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Source : https://www.cnbc.com/2023/02/14/ukraine-war-live-updates-latest-news-on-russia-and-the-war-in-ukraine.html
Russia’s Prigozhin admits links to what U.S. says was election-meddling troll farm
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, said on Tuesday that he founded and financed and the Internet Research Agency, a company Washington says is a “troll farm” which meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, spent years operating on behalf of the Kremlin in the shadows, but has emerged in recent months as one of the most high profile figures connected with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He has previously admitted interfering in U.S. elections, but his statement on Tuesday appears to go further than before in outlining his specific links to the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA).
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman and close ally of Vladimir Putin, is the head Russia’s Wagner mercenary group and a series of other companies.
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images
“I was never just the financier of the Internet Research Agency. I thought it up, I created it, I managed it for a long time,” Prigozhin said in a post shared on social media by the press service of his Concord catering group.
“It was created to protect the Russian information space from the West’s boorish and aggressive anti-Russian propaganda,” Prigozhin said.
Prigozhin was first sanctioned by the United States over his links to the Internet Research Agency in 2018 and charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his inquiry into Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election said that Internet Research Agency sought to sow discord in the United States through “information warfare.” It sought to sway the 2016 election in favour of Trump, Mueller’s report said.
Moldova reopens airspace after temporary closure
Moldova, a small eastern European nation which shares a border with Ukraine, has become the subject of Russian interference, according to its President.
Carsten Koall | Getty Images
Moldova has reopened its airspace hours after closing it due to security concerns, its aviation authority said Tuesday.
Air Moldova, the country’s national airline, announced the closure of the country’s airspace in a Facebook post earlier in the day.
“Dear passengers, at this moment, the airspace of the Republic of Moldova is closed. We are waiting for the resumption of flights,” the carrier wrote, according to a Google translation.
A source at Chisinau International Airport told Reuters the closure was due to security concerns. The Moldovan government did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.
The small eastern European nation, which shares a border with Ukraine, has faced increasing disruption over recent days.
Moldova’s President Maia Sandu on Monday accused Russia of trying to bring down the country’s government and prevent it from joining the European Union.
The claims, which the Kremlin rejected, come just days after Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita disbanded her government Friday. Hours prior, the country’s defense ministry said a Russian missile had violated its airspace during a renewed attack on Ukraine.
— Karen Gilchrist
Norway to send 8 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine
A Leopard tank is seen at the Munster military base, in Munster, Germany, February 7, 2022.
Fabian Bimmer | Reuters
Norway will send eight German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks and other equipment to Ukraine to aid in the war with Russia, the NATO country’s government said on Tuesday.
“It is more crucial than ever to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a statement.
Norway said it will also send four special purpose tanks from its armored engineering and bridge layer category, with the exact selection depending on what Ukraine needs the most.
Norway, which shares a border with Russia in the Arctic, has 36 Leopard 2 tanks in total.
Stoltenberg: More important Sweden, Finland join NATO soon than together
Flags wave outside the Alliance headquarters ahead of a NATO Defense Ministers meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021.
Pascal Rossignol | Reuters
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that it is more important that Finland and Sweden’s applications to join the military alliance are ratified expediently than at the same time.
“The main question is not whether Finland and Sweden are ratified together. The main question is that they are both ratified as full members as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels, ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
The neighboring countries applied in tandem to join NATO last year in wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and their bids have been ratified by all members apart from Hungary and Turkey.
Western officials have said they would prefer both countries to join together for ease of integration. But Turkey has proven a major sticking point in negotiations, with President Tayyip Erdogan pushing back against Sweden’s bid.
Stoltenberg said he was “confident” both countries would become full members, in a process that he is aiming to conclude “as soon as possible.”
— Karen Gilchrist
U.S. Defense Secretary Austin: Ukraine has urgent requirements
US Defence Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III (L) and Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov (R) attend the Ukraine defence contact group meeting at NATO headquarters during the first of two days of defence ministers’ meetings on February 14, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium.
Dursun Aydemir | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Ukraine has urgent requirements in terms of more military aid, said United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Tuesday, as he also reaffirmed that the United States and NATO allies in general were there to support Ukraine over the long haul.
“That shared resolve will sustain Ukraine’s momentum in the weeks ahead,” said Austin at a NATO meeting in Brussels. “The Kremlin is still betting that it can wait us out.”
Kremlin says NATO is becoming more involved in Ukraine
The Kremlin said Tuesday that NATO is becoming increasingly involved in the conflict in Ukraine and demonstrating hostility to Russia on a daily basis.
“NATO is an organization which is hostile to us and which proves this hostility every day,” Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to Reuters reporters based in Russia.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov at a news conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin after a meeting of the State Council on youth policy in Moscow, Russia, Dec. 22, 2022.
Valeriy Sharifulin | Sputnik | Reuters
“It is trying its best to make its involvement in the conflict around Ukraine as clear as possible,” Peskov added.
NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels Tuesday to discuss extending their military supplies to Ukraine, including potential fighter jets.
Moscow has said NATO’s provision of weapons to Ukraine is extending the conflict and raising the possibility of further escalation.
— Karen Gilchrist
Germany signs contracts with Rheinmetall to restart ammunition production
German Rheinmetall MAN tactical military transport vehicles are parked in the Edvard Peperko military barracks. Slovenian military received 40 of Rheinmetall trucks as part of a so-called chain-swap deal with Germany used to supply arms to Ukraine, in which Slovenia sent 28 M55s tanks to Ukraine and 38 Oshkosh vehicles after purchasing them from the USA.
Luka Dakskobler | Lightrocket | Getty Images
Germany has signed contracts with arms manufacturer Rheinmetall to restart the production of ammunition for the Gepard anti-aircraft guns it has delivered to Kyiv, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Tuesday.
“We will quickly start our own production of Gepard ammunition at Rheinmetall. I am very happy we have been able to guarantee the delivery of this important part of air defense,” Reuters reported Pistorius as saying ahead of a meeting with NATO ministers in Brussels.
— Karen Gilchrist
Russian rouble dips near 10-month low vs dollar
The Russian rouble struck its weakest mark since late April on Tuesday, hurt by lower foreign currency revenue inflows from hydrocarbon exports and a continued recovery in imports as companies build new supply chains.
At 0726 GMT, the rouble was 0.1% weaker against the dollar at 73.88, having hit 73.9850 during the session, its lowest point since April 25.
The Russian currency lost 0.3% to trade at 79.26 versus the euro and shed 0.3% against the yuan to 10.83.
The rouble’s weakening from around the 68 mark to the dollar in mid-January to current levels can be explained mainly by foreign exchange market dynamics and imports, Alfa Capital analysts said.
Ukraine is fighting for the rights of ‘every nation,’ says IMF chief
The International Monetary Fund’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva said Tuesday that Ukraine is fighting not just in defense of its national sovereignty but to protect the international rule of law.
“In Ukraine, people strongly believe they’re fighting not just for themselves, they’re fighting for the right of every nation to exist and run its own affairs,” the director of the United Nations financial institution said at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
Georgieva said that a problem which is Ukraine’s problem today can tomorrow “be a problem for many other countries,” adding that it is in “everybody’s interest” to defend a rules-based global system.
“If we blow up rule of law internationally, how are we going to keep it domestically?” she said. “It is for everyone, everybody’s interest to defend it.”
— Karen Gilchrist
NATO’s Stoltenberg says new Russian offensive now underway
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said ministers would discuss increasing the military alliance’s ammunition stockpile targets Tuesday, as well consider Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s calls for fighter jets.
Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images
NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday backed reports that Russia has launched a fresh offensive in Ukraine, days before the first anniversary of its invasion.
“I think the reality (is) that we’re seeing the start already,” Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
“What Russia lacks in quality, they try to compensate (for) in quantity, meaning that the leadership, the logistics, the equipment, the training, don’t have the same level as the Ukrainian forces, but they have more forces,” he added.
Stoltenberg said ministers would discuss increasing the military alliance’s ammunition stockpile targets Tuesday, as well consider Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s calls for fighter jets.
— Karen Gilchrist
Russia’s Wagner Group making small gains around Bakhmut, UK says
A Ukrainian serviceman of the State Border Guard Service in Bakhmut on Feb. 9, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Yasuyoshi Chiba | Afp | Getty Images
Wagner Group forces have “almost certainly made further small gains around the northern outskirts of the contested Donbas town of Bakhmut, including into the village of Krasna Hora,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a tweet Tuesday.
However, organized Ukrainian defense in the area means the tactical Russian advance to the south of the town “has likely made little progress,” it added.
In the north, in the Kremina-Svatove sector of Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region, Russian forces are making “continuous offensive efforts,” though each local attack “remains on too small a scale to achieve a significant breakthrough,” the British intelligence service said.
— Karen Gilchrist
Kremlin rejects claims it is plotting to destabilize Moldova
Moldova’s President Maia Sandu and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pose for a picture during a meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, on June 27, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters
The Kremlin on Tuesday pushed back against accusations that it is attempting to destabilize Moldova’s government.
Moldova’s President Maia Sandu said Monday that Russia was intending to use foreign saboteurs to undermine her government and prevent it from joining the European Union.
That comes just days after Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita resigned Friday.
“Such claims are completely unfounded and unsubstantiated,” Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The foreign minister added that Ukraine was stirring tensions and trying to draw Moldova “into a tough confrontation with Russia.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week that his intelligence authorities had uncovered a Russian plan “for the destruction of Moldova.”
— Karen Gilchrist