Ukraine economy up 3.5% year-on-year on higher exports, end to Poland blockade

Ukrainian gross domestic product grew 3.5% year-on-year in January, the country’s economic ministry said Tuesday, citing higher seaborne exports and the suspension of a Polish border blockade.

Finance Minister Yuliya Svyridenko said growing investment demand and improved availability of foreign markets for domestic manufacturers both boosted growth at the start of the year.

Ukraine also notched its highest export volumes along what it calls the “Ukrainian Maritime Corridor” — the Black Sea trade route that it has built back up since August 2023, following heightened tensions with Russian ships.

Polish truckers and farmers have meanwhile engaged in a long-running protest over European Union trade rule that blocks several Ukrainian border crossings. The demonstration was suspended halfway through January.

— Jenni Reid

Zelenskyy meets with new army chiefs

Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, attends an interview with Reuters, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine January 12, 2024. 

Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held the first meeting with his newly-appointed military chiefs on Monday, following a major leadership shake-up last week.

New Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi and Chief of General Staff Anatoliy Barhylevych were in attendance.

In his nightly address, Zelenskyy said that the commanders provided front-line updates on areas including Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Zaporizhzhia, and on Ukraine’s actions in the southern Kherson region.

He added that the military would strengthen its “mobile firing groups,” which previous reports say defend against air strikes and attacks on critical infrastructure.

“We will increase the number of such groups. They are one of the pillars of our defense against Russian terror,” Zelenskyy said.

— Jenni Reid

U.S. Senate to vote on Ukraine aid bill

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) makes a statement to the press on February 06, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The U.S. Senate is expected to hold a final vote on Tuesday on a $95 billion aid package that would provide funds for UkraineIsrael and Taiwan, but its future remains uncertain amid intense lawmaker opposition.

A procedural vote passed in the Senate late on Monday, advancing the bill to the final hurdle in the Democrat-controlled legislature, where it is expected to pass.

The package must also be approved in the Republican-led House of Representatives, which appears less likely.

The contentious security aid bill has been stuck in political limbo for months. Many lawmakers, including U.S. President Joe Biden, insist it is crucial to uphold U.S. international obligations and protect domestic security. The package includes a provision of $61 billion for Ukraine, which Ukrainian officials say is sorely needed for the war effort against Russia.

The bill faces continued opposition from many Republicans, who have pushed for the inclusion of funding for domestic security on the southern border.

House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson on Monday said that the latest iteration of the bill had failed to meet those demands, adding it “should have gone back to the drawing board… to include real border security provisions that would actually held end the ongoing catastrophe.”

“Instead, the Senate’s foreign aid bill is silent on the most pressing issue facing our country,” he said in a statement, adding that: “The House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters.”

The Senate vote could be held as early as 7 a.m. EST on Tuesday, aides told Reuters.

— Jenni Reid

Ukraine intelligence agency says Russia buying Starlink terminals ‘in Arab countries’

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency on Tuesday claimed that Russia was purchasing Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX via unspecified “Arab countries.”

In a Google-translated post on the Telegram messaging app, the defense ministry department said it had intercepted a radio call in which Russian forces were discussing the possibility of acquiring the technology, which provides high-speed internet through satellite connectivity.

The Ukrainian intelligence department said the cost of a Starlink device was talked near 200,000 roubles ($2,196).

CNBC has not independently verified the claim and has contacted SpaceX for comment.

Musk on Sunday countered Ukraine’s claim that Russian forces are using Starlink terminals in occupied areas.

“A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false. To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia,” Musk said on social platform X.

— Jenni Reid

Russian air attack damages Dnipro power plant, Ukraine says

Russia attacked the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro with missiles and drones on Tuesday, damaging a power plant and cutting off water supplies to some residents, Ukrainian officials and media said.

The city of just under one million people came under attack from a missile and four groups of drones approaching from the south, east and north, Ukraine’s Air Force said on the Telegram messaging app.

It reported shooting down 16 out of 23 drones launched by Russia.

Ukraine’s largest private energy provider, DTEK, said a thermal power plant was significantly damaged. There were no casualties, it added.

The company did not say where the power plant was located, but Dnipro’s water utility company said on Telegram that “due to power outages” water supply had been partially suspended and Ukrainian media outlets said a power plant in Dnipro was hit.

Regional governor Serhiy Lysak said on Tuesday morning that energy infrastructure had been hit, but gave no further details. He said 10 drones were destroyed over the city and that workers had restored power to all affected homes.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports. There was no immediate response from Russia’s defence ministry to a request for comment.

Both Russia and Ukraine have increased their air attacks away from the frontline in recent months, targeting each other’s critical energy, military and transport infrastructure.

— Reuters

Germany’s Scholz says country will meet NATO spending target

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday said that Europe must begin mass producing arms and pledged to meet NATO’s target of spending 2% the country’s gross domestic product on defense.

“We have to move away from manufacturing towards large-scale production of defence equipment,” Scholz said during a site visit to a future factory of arms producer Rheinmetall, according to Reuters.

It comes shortly after former U.S. head of state and presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would not protect NATO members from Russia if they were behind on payments.

Scholz noted that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine had highlighted difficulties with the production of ammunition in Europe and called on allies to enhance their assistance to Ukraine.

“Not only the United States, but all European countries must do even more to support Ukraine. The pledges made so far are not enough. Germany’s power alone is not enough,” he said.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:



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