Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine


Russia is experiencing a ‘brain drain,’ UK says

The “better off and well educated” are over-represented among the mass of men attempting to leave Russia in a bid to escape President Putin’s partial military mobilization, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

“When combined with those reservists who are being mobilised, the domestic economic impact of reduced availability of labour and the acceleration of ‘brain drain’ is likely to become increasingly significant,” the ministry said on Twitter on Thursday.

Reservists drafted during the partial mobilization attend a departure ceremony in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Sept. 27, 2022.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

It’s been one week since Putin announced a partial military mobilization in Russia with the call-up of around 300,000 reservists. Since then, there has been what the U.K. described as a “considerable exodus” of Russians seeking to evade the call-up.

While the exact number is unclear, it likely exceeds the size of the total invasion force Russia fielded in February 2022 (of around 100,000 troops), the ministry said.

Reservists being sent to Ukraine are reportedly poorly trained and equipped, with social media footage purportedly showing Russian troops being told to take their own equipment to Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

More sanctions planned for Russia after illegal referendums

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Commission President Ursula von der Layen at a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 11, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | Reuters

The European Commission proposed an eighth package of sanctions aimed at Moscow on Wednesday following a series of sham referendums in occupied parts of Ukraine which saw residents purportedly vote to join the Russian Federation.

The votes are widely seen as illegitimate and the results falsified, with residents forced to vote, but are expected to pave the way for Russian President Vladimir Putin to announce the annexation of the regions where the votes were held. That could then lead to an escalation of the conflict.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen responded to the sham referendums yesterday, saying the commission was proposing more “biting sanctions” against Russia as a result.

“We do not accept the sham referendum and any kind of annexation in Ukraine, and we are determined to make the Kremlin pay for this further escalation. So today we are together proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia.”

The proposals include extending the list of sanctioned individuals, new trade restrictions and a Russian oil price cap. In addition, the European Commission proposed to extend the list of products that cannot be exported to Russia.

The EU’s 27 member countries will now have to agree on the sanctions. Ukraine has urged its allies to impose more punitive measures on Russia immediately in a bid to deter it from annexing occupied regions, but Russia is expected to announce annexations imminently.

The White House’s Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said yesterday that the U.S. would “work with our allies and partners to impose additional economic costs on Russia and individuals and entities inside and outside of Russia that provide support to this action [annexation].”

— Holly Ellyatt

Zelenskyy to Russian conscripts: “If you want to live, surrender”

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned Russian conscripts sent to fight in Ukraine that they should surrender if they want to survive.

“If you want to live, run. If you want to live, surrender. If you want to live, fight on your streets for your freedom. Everything was taken from you anyway,” he said on Telegram, addressing the soldiers in Russian.

Highlighting the differences between ordinary Russian men called up last week in President Putin’s partial mobilization, and powerful Russian oligarchs, Zelenskyy asked the conscripts: “What are you fighting for? You have only loans, some food to eat at the end of the day, and now – mobilization. Fight for what is yours! Do not climb into our land, into our soul and into our culture.”

Reservists drafted during the partial mobilization attend a departure ceremony in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Sept. 27, 2022.

Stringer | AFP | Getty Images

Zelenskyy carried out a flurry of diplomatic calls to Ukraine’s Western allies on Wednesday, drumming up support for Kyiv following a series of sham referendums in Russian-occupied parts of the country. It’s widely expected that Putin will announce the annexation of those areas of the country (Luhansk and Donetsk in the east, and Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in the south) on Friday.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s main task was to “coordinate actions with the partners in response to the fake referendums organized by Russia, and related threats. This is not 2014 [when Crimea was annexed by Russia]. Everyone understands everything. And they will certainly act.”

“If someone over there, in Russia, thinks that they can ‘get away’ with everything they are doing in the occupied territory … they are wrong,” the president added.

— Holly Ellyatt

CIA reportedly warned Berlin about possible attacks on gas pipelines

Russia has drastically reduced gas supplies to Europe in recent weeks.

Odd Andersen | Afp | Getty Images

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency had weeks ago warned Germany about possible attacks on gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, German magazine Spiegel said after gas leaks in Russia pipelines to Germany were reported.

The German government received the CIA tip in summer, Spiegel reported, citing unnamed sources, adding that Berlin assumes a targeted attack on Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines.

A German government spokesperson declined to comment, Spiegel added.

— Reuters

Satellite imagery spots Nord Stream pipeline leak in the Baltic Sea

Satellite imagery from U.S. company Planet captured the disturbed surface of the Baltic Sea following Tuesday’s leak in the Nord Stream gas pipeline.

A satellite image of the Nord Stream leak in the Baltic Sea, captured on Sept. 26, 2022.


The pipeline rupture is about 13 nautical miles away from Bornholm Island, Denmark, the company noted.

– Michael Sheetz

Two NATO allies still have to approve Sweden and Finland’s entry into the alliance

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C), Finland Ministers for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (L) and Sweden Foreign minister Ann Linde (R) give a press conference after their meeting at the Nato headquarters in Brussels on January 24, 2022.

John Thys | AFP | Getty Images

Two NATO member countries have yet to sign ratification protocols for Finland and Sweden to join the military alliance.

Out of NATO’s 30 member countries, Hungary and Turkey are the last holdouts to grant Sweden and Finland membership. Slovakia was the latest NATO ally to sign ratification documents on Sept. 27.

In May, both nations began the formal process of applying to NATO as Russia’s war in Ukraine raged. All 30 members of the alliance have to ratify the countries’ entry into the group.

Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden signed ratification documents following a 95-1 Senate vote to bring Finland and Sweden into NATO.

— Amanda Macias

U.S. and Europe are running out of weapons to send to Ukraine

Ukrainian service members fire a shell from a M777 Howitzer near a frontline, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Donetsk Region, Ukraine June 6, 2022.

Stringer | Reuters

Western officials and military analysts are increasingly concerned about diminishing weapons stocks curbing their ability to supply Ukraine in its fight against Russia.

“I’m greatly concerned. Unless we have new production, which takes months to ramp up, we’re not going to have the ability to supply the Ukrainians,” Dave Des Roches, a senior military fellow at the U.S. National Defense University, told CNBC. 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg held a special meeting of the alliance’s arms directors on Tuesday to discuss ways to refill member nations’ weapons stockpiles.

Weapons Ukraine relies on that are now classified as “limited” in the U.S. inventory include 155 mm howitzers, HIMARS launchers, Javelin missiles, Stinger missiles, the M777 Howitzer and 155 mm ammunition. 

Read the full story here.

— Natasha Turak

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:


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