Sweden ends Nord Stream sabotage probe, hands evidence to Germany
Swedish prosecutors said on Wednesday they would drop their investigation into explosions on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines and hand evidence uncovered in the probe over to German investigators.
“The conclusion of the investigation is that Swedish jurisdiction does not apply and that the investigation therefore should be closed,” the Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement.
The multi-billion dollar Nord Stream pipelines transporting Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea were ruptured by a series of blasts in the Swedish and Danish economic zones in September 2022, releasing vast amounts of methane into the air.
Danish police have said the pipelines were hit by powerful explosions and Swedish investigators have confirmed that traces of explosives found on site conclusively showed that sabotage had taken place.
Gas emanating from a leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea on Sept. 27, 2022.
Swedish Coast Guard | Getty Images
Sweden, Denmark and Germany launched separate investigations into the Nord Stream blasts, each tightly controlling information. The Danish and German probes are still ongoing.
Following an extensive investigation, the Swedish prosecutors concluded that nothing had emerged to indicate that Sweden or Swedish citizens were involved in the attack which took place “in international waters.”
Russia has blamed the United States, Britain, and Ukraine for the blasts which largely cut it off from the lucrative European market. Those countries have denied involvement. If no conclusive evidence is found by either of the remaining investigations, the mystery behind one of the most significant acts of infrastructure sabotage in modern history could remain unsolved.
Kremlin confirms Tucker Carlson interview took place Tuesday
The Kremlin confirmed Wednesday that U.S. journalist Tucker Carlson conducted an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Yes, I can confirm this,” the Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday. “As soon as it [the interview] is prepared, it will be released,” he told reporters, according to TASS news agency.
“He has a position that differs from the others. It is in no way pro-Russian, it is not pro-Ukrainian, it is rather pro-American,” Peskov added.
“But at least it is contrastingly different from the position of traditional Anglo-Saxon media,” he added.
In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state owned agency Sputnik, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov attends a meeting of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Chad’s Transitional President Brice Mahamat Idriss Deby (both not pictured) at the Kremlin in Moscow on January 24, 2024.
Mikhail Metzel | AFP | Getty Images
The comments echo those made by Carlson in Moscow on Tuesday. Announcing his interview with Putin, Carlson said “we are not here because we love Vladimir Putin. We are here because we love the United States.”
Carlson lambasted Western media as he laid out his reasons for interviewing Putin, saying they “lie” to their readers and views and do so “mostly by omission.” Carlson also said he was defending freedom of speech. He also claimed that no one had “bothered” to interview the Russian president.
A man makes a selfie photo in front of the Kremlin’s Spasskaya tower and St. Basil’s cathedral in downtown Moscow on September 11, 2023. Russia’s Elections Commission said that the pro-Kremlin United Russia part had won local elections in four regions of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces, in a vote dismissed by Kyiv. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)
Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images
Carlson was seen against a backdrop of Moscow, where he has been spotted since last weekend, fueling speculation in Russia’s state media that he was in the country to interview Putin.
Russia’s media landscape is tightly-controlled by the Kremlin and is consistently careful to orchestrate favorable coverage (and to omit any criticism) of Russia’s leadership. It’s also rare for Western media outlets to be granted an audience with Putin and many foreign journalists have been expelled from Russia.
Peskov said Wednesday that the Kremlin receives “lot of requests for interviews with the president. But, basically, when it comes to the countries of the collective West, we are talking about large online media, traditional television channels, large newspapers, which cannot boast of attempts to at least look impartial in terms of coverage. These are all media that take an exclusively one-sided position,” he said.
“Of course, there is no desire to communicate with such media, and there is hardly any point in this, it is unlikely that there can be any benefit from this,” he added.
Aside from the repression of media freedoms, freedom of speech is frequently under attack in Russia and censorship has only increased since the war started almost two years ago; expressions of anti-war sentiment can lead to arrest in Russia, with legislation making any perceived “disinformation” about Russia’s armed forces a criminal offence.
— Holly Ellyatt
EU chief diplomat in Kyiv amid Russian attack
EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
Jorge Guerrero | Afp | Getty Images
The European Union’s chief diplomat has commented on Russia’s latest offensive against Ukrainian capital Kyiv, after taking refuge during a visit to the city.
“Starting my morning in the shelter as air alarms are sounding across Kyiv,” Josep Borrell said on social media. “This is the daily reality of the brave Ukrainian people, since Russia launched its illegal aggression.”
Borrell arrived in Kyiv on Tuesday for a two-day engagement and reassured Ukraine of the EU civilian mission’s ongoing support for “stabilisation efforts.”
This is the EU diplomat’s fourth visit to Kyiv since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
— Ruxandra Iordache
20 Russian missiles destroyed over and around Kyiv, officials say
Ukrainian rescuers and medical staff work next to a residential building damaged as a result of a missile attack in Kyiv on February 7, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A Russian missile attack on Ukraine on February 7, 2024 killed one man in the southern city of Mykolaiv and injured at least six in Kyiv, where part of the city lost power.
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images
Ukrainian air defense forces said 20 Russian missiles had been destroyed over Kyiv and on their approach to the city early Wednesday morning.
Describing the latest attack as “the third missile attack on Kyiv in 2024,” the city’s military administration said on Telegram that Russia had used a variety of cruise missiles to target the capital.
“The enemy used Kh-101/Kh-555/Kh-55 cruise missiles launched from Tu-95MS strategic bombers from the territory of the Russian Federation. The air raid alert in the capital lasted almost 3 hours. The missiles entered the capital in several waves from different directions,” Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kyiv city military administration, noted.
According to preliminary data, a fire broke out in a multi-story residential building and a service station as a result of a rocket strike in the Holosiivskyi district, he added. “Cars caught fire, power lines were damaged,” he noted. It’s uncertain if any missiles directly hit structures or if damage was caused by falling missile debris.
At least six people were injured in the attack on Kyiv this morning, Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on Telegram.
“In total, six people have been injured in the capital as a result of the enemy attack. Three – in Dniprovskyi district, two of them were hospitalized. And three from Holosiivskyi district were taken to the hospital,” he said. Power grids were also damaged in Dniprovskyi district.
CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information in the posts.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russia launches missile attack on Ukrainian cities, officials say
Russia launched several waves of missile strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities during Wednesday morning rush hours, Ukrainian officials said, with falling debris from the downed weapons cutting off electricity to parts of the capital.
Several waves of blasts rocked Kyiv during the attack, the first in February, with air defence systems engaged in destroying the missiles, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging app.
At least two people were injured in Dniprovskyi district that lies along the Dnipro River, he added.
A firefighter is seen near a high-rise building destroyed by a rocket attack in the center of Kyiv.
Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images
All of Ukraine was under air raid alert from around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT), with Ukraine’s Air Force warning on Telegram of a risk of Russian missile attacks across the country. The first blasts were heard just before 7 a.m. in Kyiv.
“I was scared when air alerts announced and we rushed here,” Tetyana, 49, told Reuters in a bomb shelter in central Kyiv, wile hugging her two-year-old granddaughter and a small dog.
“I hope they will shoot down all of them. I pray for our air defence.”
The scale of the attack, which lasted several hours, was not immediately known. There was no immediate response from Russia’s defence ministry to Reuters’ request to comment.
Ukraine’s largest private energy company, DTEK, said Dniprovskyi district was left partially without electricity. Klitschko said falling debris from a downed Russian missile damaged some power lines.
Oleh Synehubov, governor of the Kharkiv region in Ukraine’s northeast, said Russian missiles struck non-residential infrastructure in Kharkiv city, the administrative centre of the region.
Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson to interview Vladimir Putin
That would make him the first member of the Western media to interview the Russian leader since the country’s invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago.
“Most Americans have no idea why Putin invaded Ukraine or what his goals are now…Americans have a right to know all they can about a war they’re implicated in and we have the right to tell them about it,” Carlson said in a Tuesday video posted from Moscow.
Carlson has criticized the U.S.’ backing of Ukraine in the war, and has previously expressed support for Putin.
— Ryan Anastasio
Ukraine says it blew up drilling platform used by Russia in drone attacks
Ukraine said on Tuesday a group of its special forces blew up a drilling platform in the Black Sea that Russia was using to enhance the range of its drones.
In a statement on the Telegram messaging platform, special forces said equipment on the platform was used for drones involved in attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and to control the northwestern part of the sea.
The operation, dubbed Citadel, was conducted at night and resulted in the capture of “important enemy equipment” and the platform being blown up, the statement said.
“A successful special operation ensured safer movement of ships and limited the enemy’s capabilities in the northwestern part of the Black Sea,” it added.
A showy video published alongside the statement featured troops landing on the platform in the dawn hours, operating inside and moving away from it while a bright explosion is seen in the background.
Reuters could not independently verify the information. Moscow did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Two-month old baby killed in Russian strike on Kharkiv hotel
A two-month old baby has died in a Russian missile strike on Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, a regional official said Tuesday.
Oleh Synehubov, the head of the Kharkiv military administration, said Russian forces had attacked the village of Zolochiv in the Kharkiv region, hitting a three-story hotel.
“Rescuers removed the body of a two-month-old boy, who was born on December 4, 2023, from under the rubble,” Synehubov said on Telegram.
Three women, aged 21, 28 and 39, were hospitalized with blast injuries and shrapnel wounds, including the mother of the dead child, he added.
Synehubov said Russian forces had hit the hotel during the night using two S-300 missiles. CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information in the post.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russia claims it is now occupying ‘advantageous’ positions in Donetsk
Russian armed forces are occupying more advantageous positions in the Donetsk direction, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday.
“In the Donetsk direction, units of the Southern Group of Forces occupied more advantageous lines and positions,” the ministry said on Telegram, according to a Google translation.
It added that its units had “also repelled seven enemy attacks and defeated the manpower and equipment of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the areas of the settlements of Kleshcheevka , Andreevka, Kurdyumovka, Novgorodskoe, Georgievka and Katerynivka of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” referring to the self-proclaimed “republic” declared by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow has since pronounced that the alleged “republic” and three other partially-occupied Ukrainian regions are a part of Russia. Russian authorities use Soviet-era spellings of Ukrainian place names in their statements.
Donetsk has been a hotspot for fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists since 2014, and Russian forces have attempted to further consolidate their territorial hold on the area since the 2022 invasion. They currently occupy around 57% of the region, Reuters says.
Ukrainian tank crews T64 battle tank fires on the Russian troops position on January 9, 2024 in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.
Roman Chop | Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images
Ukraine’s armed forces said on Tuesday that they had repelled 10 attacks in the Bakhmut area of Donetsk, including around the settlements of Bogdanivka, Ivanivka and Klishchievka. In an update on Facebook, the military said that Russian forces continued their attempts to surround war hotspot Avdiivka, but that their soldiers were holding the defense line.
Ukrainian Governor of Donetsk Vadym Filashkin told Reuters on Friday that Russia is firing between 1,500 and 2,500 shells and rockets at the region every day, targeting critical infrastructure in order to make it harder for people to take shelter there during winter.
CNBC was unable to verify the claims of both reports.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ukraine’s leadership shake-up will not hit relations with allies, minister says
Ukraine’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that a military and political shake-up that is expected soon will have no impact on Kyiv’s relations with its Western allies.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he is considering a “reset” to replace several senior officials that will go beyond the military sphere. There is intense speculation that Ukraine’s army chief will be fired.
“I do not think that any changes in the government can influence our relations with our partners,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a joint news briefing in Kyiv alongside his Portuguese counterpart.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes the hand of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhny during the official celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day in August, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Alexey Furman | Getty Images News | Getty Images
He said it was the constitutional right of Zelenskyy to be able to dismiss the head of the army if he saw fit. Any shake-up would not be a sign of divisions in Ukraine’s war effort, he added.
“We can have discussions about tactics inside of the team but we are all united around our strategic goal which is the defeat of Russia in Ukraine and restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. And there are no discussions whatsoever on this strategic goal,” he said.
Speculation has gripped Ukraine for weeks over suggestions that the president was about to dismiss the highly popular army commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi. The two have been at odds over the conduct of the nearly two-year Russian invasion of Ukraine.