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Zelenskyy, Trudeau agree on ‘joint diplomatic steps’ toward peace in Ukraine

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Church of St Demetrius the Great Martyr to speak with members of the Ukrainian community as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, March 4, 2022.

Carlos Osorio | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have agreed on a joint effort toward the implementation of a 10-point peace formula that aims to resolve the Russian war in Ukraine by February, Zelenskyy announced.

The Ukrainian president tweeted that he is in “constant contact” with Trudeau about the situation at the front and the military’s need for armed vehicles, artillery and aviation.

“We agreed on joint diplomatic steps, in particular on the implementation of #PeaceFormula,” Zelenskyy wrote.

Announced at the G-20 in November, Zelenskyy’s peace formula includes the restoration of Ukraine’s lost territories, release of all prisoners of war, the withdrawal of Russian troops, a tribunal for those responsible for the conflict and security guarantees for Ukraine.

— Chelsey Cox

Watch: U.S. Congressional Ukraine Caucus holds news conference with wounded soldiers

The U.S. Congressional Ukraine Caucus will discuss Russia’s war at a news conference alongside wounded soldiers.

— Jacob Pramuk

France announces it will provide training and more CAESAR guns to Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen fire with a CAESAR self-propelled howitzer towards Russian positions in eastern Ukraine on December 28, 2022.

Sameer Al-doumy | Afp | Getty Images

France said it will provide 12 additional CAESAR guns to Ukraine and send about 150 soldiers to Poland to train 600 Ukrainians on a monthly basis.

The CAESAR, or CAmion Equipe d’un Systeme d’ARtillerie, is a French 155 mm, 52-caliber self-propelled gun-howitzer.

French Minister of Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu said that he expects about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers to be trained by the summer.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian prosecutor general launches investigation after a child dies from Russian shelling in Bakhmut

Olga Tomah, 70, reacts in front of a residential building where her flat burns after Russian shelling in the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on January 20, 2023.

Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | Getty Images

The office of Ukraine’s prosecutor general said it launched a pre-trial investigation in Bakhmut after a man and 12-year-old boy died in Russian shelling.

“According to the investigation, on January 31, 2023, the armed forces of the Russian Federation fired barrel artillery at a residential area in the city of Bakhmut. A man and a 12-year-old boy were killed as a result of the shelling,” the office wrote on its Telegram channel.

The office added that five civilians were injured during the attack.

“On-site prosecutors continue to take all possible and appropriate measures to document war crimes committed by representatives of the armed forces of the Russian Federation,” the office added.

— Amanda Macias

Russia’s war has damaged more than 75,000 buildings in Ukraine, official says

A Russian soldier walks amid the rubble in Mariupol’s eastern side where fierce fighting between Russia/pro-Russia forces and Ukraine on March 15, 2022.

Maximilian Clarke | SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Russia’s war has completely destroyed more than 75,000 buildings, including houses, hospitals and schools, said Yaroslav Brisiuck, deputy chief of mission at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.

“The Russian Federation does not stop shelling Ukrainian cities, infrastructure destroying historic and cultural heritage of Ukraine,” the diplomat said during an event at the German Embassy in Washington.

“More than 50% of the Ukrainian energy systems have been destroyed by Russian missiles and Iranian drones,” Brisiuck added.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian official says Russian forces have committed more than 64,000 crimes since war began

War crime prosecutor of Kharkiv Oblast stands with forensic technician and policeman at the site of a mass burial in a forest during exhumation on September 16, 2022 in Izium, Ukraine.

Yevhenii Zavhorodnii | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A Ukrainian diplomat said his country’s law enforcement has documented more than 64,000 crimes committed by Russian forces since February.

“Russia cannot defeat us on the battlefield so they have resorted to the technique of killing civilians. Russian troops on a daily basis commit war crimes against humanity,” Yaroslav Brisiuck, deputy chief of mission at the Ukrainian Embassy in the U.S.

Brisiuck said that Ukrainian authorities partnered with third-party investigators have recorded instances of rape and sexual violence, torture, looting and forced deportations.

“We must continue consolidating the efforts on the legal front to restore the rule of law and deliver justice and hold Russia responsible,” he said during a discussion at the German Embassy in Washington.

Brisiuck added that Ukraine has started the colossal litigation process for potential crimes at both the national and international level, including the International Criminal Court.

The Kremlin denies that its troops in Ukraine target civilians or commit war crimes.

— Amanda Macias

Most major companies have yet to withdraw from Russia

A view of Cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed at night in Moscow, Russia on October 27, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

After Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February 2022, companies across the G-7 major economies and the European Union announced plans to cease business operations in Russia.

Yet a report published earlier this month by Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen found that of the 1,404 EU and G-7 companies that were active in Russia at the time of the first incursion into Ukraine, fewer than 9% had divested at least one subsidiary by November 2022.

The research team noted that these divestment rates barely changed over the fourth quarter of 2022.

Barclays European consumer staples analysts said that while most of the companies they cover had pledged to exit Russia, few have managed to do so yet. Various companies told Barclays that there were a host of challenges to fully divest.

Read the full story here.

– Elliot Smith

Ukraine to receive 120-140 tanks in ‘first wave’ of deliveries, minister says

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba attends a joint media briefing amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odesa, Ukraine 14 September 2022.

Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukraine will receive 120 to 140 tanks in a “first wave” of deliveries from a coalition of 12 countries, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday.

Kyiv secured pledges from the West this month to supply main battle tanks to help fend off Russia’s full-scale invasion, with Moscow mounting huge efforts to make incremental advances in eastern Ukraine.

“The tank coalition now has 12 members. I can note that in the first wave of contributions, the Ukrainian armed forces will receive between 120 and 140 Western-model tanks,” Kuleba said during an online briefing.

The foreign minister said Kyiv was working behind the scenes to win over more countries to supply tanks at what officials say is a critical time in the war.

“… We continue to work on both expanding the membership of the tank coalition and increasing the contributions of those already pledged,” he said.

Kyiv plans to launch a major counteroffensive to recapture swathes of territory taken by Russia in the south and east of the country.

The United States has told Kyiv to hold off on those plans until Western military assistance has arrived in Ukraine. Ukraine is also concerned that Russia could launch its own major offensive in the coming weeks or months.

— Reuters

Bakhmut hit by rocket-propelled artillery 197 times over past day, official says

A damaged car and pile of debris are seen as the Russia-Ukraine War continues in Bakhmut, Ukraine on January 28, 2023.

Marek M. Berezowski | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Bakhmut in Donetsk remains the key target for Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, a spokesman of the Eastern Group of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Serhii Cherevaty, said during a national telethon Tuesday.

“Bakhmut continues to be one of the main directions of the enemy’s attack. There, they struck our positions with rocket-propelled artillery 197 times” over the past day, he said, in comments reported by news agency Ukrinform.  

He added that 42 combat clashes had taken place in the same timeframe with 277 Russian soldiers killed and 258 wounded.

Ukrainian soldiers return from the front line in Bakhmut, Ukraine on January 29, 2023.

Marek M. Berezowski | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Cherevaty said Russian troops were unable to cut the route used to supply Ukrainian forces defending Bakhmut despite the repeated attacks.

 “So far they have not succeeded. Everything is being done to prevent them from blocking the movement of our units. All the necessary ammunition, equipment, food, are being delivered to Bakhmut,” Cherevaty said.

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia claims further advances in Donetsk

Russia’s defense ministry claimed that its armed forces in Ukraine have seized another village in Donetsk.

Russian troops have reportedly captured the village of Blahodatne in the region (the area pro-Russian separatists call the “Donetsk People’s Republic” or DPR), according to an official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Lieutenant-General Igor Konashenkov.

Ukraine has not commented on the claim, but Russia has been seen to have made incremental gains in the Donetsk region around Vuhledar, to the southwest of the city of Donetsk.

A volunteer who are evacuating civilians from Bakhmut, when the Russian shelling began in Bakhmut, Ukraine on January 30, 2023.

| Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Yan Gagin, an advisor to the acting head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, told the Rossiya-1 TV channel Tuesday that Russian forces in Donetsk are taking control of one settlement after another, and are advancing on Bakhmut, capturing which is a key strategic goal for Russia.

“Our troops in Artemovsk [Russia’s name for Bakhmut] are advancing, and they are taking settlement after settlement, moving quite actively,” he said in comments reported by news agency Tass and translated by Google.

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence said Tuesday that, in the last three days, Russia likely developed its probing attacks around the Donetsk towns of Pavlivka and Vuhledar into a “more concerted assault.”

The settlements lie around 30 miles southwest of the city of Donetsk, and Russia previously used the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade in an unsuccessful assault on the same area in November 2022, the ministry noted on Twitter.

—Holly Ellyatt

Russia says European powers should counterbalance ‘aggressive’ Poland, Baltics

A person walks past a New Year decoration Kremlin Star, bearing a Z letter, a tactical insignia of Russian troops in Ukraine, at the Gorky Park in Moscow on December 29, 2022.

Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images

Russia said on Tuesday that calls by the president of Lithuania to supply Ukraine with fighter planes highlighted the “extremely aggressive position” of the Baltic states and Poland, and that “major European countries” should counterbalance their stance.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Monday that NATO should stop drawing “red lines” and should supply Ukraine with whatever weapons it needed, including fighter jets and long-range missiles.

Asked about those comments, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “In general, we see an extremely aggressive position from representatives of the Baltic countries and Poland. They are apparently ready to do anything to provoke the growth of further confrontation, with little regard for the consequences.”

He added: “Of course, it is very sad that under these conditions the leaders of major European countries, who drive all European processes, unfortunately do not play a balancing role.”

Nauseda’s call followed decisions last week by Germany and the United States to supply battle tanks to Ukraine, a move Russia described as an escalation of the conflict.

The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – all ruled by Moscow until they broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991 – have strongly backed Ukraine, supporting its argument that it needs more advanced Western weapons as soon as possible in order to head off a feared new Russian offensive.

Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year in what it called a “special military operation.”

— Reuters

Kyiv criticizes Croatian president for saying Crimea will never return to Ukraine

Pedestrians pass a giant wall mural showing a map of the Crimean peninsula filled with the flag of the Russian Federation, in support of the Russian annexation, in Moscow, Russia, on Friday, March 28, 2014.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ukraine’s foreign ministry criticized Croatian President Zoran Milanovic on Tuesday for saying Crimea would never return to Ukrainian control, describing his comment as “unacceptable.”

Russia seized the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. In remarks on Monday detailing his objection to Zagreb providing military aid to Kyiv, Milanovic said it was “clear that Crimea will never again be part of Ukraine”.

“We consider as unacceptable the statements of the president of Croatia, who effectively cast doubt on the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.

— Reuters

Ukraine’s defense minister in Paris with jets on the agenda

French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that whether Ukraine will be supplied with fighter jets would depend on several factors.

Ludovic Marin | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov will be meeting French President Emmanuel Macron and his French defense counterpart Sebastien Lecornu in Paris Tuesday, with the thorny issue of fighter jets high on the agenda.

Ukraine has set its sights on receiving fighter jets, such as U.S. F-16s, from its allies, but the U.S. and Germany have already ruled out such weaponry, particularly given the fact they only greenlighted the sending of Western tanks to Ukraine last week.

For his part, President Joe Biden answered with an emphatic “no” when asked by reporters Monday if the U.S. would be sending jets to Ukraine.

There appears to be a softer attitude among some of Ukraine’s allies, however. with Poland and France signaling that the provision of fighter jets is not out of the question. On Monday, Macron said any offer would depend on several factors.

“Nothing is excluded in principle,” Macron said after talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte when asked about the possibility of sending jets to Kyiv as it battles Russia’s invasion, France 24 reported.

The conditions are that Ukraine must first make the request; that any arms would “not be escalatory”; and that they would “not be likely to hit Russian soil but purely to aid the resistance effort.” Macron added that any arms delivery “must not weaken the capacity of the French armed forces.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russians setting up ‘field hospitals’ amid heavy losses in Luhansk

Hospital staff in Ukraine. Many medical facilities have had to move underground amid extensive Russian bombardment.

Marcus Yam | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

Russian forces are reportedly commandeering civilian medical facilities and turning them into “field hospitals” in order to treat wounded soldiers as casualties mount, Ukraine said Tuesday.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine posted on Facebook claiming that Russian forces in Luhansk continue to “suffer heavy losses” and that they have “begun using additional civilian medical facilities to house wounded Russian invaders.”

Two hospitals in the city of Luhansk, including a maternity hospital, have become field hospitals where soldiers are being treated, Ukraine said. Because of that, the General Staff said maternity services can now only be offered at the Luhansk Regional Perinatal Center “where there is a catastrophic lack of space and risks and adverse conditions for childbirth.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia carrying out ‘more concerted assault’ on Donetsk now, U.K. says

In the last three days, Russia likely developed its probing attacks around the Donetsk towns of Pavlivka and Vuhledar into a “more concerted assault,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Tuesday.

The settlements lie around 30 miles southwest of the city of Donetsk, and Russia previously used the 155th Naval Infantry Brigade in an unsuccessful assault on the same area in November 2022, the Ministry noted on Twitter.

Members of a Ukrainian artillery unit cover their ears as an M109 self-propelled artillery unit is fired at Russian mortar positions around Vuhledar from a front line position on Dec. 19, 2022 in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“Elements of the 155th are again involved as part of an at least brigade sized force which has likely advanced several hundred metres beyond the small Kashlahach River which marked the front line for several months.”

The ministry noted that Russian commanders are likely aiming “to develop a new axis of advance” into the Ukrainian-held part of the Donetsk region “and to divert Ukrainian forces from the heavily contested Bakhmut sector.”

There is a realistic possibility that Russia will continue to make local gains in the sector,” the U.K. said, but it added that “it is unlikely that Russia has sufficient uncommitted troops in the area to achieve an operationally significant breakthrough.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Biden rules out sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy outside the White House in Washington on Dec. 21, 2022.

Olivier Contreras | Bloomberg | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters Monday afternoon that the U.S. would not send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

When asked by reporters whether he would send fighter jets to Kyiv, Biden replied with one word: “No.”

The U.S. and Germany only last week gave the greenlight to sending modern battle tanks to Ukraine after months of pleas from Kyiv for the tanks.

Within hours of receiving news that it would be receiving Western tanks, Kyiv renewed its calls for fighter jets, such as the U.S.’ F-16s, saying it needs all the firepower it can get sooner rather than later.

Biden’s comments come a day after his German counterpart, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, also ruled out sending jets to Ukraine, saying it seems “frivolous” to discuss the issue when allies had just approved the sending of tanks.

Ukraine’s defense minister is expected in Paris on Tuesday to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, with differences appearing to emerge between allies over F-16s.

News outlet Politico reported Monday that France is considering Ukraine’s request for fighter-jet pilot training, citing an aide to the country’s defense minister, while Poland has signaled its willingness to send such weaponry but said it would act in “full coordination” with its allies.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s new offensive against Ukraine will fail, Zelenskky vows

“The situation is very tough. Bakhmut, Vuhledar and other areas in the Donetsk region are under constant Russian attacks. There are constant attempts to break through our defense,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Sunday.

Yan Dobronosov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Kyiv and its Western partners will do everything necessary to make sure “Russia’s intentions to move to a new stage of offensive for the sake of revenge fail.”

“I am confident in our army. We will stop them all little by little, destroy them and prepare our big counteroffensive,” Zelenskyy said in an address alongside his Danish counterpart in Odesa.

Zelenskyy thanked Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen for providing financial and security assistance to Ukraine.

“I am grateful to the Danish coalition government for creating a separate fund to help our country. Reconstruction should become one of the key directions of the fund’s work,” Zelenskyy added.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian representative in Tehran summoned to Ministry of Foreign Affairs following drone strikes in Iran

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said on Facebook that the temporary representative of Ukraine was summoned to a meeting at Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran.

Nikolenko did not elaborate on the details of the meeting but added that Kyiv is not responsible for the string of explosions at Iranian facilities, according to an NBC News translation.

Over the weekend Iran said that bomb-carrying drones struck a defense manufacturing plant in the central city of Isfahan. The Iranian Defense Ministry did not share information on who it suspected of carrying out the strike.

— Amanda Macias

EU allocates 114 million euros to build an energy hub in Poland

Local residents charge their devices, use internet connection and warm up after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian missile attacks in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Nov. 24, 2022.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The European Union allocated 114 million euros to Poland’s new “rescEU energy hub” for Ukraine.

The hub will essentially be a logistics center for supplying emergency energy aid to Ukrainians amid Russian shelling on critical infrastructure. The funds will purchase approximately 1,000 generators to be distributed to Ukrainians through the hub.

The European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism has previously provided 1,400 generators to Ukrainians in need.

— Amanda Macias

Friends bury 28-year old orphan Ukrainian serviceman in Bakhmut

EDITOR’S NOTE- Graphic Content- This post contains the image of a dead Ukrainian servicemen in Sloviansk.

Friends gather to bury Ukrainian serviceman, 28-year-old orphan Oleksandr Korovniy, at a cemetery in Sloviansk. Koroniy was a member of the Azov battalion, killed in action in Bakhmut, Donetsk region.

Ukrainian servicemen and friends of the late Ukrainian serviceman of the Azov battalion, 28-year-old orphan Oleksandr Korovniy, who was killed in action in Bakhmut, carry his coffin during a funeral at a cemetery in Sloviansk on January 30, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

Kateryna Avdeyeva (C), holds a portrait of her late friend, Ukrainian serviceman of the Azov battalion killed in action in Bakhmut, 28-year-old orphan Oleksandr Korovniy, as she attends his funeral ceremony at a cemetery in Sloviansk on January 30, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Natalia Shalashnaya (R), 52, mourns over the casket of the late Ukrainian serviceman of the Azov battalion killed in action in Bakhmut, 28-year-old orphan Oleksandr Korovniy, of whom she was the legal guardian, at a cemetery in Sloviansk on January 30, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

Kateryna Avdeyeva (C), mourns as she holds a portrait of her late friend, Ukrainian serviceman of the Azov battalion killed in action in Bakhmut, 28-year-old orphan Oleksandr Korovniy, as she attends his funeral ceremony at a cemetery in Sloviansk on January 30, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

Natalia Shalashnaya, 52, pours water into the grave of the late Ukrainian serviceman of the Azov battalion killed in action in Bakhmut, 28-year-old orphan Oleksandr Korovniy, of whom she was the legal guardian, at a cemetery in Sloviansk on January 30, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

Oleksiy Storozh (R), 28, fires his rifle in the air during the burial of his best friend, the late Ukrainian serviceman of the Azov battalion killed in action in Bakhmut, 28-year-old orphan Oleksandr Korovniy, at a cemetery in Sloviansk on January 30, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images

Kremlin dismisses Boris Johnson’s missile strike accusation

Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Kremlin dismissed Boris Johnson’s claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened him with a missile strike.

The former U.K. prime minister claimed in a BBC documentary that he’d had a phone call with Putin before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Johnson said in the show that Putin “threatened me at one point, and he said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute’ or something like that.”

“But I think from the very relaxed tone that he was taking, the sort of air of detachment that he seemed to have, he was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate,” Johnson said.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the claim as a “lie” Monday, telling reporters “What Mr. Johnson said is not true. More precisely, it is a lie,” he said according to an NBC News translation of the comments.

“This may either be a deliberate lie by Mr. Johnson, and then the question arises as to the reasons for his presentation of such a version of events. Or he actually did not understand what President Putin was talking about with him. And in this case it becomes a little worrying for the interlocutors of our President,” Peskov said.

“But once again I officially repeat: this is a lie, there were no threats with missiles.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine’s prime minister says Kyiv wants to join the European Union within two years

Ukraine has made no secret of its wish to join the EU and has already applied to join the bloc.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Kyiv wants to join the European Union within two years, setting a very ambitious timetable for joining the bloc.

Speaking to Politico, Shmyhal said “we have a very ambitious plan to join the European Union within the next two years … So we expect that this year, in 2023, we can already have this pre-entry stage of negotiations,” he said.

Ukraine has made no secret of its wish to join the EU and has already applied to join the bloc. It is not the only candidate country. Others, such as North Macedonia and Montenegro have waited over ten years for any progress in their own respective membership applications. French President Emmanuel Macron has said EU membership for Ukraine is likely to be a process that will take “decades.”

EU commissioners are heading to Kyiv on Friday to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Politco noted that their task will likely be “managing expectations” regarding such a tight timetable for entry into the EU.

— Holly Ellyatt

Boris Johnson claims Putin threatened him with a missile attack

Russia welcomed Boris Johnson’s departure from office.

Justin Tallis | Afp | Getty Images

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to threaten him with a missile strike in what he described as an “extraordinary” phone call before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In an excerpt of a BBC documentary called “Putin vs the West,” Johnson says he spoke to Putin in February 2022, shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. During that call, he said he told Putin that war would be an “utter catastrophe” and would entail sanctions on Moscow and likely more NATO troops on Russia’s borders.

Johnson said that after making those points during the call, in which he said Putin had been “very familiar,” Putin appeared to threaten him.

“He threatened me at one point, and he said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute’ or something like that,” Johnson said in the documentary, the BBC reported.

“But I think from the very relaxed tone that he was taking, the sort of air of detachment that he seemed to have, he was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate.”

It’s impossible to ascertain whether Putin was serious in his comment but relations between the U.K. and Russia were already strained before the war, particularly after a Russian nerve agent attack carried out in the U.K. in 2018. The U.K.’s staunch support of Kyiv has heightened tensions.

— Holly Ellyatt

Germany’s Scholz adamant Berlin will not send fighter jets to Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin on Jan. 25, 2023.

Fabrizio Bensch | Reuters

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted at the weekend that fighter jets would not be provided to Ukraine, telling a German newspaper that there should not be a “bidding war” over weaponry and that Germany “will not allow a war between Russia and NATO.”

Scholz reiterated Germany’s objections to sending fighter jets to Ukraine, telling the Tagesspiegel newspaper Sunday that there is no question of doing so.

“The question of combat aircraft does not arise at all,” Scholz said, according to Politico’s translation of the original story.

“I can only advise against entering into a constant competition to outbid each other when it comes to weapons systems,” he added.

Germany last week agreed to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after months of resisting pressure to do so. Berlin also said it would allow other allies to send their own German-made tanks to Kyiv. The U.S. also agreed to send a number of M1 Abrams tanks.

A Belgian F-16 jet fighter takes part in the NATO Air Nuclear drill “Steadfast Noon” at the Kleine-Brogel air base in Belgium on October 18, 2022.

Kenzo Tribouillard | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine expressed gratitude for the decision to send tanks but immediately said it needed more firepower to counter Russia’s invasion, asking for fighter jets from its allies. One defense ministry advisor told CNBC he was sure Kyiv would receive F-16 fighter jets from its allies and that there should be no delay over the decision, as there was over tanks.

Over the weekend, another Ukrainian official said negotiations over the possible sending of attack aircraft to Ukraine were “ongoing.”

“Our partners understand how the war develops. They understand that attack aircraft are absolutely necessary to cover the manpower and armoured vehicles that they give us,” advisor to the head of the Office of the President Mykhailo Podolyak told the Freedom TV channel Saturday.

“In the same way, in order to drastically reduce the key tool of the Russian army – artillery, we need missiles. That’s why negotiations are already underway, negotiations are accelerating,” Podolyak said in comments translated by NBC News.

— Holly Ellyatt

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here: