No green light for Ukraine’s EU membership talks would be ‘devastating,’ Kuleba says

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba attends a joint briefing with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Hanke Bruins Slot.

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Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Monday that it would be “devastating” for both Ukraine and the European Union if EU leaders do not give his country the green light for membership talks at a summit later this week.

“I cannot imagine, I don’t even want to talk about the devastating consequences that will occur shall the (European) Council fail to make this decision,” Kuleba told reporters as he arrived for a meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels, according to Reuters.

— Karen Gilchrist

Russia’s FSB says it thwarted 18 attacks in annexed Crimea

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Monday that it thwarted 18 so-called terrorist attacks this year in Crimea — the Ukrainian territory it annexed in 2014.

According to Reuters, the FSB said the prevented attacks included assassination attempts on the Moscow-appointed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, and a former pro-Russian member of the Ukrainian parliament, Oleh Tsaryov.

The FSB detained 18 agents working for the Ukrainian security services and their accomplices on charges of preparing sabotage, the FSB said.

CNBC could not independently verify the claims.

— Karen Gilchrist

Ukraine condemns Russia’s plans for elections in occupied territories

Ukraine on Saturday condemned Russia’s plans to hold presidential elections on occupied territory next spring, dubbing the voting “null and void,” and adding that it would prosecute any observers sent to monitor them, according to a statement from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Russia’s upper house last week set the country’s presidential election for next March and said residents in four occupied Ukrainian territories — Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — would be able to vote for the first time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said he would run for another presidential term.

— Karen Gilchrist

Russian ballistic missile strike on Kyiv injures four

An overnight Russian ballistic missile strike on Kyiv injured four and scattered debris across the capital, Ukrainian officials said Monday.

Ukraine’s air defense systems destroyed eight Russia-launched ballistic missiles at about 4 a.m. local time over Kyiv, the Ukrainian air force said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

Russia did not immediately claim responsibility for the attacks. CNBC could not independently verify the claims.

— Karen Gilchrist

Biden to host Zelenskyy at the White House

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. President Joe Biden in the Oval Office on Sept. 21, 2023.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden invited his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyy to a meeting at the White House Tuesday, during which the pair are set to discuss Washington’s “unshakeable commitment” to Kyiv and the potential for further financial support.

“As Russia ramps up its missile and drone strikes against Ukraine, the leaders will discuss Ukraine’s urgent needs and the vital importance of the United States’ continued support at this critical moment,” the White House said in a statement announcing the meeting Sunday.

The meeting comes as the Biden looks to strike an agreement with Congress that would provide military aid for Ukraine and Israel.

U.S. lawmakers have grown increasingly divided over continued funding for Kyiv, with some insisting spending should instead focus on border security issues closer to home.

— Karen Gilchrist

Putin confirms he will run in March election, local media reports

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – DECEMBER 7: Russian president Vladimir Putin participates in the annual investment forum “Russia calling!” at the World Trade Center on December 7, 2023 in Moscow, Russia. The Russian bank VTB Capital initiated its annual forum with the opening day event. (Photo by Vladimir Pesnya/Epsilon/Getty Images)

Epsilon | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday said he would run for another presidential term in 2024, state-owned news agency Tass reported.

Putin confirmed his intention to run during a conversation with attendees of a ceremony in the Kremlin to award medals for Russia’s Heroes of the Fatherland day, according to Tass.

Elections are scheduled for March 17.

There was little doubt that 71-year-old Putin would seek a fifth term in power in an election in which his success is near-guaranteed due to oppression of political opponents, his continued domestic popularity and his deeply-entrenched grip on power. That is despite sporadic protests against Russia’s war in Ukraine, particularly the ever-rising human, economic and geopolitical costs.

Putin has led Russia since 1999, variously as prime minister and president, during which time laws have been altered to prolong and extend his leadership. Another term would see his presidency extended until at least 2030.

— Jenni Reid

Ukraine’s parliament approves minorities bill, seen as key for EU talks

The Ukrainian parliament on Friday approved three bills necessary to start European Union accession talks, including one on national minorities’ rights, a critical demand from Hungary which opposes Ukraine’s EU bid, officials said.

Lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak said on Telegram messenger that members of parliament voted in the final reading for the bill regarding minorities’ rights, taking into consideration the expert assessment of the European Council.

Budapest has clashed with Kyiv over what it says are curbs on the rights of ethnic Hungarians in west Ukraine, in particular regarding education.

The other two bills adopted concern staff increases in the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and additional power for the National Agency on Corruption Prevention on assets checks.

“Just now Ukrainian parliament passed three out of four laws by constitutional majority identified by the European Commission as leftovers in the EU Enlargement report,” Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna said on X.

She added that a fourth requirement – a law on lobbying – was approved by the cabinet on Tuesday.

The 27 national EU leaders are due to decide next week on whether to accept the European Commission’s recommendation to invite Kyiv to begin membership talks.

Any such decision however requires the unanimous support. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly said Hungary would not support the Commission’s proposal in its present form.

— Reuters

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