Ukraine war live updates: Ukraine's survival is in danger, Pentagon chief warns; Putin could make China his first visit of new term

BENAULIM, INDIA – OCTOBER, 15 Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting at Taj Exotic Hotel on October, 15, 2016 in Benaulim, Goa, India. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed Ukraine in a phone call, the Kremlin said Wednesday, Russian media reported.

“Both sides noted with satisfaction that mutually beneficial ties in the trade, economic and investment fields, in the fields of energy and transport are progressively and dynamically developing in line with a particularly privileged strategic partnership,” read a statement reported by Ria Novosti new agency on Wednesday.

Russia and India have maintained close business ties despite the war in Ukraine. India has remained one of the largest buyers of Russian oil at a time when Western nations have looked to restrict Russian energy imports.

— Holly Ellyatt

This pool photograph distributed by Russian state owned agency Sputnik shows Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) and China’s President Xi Jinping heading to a group photo session during the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 18, 2023.

Grigory Sysoyev | AFP | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said late on Tuesday that he will consider China for his first overseas trip during his new presidential term that he secured in weekend election.

On Tuesday, Reuters exclusively reported that Putin will travel to China in May for talks with Xi Jinping, in what could be the Kremlin chief’s first overseas trip of his new presidential term.

Russia’s TASS state news agency reported that at a meeting with parliamentary factions on Tuesday the leader of the Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, asked Putin to choose Beijing for the trip.

“I hope that your first visit will be to the East, and not to the West. Comrade (Chinese President) Xi Jinping is waiting for you to visit, he loves our country very much,” TASS cited Zyuganov as saying.

Putin promised to consider the trip.

“I will definitely without any jokes take into account what you just said,” Putin responded with a smile, according to TASS.

Western governments lined up on Monday to condemn Putin’s landslide weekend election victory as unfair and undemocratic, but China and North Kore congratulated the veteran Russian leader on extending his rule by a further six years.

— Holly Ellyatt

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin (L) and General Charles Q. Brown Junior talk to the media at the seventh gathering of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group at Ramstein air base on March 19, 2024 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany.

Thomas Niedermueller | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine’s survival is at stake amid an ongoing funding impasse in the U.S. Congress, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned Tuesday. He said additional aid for Ukraine was a matter of “honor” for the United States.

“Today, Ukraine’s survival is in danger and America’s security is at risk. They don’t have a day to waste, and we don’t have a day to spare either,” Austin said at a press conference after a meeting of the Ukraine defense contact group meeting at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Tuesday, with representatives from Ukraine and around 50 allied countries attending.

“I leave here today fully determined to keep U.S. security assistance and ammunition flowing. And that’s a matter of survival and sovereignty for Ukraine. And it’s a matter of honor and security for America. And make no mistake, Putin is watching. The world is watching and history is watching,” Austin said.

Speaking to CNBC separately Tuesday, Poland’s foreign minister called on America to act, warning that the success of Ukraine in the war against Russia was now a matter of U.S. credibility.

“We wouldn’t be on the backfoot if the American supplemental came through, and I again, appeal to Speaker Johnson to let it go to the vote. And let democracy take its course,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told CNBC Tuesday.

— Holly Ellyatt

France on Tuesday said recent remarks made by Sergei Naryshkin, chief of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, that any French military sent to Ukraine to help fight Russia would be a ‘priority target’ for Russian troops were an ‘irresponsible’ provocation.

“We consider these kind of provocations irresponsible”, an official of the French Armed Forces Ministry said, adding the remarks were a further example of Russian ‘disinformation.’

— Reuters

A legal agreement on sending income from Russian assets to Ukraine could be finalized this week, Poland’s minister of foreign affairs told CNBC Tuesday.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, around $300 billion of Russian central bank reserves were frozen by the G7 and its partners in March 2022.

“Some people say that the Russian central bank assets should be given to Ukraine after the war for the rebuilding of Ukraine, well I say well how about better to use them to defend Ukrainian citizen infrastructure to prevent the destruction first,” Radoslaw Sikorski told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick.

Russia has already been told that it will not see this money as it will be required by Ukraine to rebuild after the war, Sikorski said.

“The only question remains is if we give this money to Ukraine after the war or when she needs it the most, which is to say now,” he added.

The foreign minister said that, this week, European foreign ministers decided that “the income from the principal will be given to Ukraine.”

There is an ongoing debate about the legalities and procedures of using income from frozen Russian central bank assets, which are being held by Belgian central securities depository provider Euroclear.

Earlier on Tuesday, Josep Borrell, high representative for foreign affairs and security policy for the European Union, said a proposal about using profits from the frozen assets to fund Ukrainian military aid would be presented to EU member states this week. The assets could bring in around 3 billion euros ($3.25 billion) of profit a year, he said.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Russian incumbent President Vladimir Putin, who was declared winner of the presidential election by the country’s electoral commission, is seen on a screen on the stage as he attends a rally, which marks the 10th anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2024. 

Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

Putin’s reelection to a fifth term in office at the weekend was one of the least surprising political events so far this year, but it has prompted questions as to what we can expect from another six years of the strongman’s leadership.

Analysts share their views on what we can expect now that Putin has strengthened his grip on power, with the Ukraine war, domestic economic reforms and a possible government reshuffle key factors to watch.

Read more on the story here: War, reforms and a possible successor? Here’s what we could see from 6 more years of Putin

— Holly Ellyatt

If the Ukraine war continues for another one or two years, the Russian economy could be in “serious trouble,” Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s minister of foreign affairs, told CNBC Tuesday.

“I think if Ukraine can sustain it for a year or two, the Russian economy will be in serious trouble and then perhaps President [Vladimir] Putin might make different decisions … as to this act of aggression,” he told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick.

Sikorski added that Russia had already spent around half of its reserve budget.

“If you put your economy on a crisis or war footing, your GDP rises because you are producing more shells and tanks and all the things that are going to get destroyed, but you’re also wasting the resources and the wealth of your country, and this has limits,” he said.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly instructed the FSB, Russia’s security service, to identify and punish anti-Kremlin “traitors” who carried out cross-border raids against Russia, saying they had “committed crimes against Russia.”

At a meeting of the board of the FSB Tuesday, Putin discussed recent attempts by several Russian rebel groups labeled as “sabotage and terrorist groups” by Moscow to cross the border from Ukraine into Russian territory. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses troops from the defense ministry, National Guard, FSB security service and interior ministry in central Moscow on June 27, 2023. 

Sergei Guneyev | Afp | Getty Images

“When I spoke about these traitors, I ask … [the FSB] not to forget who they are, to identify them by name,” Putin said, according to comments reported by TASS and translated by Google.

Russian border officials reported last week that rebel groups had conducted cross-border raids into the Belgorod and Kursk border regions but Russia’s defense ministry said it had repeled attempted incursions into Russian territory. Ukraine said a number of Russian anti-war armed groups had acted independently.

“We will punish them without a statute of limitations, wherever they are,” said Putin, a former officer in the KGB, a forbear of the FSB, said. Putin has remained close to the security services throughout his 24 years in power.

— Holly Ellyatt

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