Putin suggests U.S. stood to benefit from Nord Stream pipeline leaks

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with members of the Security Council via a video link in Saint Petersburg, Russia, October 10, 2022. 

Gavriil Grigorov | Sputnik | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested the U.S. had the most to gain from recent damage done to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines which caused major gas leaks into the Baltic Sea.

“Who is behind the subversion of the Nord Streams? Obviously, it’s the one who seeks to finally cut off the ties between Russia and the EU, seeks to finish off and undermine the political subjectness of Europe, weaken its industrial potential and control the market,” Putin said at the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow on Wednesday, without naming the U.S.

It’s just over two weeks ago that a series of blasts on the Nord Stream pipelines connecting Russia to Germany provoked an international outcry and widespread suspicions in the West that the blasts were a deliberate act of sabotage. Suspicions fell on Moscow, which denied any involvement in the incidents and in turn insinuated that NATO could have carried out the damage, an accusation firmly rebuffed by the West.

Putin said Wednesday that gas exporters like the U.S. stood to gain from the damaged pipelines.

“Certain market participants who are guided exclusively by their own geopolitical ambitions … simply eliminate the infrastructure of their competitors. In this particular case, I’m talking obviously about the subversion of the Nord Stream pipelines Nord Stream 1 and 2. There’s no doubt it was an act of terrorism aiming to undermine the energy security of a whole continent,” he said.

“Russia built these [pipelines] with its own money but the U.S. can now supply energy sources at high prices,” he said, adding that he believed U.S. LNG (liquefied natural gas) exports were “unstable.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Kremlin denies a second wave of mobilization is planned

Russian citizens drafted during the partial mobilization begin their military trainings after a military call-up for the Russia-Ukraine war in Rostov, Russia on October 04, 2022.

Arkady Budnitsky | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Kremlin has denied that a second wave of military mobilization is about to take place following reports that regional governors were increasing mobilization efforts.

“There is no new wave,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, saying they’d have to check with the governors themselves to understand the reports.

The Kremlin is keen to downplay reports around mobilization given that President Vladimir Putin’s September announcement that reservists were being called up to fight in Ukraine caused thousands of men to leave Russia to try to flee the draft.

Vehicles coming from Russia queue at the Vaalimaa check point, Finland, on the border with the Russian Federation on September 28, 2022.

Alessandro Rampazzo | AFP | Getty Images

At the time, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said around 300,000 men would be called-up as part of the partial mobilization though there has been speculation that the number could increase as Russia looks to repel Ukrainian counter-offensives in the east and south.

Governors from two separate Russian regions said this week they had received new orders to mobilize troops, Reuters reported, with one saying he’d received a “new mobilization task” while the other said he’d been given a “second” mobilization target.

— Holly Ellyatt

Poland says leak detected on Russian oil pipeline likely an accident

PERN said pumping on the damaged Druzhba line, which delivers oil to Germany, was immediately switched off and the scene had been secured.

Omar Marques | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Polish pipeline operator PERN says a leak detected on one of its Druzhba pipelines bringing oil from Russia to Europe was probably caused by an accident.

PERN said the leak was detected on Tuesday evening on one of the two lines of the Western section of the pipeline, approximately 70 kilometers (about 43 miles) from the central Polish city of Plock.

Mateusz Berger, Poland’s top official in charge of energy infrastructure, told Reuters via telephone that there were no grounds to believe the leak was caused by sabotage.

It comes just over two weeks after a series of blasts on two subsea gas pipelines connecting Russia to Germany triggered what might be the single largest release of methane in history — an incident that many in Europe suspect may be a deliberate attack.

— Sam Meredith

Luhansk citizens being told to get Russian passports before Jan.1

Civilians in the Russian-occupied and annexed part of Ukraine’s Luhansk region are being forced to obtain a Russian passport by Jan. 1, according to a Ukrainian official.

Serhii Haidai, the chief of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, said on Telegram that the local population has been given “little more than two months to get a Russian passport.”

“Earlier … it was about populism and the will of the region’s residents,” Haidai said, adding “now they aren’t asking anymore whether they want it or not,” referencing a sham referendum in the region in late September in which a majority of Luhansk’s residents purportedly voted to join the Russian Federation.

From Jan. 1, any payments such as salary, social benefits and money transfers will be made exclusively in the presence of an individual having a personal account. “However, to open it, you need a passport of the Russian Federation,” he said.

“They don’t force them directly – they just leave them without money,” he added.

People arrive to receive Russian passports at a centre in Kherson after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decree to make it easier for residents of Kherson and Melitopol regions to get passports, in Kherson, Kherson Oblast, Ukraine on July 21, 2022. 

Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant running on diesel generators, nuclear agency says

The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant (the ZNPP), a key focus for tensions between Kyiv and Moscow, is running on diesel generators as Russian forces refuse to allow more diesel deliveries to reach the plant, according to Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company.

Energoatom said in a statement Wednesday that the nuclear power plant was running on diesel generators after a Russian rocket attack damaged the Dniprovska substation. As a result of the attack, the transmission line was disconnected and the plant went into “full black-out mode.”

“Diesel generators started operating automatically,” it said, but when it prepared and dispatched another batch of diesel fuel to the ZNPP, Russian forces had not allowed the Energoatom’s convoy of vehicles to pass.

This photo taken on Sept. 11, 2022, shows a security person standing in front of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia, amid the Ukraine war.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling around the nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest of its kind, since Russian forces occupied the facility early on in the war. International experts fear the plant’s safety and stability amid the ongoing conflict with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stationing experts there to monitor the facility.

CNBC was unable to verify the details from Energoatom but earlier on Wednesday, the head of the IAEA Rafael Grossi tweeted that members of his team had informed him of the loss of power and use of backup diesel generators.

“This repeated loss of ZNPP’s off-site power is a deeply worrying development and it underlines the urgent need for a nuclear safety & security protection zone around the site,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine won’t comment on Russia’s Crimea bridge arrests

Ukraine’s intelligence services said it will not respond to Russia’s arrests of eight individuals it alleges are connected to last Saturday’s Crimea bridge blast.

“All the activities of the FSB and the Investigative Committee are nonsense. These are fake structures that serve the Putin regime, so we will definitely not comment on their regular statements,” Andrey Yusov, a spokesperson for the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, said in a statement provided to CNBC on Wednesday.

Russia’s Federal Security Service said Wednesday that it arrested five Russians and three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia that it alleged were connected to the attack, which partially damaged the bridge that Russia uses to access the peninsula it annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and to resupply its troops in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the bridge attack and Yusov insinuated the arrests (and potentially, the attack) were staged.

“It is surprising that no business card has yet been found in the area of ​​​​the Crimean bridge,” he said.

That was a reference to an attack on a checkpoint near Sloviansk in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine in 2014 that Russia claimed was led by Ukrainian nationalist Dmytro Yarosh.

Ukraine claimed pro-Russian separatists (or Russian special forces) had initiated what it described as a “staged” attack and had planted Yarosh’s business card at the scene in order to blame it on Ukraine. The purported discovery of Yarosh’s business card was widely ridiculed by Ukrainians at the time.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia makes arrests in alleged connection to Crimea bridge attack

Russia’s security services said it has arrested eight people it alleges are connected to the explosion that damaged the Kerch Strait Bridge connecting Russia and Crimea last Saturday. 

Russia’s Federal Security Service said Wednesday that it has arrested five Russians and three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia that it alleged were connected to the attack, which partially damaged the bridge that Russia uses to access the peninsula, that it annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and to resupply its troops in southern Ukraine.

The FSB issued a statement alleging that the explosion was organized by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and its director, Kyrylo Budanov. 

“At the moment, five citizens of Russia, three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia, who participated in the preparation of the crime, have been detained as part of a criminal case,” the FSB said.

“The investigation into the attack continues. All its organizers and accomplices, including foreign citizens, will be held accountable in accordance with Russian law,” it added.

Black smoke billows from a fire on the Kerch bridge that links Crimea to Russia, after a truck exploded, near Kerch, on October 8, 2022.

– | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the bridge attack and is yet to respond to the allegations. CNBC has approached the Ministry of Defense for comment.

The FSB detailed how it alleges the plot to blow up the bridge took place, claiming that “the explosive device was camouflaged in rolls with a construction polyethylene film on 22 pallets with a total weight of 22,770 kg.” The FSB claimed the device was shipped from Odesa to Bulgaria and then on to Georgia and Armenia before crossing over the border to Russia and then on its final journey to Crimea.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s latest attacks on Ukraine are a ‘show of weakness,’ says former U.S. ambassador to NATO

A firefighter extinguishes a fire after a flat was hit by a missile strike in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, on Sept. 15, 2022.

Juan Barreto | Afp | Getty Images

Russia’s latest attacks on Ukraine aren’t a show of strength, but a “show of weakness” that reflects its inability to advance and seize Ukrainian territory, said Kurt Volker, a distinguished fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis.

“Putin’s goal was to take over Ukraine, replace the government, have someone in Ukraine that was subordinate to Moscow. That’s simply not going to happen,” the former U.S. ambassador to NATO (2008-2009) told CNBC’s “Capital Connection” on Tuesday. “Ukrainians have made tremendous inroads taking territory back. This is the kind of thing that Putin has to resort to.”

He said Russia’s increasing aggression is an expected reaction to Ukraine’s resistance.

Volker added that Putin will have more to lose than gain should he escalate the threat of nuclear weapons. Even the Russian military may not support Putin if he starts a nuclear war, he said.

Read more here: Russia’s latest attacks on Ukraine are a ‘show of weakness,’ says former U.S. ambassador to NATO

— Natalie Tham

Ukraine takes another pummeling from strikes, but its ground forces hold firm

Ukrainian soldier Viktor, 35, checks his heavy machine gun at a position along the front line in the Mykolaiv region on October 5, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Dimitar Dilkoff | Afp | Getty Images

Despite being subject to further Russian missile strikes Tuesday, Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the south continues, with its forces are consolidating gains and holding firm against Russian counterattacks, the army reported.

Ukraine’s southern command issued an update on Facebook last night in which it said its forces continue “to control the situation in Southern Buh direction,” referring to the Buh river in the west of the country that flows down to Mykolaiv on the southern coast.

Southern command said Ukraine’s forces were “destroying the enemy’s reserves, disrupting the control and logistical support systems of the Russian occupiers” there, as well as gaining a foothold in five liberated settlements.

It added that Russian forces had tried to counterattack Ukrainian positions in the Ishchenka area to the east of Mykolaiv “under cover of a massive missile attack across Ukraine” but that “the Russian invaders suffered losses and had to retreat.”

“Over the past day, Ukrainian aviation launched nine strikes on the areas of invaders’ manpower, weapons and equipment build-up in Beryslav and Mykolaiv districts,” southern command said, claiming to have destroyed or damaged various Russian positions, vehicles and equipment.

It added that “the enemy conducts intensive aerial reconnaissance around 17 settlements along the front line and in the newly liberated territories and continues shelling the positions” of Ukraine’s armed forces.

CNBC was unable to verify the information in the report.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine struggles to restore water and energy supplies after more strikes

A cafe without electricity in western Ukrainian city of Lviv, after three Russian missiles fired targeted energy infrastructure on Oct. 11, 2022. Lviv’s mayor said that one-third of homes were without power.

Yuriy Dyachyshyn | Afp | Getty Images

Ukraine is dealing with the aftermath of another day of missile attacks, with power and water supplies still damaged in many locations after critical infrastructure was targeted by Russia.

Air raid sirens sounded out across multiple regions in Ukraine again on Tuesday, with the emergency services warning of more Russian strikes.

Those came early in the day, with both Lviv in the west and Zaporizhzhia in the south hit by missile strikes, giving Ukraine’s authorities more logistical challenges to deal with.

Smoke rises above the buildings after the Russian missile attack on the critical infrastructure of Lviv on Oct. 10, 2022. Russia launched 15 rockets in the Lviv region, some were shot down by air defense forces, the rest hit energy infrastructure facilities. Due to the rocket attack, Lviv was left without electricity, water and mobile communication.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

President Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Tuesday that, were it not for the additional strikes during the day, the Ukrainian authorities would have been able to focus on repairing and restoring water and energy supplies.

“Restoration works are taking place quite quickly and efficiently throughout the country,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for today’s strikes, we would have already restored the energy supply, water supply and communications that the terrorists damaged yesterday. And today, Russia will achieve only one additional thing: it will delay our recovery a little,” he added.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense openly admits targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, making Ukraine’s population vulnerable as the winter approaches.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine’s general prosecutor says bodies of 78 civilians found in mass graves in Svyatohirsk and Lyman

Two forensic technicians uncover a body in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum, eastern Ukraine on September 16, 2022.

Juan Barreto | AFP | Getty Images

Ukraine’s general prosecutor says investigators found the bodies of 78 civilians in mass graves in the recently occupied cities of Svyatohirsk and Lyman.

In Svyatogorsk, investigators exhumed the bodies of 34 people, some of them with signs of violent death including, gunshot wounds, fractures of ribs and skulls and mine-blast injuries.

Another 44 bodies were found, the youngest appearing to be only a year old, in a separate burial site.

The bodies were sent to Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region in order to establish the causes of death.

— Amanda Macias

Putin will not likely use nuclear weapons, says Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden does not think Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will use nuclear weapons in spite of repeated threats to do so.

“Well, I don’t think he will,” Biden said in an interview with CNN which was aired on Tuesday. “But I think that it’s irresponsible for him to talk about it.”

The U.S. leader also said he believes the Russian leader has committed war crimes in Ukraine.

“I think [Putin] thought … he was going to be welcomed with open arms,” he said referring to referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I think he just totally miscalculated it.”

Read more here.

— Lee Ying Shan, Emma Kinery

G-7 leaders promise to back Ukraine against Russian aggression for ‘as long as it takes’

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the Kharkiv region for the first time since Russia started the attacks against his country on February 24, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine on May 29, 2022.(Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Leaders of some of the world’s largest economies reiterated their commitment to Ukraine and condemned Russia’s escalating aggression, vowing to back Ukraine for “as long as it takes.”

“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support and will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the G-7 group of nations said in a statement released after wrapping up an emergency meeting they conducted virtually. “We are committed to supporting Ukraine in meeting its winter preparedness needs.”

“We condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms and recall that indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilian populations constitute a war crime,” the group said. “We will hold President [Vladimir] Putin and those responsible to account.”

U.S. President Joe Biden affirmed the group’s stance in a tweet following the meeting. He said that he and the G-7 leaders will keep their “unwavering commitment to hold Russia accountable for its war and support Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

— Emma Kinery

‘Putin is failing in Ukraine,’ NATO chief says

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on August 17 August 2022.

Francois Walschaerts | AFP | Getty Images

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent missile strikes across Ukraine and said the attack shows Moscow’s desperation to regain its footing as Ukrainian forces continue a stunning counteroffensive.

“President Putin is failing in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg told reporters at NATO headquarters.

He added that Putin’s attempts to annex additional portions of Ukraine, reckless nuclear rhetoric and a partial mobilization of additional troops were also examples that “this war is not going as planned.”

“NATO stands with Ukraine for as long as it takes, Stoltenberg said, adding that allies will discuss additional security assistance for Kyiv at this week’s defense ministerial.

— Amanda Macias

Russia lashes out at Ukraine, but it’s ill-equipped to continue the war

Russian citizens drafted during the partial mobilization begin their military trainings after a military call-up for the Russia-Ukraine war in Rostov, Russia on October 04, 2022.

Arkady Budnitsky | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia has dramatically ramped up its missile attacks on Ukraine in the last 48 hours, but experts say the country is running out of options — as well as supplies and munitions — on the battlefield.

Air raid sirens were once again sounding out across multiple regions in Ukraine Tuesday, with emergency services warning that more Russian strikes were highly likely. Ukrainian officials reported that energy infrastructure in the western city of Lviv had been hit earlier, while the city of Zaporizhzhia in the south was also targeted this morning.

The latest strikes come a day after a series of Russian attacks — launched in response to the bombing last weekend of Russia’s prized Kerch Strait bridge to Crimea — hit various Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv. The strikes left at least 19 people dead and over a hundred injured, the emergency services said.

Despite Moscow’s recent show of strength in the last day or so, experts say Russia’s forces are looking increasingly desperate and ill-equipped.

Read more here: Russia unleashes its anger on Ukraine with brutal strikes — but it has big problems on the battlefield

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia continues to pound Ukraine’s energy infrastructure

Smoke rises above the buildings after the Russian missile attack on the critical infrastructure of Lviv on Oct. 10, 2022. Russia launched 15 rockets in the Lviv region, some were shot down by air defense forces, the rest hit energy infrastructure facilities. Due to the rocket attack, Lviv was left without electricity, water and mobile communication.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Parts of Ukraine are still struggling with power outages as Russia says it is continuing to target energy infrastructure across the country.

President Zelenskyy said overnight that several hundred settlements remained without electricity after missile attacks yesterday and that authorities had made it a priority to restore power. Officials in Lviv, a major city in the west of Ukraine, reported more power outages Tuesday after Russian missiles targeted the city and wider region’s energy infrastructure.

“Missile attack on a critical infrastructure facility in Lviv. Part of the city is again blacked out,” Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on the Telegram messenger app.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kulebahas said such attacks were “creating unbearable conditions for civilians.”

Russia openly admits targeting such facilities.

On Tuesday, the country’s defense ministry issued a military update on Telegram stating that its forces continue to launch “massive” attacks “using high-precision long-range air and sea-based armament at the facilities of military control and energy system of Ukraine.”

— Holly Ellyatt

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