Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

 Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

U.S. embassy in Russia tells U.S. citizens to leave the country as soon as possible

The U.S. embassy in Moscow, Russia.

Invizbk | Istock Unreleased | Getty Images

The U.S. embassy in Russia has issued a security alert for American citizens in the country, telling them to leave immediately if they can.

The embassy issued a statement Wednesday in which it said “U.S. citizens should not travel to Russia and those residing or travelling in Russia should depart Russia immediately while limited commercial travel options remain.”

The warning comes after the Russian government began a military mobilization of its citizens last week, with several hundred thousand men being called-up and sent to Ukraine to fight. 

A traveller reacts after crossing the border with Russia at the frontier checkpoint Verkhny Lars – Zemo Larsi, Georgia September 28, 2022. 

Irakli Gedenidze | Reuters

The U.S. embassy warned today that “Russia may refuse to acknowledge dual nationals’ U.S. citizenship, deny their access to U.S. consular assistance, prevent their departure from Russia, and conscript dual nationals for military service” and that anyone wishing to leave Russia should do so as soon as possible.

“Commercial flight options are extremely limited at present and are often unavailable on short notice.  Overland routes by car and bus are still open. If you wish to depart Russia, you should make independent arrangements as soon as possible.” 

It added that the U.S. embassy “has severe limitations on its ability to assist U.S. citizens, and conditions, including transportation options, may suddenly become even more limited.”

It also warned U.S. citizens that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are not guaranteed in Russia and that they should “avoid all political or social protests and do not photograph security personnel at these events. Russian authorities have arrested U.S. citizens who have participated in demonstrations.”

The embassy provided a link with more information on travel out of Russia here.

— Holly Ellyatt

EU pledges robust response to suspected sabotage of Nord Stream gas pipelines

BORNHOLM, DENMARK – SEPTEMBER 27: Danish Defense shows the gas leaking at Nord Stream 2 seen from the Danish F-16 interceptor on Bornholm, Denmark on September 27, 2022.

Danish Defence/ | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The European Union pledged to deliver a “robust and united response” to a suspected act of sabotage after mystery gas leaks hit two underwater Russian gas pipelines.

“All available information indicates those leaks are the result of a deliberate act,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

“We will support any investigation aimed at getting full clarity on what happened and why, and will take further steps to increase our resilience in energy security. Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is utterly unacceptable and will be met with a robust and united response,” he added.

Here’s the full story.

— Sam Meredith

Kremlin says claims it was behind Nord Stream leaks are ‘stupid’

The Kremlin has responded to allegations that it was responsible for damage and leaks to both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the last few days by rebuffing the accusations and calling them “stupid.”

European authorities are investigating possible sabotage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines, a bone of contention between Europe and Russia as the war in Ukraine continues, after they started to leak gas in the Baltic Sea earlier this week.

(L to R) Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist hold a press conference on the gas leak in the Baltic Sea from Nord Stream in Stockholm, on Sept. 27, 2022.

Fredrik Persson | Afp | Getty Images

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a daily conference call with reporters that the incident needed to be investigated and the timings for repair of the damaged pipelines were not clear, Reuters reported.

Then, when asked about claims Russia might be behind the possible attack, Peskov said: “That’s quite predictable and also predictably stupid.”

“This is a big problem for us because, firstly, both lines of Nord Stream 2 are filled with gas – the entire system is ready to pump gas and the gas is very expensive … Now the gas is flying off into the air.”

“Are we interested in that? No, we are not, we have lost a route for gas supplies to Europe,” Peskov said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov at an event during Russia’s Victory Day commemorations in Moscow on May 9, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova appeared to suggest on Telegram that the U.S. could have been behind the sabotage, a claim that Peskov appeared to allude to when speaking to reporters Wednesday.

“We see the huge profits of the U.S. suppliers of liquefied natural gas, who increased their supplies many-fold to the European continent,” Peskov said. “They are very, very interested in further receiving their super, super profits.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Newly mobilized Russian soldiers start to arrive in Ukraine, army says

Newly-mobilized Russian soldiers have started to arrive in Ukraine according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in its latest operational update posted on Facebook.

Many of the soldiers that have been mobilized in President Putin’s call-up, made last week and aimed at sending around 300,000 reservists to fight in the war, are poorly trained, if at all, and many have reportedly been given just a uniform and arms and no other equipment.

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

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine’s armed forces said that several Russian units in Ukraine had been replenished with new troops and that people with criminal convictions had also arrived to bolster Russia’s manpower in Ukraine.

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the report although social media content in recent days has shown videos of reservists bidding farewell to family before being sent to Ukraine on trains and buses.

— Holly Ellyatt

Fake referendums set the stage for annexation, and immense danger for Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend a wreath-laying ceremony, which marks the anniversary of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany in 1941, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the Kremlin wall in Moscow, Russia June 22, 2022. 

Mikhail Metzel | Sputnik | Reuters

The results from a series of so-called referendums that have taken place in occupied parts of Ukraine —which predictably show a resounding majority voting to join Russia — set the stage for Moscow to announce their annexation in the coming days.

That, analysts say, could mark a dangerous point in the war for Ukraine with the possibility that Russia could turn to unconventional weapons, even nuclear weapons, to “defend” what it will then say is its territory and citizens.

“As for the risk of Russia using these votes and subsequent annexation of those territories as a pretext for nuclear strikes — we are conscious of this risk, we understand that it is real,” Yuriy Sak, an advisor to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, told CNBC Wednesday.

Read more on the story here

Moscow’s mobilization won’t resolve Russia’s problems in the war, analyst says

Russia’s partial military mobilization, which was announced by President Putin last week and sees around 300,00 reservists called-up to fight in Ukraine, will not resolve the country’s challenges in the war, an analyst said Wednesday.

“Mobilisation will not solve three big problems for the Russian army: poor training, low morale, and issues with logistics and supply,” Mario Bikarski, Russia & CIS analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit said Wednesday.

“The partial mobilisation has proved unpopular particularly in disproportionately affected regions. Dagestan was the federal subject with the highest number of lost soldiers according to various estimates and the one that is now seeing some of the most intense protests,” he noted.

Police officers detain a woman following calls to protest against partial mobilisation announced by Russian President, in Moscow, on September 21, 2022. – More than 1,300 people have been arrested at demonstrations across Russia against President Vladimir Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilisation of civilians to fight in Ukraine, a police monitoring group said on September 21, 2022. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images

“The mobilisation could exacerbate economic difficulties in impoverished regions of the country as it shrinks the workforce. It could also create a sense of racial injustice among marginalised ethnic minorities. A violent crackdown by the authorities will increase public grievances and instances of violent protests will continue,” he added.

While the Kremlin has sufficient capacity to contain protests, and we have seen a brutal crackdown on anti-mobilization protests, a violent response from peripheral communities could continue, Bikarski said.

“Georgia and Kazakhstan will remain the countries with the biggest concentration of fleeing Russians. They are likely to experience a spike in accommodation prices as well as prices for certain services. It could also cause unease within the local population and public dissatisfaction with governments’ responses.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian government regime at its ‘shakiest,’ says analyst

Putin's regime is at its 'shakiest,' says former U.S. ambassador

The current Russian government regime is the “shakiest we’ve seen,” said John Herbst, director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council.

Herbst told CNBC’s Squawk Box that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for a conscription has led to a “huge problem” demonstrating that Russians do not want to fight in Ukraine.

Putin announced a partial military mobilization in Russia last week, a move that triggered a wave of protests and mass arrests.

According to the director, even senior officials who are supportive of Putin are saying that his decision is a “disaster.” However, he predicts that Putin “is not going to go anytime soon.”

— Lee Ying Shan

Putin could look to turn the tide in the Ukraine war after sham referendums

Putin is losing the Ukraine war — and his actions are becoming less predictable

CNBC’s Ted Kemp discusses the Russian-run “referendums” happening in four regions of Ukraine, and says President Vladimir Putin could use them to claim that Ukraine — instead of his invading Russian army — is the aggressor the war.

The results are out for four so-called referendums in occupied parts of Ukraine

Election commission members count votes of refugees from Russian-held regions of Ukraine for a referendum at a polling station in Simferopol, Crimea, on Sept. 27, 2022.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

After a series of sham referendums in four Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, the results are out. Unsurprisingly, the results — widely seen as rigged, with a multitude of irregular voting practices reported — show a resounding majority voted to join Russia.

Amid widespread reports of coercive and illegal voting practices, electoral officials went door to door with portable ballot boxes to collect votes from residents living in the occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the south, and self-proclaimed, pro-Russian “republics” in Donetsk and Luhansk in the east. Polling stations were open only yesterday, the last day of voting.

The results came in last night from Russian-installed officials in the various regions, with Russian news agency Tass reporting the results.

The results of sham referenda in occupied territories in Ukraine.

Ukraine and its Western allies have denounced the so-called referendums and said they will not recognize the results.

It’s widely expected that Russian President Vladimir Putin will announce Friday that the occupied regions are being annexed and becoming a part of the Russian Federation.

There are widespread fears that the votes, and annexation, are designed to give Moscow a pretext to resort to nuclear weapons, to “defend” what it will claim is its territory and in a bid to win the war against Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

Blinken says initial reports of damage to Nord Stream pipeline could be sabotage

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2022.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that initial reports of apparent damage to the Nord Stream pipeline indicate it may be the result of sabotage.

“These are initial reports and we haven’t confirmed that yet,” Blinken told reporters at the State Department.

“Now, my understanding is the leaks will not have a significant impact on Europe’s energy resilience. And what’s critical is that we are working day in and day out both on a short-term basis and a long-term basis to address energy security for Europe and for that matter around the world,” Blinken added.

European officials, meanwhile, are investigating the unexplained leaks affecting both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that bring natural gas from Russia to Europe via the Baltic Sea.

— Amanda Macias

Use of nuclear weapons is ‘absolutely unacceptable,’ NATO chief says

Stoltenberg has said NATO’s updated Strategic Concept will likely refer to Russia as the “most significant and direct threat” to security.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance is taking Russia’s rhetoric and threats of using a nuclear weapon in Ukraine very seriously.

“Any use of nuclear weapons is absolutely unacceptable,” Stoltenberg said in his opening remarks before the European Parliament.

“It will change the nature of the conflict,” he said, adding that the NATO alliance, as well as the European Union, will impose severe consequences on Russia if it uses a nuclear weapon.

The Kremlin has previously said that it has a “right” to use nuclear weapons if its territory is threatened.

— Amanda Macias

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

Nord Stream leaks ‘a severe safety and environmental hazard,’ analysts say

Workers are seen at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019.

Anton Vaganov | Reuters

Suspicious leaks reported on the Nord Stream pipelines from Russia to Germany represent a “severe safety and environment hazard,” according to experts at the Eurasia Group.

Nord Stream operator Nord Stream AG reported Tuesday that both the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have sustained “unprecedented” damage via three known leaks, adding it was impossible to estimate when the gas network system’s working capability would be restored.

Danish and Swedish authorities declared a no-shipping zone around the location of the suspected leak in their maritime zones while Denmark raised its power and gas safety alert level.

Henning Gloystein, director of energy, climate and resources and senior analyst Jason Bush, both at Eurasia Group, said in a note Tuesday that while German and Danish authorities said the cause of the leaks was unknown, “unplanned leaks to undersea pipelines are rare as they are designed to avert accidental damage.”

“Several EU sources said sabotage seemed likely. Neither pipeline was delivering commercial gas at the time of the leaks, yet given both lines were still pressured and each has the capacity to pipe around 165 million cubic metres of methane-heavy gas per day,” they said, adding: “Leaks of this size are a severe safety and environmental hazard, especially should Russia not stop pumping gas into the system.”

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have centered heavily in the breakdown of relations between Europe and Russia because of the war in Ukraine. The new Nord Stream 2 pipeline had not even opened when the German government refused to certify it for commercial operations after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the functional Nord Stream 1 pipeline is currently not being used to deliver Russian gas to Europe after Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, said there was a technical fault with a turbine that could not be fixed due to Western sanctions.

The latest report of leaks make it even less likely that gas supplies to Europe will resume before the winter, analysts now say.

“Depending on the scale of the damage, the leaks could even mean a permanent closure of both lines,” Eurasia Group said.

Gazprom declined to comment when approached by Reuters.


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