Latest news from Russia and the war in Ukraine


Kyiv criticizes Germany for failing to send the heavy weapons it promised

A new Leopard 2 A7V heavy battle tank Bundeswehr’s 9th Panzer Training Brigade stands during a visit by German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht to the Bundeswehr Army training grounds on February 07, 2022 in Munster, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine’s relations with Germany have soured this week, with Kyiv asking why Berlin reneged on its promise to provide heavy weaponry.

Tensions over Germany’s provision of Leopard tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine — or lack thereof — came to a head this week when Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba publicly asked why Berlin was backtracking on a pledge made to send these weapons to Ukraine.

“Disappointing signals from Germany while Ukraine needs Leopards and Marders now — to liberate people and save them from genocide,” Kuleba said on Twitter, adding that there was “not a single rational argument on why these weapons can not be supplied, only abstract fears and excuses.”

“What is Berlin afraid of that Kyiv is not?” he added.

Read the full story here.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian mercenary firm Wagner Group is recruiting convicts for Ukraine war

Russian mercenary firm Wagner Group is recruiting criminal convicts and has been doing so since at least July, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence update posted via Twitter.

“Kremlin-linked Russian private military company Wagner Group has been conducting a campaign to recruit Russian convicts for service in Ukraine since at least July. Prisoners have been offered commutation of their sentences as well as cash incentives,” the ministry wrote.

A mural praises the Russian Wagner group and its mercenaries fighting in Ukraine on March 30, 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Pierre Crom | Getty Images

The Wagner Group has been notorious for its fighting on behalf of Russian interests in places like Libya, Syria, and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Kremlin denies links to the group.

The group’s recruitment campaign has been “reinvigorated,” the report added, citing a recently posted video “highly likely showing Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin making a recruitment pitch to prisoners.”

Prigozhin in the video says he is only seeking “fighters for assault units.”

This, in addition to Russia’s military academies shortening the training time for cadets and moving their graduation dates forward, “suggests that two of the most critical shortages within the military manning crisis are probably combat infantry and junior commanders,” Britain’s Defense Ministry wrote.

— Natasha Turak

Berlin takes control of Rosneft’s German unit

The German government is taking control of Russian oil and gas giant Rosneft’s operations in Germany, its Ministry for Economic and Climate Affairs announced.

Germany’s federal network agency BNetzA will take over the local units — RN Refining & Marketing GmbH and Rosneft Deutschland GmbH — which make up roughly 12% of Germany’s oil processing capacity, the ministry said.

In a statement, the German economy ministry said:

“The continuation of the business operations of the affected refineries was in danger due to the ownership of the companies. Central critical service providers such as suppliers, insurance companies, IT companies and banks, but also customers, were no longer willing to work with Rosneft.”

The move is “a further step to assuring our energy security,” state secretary Jorg Kukies wrote in a tweet.

— Natasha Turak

Reports of mass grave site outside recaptured city of Izium

A damaged tank is seen at the Izium city after the withdrawal of Russian forces, in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine on Sept. 14, 2022.

Metin Atkas | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

A site of mass burials has been found in a forest near the recently liberated city of Izium, the Associated Press reported, revealing the latest iteration of a well-documented pattern of actions suspected to have been carried out by Russian forces that occupied the region for more than six months.

The site was marked by wooden crosses and a marker on a larger grave said 17 Ukrainian soldiers had been buried there. Ukrainian forces recaptured the city in an operation that saw thousands of Russian forces retreat.

“We haven’t counted them yet, but I think there are more than 25 or even 30,” Oleg Kotenko, a Ukrainian government official, told the AP.

The news agency quoted a local resident, Sergei Gorodko, who said that scores of adults and children killed in a Russian strike on a residential building were among the hundreds of people buried in individual graves.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has not yet commented publicly, and has not responded to a CNBC request for comment.

— Natasha Turak

U.S. announces new $600 million security assistance package for Ukraine

US M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers fire salvoes during the “African Lion” military exercise in the Grier Labouihi region in southeastern Morocco on June 9, 2021.

Fadel Senna | AFP | Getty Images

The Biden Administration has approved another arms package worth $600 million to further assist Ukraine in its ongoing battle against Russia, according to the Department of Defense.

The package is said to include additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), artillery rounds, vehicles, and counter-unmanned aerial systems, among other equipment.

It marks the 21st drawdown of equipment from Department of Defense inventories since August last year.

So far, Washington has sent more than $15.1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.

— Natalie Tham

Putin acknowledges China’s concerns over Ukraine in sign of friction

China’s President Xi Jinping (R), Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) and Mongolia’s President Ukhnaa Khurelsukh (unseen) hold a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) leaders’ summit in Samarkand on September 15, 2022. China and Russia’s relationship may not necessarily be on equal footing, said an associate professor from Griffith University, Matthew Sussex.

Alexandr Demyanchuk | AFP | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he understood China’s Xi Jinping had concerns about the situation in Ukraine, a surprise acknowledgement of friction with Beijing over the war after a week of stunning Russian losses on the ground.

Since Russia’s invasion, China has trod a careful line, criticizing Western sanctions against Russia but stopping short of endorsing or assisting in the military campaign.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) talks to Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) while visiting the Moscow’s Zoo in Moscow, Russia,, June,5, 2019. Chinese leader Xi Jinping is having a three-days state visit to Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“We highly value the balanced position of our Chinese friends when it comes to the Ukraine crisis,” Putin told Xi at their first meeting since the war began.

“We understand your questions and concern about this. During today’s meeting, we will of course explain our position.”

Xi did not mention Ukraine in his public remarks, nor was it mentioned in a Chinese readout of their meeting, which took place in Uzbekistan on the sidelines of a regional summit.

Beijing’s support is widely seen as essential for Moscow, which needs markets for its energy exports and sources to import high tech goods as it faces sanctions imposed by the West.

The last time the two men met they signed a “no limits” friendship agreement between their two countries. Three weeks later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

The Russian president’s comments suggested a Chinese shift towards a more critical stance, in private at least. Ian Bremmer, political science professor at Columbia University, said they were the “first public sign of Putin recognizing pressure to back down.”

— Reuters

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