Russia-Ukraine talks resume; Red Cross unable to reach besieged Mariupol
This has been CNBC's live blog covering updates on the war in Ukraine. [Follow the latest updates here.]
Talks between Russia and Ukraine resumed on Friday, as fighting continued on Ukrainian soil.
Meanwhile, Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom said it is still supplying Europe with natural gas, Reuters reported.
The report comes despite a Friday deadline from President Vladimir Putin that Russian gas be paid for in rubles — a demand that has been rejected by European governments who appear to have found a workaround.
Oil supplies, ammunition destroyed on Russian side of border
A fire destroyed several Russian oil tanks at a supply depot located within the country near the border with Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence confirmed on Friday night.
The ministry's update follows the emergence of video purporting to show an aerial attack on the facility near the town of Belgorod. The Russian regional governor said Ukrainian helicopters carried out the attack.
CNBC is unable to confirm the governor's claim. Ukrainian officials have not commented on the incident.
In a separate event on Wednesday, explosions were reported at an ammunition depot in the vicinity of Belgorod, which is less than 12 miles (20 km) north of the Ukrainian border.
"The probable loss of fuel and ammunition supplies from these depots will likely add additional short-term strain to Russia's already stretched logistics chains," the British ministry said, adding that supplies to Russian forces encircling Kharkiv "may be particularly affected."
Belgorod is about 37 miles (60 km) from Kharkiv.
Just prior to Russia's invasion, images from satellite firm Maxar Technologies appeared to show a Russian troop and equipment buildup in the vicinity of Belgorod.
U.S. to provide additional $300 million in security assistance to Ukraine
The U.S. Department of Defense will provide an additional $300 million in security assistance to Ukraine, to include laser-guided rocket systems, drones, and commercial satellite imagery services.
"This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide new capabilities to Ukraine's Armed Forces," Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.
Team trying to aid Mariupol was unable to reach the city, Red Cross says
The International Committee of the Red Cross said a team intending to help people leave the besieged city of Mariupol was unable to reach the port city on Friday.
The Red Cross said in a statement that the team hopes to try again Saturday.
"Arrangements and conditions made it impossible" for the convoy of three vehicles to get safely to Mariupol and they returned to Zaporizhzhia, it said.
"For the operation to succeed, it is critical that the parties respect the agreements and provide the necessary conditions and security guarantees," the organization said.
— Associated Press
U.S. task force on Russian oligarchs sees evidence of sanctions evasion
The U.S. Department of Justice task force targeting assets of Russian oligarchs has seen evidence of attempts to evade those sanctions or move assets in anticipation of possible sanctions, the unit's chief said on Friday.
Andrew Adams, a veteran prosecutor tapped to lead the department's new "KleptoCapture" force last month, told Reuters in an interview that the level of cooperation between countries on probes into oligarchs' ill-gotten gains had reached an "all-time high" in the wake of Russia's assault on Ukraine —potentially helping prosecutors track down their efforts to hide wealth.
"There are efforts afoot - some of them publicly reported - to move, for example, moveable property in the forms of yachts, airplanes ... into jurisdictions where, I think, people have the perception that it would be more difficult to investigate and more difficult to freeze," Adams said.
The task force's goal is to put the finances of Russian oligarchs under strain in a bid to pressure President Vladimir Putin to cease attacking Ukraine.
World Central Kitchen prepares meals for refugees and Ukrainian troops in Lviv
Employees of local restaurants and the World Central Kitchen organization prepared meals for refugees and Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.
— Getty Images
Ukrainian forces recapture small village on outskirts of Kharkiv
Ukrainian forces this week recaptured a small village on the outskirts of Ukraine's second-largest city Kharkiv, as Kyiv's forces mount counterattacks against a stalling Russian invasion.
Editors Note: Some images contain graphic content
— Getty Images
Russia tries to shore up support from India
Russia will increase its use of non-Western currencies for trade with countries such as India, its foreign minister said on Friday, as he hailed New Delhi as a friend that was not taking a "one-sided view" on the Ukraine war.
Sergei Lavrov visited India to shore up support from a country Russia has long regarded as an ally a day after U.S. and British officials pressed India to avoid undermining the dollar-based financial system and sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
India and China are the only major countries that have not condemned what Russia calls its "special military operation". After Lavrov visited China this week, Beijing said it was "more determined" to develop ties with Russia.
"We are friends," Lavrov told a news conference after meeting his Indian counterpart, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, adding India saw the Ukraine crisis in the "entirety of facts and not just in a one-sided way".
Fashion studio in Odesa makes bulletproof vests for Ukrainian army
Workers in the fashion design studio of Uzun Vitaliy, which was designing women's clothes before Russia invaded Ukraine, now make bulletproof vests for the Ukrainian army in Odesa.
— Getty Images
European Council president warns China against helping Russia
The European Union and China agreed that the war in Ukraine was threatening global security, the head of the European Council said on Friday, while warning China against helping Russia's war.
"The EU and China, we agreed that this war is threatening global security and the world's economy," Charles Michel told a news conference after a virtual EU-China summit.
"Any attempts to circumvent sanctions or provide aid to Russia would prolong the war. This would lead to more loss of life and greater economic impact," he said. "We will also remain vigilant on any attempts to aid Russia financially or militarily. However, positive steps by China to help end the war would be welcomed by all Europeans and by the global community."
Inside Kharkiv's metro, where Ukrainians are seeking safety from Russian shelling
People huddle in the metro of Kharkiv, Ukraine, where they spend most of the day taking shelter from Russian artillery.
— Getty Images
Fuel depot burns in Belgorod, Russia
Firefighters work to contain a fire at a fuel depot in the city of Belgorod, Russia.
— Getty Images
Ukraine’s Kuleba ‘can neither confirm nor reject’ Ukrainian responsibility for oil depot attack in Russia
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was asked by reporters on Friday about Russian claims that Ukrainian forces were behind an attack on an oil depot in the Russian city of Belgorod.
"I can neither confirm nor reject the claim that Ukraine was involved in this simply because I do not possess all the military information," he said.
Russian state-controlled media, citing the governor of Belgorod, had earlier claimed a Ukrainian airstrike was responsible for a fire at an oil storage facility in the city.
If the claims are true, it would mark the first airstrike carried out by Ukrainian forces on Russian soil since the war began.
— Chloe Taylor
War in Ukraine raising commodity prices for Italians, Italy’s Cottarelli says
Carlo Cottarelli, former director of the IMF and prime minister-designate of Italy, spoke to CNBC's Steve Sedgwick about the impact of the war in Ukraine.
— Chloe Taylor
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.
— Chloe Taylor
Situation in Mariupol ‘horrendous and deteriorating,’ Red Cross says
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
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 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
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
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
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 — Halliburton, Baker 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 King, Subway 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
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You can read Thursday's coverage of the war in Ukraine here:
Russian troops leave Chornobyl; UK spy chief says Putin 'massively misjudged' war