk | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Ukrainian servicemen move with a Howitzer through Vuhledar frontline amid Russia-Ukraine war in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on July 01, 2023. 

"We are moving forward, step by step! I thank everyone who is defending Ukraine, everyone who is leading this war to Ukraine's victory!" he added, without specifying the nature or direction of the advance.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the front.

Karen Gilchrist

Russia's Defense Minister says mutiny has not affected Ukraine operation

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with the country's top security officials in Moscow on June 26, 2023. 
Gavriil Grigorov | AFP | Getty Images
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with the country's top security officials in Moscow on June 26, 2023. 

In his first public comments since the mutiny which tried to unseat him, Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday that Moscow's "special military operation" in Ukraine remains intact.

Shoigu added that the apparent plans by Yevgeny Prigozhin's mercenary Wagner group to destabilize Russia had failed because of Russian troops' loyalty.

— Karen Gilchrist

Russia to cut oil exports by 500,000 barrels per day

Russia will reduce its oil exports by 500,000 barrels per day in August, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said Monday.

"Within the efforts to ensure the oil market remains balanced, Russia will voluntarily reduce its oil supply in the month of August by 500 thousand barrels per day by cutting its exports by that quantity to global markets," he said in a statement, according to Reuters.

— Karen Gilchrist

Russia's Medvedev says Ukraine conflict could last 'decades,' talks odds of nuclear threat

Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev gives an interview at the Gorki state residence outside Moscow, Russia January 25, 2022.
Yulia Zyryanova | Sputnik | Reuters
Deputy Chairman of Russia's Security Council Dmitry Medvedev gives an interview at the Gorki state residence outside Moscow, Russia January 25, 2022.

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former president who retains close ties with the Kremlin, on Monday said that continued Western support for Ukraine makes the prospect of a nuclear war "quite probable."

Writing in an article for Russia's state-owned Rossiskaya Gazeta newspaper, Medvedev said that the risk of an "apocalypse" looks more likely now than during the 1962 Cuban missile, owing in part to perceived U.S. hegemony and differing views between Moscow and the West on Ukraine.

"I will note one thing that politicians of all stripes do not like to admit: such an Apocalypse is not only possible, but also quite probable," he said, according to a Google translation.

Medvedev, now head of Russia's Security Council, also said that Moscow remains committed to preventing Ukraine from joining NATO, and added that the conflict could endure for decades as a result.

"Our goal is simple — to eliminate the threat of Ukraine's membership in NATO. And we will achieve it," Medvedev said.

"You don't have to be a visionary to understand that the confrontation phase will be very long. The standoff will last decades," he added.

— Karen Gilchrist

Loss of Wagner forces is 'no threat at all': Senior Russian official

Russian military forces have enough resources to replace the lost headcount of paramilitary group Wagner on the Ukrainian frontline, Head of the State Duma Defense Committee Andrey Kartapolov told Russian state-owned news agency Tass on Monday.

Russian soldiers at border crossing in Russiaâs southern region of Voronezh on June 24, 2023. 
Wagner | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Russian soldiers at border crossing in Russiaâs southern region of Voronezh on June 24, 2023. 

"There is no threat at all regarding a drop in the combat potential, both in the mid-term and long-term perspective," he said. "As for replacing them [Wagner PMC] in the reserve, there is something and someone to replace them with."

Members of the Wagner Group prepare to depart from the Southern Military District's headquarters and return to their base on June 24, 2023 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. 
Feodor Larin | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Members of the Wagner Group prepare to depart from the Southern Military District's headquarters and return to their base on June 24, 2023 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. 

Previously allied with the Kremlin and deployed in Ukraine, Libya, Syria and elsewhere in Africa, the Wagner group is now at odds with Moscow following a failed rebellion. Militia leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has been consigned to exile in Belarus in an amnesty deal.

Ruxandra Iordache

Spain begins EU Council presidency with PM visit to Ukraine

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez undertook a visit to Kyiv on the first day of his country's assumption of the six-month rotational leadership of the European Union Council.

"This speaks very clearly about the actual situation in Europe, when our common European home cannot be imagined without us, without Ukraine, and about Spain's priorities in protecting freedom, equality, and justice for the whole of Europe. I am grateful for this visit and the support," Zelenskyy said after the meeting of July 1, according to a statement from his press office.

Ukraine has been petitioning both the EU and the NATO military alliance for an expedited review of its membership bid.

"Spain reaffirms its commitment to work with Ukraine as it makes progress in meeting the conditions in its EU accession," a joint statement said.

In a separate statement, Sanchez' office said he emphasized that Ukraine's EU accession process represents an opportunity to modernize the country's economic and regulatory frameworks.

"You are not European by geographical imperative. You are on account of your moral and spiritual commitment," Sanchez said, according to a CNBC translation.

Ruxandra Iordache

Wagner suspends recruitment for one month as group settles in Belarus

Members of the Wagner Group prepare to depart from the Southern Military District's headquarters and return to their base on June 24, 2023 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. 
Stringer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Members of the Wagner Group prepare to depart from the Southern Military District's headquarters and return to their base on June 24, 2023 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. 

After its failed insurrection, the Russian militia group Wagner on Sunday said it has "temporarily suspended" recruitment for one month, according to a Google-translated update on one of the Telegram accounts it used for hiring.

The disruption in recruitment is "due to the temporary non-participation of PMC Wagner in a special military operation and moving to the Republic of Belarus," the group added. Moscow refers to its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, launched in February 2022, as a "special military operation."

Fueled by discontent against Moscow's top military brass, Wagner fleetingly turned weapons against Moscow on 23 June, before leader Yevgeny Prigozhin accepted a Minsk-brokered amnesty deal granting him exile in Belarus.

Satellite images suggest Wagner could be setting up a new military base in Belarus.

— Ruxandra Iordache

Over 700,000 children from Ukrainian conflict areas taken to Russia, senior official says

Russia has taken in 700,000 children from areas of conflict in Ukraine over recent years, according to Gregory Karasin, chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on International Affairs.

"In recent years, seven hundred thousand children, fleeing the bombing and shelling from the conflict areas in Ukraine, have found refuge with us. Many - together with their parents, and children from orphanages - together with their teachers," he said on Telegram on Sunday, according to a Google translation.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court has open arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova on charges of the alleged unlawful deportation of children from Ukrainian territories.

Karasin did not specify how many of the 700,000 children reached Russia after the start of Moscow's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022.

He added that a special Russian parliamentary commission that investigates the crimes of the Kyiv administration against minors held its first meeting on June 30, without disclosing any further details.

— Ruxandra Iordache

New office to investigate crimes of aggression in Ukraine opens Monday

An international office to investigate aggression in Ukraine opens on Monday in the Hague and online, with the mission of brokering an "optimal alignment between the investigations into war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, and the crime of aggression," according to the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation.

The main task of the new unit, known as the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression, will be to oversee and support investigations by "securing key evidence and facilitating case building at the earliest possible stage."

Another Hague-based institution, the International Criminal Court, prosecutes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, but can only pursue crimes of aggression in relation to countries that have accepted its jurisdiction.

Russia and Ukraine are not signatories to the Rome Statute that would entitle the ICC to that mandate, although Kyiv granted the institution jurisdiction to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes on its territory after Russia's annexation of Crimea.

It is hoped that the new ICPA will be a first step in preparing to prosecute crimes of aggression.

Ruxandra Iordache

Prigozhin refuses to sign contacts with Russia's defence ministry: State media

This picture taken on July 4, 2017 shows Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin prior to a meeting with business leaders held by Russian and Chinese presidents at the Kremlin in Moscow. (
Sergei Ilnitsky | AFP | Getty Images
This picture taken on July 4, 2017 shows Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin prior to a meeting with business leaders held by Russian and Chinese presidents at the Kremlin in Moscow. (

Yevgeny Prigozhin — the head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group who was exiled to Belarus following his attempted insurrection — has been told that he will be deprived of financing if his fighters do not sign contracts with the defense ministry, the state-owned RIA news agency cited a senior lawmaker as saying on Thursday.

The chair of the lower house of parliament's defense committee, Colonel-General Andrei Kartapolov, said Prigozhin had refused to sign the contracts and was later told that his mercenaries would no longer fight in Ukraine, state-owned TASS reported.

— Karen Gilchrist

Satellite images point to build-up at Wagner base in Belarus

Satellite images appearing to show new facilities set up in recent days at a vacant military base southeast of the Belarus capital Minsk.
European Space Agency | Reuters
Satellite images appearing to show new facilities set up in recent days at a vacant military base southeast of the Belarus capital Minsk.

New facilities have been set up at a military base housing Wagner fighters in the southeast of Belarus' capital Minsk, satellite images captured by the European Space Agency appeared to show.

The images captured on June 27, seen and reported on by Reuters, show rows of long structures in a field which appeared empty less than two weeks prior.

The footage appears to support reports from Russian media that a new base for Russia's Wagner mercenary group has been constructed near the town of Asipovichi, outside of Minsk.

CNBC could not immediately verify the nature of the construction.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko confirmed late on Tuesday that Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin had arrived in Belarus and said other mercenaries had been offered accommodation at an abandoned naval base if they wish to join him.

It comes after the Wagner group launched an aborted armed mutiny against the Russian military over the weekend.

— Karen Gilchrist

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

Trump says Putin has been 'somewhat weakened'; Wagner mercenaries are still in Ukraine, Pentagon says.

Copyright CNBC
Contact Us