Ukraine war updates: Kremlin shares its view of Davos after being snubbed; Russia says Kyiv attacked Baltic oil terminal

Can Putin and Trump agree a deal behind Ukraine's back? No, says Ukraine's foreign minister

Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said he’s seen no change in tone from the U.S. administration when it comes to how they want Ukraine to approach the war and diplomacy.

“I have no reasons to doubt the sincerity of the commitments of the Biden administration to continue helping Ukraine,” he told CNBC.

“Nor do I have reasons to believe that the Republican Party as a whole does not realize how fundamental it is to defeat Russia in Ukraine and not to allow Russia to continue destroying the world order built by America,” he said.

“I mean let’s be honest, the word we live in was built under American leadership.”

The U.S. administration has recently stepped up the pressure on Congress to provide billions more in aid to Kyiv in its war with Russia.

Matt Clinch

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba gestures during a discussion at the World Economic Forum 2022 (WEF) in the Alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland May 25, 2022. 

Arnd Wiegmann | Reuters

Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister, Dmytro Kuleba, told CNBC at Davos that the event had been very reassuring.

“The atmosphere here was positive in a way that people are looking for solutions instead of endlessly discussing problems,” he told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick.

President Zelenskyy had excellent meetings with both political leadership and business leaders. And messages that were received from both wings are very encouraging.”

“The most important thing is that you feel, you sense, and you hear the commitment, the commitment to stand by Ukraine, to keep helping one way or another,” he added.

The war in Ukraine is dominating conversations at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy making the most of the opportunity to address the global business and political elite, including JPMorgan chief Jamie Dimon.

Dimon said he and other business leaders met Zelenskyy on Tuesday to discuss “refinancing” the redevelopment of Ukraine once the war with Russia is over. “So, he is starting to think ahead,” Dimon said of the Ukrainian president.

—Matt Clinch

Russian armed forces said they had have taken control of the village of Vesele in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk.

“In the Donetsk direction, as a result of successful active actions by units of the ‘southern’ group of troops, the village of Veseloye [Vesele in Ukrainian] of the Donetsk People’s Republic was liberated,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said Thursday, according to news agency Interfax.

The “Donetsk People’s Republic” is a self-proclaimed pro-Russian, separatist area of eastern Ukraine that Russia supported years before the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers look at the sky in search for a nearby Russian drone at the Bakhmut frontline, in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on January 13, 2024.

Ignacio Marin | Anadolu | Getty Images

When Russia first invaded, part of its justification was protecting the “independence” of the so-called DPR and the neighboring Luhansk People’s Republic. It has since fully annexed those regions, as well as the southern Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, claiming they are now Russian territory.

Ukraine has not commented on the latest claim and CNBC was unable to verify the defense ministry’s assertion.

Fighting in Donetsk remains intense although defense officials have commented that neither Russian nor Ukrainian forces have seen significant gains in recent weeks.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine sees first winter using only Ukrainian gas, Naftogaz CEO says

Ukraine has reached energy independence when it comes to natural gas, Naftogaz CEO Oleksiy Chernyshov told CNBC at the World Economic Forum.

The Kremlin said its interest in the World Economic Forum has waned in recent years, after its participation in the event ended following its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

“Our business has not participated in Davos for several years. Therefore, our interest in this forum has decreased,” the Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told CNBC in emailed comments Thursday.

Russian officials, organizations and business leaders flocked to Davos in the years before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hoping to attract investment into the country. Russian President Vladimir Putin last made a keynote speech to WEF in 2021 when the event was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the virtual World Economic Forum via a video link from Moscow on January 27, 2021. (Photo by Mikhail KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

Mikhail Klimentyev | Afp | Getty Images

Since Feb. 2022, however, almost 2,000 Russian individuals and entities linked to the Kremlin, or deemed to be undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, have been sanctioned and subject to asset freezes and travel bans by the EU and Ukraine’s other Western allies, including Switzerland.

Among the 2024 list of public figures attending WEF, there are none from Russia.

When asked if Moscow had followed a keynote address made by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Tuesday, Peskov replied: “We always closely monitor statements from Kyiv.”

— Holly Ellyatt

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JULY 31: Passengers check in at International Vnukovo Airport ahead of their departure to Turkey following Turkey’s national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) restarted international flights between Russia and Turkey after months of suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic in Moscow, Russia on July 31, 2020. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

Moscow’s Vnukovo airport has restarted flights after briefly suspending them on Thursday, the TASS state news agency cited aviation authorities as saying.

Airports in Russia sometimes briefly suspend flights as a precaution in the event of the threat of Ukrainian drone strikes.

— Reuters

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting with his Indian counterpart in Moscow on December 27, 2023.

Alexander Nemenov | AFP | Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed Thursday that there is no desire among NATO allies and the U.S. to end the war in Ukraine but that Russia would not be defeated in any case.

“Washington has set a course for the unbridled expansion of the anti-Russian NATO bloc, expansion into the post-Soviet space, and provoked a conflict around Ukraine,” the minister said at a press conference Thursday, with comments reported by Russian news agency Tass.

Lavrov said a global shift was taking place from a unipolar world to a multipolar one but that the West was trying to prevent this. The U.S., he claimed, was trying to become the only dominant power but Russia was standing up to it and defending its interests. Lavrov said Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine was a result of this.

Russia “did not put up with the use of the Kyiv regime as an instrument for creating direct threats to its security,” he added.

“There is no hope that Russia will be defeated in any way,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov also rebuffed rumors that direct negotiations were taking place between Russia and Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that the security pact agreed by the U.K. and Ukraine last week was “semi-finished,” continuing Russian criticism of the deal.

“A few months ago, when they had clashes over whether to admit Ukraine to NATO or the European Union, not everyone was in favor, not everyone was happy. Everyone understood perfectly well that this was another completely senseless and irresponsible step, a risky step for European security. And as such, a semi-finished product, the conclusion of bilateral agreements with individual Western countries was invented,” Lavrov said at a press conference Thursday, news agnecy Tass reported.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (L) is greeted by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the start of a plenary session of the European Political Community summit at the Palacio de Congreso in Granada, southern Spain on October 5, 2023.

Ludovic Marin | Afp | Getty Images

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a bilateral agreement last Friday aimed at increasing their security cooperation and covering intelligence sharing, cybersecurity, medical and military training, and defense industrial cooperation.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry mocked the deal this week, saying promises of future security cooperation were not binding.

Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova mocked the agreement Wednesday, saying “the Ukrainians were simply handed a brightly wrapped set of promises of mainly advisory assistance, surrounded by all this with beautiful assurances of support for Ukraine, which have no legally binding force, no legally binding nature,” she told reporters Wednesday, news agency Tass reported.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia launched 33 drones and 2 missiles at Ukraine overnight, with air defenses destroying 22 drones, the Ukrainian military said on Thursday.

“The main areas of attack were the south and north. The Ukrainian Air Force and Defence Forces destroyed 22 enemy drones. Several more drones did not reach their targets,” Ukraine’s Air Forces said on the Telegram messaging app.

KYIV, UKRAINE – 2024/01/17: A couple seen looking out at the city of Kyiv. (Photo by Sergei Chuzavkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Reuters could not independently verify the Ukrainian air force’s report. There was no immediate comment from Russia.

Ukrainian civilian and military authorities have not yet reported if the attack caused any casualties or damage.

— Reuters

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday that air defense systems shot down drones over the regions of Moscow and St. Petersburg overnight, with one official claiming Ukraine targeted a Baltic oil terminal.

“On January 18, at about 01:30 Moscow time, an attempt by the Kiev regime to carry out a terrorist attack using aircraft-type unmanned aerial vehicles against objects on the territory of the Russian Federation was stopped,” the ministry said in a statement, as reported by state-run news agency Tass.

“On duty air defense systems, one unmanned aerial vehicle was destroyed over the territory of the Moscow region and one was intercepted over the territory of the Leningrad region,” the ministry added.

Vladimir Rogov, an official in the Russian-installed administration of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region, claimed Thursday that Ukraine had tried to attack a Russian oil terminal in the St. Petersburg region with a drone.

“For the first time since the beginning of the Northern Military District, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported the interception of a UAV over the Leningrad region,” Rogov said on Telegram.

“Militants of the Ukrainian Armed Forces tried to attack an oil terminal in St. Petersburg with an aircraft-type drone with a wingspan of 6 meters and a piston engine, which carried about 3 kg of explosives,” he said, adding that “the wreckage of the UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] was found on the territory of the Petersburg Oil Terminal JSC.”

Wreckage of the UAV may also be in the Gulf of Finland, 5 km from the terminal, Rogov said.

CNBC was unable to immediately verify Russia’s claims. Ukraine rarely comments on attacks against Russian territory.

If accurate, however, it would mark the first time that the northern region of Leningrad, where St. Petersburg is, has been targeted by Ukraine.

BELGOROD, RUSSIA – JANUARY 15: People wait in a public transport stop covered with sandbags for protection since the city is being shelled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Belgorod, Russia on January 15, 2024. (Photo by Emil Leegunov/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

The governor of the border Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said on Telegram Thursday morning that a woman was injured by shrapnel, and several houses and electricity and gas supply lines were damaged, during a Ukrainian attack on the village of Myasoedovo near Belgorod.

— Holly Ellyatt

We shouldn't get militarily involved in the Russia-Ukraine war, Hungary's president says

Speaking to CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick, Katalin Novak, the president of Hungary, discusses the Russia-Ukraine war and the European Union’s support for Kyiv.

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon: If you don't control the borders you're going to destroy our country

JPM CEO Jamie Dimon said that the American public must learn that supporting Ukraine’s fight against Russia is about democracy worldwide.

“We have to teach the American public that this is about freedom and democracy for the free world, and that’s where the battle is being fought,” he told CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday.

Asked whether his message would get broad support from Americans and what might happen if Donald Trump wins this year’s presidential election, Dimon said: “American leadership have to explain to the American public why it’s important … this is ‘America first,’ this is the battle zone of democracy and freedom.”

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon on bitcoin: My personal advice is don't get involved

Dimon said he and other business leaders met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday to discuss “refinancing” the redevelopment of Ukraine once the war with Russia is over. “So, he is starting to think ahead,” Dimon said of the Ukrainian president.

Wearing a Ukrainian flag pin on his lapel, he said: “My heart goes out to the guy. People forget that, every day, he wakes up in the morning to this 600 mile front, there’s a million soldiers fighting off Russians, they’ve had 300,000 casualties so far. This may go on for longer. We have to help them.”

— Lucy Handley

Bulgaria PM: Ukraine is fighting for Europe

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Nikolay Denkov, the prime minister of Bulgaria, discusses why he believes united support for Ukraine is so important.

Hungary's actions are being 'celebrated' in the Kremlin, top EU official says

Hungary’s decision to so far block EU cash to Ukraine is being celebrated in the Kremlin, European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova told CNBC.

The EU failed to agree on a 50 billion euro ($54 billion) package in financial aid for Ukraine in December after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vetoed the measure. The stalling of further aid dealt a further blow to Kyiv after U.S. lawmakers had also failed to agree a $60 billion package of military aid for Ukraine.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s Foreign Ministry mocked U.K. efforts to support Ukraine, saying promises of future security cooperation were not binding.

Last Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak signed a bilateral agreement aimed at increasing their security cooperation.

The deal “formalises a range of support the UK has been and will continue to provide for Ukraine’s security, including intelligence sharing, cyber security, medical and military training, and defence industrial cooperation,” the government said. 

It also commits the U.K. to consulting with Ukraine in the event that it is attacked by Russia again, and to provide “swift and sustained” assistance for Kyiv’s defense. 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (R) hold bilateral talks as UK premier unveils $3.1B military aid package for Ukraine amid their meeting in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv on January 12, 2024.

Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu | Getty Images

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova mocked the agreement Wednesday, saying “the Ukrainians were simply handed a brightly wrapped set of promises of mainly advisory assistance, surrounded by all this with beautiful assurances of support for Ukraine, which have no legally binding force, no legally binding nature,” she told reporters Wednesday, news agency Tass reported.

“With this step, the British leadership is making maximum efforts to prevent G7 and NATO allies from losing interest in what is happening in Ukraine, which London continues to view as a geopolitical instrument aimed against Russia,” she said, without presenting evidence to support her claim.

The U.K.’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron is at the World Economic Forum Wednesday and is due to meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the event in Davos.

— Holly Ellyatt

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