U.S. to send fresh military, humanitarian aid to Ukraine; Xi tells Putin he wants to see a settlement

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See here for the latest updates. 

Ukraine gets another $1B in aid from U.S.
Ukraine gets another $1B in aid from U.S.

U.S. President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that his administration will send $1 billion more in weapons to the besieged nation.

The U.S. also plans to send another $225 million in humanitarian aid, Biden said.

The conversation between the leaders came after Zelenskyy pleaded for more long-range weapons. In his nightly address Tuesday, Zelenskyy said "we keep telling our partners that Ukraine needs modern anti-missile weapons. Our country does not have enough of [these] yet, but it is in our country and right now that Europe has the greatest need for such weapons."

He said any procrastination over the provision of such weapons "cannot be justified."

Fighting remains fierce in Severodonetsk, the epicenter of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces are believed to control about 80% of the city, which was fully cut off earlier this week after the last bridge into it was destroyed.

A top military official with the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic said Tuesday that Ukrainian fighters in the city should now "surrender, or die."

White House and U.S. State Department not able to confirm reports of U.S. citizens captured by Russian forces in Ukraine

An avenue in Mariupol on April 12, 2022. The besieged Ukrainian city could now be facing a deadly cholera outbreak, NBC News cited local officials.
Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images

The White House and the U.S. State Department could not confirm reports of two American citizens captured by Russian forces while fighting in Ukraine.

If the reports are true, the U.S. would work to have the two Americans released, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House.

Various media outlets have reported that Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, two former American servicemembers, were captured by Russian forces in Kharkiv last week. Those reports and details have not been confirmed by CNBC or NBC News.

Kirby reiterated that Americans should not travel to Ukraine.

A State Department spokesperson told NBC News that it was aware of unconfirmed reports of two U.S. citizens captured in Ukraine and that the U.S. was closely monitoring the situation. The spokesperson added that the U.S. is in contact with Ukrainian authorities regarding the reports.

— Amanda Macias

Celebrity chef and humanitarian Jose Andres says train car carrying food hit by Russian missile

Spanish celebrity chef and restaurateur Jose Andres shared a photo on Twitter of what he said was a destroyed train car carrying food for Ukrainians.

"Nobody hurt thankfully…but they are now hitting train infrastructure hard," wrote Andres, who founded the World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian organization dedicated to feeding vulnerable communities.

"This won't stop us—our amazing Ukrainian WCK teams will keep feeding the people," he added.

The two-star Michelin chef brought the World Central Kitchen, his humanitarian organization dedicated to feeding vulnerable communities, to Ukraine in order to address the mounting food crisis triggered by Russia's war.

Andres told lawmakers last week via video conference that his organization has distributed more than 40 million meals to more than 475 cities near and around Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Russian opposition leader Navalny confirms prison transfer

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears on a screen set up at a courtroom of the Moscow City Court via a video link from his prison colony during a hearing of an appeal against his nine-year prison sentence he was handed in March after being found guilty of embezzlement and contempt of court, in Moscow on May 17, 2022.
Kirill Kudryavtsev | AFP | Getty Images

Opposition politician Alexei Navalny confirmed that he was transferred to another prison and in quarantine.

Navalny wrote on the Telegram messaging app that he was moved to the maximum security IK-6 prison in the Vladimir region village of Melekhovo, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of Moscow.

Navalny, the most determined political foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, previously was held at the IK-2 penal colony in the Vladimir region. The facility in the town of Pokrov stands out among Russian penitentiaries for its especially strict inmate routines, which include standing at attention for hours. IK-6 is located about 150 kilometers to its east.

"My space travel continues," Navalny wrote. "I've moved from ship to ship."

He said he was confined in a "strict regime" and in quarantine, but didn't say why or what his conditions were.

— Associated Press

No evidence China is supporting Russia amid sanctions, White House says

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon April 11, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

The Biden administration has yet to see China work with Russia amid punishing rounds of coordinated global sanctions in response to the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.

Beijing so far has not provided material support to Moscow, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters at the White House.

Kirby's comments follow Chinese President Xi Jinping's call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the past week, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met separately with high-level Chinese officials and reiterated that the world's second-largest economy should not alleviate economic pressure on Russia.

— Amanda Macias

Here's a breakdown of the weapons in the latest $1 billion security package for Ukraine

U.S. Soldiers assigned to the 65th Field Artillery Brigade fire a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) during a joint live-fire exercise with the Kuwait Land Forces, Jan. 8, 2019, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait.
Courtesy: U.S. Department of Defense

Since Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the Biden administration has deployed more than 100,000 U.S. troops to NATO-member countries and authorized $5.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

Read more: Biden to send another $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine

The Pentagon said that the latest tranche of weapons for Kyiv, the 12th such installment, is valued at $350 million and includes:

  • 18 155 mm howitzers
  • 36,000 rounds of 155 mm ammunition
  • 18 tactical vehicles to tow 155 mm howitzers
  • Ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HMARS
  • 4 tactical vehicles to recover equipment and spare parts.

The U.S. will also provide Ukraine with two Harpoon coastal defense systems, thousands of secure radios, night vision and thermal devices along with funding for training and maintenance support. That aid is collectively valued at $650 million.

— Amanda Macias

Biden announces more than $1 billion in military, humanitarian aid for Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on arming Ukraine, after touring a Lockheed Martin weapons factory in Troy, Alabama, May 3, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden announced another $1 billion in weapons for Ukraine, including anti-ship systems, artillery rockets and rounds for howitzers.

"This morning, I spoke with President Zelenskyy to discuss Russia's brutal and ongoing war against Ukraine. I reaffirmed my commitment that the United States will stand by Ukraine as it defends its democracy and support its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of unprovoked Russian aggression," Biden wrote in a statement.

The aid package, which comes as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meets with allies at NATO, is the 12th U.S. security assistance installment for Ukraine since the start of the war.

Biden also announced an additional $225 million in humanitarian assistance for Ukraine to address needs like safe drinking water, critical medical supplies, food and cash for families to purchase essential items.

— Amanda Macias

Xi pushes for settlement of Ukraine war during phone call with Putin

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the opening ceremony of the fifth annual meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank via video link, in Beijing, capital of China, July 28, 2020.
Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that Kyiv and Moscow "should push for a proper settlement" in the ongoing war in Ukraine, according to a Chinese readout of the call.

Xi told Putin that "China has always proceeded from the historical latitude and right and wrong of the Ukraine issue, made judgments independently, actively promoted world peace, and promoted the stability of the global economic order," according to the readout.

Xi's call with Putin follows multiple high-level discussions between the Biden administration and Beijing.

Read more: U.S. holds ‘candid’ and ‘productive’ talks with China in nearly 5-hour meeting

"All parties should push for a proper settlement of the Ukraine crisis in a responsible manner. China is willing to continue to play its due role in this regard," according to the readout.

The two leaders also discussed a range of security issues and areas of mutual concern where Beijing and Moscow can cooperate. Putin told Xi that he also opposes any forces that "interefere in China's internal affairs," under which he included Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

— Amanda Macias

UN says at least 4,452 killed in Ukraine since start of war

People stand amid newly-made graves at a cemetery in the course of Ukraine-Russia conflict in the settlement of Staryi Krym outside Mariupol, Ukraine May 22, 2022. 
Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

The United Nations has confirmed 4,452 civilian deaths and 5,531 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, because the armed conflict can delay fatality reports.

The international organization said most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes.

— Amanda Macias

Russia reduces natural gas through European pipeline again

Poland's state-owned oil and gas company PGNiG said Russia's gas giant Gazprom had informed it on Tuesday that it would halt gas supplies that are delivered via the Yamal pipeline on Wednesday morning.
Igor Russak | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Russia's Gazprom announced a reduction in natural gas flows through a key European pipeline for the second day in a row, hours after Germany's vice chancellor said its initial move appeared to be political rather than a result of technical problems.

The state-owned energy giant said on Twitter that deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany would be cut again Thursday, bringing the overall reduction through the undersea pipeline to 60%.

The new cut came a day after Gazprom said it would reduce flows by 40% after Canadian sanctions over the war in Ukraine prevented German partner Siemens Energy from delivering overhauled equipment. It blamed the same issue for the additional reduction.

Gazprom also told Italian gas giant Eni that it would reduce gas through a different pipeline by roughly 15%. The reason for the reduction has not been made clear, and the Italian company said it was monitoring the situation.

— Associated Press

Meet Patron, the landmine-sniffing dog

A Jack Russell Terrier called Patron is renowned for helping sappers demine areas recaptured from Russian forces.

Patron has more than 290,000 followers on Instagram, received a medal for dedicated service from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in May and was awarded a special prize at the Cannes Film Festival the same month.

A girl holds her dog as she poses in front of a mural by artist Vitaly Gidevan, depicting a Jack Russell Terrier called Patron renown for helping sappers demine areas recaptured from Russian forces, in Kyiv on June 14, 2022. Patron, who has more than 290,000 followers on Instagram, received a medal for Dedicated Service from Zelensky in May and was awarded a special prize at the Cannes Film Festival the same month.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images
Journalists take photos of landmine sniffer dog, Jack Russell Terrier Patron, after returning from mine clearance work in the village of Yahidne in Chernihiv region, on June 7, 2022, in Kyiv. 
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images
A deminer and his explosive material sniffer dog nickenamed Patron (Cartridge), which is a mascot of the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Service stand next to unexploded material at an airport of town of Hostomel, in Kyiv region, on May 5, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images
Journalists take photos as landmine sniffer dog, Jack Russell Terrier Patron, plays after returning from mine clearance work in the village of Yahidne in Chernihiv region, on June 7, 2022, in Kyiv. 
Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) hold a news conference as Patron, a service dog trained to detect explosives stands by on May 8, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Alexey Furman | Getty Images

— Getty Images

NATO defense ministers meeting to discuss more arms for Ukraine

A host of defense ministers and officials from NATO, as well as partner countries, will meet in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday primarily to discuss giving Ukraine more weapons.

NATO ministers will meet at the alliance's headquarters and the U.S. is also hosting the Ukrainian defense "Contact Group," which brings together more countries (beyond NATO's 30 members) that are assisting Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference ahead of a NATO defence ministers' meeting at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 15, 2022. 
Yves Herman | Reuters

The meeting comes as Ukraine struggles to beat back Russia's relentless assault on the eastern Donbas region and as supplies of Soviet-era weapons are becoming depleted.

On Monday, Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said via Twitter that Ukraine needed 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks, 2,000 armored vehicles, more multiple-launch rocket systems and other equipment "to end the war."

Before the start of the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he expected the military alliance to agree to a new package of military assistance for Kyiv at a NATO summit later this month.

"I expect that at the summit, NATO allies will agree a comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine. Helping Ukraine for the longer-term, to transition from Soviet-era equipment to modern NATO equipment,
and to improve interoperability with NATO," he said.

Ukraine's president has said there must be no procrastination over the delivery of long-range weapons to Ukraine but Stoltenberg said Wednesday that "sometimes these efforts take time. That's exactly why it is important to have a meeting like we have today ... to meet with the Ukrainian representatives to identify the challenges and the issues they would like to raise with us."

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia claims it has destroyed more Western arms sent to Ukraine

Russia's armed forces have claimed they have destroyed another ammunition depot housing what it called "foreign weapons transferred to Ukraine by NATO countries," including 155-mm M777 howitzers.

"A large number of weapons and military equipment from the United States and European countries delivered to the Ukrainian group in the Donbas were destroyed" in several areas in Donetsk, Russia said in a military update Wednesday.

It also claimed to have destroyed an air control radar station in the Lysychansk area of the self-styled "Luhansk People's Republic," a pro-Russian separatist area, as well as a Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile system and ammunition depots.

Russia claimed that it had killed 300 Ukrainian soldiers as a result of its air strikes as well as destroying tanks and other armored combat vehicles.

CNBC was unable to verify the information and each side has typically tended to exaggerate its own "wins" in the conflict and downplay (and outright ignore) those of its opponent. Russia has previously said it regards foreign weapons sent to Ukraine by its Western allies as legitimate targets. Ukraine continues to call for more heavy weaponry to enable it to fight Russia.

Holly Ellyatt

Deadline to surrender passes with holed-up fighters showing no signs of capitulation

Ukrainian fighters holed-up in the Azot chemical plant in Severodonetsk have shown no signs of heeding a Russian order to surrender and lay down their arms on Wednesday morning.

Russia's defense ministry on Tuesday issued a statement in which it told Ukrainian forces within the extensive plant to stop what it described as a "senseless resistance" and to surrender by 8 a.m. Moscow time (5 a.m. London time).

Before the war: Here's what the Azot Chemical Plant looked like in 2021 in Severodonetsk, Ukraine. Hundreds of civilians are believed to be shelting here as the battle over Severodonetsk intensifies.
Gaelle Girbes | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The ministry said it would open a humanitarian corridor for civilians also sheltering within the plant (there are estimated to be around 500) to leave on Wednesday although Russian-backed separatists claimed the corridor had been disrupted by Ukraine.

This morning, Severodonetsk's Mayor Oleksandr Stryuk said Russians are trying to storm the city from several directions and that while the logistics were "complicated" there were still ways to access the city.

He said the Ukrainian military still controlled the industrial zone and that "measures are being taken to extract the enemy from the center of the city," according to an update on Facebook. Around 10,000 inhabitants remained in the city, he said, and the humanitarian situation was "critical."

Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine will have to hold talks with Russia 'at some point,' France's Macron says

French President Emmanuel Macron has said Ukraine will have to hold talks with Russia in order to bring the war to an end. 

"The Ukrainian President and his officials will have to negotiate with Russia," Macron said, while on a visit to Romania and Moldova on Wednesday, Reuters reported, saying such talks will have to come "at some point."

Macron has sought to voice a tougher line on Russia ahead of a possible visit to Ukraine.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Macron's comments come ahead of a rumored trip to Kyiv on Thursday, along with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Germany, France and Italy all favor a negotiated ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia.

The remarks are also bound to raise eyebrows in Kyiv as Macron has been criticized for what has been perceived to be an equivocal stance toward Russia, having said that it would be unwise to "humiliate" Russian President Vladimir Putin with a resounding defeat.

— Holly Ellyatt

'It is getting harder' to defend Severodonetsk, official concedes

Serhiy Haidai, the head of Luhansk's regional administration region who has become a well-known voice amid severe fighting in the Donbas region, has said "it is getting harder" to hold Severodonetsk. He added that Ukrainian fighters were doing their best in the city now believed to be 80% controlled by Russian forces.

Fighting continues in Severodonetsk, Toshkivka and near Vrubivka, Haidai said in his latest update on Wednesday and there are "many wounded."

"It is getting harder, but our military is holding back the enemy from three sides at once," he said.

"They are defending Severodonetsk and are not allowed to advance to Lysychansk," he said, a neighboring city across the Siverskiy Donets river from Severodonetsk. "However, the Russians are close, the population suffers and houses are destroyed," Haidai said.

The Ukrainian official said Russians continued to target the Azot chemicals plant where hundreds of troops and civilians are believed to be sheltering.

—Holly Ellyatt

Fighters holed-up in Azot chemicals plant in Severodonetsk pose an obstacle for Russia

After more than a month of heavy fighting, Russian forces now control the majority of Severodonetsk, the U.K.'s Ministry of Defence said in its latest intelligence update Wednesday.

The ministry noted that Russia's urban warfare tactics, which are reliant on heavy use of artillery, have generated extensive collateral damage throughout the city, making it reminiscent of Mariupol, the southern port city also severely attacked by Russia earlier in the invasion.

Smoke rises after a military strike on a compound of Sievierodonetsk's Azot Chemical Plant.
Oleksandr Ratushniak | Reuters

The ministry noted that elements of Ukraine's armed forces, along with several hundred civilians, are sheltering in underground bunkers in the Azot Chemical Plant, in the city's industrial zone.

"Russian forces will likely be fixed in and around Azot whilst Ukrainian fighters can survive underground. This will likely temporarily prevent Russia from re-tasking these units for missions elsewhere," it said.

Russia's defense ministry said on Tuesday that it would open a "humanitarian corridor" to allow for the evacuation of the Azot plant and called on Ukrainian fighters holed-up there to lay down their weapons. One pro-Russian separatist military official told the fighters remaining in Severodonetsk — which is now cut off after the three bridges into the city were destroyed — they should "surrender, or die."

The U.K. added that it is highly unlikely that Russia anticipated such robust opposition, or such slow, attritional conflict during its original planning for the invasion.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine says 'procrastination' over its need for weapons 'cannot be justified'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a joint statement with European Commission President Ursula, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine June 11, 2022. 
Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

Ukraine's patience over its lack of long-range weapons appears to be wearing thin with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy again pleading this week for more such weapons.

In his nightly address Tuesday, Zelenskyy said that while Ukraine's air defenses managed to "cut the wings" of some Russian missiles targeting the country, others had caused more death and destruction in the Lviv and Ternopil regions in western Ukraine.

"And we keep telling our partners that Ukraine needs modern anti-missile weapons," Zelenskyy said.

"Our country does not have enough of [these] yet, but it is in our country and right now that Europe has the greatest need for such weapons. Procrastination with its provision cannot be justified," Zelenskyy said, addressing his nation at the end of the 111th day of the war.

Ukrainian forces are battling a severe onslaught from Russian forces in eastern Ukraine with 80% of the key city of Severodonetsk now controlled by the occupiers. Zelenskyy has made repeated pleas for Ukraine to receive more long-range weapons from its Western allies, as well as tanks, drones and armored vehicles.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia controls about 80% of the contested eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk

Smoke rises during shelling in the city of Severodonetsk, eastern Ukraine on May 21, 2022. Russian troops control about 80% of Severodonetsk, the last city now partially held by Ukraine in Luhansk, and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of it, the Associated Press reported, citing an official.
Aris Messinis | Afp | Getty Images

Russian troops control about 80% of Severodonetsk and have destroyed all three bridges leading out of the last city in Luhansk that's partially held by Ukraine, according to the Associated Press which cited the governor of Luhansk.

Ukrainian forces have been pushed to the industrial outskirts of the city because of the "scorched earth method and heavy artillery the Russians are using", the AP said, citing Governor Serhiy Haidai.

Haidai said that a mass evacuation of civilians now was "simply not possible" due to the persistent bombing and fighting.

However, he added that there was still an opportunity to get civilians out of the city because Russian soldiers have not completely blocked off the city yet.

"There is still an opportunity for the evacuation of the wounded, communication with the Ukrainian military and local residents," he told the AP.

Out of a pre-war population of 100,000, only 12,000 people remain in Severodonetsk, the news agency reported.

More than 500 civilians are sheltering in the Azot chemical plant, which is being attacked by
Russian troops, Haidai said.

The Russian defense ministry has said it will open a "humanitarian corridor" on Wednesday to allow Ukrainian civilians sheltering in the plant to leave the complex.

— Chelsea Ong

Russia's ability to finance the war and defense industry is still robust, sanctions expert says

Local residents look at the russian military tank destroyed during Russia's invasion in Ukraine, in Sloboda village, Chernihiv area, Ukraine May 08, 2022 (Photo by Maxym Marusenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Coordinated global sanctions may not immediately affect the Kremlin's ability to finance its defense industrial base or its ongoing war in Ukraine, Russian economy expert Richard Connolly said.

"The Russian state's ability to finance the war and its military remain pretty robust," said Connolly, director of the Eastern Advisory Group and a fellow at the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies. 

"Even in the event that Moscow has to run a budget deficit. It's got plenty of fiscal room to do this. It has an extremely low debt level, it doesn't need to borrow abroad, it can borrow from domestic sources of cash," he explained. "And at the moment, it has this very positive cash flow. So for as long as the political will is there in the Kremlin and for as long as export prices remain high, I don't see any immediate financial constraints confronting the Kremlin."

Connolly, who spoke on a panel hosted by Washington-based think tank CNAS, added that Russia historically maintains high defense equipment reserves.

"I'd be very surprised if they weren't high on the eve of the war and therefore, I would imagine that defense industrial enterprises will continue to produce in the months to come," he said. He also said that Russia has previously shown that it can source Western tech components used in its defense industry despite sanctions.

— Amanda Macias

Putin likely not at risk of losing power amid war in Ukraine, expert says

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) summit at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia May 16, 2022.
Sergei Guneev | Sputnik | Reuters

As the globe coordinates global sanctions against Moscow and a segment of Russian society opposes the Kremlin's war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin may not be at risk of losing his power.

"I would say there are very few signs that he's at risk of losing power anytime soon," explained Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a senior fellow and director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, or CNAS.

Kendall-Taylor, a national security expert who specializes in Russia and authoritarian regimes, told a virtual audience at the CNAS National Security Conference that Putin's hold on power is nonetheless considerably weaker since the start of the war.

"I don't want to necessarily overstate public support for the war, because there is quite clearly a segment of society who opposes it," Kendall-Taylor said.

She added that in the scenario in which Putin was to die in office, another autocrat would likely replace him.

— Amanda Macias

EU looks to east Mediterranean as gas alternative to Russia

(R to L) Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi give a joint press statement at the Prime minsters office in Jerusalem on June 14, 2022.
Abir Sultan | AFP | Getty Images

European leaders visiting Israel expressed hope that natural gas supplies from the eastern Mediterranean could help reduce dependence on Russia as the Ukraine war drags on.

Israel has emerged as a gas exporter in recent years following major offshore discoveries and has signed an ambitious agreement with Greece and Cyprus to build a shared pipeline. New supplies could help Europe ramp up sanctions on Moscow.

"On the energy front, we will work together in using gas resources of the eastern Mediterranean and to develop renewable energy," Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a joint press conference with his Israeli counterpart, Naftali Bennett.

"We want to reduce our dependence on Russian gas and accelerate energy transition toward the climate objectives we've given ourselves," he said.

Bennett said Israel was working to make natural gas available for Europe. His office said the two leaders also discussed shipping natural gas to Europe through Egypt.

— Associated Press

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