Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Former German lawmaker says EU economic integration strategy for Eastern Europe ‘has failed’

Heiner Flassbeck, honorary professor for economics and politics at Hamburg University and former state secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Finance, told CNBC Friday that Western countries have failed to economically integrate eastern Europe — including Russia — over the last three decades.

Situation in Mariupol ‘horrendous and deteriorating,’ Red Cross says

Personnel load a truck with relief supplies at the logistics center of the German Red Cross.

Annette Riedl | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday that it has teams traveling to Mariupol to assist with civilian evacuations — but the organization noted that the effort “remains extremely complex.”

“We’re running out of adjectives to describe the horrors that residents in Mariupol have suffered,” Ewan Watson, head of media at the ICRC, said in a statement.

“The situation is horrendous and deteriorating, and it’s now a humanitarian imperative that people be allowed to leave, and aid supplies be allowed in. The people of Mariupol have suffered weeks of heavy fighting, with dwindling water, food and medical supplies.”

However, the Red Cross was not able to take humanitarian aid supplies into the city today as it had not received agreement from both Russia and Ukraine that it could do so, Watson said in his statement.

“If and when [the evacuation] does happen, the ICRC’s role as a neutral intermediary will be to lead the [Ukrainian] convoy out from Mariupol to another city in Ukraine,” Watson said.

But he added that the Red Cross was unable to confirm which city civilians would be evacuated to, as it was something Russia and Ukraine had not yet agreed upon.

“Our presence puts a humanitarian marker on this movement of people, giving the convoy additional protection and reminding all sides of the civilian, non-military, humanitarian nature of the operation,” Watson said.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine says 153 children killed in conflict so far

A total of 153 children have been killed in the war in Ukraine to date, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office said Friday.

A further 245 children have been injured in the conflict, officials said.

Chloe Taylor

Russia hits back at U.S. intelligence claims that Putin was ‘misled’ over Ukraine war

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 5, 2019.

Alexei Druzhinin | Afp | Getty Images

Russia’s Kremlin has rebuffed claims made by the U.S. that President Vladimir Putin felt he was “misled” by his military commanders over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

“To our regret and even concern neither the Department of State nor the Pentagon have authentic information about what is happening in the Kremlin,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters at a briefing Thursday.

“They just do not understand what is happening in the Kremlin, they do not understand Russian President Vladimir Putin, they do not understand the mechanism of decision-making and they do not understand the style of our work,” Peskov added, according to state news agency TASS.

“This is not just regrettable. It causes our concern, because such utter misunderstanding results in wrong decisions, in careless decisions that have very bad consequences.”

The comments came after a declassified U.S. intelligence assessment released Wednesday suggested that Putin had not been given the whole truth about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read the whole story here.

Holly Ellyatt

Russian gas continues to flow into Europe, Russia’s Gazprom says

Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom said Friday that it was continuing to supply Europe with natural gas, Reuters reported.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Russian state-owned energy conglomerate Gazprom said Friday that its natural gas continued to flow into Europe via Ukraine, Reuters reported.

It comes as European countries face a deadline to start paying for gas in rubles on Friday, or have existing contracts with Russia halted. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Thursday that said foreign buyers would have to pay in rubles for Russian gas from April 1, Reuters reported.

European countries seem relatively unfazed by Putin’s rhetoric, however, and appear to have found a workaround.

A German government readout of a call with Putin on Wednesday said the Russian president had informed Scholz gas deliveries would have to be settled in rubles from April 1. “At the same time, [Putin] emphasized in the conversation that nothing would change for the European contractual partners,” the readout said.

— Chloe Taylor and Sam Meredith

Russia-Ukraine talks to continue

Ukrainian and Russian flags are seen on a table before talks between officials of the two countries in Belarus on March 3, 2022.

Maxim Guchek | Reuters

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials are set to resume today, according to a member of Ukraine’s delegation.

David Arakhamia, a Ukrainian official who has taken part in the negotiations, said on Ukrainian television earlier this week that Russia and Ukraine would resume their talks on April 1.

A round of in-person talks between the two sides took place in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this week. It is not clear whether the talks slated to start Friday are in-person or virtual.

— Chloe Taylor

Ukraine regains control of some villages near Chernihiv, Britain says

Maxar satellite multispectral image shows burning homes in residential area of Chernihiv on March 16, 2022.

Satellite image (c) 2022 Maxar Technologies | Getty Images

Ukrainian forces have retaken two villages along one of the main supply routes between Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv, according to the U.K. Ministry of Defence.

The villages are Sloboda and Lukashivka, which are south of Chernihiv, the ministry said in its daily update.

“Ukraine has also continued to make successful but limited counter attacks to the east and north east of Kyiv,” the defense ministry said.

“Both Chernihiv and Kyiv have been subjected to continued air and missile strikes despite Russian claims of reducing activity in these areas,” it added.

Military developments are difficult to confirm as the situation on the ground in Ukraine changes constantly.

— Abigail Ng

Anonymous targets Western companies still doing business in Russia

Online “hacktivist” collective, Anonymous, is now targeting Western companies that are still doing business in Russia.

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Anonymous, the “hacktivist” collective, has a new target in its “cyber war” against Russia. This time, it’s Western companies that are still doing business there.

A post on March 21 from a Twitter account named @YourAnonTV stated: “We call on all companies that continue to operate in Russia by paying taxes to the budget of the Kremlin’s criminal regime: Pull out of Russia!”

The tweet gave companies 48 hours to comply. The threat also included a photo with logos of some 40 companies, including household names such as Burger King, Subway and General Mills. A second batch of target companies was published on March 24, which included Emirates airline, the French gardening retailer Leroy Merlin and the essential oil company Young Living.

However, some companies that were mentioned refuted Anonymous’ claims.

For example, tire firm Bridgestone and Dunkin’ said before they were targeted by Anonymous, they had already publicly announced that they were pulling business from Russia. Three targeted oil field service companies — HalliburtonBaker Hughes and Schlumberger — had also issued announcements previously. Others soon announced they were cutting ties with Russia, including the Canadian oilfield service company Calfrac Well Services and the sanitary product maker Geberit Group

Even so, a quick exit may be complicated for franchises. That’s the position that targeted companies like Burger KingSubway and Reebok’s owner Authentic Brands Group, said they are in.

— Goh Chiew Tong, Monica Buchanan Pitrelli

Reuters reports Japan’s decision to keep using Russian gas was made weeks ago

Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, decided weeks ago that he would not abandon a Russian gas project, Reuters reported, citing three sources.

The report said Kishida in early March told top officials that he wouldn’t risk Japan’s energy security, and would stay in the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project.

On Thursday, the prime minister told parliament that “it is not our policy to withdraw” from that Russian LNG project.

Japan has targeted Russian banks and oligarchs with sanctions, but doesn’t have much leeway to cut off gas from Russia. The Asian country became more reliant on Russian energy after it shut down nuclear reactors following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

— Abigail Ng

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

Jinggo B Danuarta

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