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Russian forces control all roads into Bakhmut, official claims

Russian forces are now in control of all the roads leading into the Donetsk city of Bakhmut, according to a spokesperson for pro-Russian separatists in the region.

Yan Gagin, an advisor and spokesperson for the acting head of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, a pro-Russian separatist area in eastern Ukraine, told the Tass news agency that Russian forces had cut off the supply of the Ukrainian forces in Artemovsk (the Russian name for Bakhmut).

“Artemovsk [Bakhmut] has finally fallen into a classic operational environment, our forces completely control the roads leading to the city. The supply of ammunition to the garrison of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been disrupted and stopped, the rotation and supply of replenishment of manpower has been stopped,” he said, in comments translated by Google.

A woman crosses a destroyed bridge in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on Jan. 6, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have both suffered heavy losses in the fight for Bakhmut, and most of the city’s pre-war population of 70,000 have left for safer territory, leaving behind cratered roads and buildings reduced to rubble and twisted metal.

Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the claims but the comments are the latest in a string of claims made by Russian officials that Bakhmut is coming under their control.

Ukraine and Russian forces have been engaged in fierce fighting around Bakhmut for months, turning the city and surrounding area into a landscape of death and devastation. Both forces claim that the other side is losing hundreds of soldiers every day because of fighting around Bakhmut.

Russian forces have been seen to have slowly encircled the city, prompting the question of whether Ukraine would choose to tactically withdraw from the city in order to save its remaining troops.

Kyiv’s top general visited the front-line town of Bakhmut on Sunday and on Monday. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in an update Monday that “the Russian army continues to keep its main efforts on the offensive actions in the directions of Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk.” It said that, over the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian army had repelled 81 attacks in those areas.

— Holly Ellyatt

Turkey’s NATO talks with Sweden and Finland to resume on March 9

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that talks with Sweden and Finland regarding their NATO membership bids would resume on March 9, after being suspended in January in the wake of a Koran-burning protest in Stockholm.

Turkey had previously cancelled a trilateral mechanism with Sweden and Finland on their applications to join NATO after Rasmus Paludan, leader of the Danish far-right political party Hard Line, burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm in January.

“My colleagues will attend the meeting that will be held on March 9,” Cavusoglu told a press conference in Ankara, adding that the meeting would be held in Brussels.

But he said Sweden was still not fulfilling its obligations under the memorandum signed at a NATO summit in Madrid last June, even though NATO’s secretary-general and other allies have said Stockholm has changed its legislation.

“Unfortunately, we have not seen satisfactory steps from Sweden on the implementation of the Madrid memorandum,” Cavusoglu said. “It is not possible for us to say “yes” to Sweden’s NATO bid before we see these steps.”

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the North Atlantic defense alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine, but Sweden in particular has faced unexpected objections from Turkey.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stands during a press conference with Ukrainian President in Kiev on July 10, 2017.


Ankara accuses Stockholm of harbouring what it considers members of terrorist groups, and has demanded their extradition as a step towards giving Sweden’s NATO membership its green light.

The United States and other NATO countries are hoping that the two Nordic countries become members of the alliance at a NATO summit due to be held in July 11 in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius. While Ankara has signaled it could approve Finland, it has given no assurances that it will give Sweden’s bid the green light by then.

— Reuters

Future world order is being decided now, Russia’s foreign minister says

Speaking at a conference of regional representatives of his ministry on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “at the moment, the configuration of the future world order is being decided.”

Pavel Bednyakov | Sputnik | Reuters

The future world order is being decided right now, Russia’s foreign minister said Monday, adding that Moscow has frustrated the West’s plans “to isolate, and even dismember” the country. 

Speaking at a conference of regional representatives of his ministry on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “at the moment, the configuration of the future world order is being decided.”

“[This determines] Russia’s place in the democratic, fair, polycentric system that is being formed now and for which there is no and cannot be an alternative,” he said according to comments reported by news agency Tass.

“I want to emphasize that we managed not only to disrupt the plans of the collective West to isolate, and even dismember Russia, but also to ensure ongoing cooperation with the overwhelming majority of members of the international community. We now call it the world majority,” he said in comments translated by Google.

Lavrov cited closer ties with countries like China and India and “many other international partners” including post-Soviet states like Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and the BRICS nations (which include Brazil and South Africa).

Lavrov’s comments parrot similar remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday in which he said the West wants to defeat and divide Russia.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine praises Saudi Arabia’s support after $400 million aid pledge

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud arrives for joint press conference with head of the office of the president of Ukraine and foreign minister of Ukraine in Kyiv on Feb. 26, 2023.

Genya Savilov | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Saudi Arabia on Sunday following a high-level diplomatic visit that saw the Middle Eastern kingdom, an ally of Russia given their oil production ties, pledge a $400 million aid package to Ukraine.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Andriy Yermak, head of the office of the president of Ukraine, were present at a ceremony in which an agreement and memorandum of understanding worth $400 million of aid to Ukraine, which Saudi Arabia initially pledged last October, were signed.

The agreement includes a joint cooperation program for providing humanitarian assistance from the Kingdom to Ukraine worth $100 million, Saudi’s state press agency said.

“The signing of the agreement and the MoU reflects the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting Ukraine and its people in facing the social and economic challenges that the country is going through and contributing to alleviating the effects resulting from it,” the agency added.

Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Sunday that he had a good meeting with the kingdom’s foreign minister, the first high-level official visit by a representative of Saudi Arabia.

“Of course, we are working on a higher level of visits and relations. But now we have finally reached an interaction,” Zelenskyy said.

“This … brings concrete and sensitive results for Ukrainians, in particular with regard to the release of prisoners of war. I thank our Saudi partners for their cooperation and assistance,” he added.

— Holly Ellyatt

Mariupol explosions likely to be unnerving Russia, UK says

A Russian serviceman guarding an area near the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine, on June 13, 2022.

Yuri Kadobnov | AFP | Getty Images

A series of recent, unexplained explosions in Mariupol, a southern port city in Ukraine that Russia seized last May after a prolonged siege, is likely to be alarming Russia, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

“Since 21 February 2023, pro-Russian officials have reported at least 14 explosions around the Russian-occupied city of Mariupol,” the ministry said in an intelligence update on Twitter Monday.

“Sites of the incidents have included an ammo cache at the airport, two fuel depots, and a steel works that Russia uses as a military base,” the ministry added, noting that the explosions have taken place despite Mariupol being at least 50 miles away from the front line.

“Although widely devastated earlier in the war, Mariupol is important to Russia because it is the largest city Russia captured in 2022 that it still controls, and sits on a key logistics route.”

The ministry noted that Russia “will likely be concerned that unexplained explosions are occurring in a zone it had probably previously assessed as beyond the range of routine Ukrainian strike capabilities.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine hit by more drone attacks overnight

Ukraine’s air force said the country was targeted by a series of drone attacks overnight.

“On the night of February 27, the enemy attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed-type attack drones from the north,” the Air Force said in a Telegram update Monday.

It said up to 14 unmanned aerial vehicles were launched and that air defense teams destroyed 11 of them.

Parts of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles): Orlan-10, Granat-3 , Shahed-136, Eleron-3-SV, used by the Russia against Ukraine, are seen during a media briefing of the Security and Defense Forces of Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine on 15 December 2022.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russia has unleashed multiple drone strikes on Ukraine, with much of the country’s energy infrastructure damaged by drone attacks. Iran initially denied supplying drones to Russia but in November it acknowledged for the first time that it supplied Moscow with the UAVs, but said they had been sent to Russia before the war in Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

Belarusian partisans say Russian military aircraft damaged near Minsk

A Russian A-50 surveillance military aircraft was damaged in a drone attack at an airfield near the Belarus capital of Minsk on Sunday, Belarus partisans and members of the exiled opposition said.

“Those were drones. The participants of the operation are Belarusian,” Aliaksandr Azarov, leader of Belarusian anti-government organization BYPOL, was quoted as saying on the organisation’s Telegram messaging app and on the Poland-based Belsat news channel.

“They are now safe, outside the country.”

Belsat is a Polish broadcaster focused on Belarusian news that Minsk has branded extremist. BYPOL, which includes former law enforcement officers who support opposition politicians, has been branded a terrorist organization.

Franak Viacorka, an adviser to Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said in a post on Twitter it was the most successful act of sabotage since the beginning of 2022.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports. There was no immediate response from the defence ministries of Russia and Belarus to a request for comment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the Palace of Independence on Dec. 19, 2022, in Minsk, Belarus.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Front and central parts of the aircraft as well as the radar antenna were damaged as a result of two explosions in the attack at the Machulishchy air base near Minsk, BYPOL reported.

The Beriev A-50 aircraft, which has the NATO reporting name of Mainstay, is a Russian airborne early warning aircraft, with airborne command and control capabilities, and the ability to track up to 60 targets at a time.

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago, there have been several acts of sabotage in Belarus and in Russian regions bordering Ukraine, especially on the railway system.

— Reuters

Russia has to take into account NATO’s nuclear capability, Putin says

Putin said the West is complicit in “crimes” being committed by Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and that the end goal is to destroy and divide Russia.

Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow has to take into account NATO’s nuclear capabilities and claimed again that the West wants to eliminate Russia.

“Where the leading NATO countries have proclaimed their main goal to be the strategic defeat of Russia, in order for our people ‘to suffer’ as they put it, how, in these conditions, could we not take into account their nuclear potential?,” Putin asked during an interview with Pavel Zarubin on the Rossiya-1 TV channel on Sunday, according to an NBC translation.

Putin said the West is complicit in “crimes” being committed by Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and that the end goal is to destroy and divide Russia.

“They have one goal – to destroy what was the Soviet Union and it’s central part – the Russian Federation. After that they may indeed accept us into the so-called “family of civilized nations”, but only separately, each part separately. Why? To order around these parts and to put them under their control,” Putin said, claiming that plans to destroy the Russian people are “on paper,” without presenting evidence.

Putin has repeatedly blamed the West for starting the conflict in Ukraine. In a speech last week ahead of the first anniversary of the start of the war, Putin tried to justify Russia’s invasion by claiming it has been attempting to allow citizens in the contested Donbas region in eastern Ukraine to speak their “own language.”

— Holly Ellyatt


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