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Senior U.S. government officials to visit Kyiv, Zelenskyy says; energy embargo may actually boost Russia’s bottom line – CNBC

Germany to reportedly buy 60 heavy transport helicopters from Boeing

U.S. Department of Defense

Germany will buy 60 CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters from Boeing worth around 5 billion euros ($5.40 billion) as it upgrades its military armour, Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported, citing government sources.

The helicopters will be financed from the 100 billion euros planned special fund for the military which Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the paper said.

The helicopters could be delivered in 2025/26 at the earliest and would replace the roughly 50-year-old CH-53G helicopters made by the Sikorsky unit of U.S. arms makers Lockheed Martin, it said.

Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht will inform the parliament of the decision next week, the newspaper said.

Competitors for the deal included Lockheed Martin’s CH-53K King Stallion. But the cheaper Boeing model and the fact that many NATO allies also fly the Chinook were the reasons for deciding on the CH-47F, Bild said.

A spokesperson for the Defence Ministry said no decision on helicopter purchases has been made yet.


Ukraine’s finance minister reportedly warns a Russian energy embargo would mean more oil earnings for it

Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko said a potential European embargo on Russian energy would significantly raise prices and thus increase Russia’s earnings, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Marchenko said that an embargo would raise prices so high that Russia could still earn significant revenue from oil and gas sales elsewhere.

“A full embargo only gives Russia additional money because I believe that the price of oil and gas will surge to enormous levels,” Mr. Marchenko said, according to the Journal. “This is why they try to use more sophisticated tools like taxation.”

It comes as the European Union and the U.S. discuss how to reduce Russia’s earnings from oil and gas sales to Europe.

Jennifer Elias

Warsaw is reportedly ‘at capacity,’ mayor says

Demonstrators take part in the protest against Russia’s agression on Ukraine, in front of Russian embassy in Warsaw, on February 24, 2022.

Wojtek Radwanski | AFP | Getty Images

Poland’s capital is preparing for an influx of Ukrainian refugees as Russia starts its second wave of fighting. But the city, which has increased its population by nearly 20% in just a few weeks, could become strained beyond its means, Warsaw’s mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said in an interview with the New York Times.

“Warsaw is at capacity,” Trzaskowski told the news outlet. “We accepted more than 300,000 people but we cannot accept more. With the escalation by Russia in eastern Ukraine we could have a second wave.”

Poland, including Warsaw, has welcomed Ukrainians with open arms. But the sudden influx of people has strained city services such as education, sanitation and public transportation. “These costs run to hundreds of millions of dollars,” he told the Times. Trzaskowski is set to visit Washington, D.C., in the coming days to ask for aid.

After Russian troops withdrew from Kyiv and its surrounding area, some Ukrainians were encouraged to travel home. But as the Kremlin ramps up its offense, that trend will likely change.

Since Russia began its full-scale invasion, more than 2.9 million people have fled to Poland from Ukraine, the Polish Border Guard said in a tweet.

Read the full report from the New York Times here.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

Special Monitoring Mission members have been detained in eastern Ukraine, says OSCE

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Saturday it was working to secure the release of a number of Special Monitoring Mission, or SMM, members who had been detained in eastern Ukraine.

The mission was first established in 2014, and its members observe the situation on the ground in Ukraine, carry out patrols and interact with civilians.

“The OSCE is extremely concerned that a number of SMM national mission members have been deprived of their liberty in Donetsk and Luhansk. The OSCE is using all available channels to facilitate the release of its staff,” it said in response to a query, adding it was unable to give more details at this stage.


Zelenskyy says Austin, Blinken will visit Ukraine on Sunday

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin (R) listen while US President Joe Biden speaks with the Polish President during a meeting on Russia’s war on Ukraine at the presidential palace in Warsaw on March 26, 2022.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit Ukraine on April 24 to discuss military aid, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters in Kyiv. It would mark the first time high-ranking U.S. officials have visited the nation’s capital since the war began.

The Pentagon will not speak to the claim from Zelenskyy, according to two defense officials. The White House and the State Department had no comment.

Zelenskyy also reiterated calls for President Joe Biden to visit Ukraine. “We will also wait for security to allow the U.S. president to come and support the Ukrainian people,” Zelenskyy said, according to a rough transcript of the news conference.

Top officials from other nations, including the U.K.’s Boris Johnson, have traveled to Ukraine to show support for Zelenskyy. The U.S. had reportedly been considering sending a top U.S. official to Ukraine in recent days.

—Jessica Bursztynsky

Kharkiv Easter Services cancelled

Governor of Kharkiv Oleh Syniehubov told Kharkiv residents that Easter services in the region would be cancelled and curfews would be put in place amid Russia’s ongoing attack on the country.

Houses and warehouses in Northern Saltivka and Saltivka districts were shelled, Syniehubov said. Six people were injured in Kharkiv and three people died in neighboring Chuguiv and Dergachiv districts, he said on his Telegram channel.

Syniehubov said he has received credible potential threats that Russians could continue to strike on Easter. The Orthodox Easter holiday is on April 24, and Syniehubov said churches have agreed to not hold services.

“I urge you not to go outside unnecessarily even after the curfew, despite the holiday,” he said. “Let’s spend these holidays at home and in safe places.”

Jennifer Elias

UK is helping to gather evidence of Russian war crimes, Boris Johnson tells Zelenskyy

The United Kingdom is helping Ukraine collect evidence of war crimes by Russia, Prime Minster Boris Johnson told President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, according to the UK.

Johnson also confirmed to Zelenskyy that the UK will provide “more defensive military aid, including protected mobility vehicles, drones and anti-tank weapons,” to Ukraine, a No. 10 spokesperson said in a statement.

Both leaders condemned Russia’s latest reported attacks, including a deadly missile strike in Odesa, and agreed on establishing a humanitarian corridor for civilians fleeing the besieged city of Mariupol, according to the spokesperson.

“The Prime Minister said that Russia would be held to account for its actions and that the UK government was helping collect evidence of war crimes,” the statement said.

Johnson also told Zelenskyy about new UK sanctions aimed at Russian military figures, and confirmed that the UK planned to reopen its embassy in Kyiv next week, the spokesperson said.

Kevin Breuninger

Russian military resumes strikes on Mariupol factory shielding Ukrainian soldiers, Zelenskyy aide reportedly says

A destroyed administration building at the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works.

Chingis Kondarov | Reuters

The Russian military has resumed attacks on a steel plant in Mariupol where the city’s last remaining Ukrainian forces have holed up, an advisor to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a televised address, NBC News reported.

“The enemy is trying to strangle the final resistance of the defenders of Mariupol in the Azovstal area,” said the presidential aide, Oleskiy Arestovych, according to NBC.

“They resumed air strikes on the territory of the plant … Our defenders hold on despite the very difficult situation and even make counter-attacks,” Arestovych reportedly said.

NBC said it could not verify Arestovych’s claims.

Kevin Breuninger

Ukraine president spoke with UK’s Johnson about ‘new phase’ of military aid

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has spoken with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson about a “new phase” of military aid, including the provision of heavy weapons, the president’s deputy chief of staff Andriy Sybiga said on Saturday.

Speaking on national television, Sybiga said the pair also talked about further financial support for Ukraine on the call.


Russian missile strike in Odesa leaves at least 5 dead, 18 wounded, top Ukraine official says

A Russian missile strike in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa has killed at least five people and wounded 18 others, according to Andriy Yermak, head of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office.

“Most likely, there will be more,” Yermak said on Twitter.

“Among those killed was a three-month-old baby. A child who was about to celebrate the first Easter with his parents,” Yermak wrote. “Nothing sacred. Absolutely. Evil will be punished.”

CNBC has not independently confirmed the report.

Kevin Breuninger

Fighting continues during Orthodox Easter after Ukraine says Russia rejected call for pause

Ukrainian soldiers patrol in the frontline of Mykolaiv surrounded of the destruction after the Russian shelling over a village in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address that Russia has rejected an Easter truce proposal.

Celestino Arce | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russia’s invasion has colored the Orthodox Easter period for Ukrainians around the world, with worshippers still in the war-torn country being warned that observing the traditional services could be dangerous.

“We must understand that the gathering of civilians at a predetermined time of all-night service can be a target for missiles, aircraft and artillery of the occupiers,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Friday, according to a translation of its statement.

“We urge priests and the faithful to follow such decisions and choose an alternative time of night for liturgies,” the Defense Ministry said.

Russia rejected a proposal from Ukraine, which has an overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian population, for a ceasefire during Orthodox Easter, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday. The Orthodox church celebrates Easter a week later than most other Christian denominations.

Earlier Saturday, Ukraine reported a Russian missile striking the port city of Odesa. As the fighting continued, Ukrainian leaders put curfews in place in major cities including Lviv and Kharkiv, NBC News reported.

The destruction and violence has gripped the minds of Ukrainians in other countries, including the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

Kevin Breuninger

Ukraine accuses Russia of thwarting new evacuation push from Mariupol

A new attempt to evacuate Ukrainian civilians from war-torn Mariupol failed on Saturday, an aide to the city’s mayor said on his Telegram channel, blaming Russian forces.

The official said 200 residents of Mariupol had gathered to be evacuated, but that the Russian military told them to disperse and warned of possible shelling.

Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for repeated failures to evacuate people from Mariupol.


Russian missile strikes port city of Odesa, Ukraine foreign minister says

A Russian missile has struck the Ukrainian port city of Odesa, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

“The only aim of Russian missile strikes on Odesa is terror,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Odesa is a city with a population of nearly one million located on the Black Sea in southern Ukraine near the country’s border with Moldova.

Kuleba’s tweet came after local authorities first announced that infrastructure in Odesa had been hit by a missile strike, Reuters reported.

“Russia must be designated a state sponsor of terrorism and treated accordingly. No business, no contacts, no cultural projects. We need a wall between civilization and barbarians striking peaceful cities with missiles,” Kuleba tweeted.

Kevin Breuninger

Russia resumes Azovstal offensive, says Ukraine presidential advisor

A destroyed administration building at the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works.

Chingis Kondarov | Reuters

Ukrainian presidential advisor Oleksiy Arestovych said Saturday that Russia has resumed its offensive against forces in Azovstal, a steelworks and the last Ukrainian stronghold in the besieged city of Mariupol.

“The enemy is trying to strangle the final resistance of the defenders of Mariupol in the Azovstal area,” Arestovych said on national television, according to Reuters.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week ordered his military to ditch a plan to storm the Azovstal steel plant, where several thousand Ukrainian troops as well as civilians are encamped, opting instead to continue to seal off the facility via blockade.

— Matt Clinch

Evacuations from Mariupol to start at midday, deputy PM says

Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, said Saturday that evacuations from the besieged city of Mariupol would commence at midday local time if all went to plan, according to Reuters.

“Today, we again will be trying to evacuate women, children and the elderly,” she said in a social media post.

Matt Clinch

Moldova expresses deep concern over Russian military commander comments

Moldova’s Foreign Ministry says it has summoned its Moscow ambassador and has expressed deep concern about comments made by a top Russian military commander.

Russia’s Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekayev had claimed, without evidence, that the Russian-speaking population in Transnistria was being oppressed. Transnistria is an unrecognized breakaway state that is officially part of Moldova, which borders Ukraine to the south. Russian forces have been stationed in Transnistria since the 1990s, and Kyiv has warned that Moscow could stage false flag operations there to justify an invasion.

Moldova’s Foreign Ministry updated a statement onto its website saying “these statements are unfounded and contradict the position of the Russian Federation supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, within its internationally recognized borders.”

— Matt Clinch

Zelenskyy says Ukraine invasion ‘only the beginning’

In his regular nightly address, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed comments made by a Russian military official on Friday.

Russia’s Maj. Gen. Rustam Minnekayev had earlier disclosed that Moscow’s goal is to fully control Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region as well as southern Ukraine as part of the second phase of the invasion. It was, however, unclear if the comments reflected official policy from Russia.

Minnekayev claimed, without evidence, that the Russian-speaking population in Transnistria was being oppressed. Transnistria is an unrecognized breakaway state that is officially part of Moldova, which borders Ukraine to the south. Russian forces have been stationed in Transnistria since the 1990s, and Kyiv has warned that Moscow could stage false flag operations there to justify an invasion.

Zelenskyy said late Friday that the comments meant that Russia had ambitions to invade other nearby nations. “The invasion of Ukraine is only the beginning. Then they want to invade other countries,” he said, according to a NBC News translation. 

“Of course, we will defend ourselves for as long as necessary in order to break this ambition of the Russian Federation. But all the peoples that believe in the victory of life over death like we do, have to fight alongside us, have to help us,” he added.

“Because it’s us who became the first ones on this path. But who is next? If those who can be next want to remain neutral today in order to not lose something, in reality it is the riskiest bet, because you will lose everything.” 

— Matt Clinch and Natasha Turak

Ukrainian officials say another mass grave was discovered near Mariupol

Ukrainian officials say another mass grave has been discovered near the devastated southern port city of Mariupol.

Petro Andriushchenko, an advisor to Mariupol’s mayor, said in a Telegram post that there was “new information about the mass burial of dead Mariupol residents” in Vynohradne — a village about 7 miles east of Mariupol.

Maxar satellite imagery of another mass grave site expansion just outside of Vynohradne, Ukraine, just east of Mariupol.

Maxar | Maxar | Getty Images

“This confirms again that the occupiers arrange the collection / burial / cremation of the dead Mariupol residents in every district of the city,” he said, accusing Russia of trying to “hide the consequences of war crimes.”

Separately, U.S. defense contractor Maxar said that high-resolution satellite imagery of the Mariupol area “reveals the existence of a second cemetery that has expanded over the past month and includes several long trenches that are/will likely become new grave sites.”

CNBC and NBC were not able to independently confirm those claims, and Russian officials have yet to respond to CNBC queries about those allegations.

— Joanna Tan

Russia will continue bombardment until ‘new methods of warfare’ are introduced, UK says

Maxar satellite imagery of buildings on fire in eastern Mariupol, Ukraine on April 9, 2022.

Maxar | Getty Images

Russia will likely “continue to be frustrated” by its inability to overcome Ukrainian defenses quickly, according to British intelligence.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said he will introduce “new methods of warfare” — a “tacit admission” that the war is not progressing as intended, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in a tweet.

Moscow new plans will take time to implement, and until then, “there is likely to be a continued reliance on bombardment as a means of trying to suppress Ukrainian opposition,” the report said.

Joanna Tan

Zelenskyy says allies are delivering the weapons Ukraine wanted

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said allies were finally delivering the weapons that Kyiv had asked for, adding the arms would help save the lives of thousands of people.

— Reuters

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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