U.S. sanctions more Russian oligarchs; Senate moves toward vote to admit Sweden and Finland into NATO

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine on Tuesday August 2, 2022. See here for the latest updates. 

The United States slapped more sanctions on Russian oligarchs on Tuesday, as the U.S. Senate moved closer to a vote to admit Sweden and Finland into the NATO military alliance.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke of fears over a nuclear accident in Ukraine. He told reporters late Monday that there are "credible reports" that Russia "is using this plant as the equivalent of a human shield, but a nuclear shield in the sense that it's firing on Ukrainians from around the plant."

Meanwhile, the first shipment of grain exports from Ukraine in months departed Monday from the port of Odesa. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the shipment a "positive signal."

Two Republican senators propose amendments ahead of the vote to add Finland and Sweden to NATO

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C), Finland Ministers for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (L) and Sweden Foreign minister Ann Linde (R) give a press conference after their meeting at the Nato headquarters in Brussels on January 24, 2022.
John Thys | AFP | Getty Images

Two Republican senators have proposed amendments on the vote to add Sweden and Finland to NATO.

Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, both are seeking changes to the treaty vote as Congress prepares to head into recess.

Paul told NBC News that his amendment states that "nothing in the Article Five portion of the NATO Treaty supersedes the congressional directive that we have to declare war." The NATO provision holds than an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack on all members.

Sullivan told NBC News that his amendment states that every member of NATO, to now include Sweden and Finland, should commit to the 2% of GDP spending on defense goal established at the 2014 NATO Wales Summit.

The vote to include Sweden and Finland in NATO is expected to overwhelmingly pass.

— Amanda Macias

U.S. slaps more sanctions on Russian officials and oligarchs

Red Square, Moscow
Mike Hewitt | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced new sanctions on Russian oligarchs and state-owned entities.

Below is the State Department's fact sheet of imposed penalties on the following Russian oligarchs:

  • Alexander Ponomarenko "for operating or having operated in the aerospace sector of the Russian economy. He is an oligarch with close ties to other oligarchs and the construction of Vladimir Putin's seaside palace." He has been sanctioned by the U.K., European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Dmitry Pumpyanskiy "for operating or having operated in the financial services sector of the Russian Federation economy." The U.K., European Union and New Zealand have also designated him. Pumpyanskiy has ties to the yacht "Axioma," which is now being identified as blocked property.
  • Andrey Melnichenko "for operating or having operated in the financial services sector of the Russian Federation economy." Like Pumpyanskiy, he has also been designated by the U.K., European Union, and New Zealand.

"We are also imposing additional costs on Russia's war machine by designating 24 Russian defense and technology-related entities," Blinken wrote in a statement. 

"Russia has systematically focused on exploiting high-technology research and innovations to advance Moscow's war-fighting capabilities – the same defense capabilities that Russia's military is using in its vicious attacks hitting Ukraine's population centers and resulting in the deaths of civilians, including children," he added.

— Amanda Macias

March was the deadliest month of Russia's war in Ukraine, UN says

The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner said that March was so far the deadliest month in Russia's war in Ukraine.

There were more than 3,100 civilian casualties and 2,400 injuries due to the conflict in March, according to data compiled by the UN.

Total civilian casualties from 24 February to 31 July 2022 as compiled by the United Nations.
U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner

The United Nations has confirmed 5,327 civilian deaths and 7,257 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

"Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects, including shelling from heavy artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, missiles and air strikes," the UN office wrote in a report.

The human rights office added that the majority of casualties and injuries were reported in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian troops fire a multiple launch rocket system in the Kharkiv region

Ukrainian servicemen fire with a BM21 Grad multiple launch rocket system in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine August 2, 2022.
Sofiia Gatilova | Reuters
Ukrainian servicemen fire with a BM21 Grad multiple launch rocket system in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine August 2, 2022.
Sofiia Gatilova | Reuters
Ukrainian servicemen fire with a BM21 Grad multiple launch rocket system in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine August 2, 2022.
Sofiia Gatilova | Reuters

- Sofiia Gatilova | Reuters

Estonia and Latvia discuss buying U.S. air defense systems

US military personnel stand by a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) during Saudi Arabias first World Defense Show, north of the capital Riyadh, on March 6, 2022.
Fayez Nureldine | Afp | Getty Images

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur and Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks discussed buying U.S.-made medium-range air defense systems to bolster regional security.

The two countries are interested in buying the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS. Both weapons have proven effective in Ukraine's fight against Russia.

"At present, one of the key tasks in our cooperation is to forge ahead with the Estonian-Latvian joint procurement of medium-range air defense systems. I hope that the governments of both countries will quickly take the necessary decisions to start the actual purchase process," said Pevkur after the meeting.

"The HIMARS multiple rocket launcher capability development cooperation project is another important priority," he added.

— Amanda Macias

First vessel carrying Ukrainian agriculture products expected to arrive in Turkey this evening

Sierra Leone-flagged dry cargo ship Razoni departs from port of Odesa in Odessa, Ukraine on August 01, 2022 as part of a recent grain export deal signed between Turkey, the UN, Russia, and Ukraine and expected to reach Istanbul tomorrow.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The first vessel carrying grain and agricultural products from Ukraine is expected to arrive off the coast of Istanbul around 5 p.m. ET.

Ukraine's Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov told NBC News on Monday that the vessel is expected to reach Tripoli, Lebanon in two days.

Kubrakov also said that 16 ships are ready to go, but that only three vessels will leave the port each day for the next two weeks.

— Amanda Macias

NATO chief speaks with Zelenskyy about more military aid

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a press conference at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on March 24, 2022.
Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about more military aid for Ukraine's fight against Russia.

"It's vital that NATO and allies provide even more assistance to Ukraine even faster," Stoltenberg wrote in a tweet.

He said that the two also discussed the first shipment of grain since Russia's late February invasion and subsequent naval blockade of Ukrainian ports.

— Amanda Macias

UN says at least 5,327 killed in Ukraine since start of war

This photograph taken on July 15, 2022, shows recently made graves at a cemetery in the Vinogradnoe district, Donetsk region, amid the ongoing Russian military action in Ukraine.
- | Afp | Getty Images

The United Nations has confirmed 5,327 civilian deaths and 7,257 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's top court designates Ukraine's Azov Regiment a 'terrorist' group

Russia's supreme court recognized Ukraine's Azov Regiment as a terrorist group, according to Reuters, in a move that could see captured soldiers tried under robust anti-terror laws and potentially jailed for up to 20 years.

The Azov Regiment, which has far-right and ultra-nationalist roots, has been a prominent unit fighting against pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.

It was formally incorporated into Ukraine's national guard in late 2014 shortly after being set up as a paramilitary volunteer group.

— Sam Meredith

German chemicals firm warns of production chain collapse as Putin squeezes gas flows

Covestro warned Tuesday that the rationing of gas could see some of its sites shut down, as its CEO stressed the importance of reducing the company's reliance on fossil fuels.

"Due to the close links between the chemical industry and downstream sectors, a further deterioration of the situation is likely to result in the collapse of entire supply and production chains," the firm said.

Read the full story here.

—Anmar Frangoul

Russia faces ‘economic oblivion’

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a plenary session at the Strong Ideas for a New Time forum held by Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) in Moscow, Russia July 20, 2022.
Alexey Maishev | Kremlin | Sputnik | via Reuters

Russia is facing "economic oblivion" in the long-term because of international sanctions and the flight of businesses, several economists have said.

Many see long-lasting costs to the Russian economy from the exit of foreign firms – which will hit production capacity and capital and result in a "brain drain" – along with the loss of its long-term oil and gas markets and diminished access to critical imports of technology and inputs.

Read the full story here.

—Elliot Smith

BP's Gelsenkirchen plant no longer uses Russian crude

BP, which was one of the first energy giants to announce an ambition to cut emissions to net zero "by 2050 or sooner," has urged shareholders to oppose the resolution put forward by Follow This.
Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Amid its second-quarter earnings update Tuesday, BP CEO Bernard Looney said that the firm's refinery in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, no longer uses Russian crude, down from 50%.

Oil majors have been one of many sectors that have cut or significantly reduced their exposure to Russia following its invasion of Ukraine.

Back in late February, BP announced it was offloading its 19.75% stake in Rosneft, a Russian-controlled oil company.

— Matt Clinch

US 'deeply concerned' of Russian control of Ukrainian nuclear facilities, Blinken says

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the tenth annual review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at U.N. headquarters on August 01, 2022 in New York City.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. is "deeply concerned" about reports that Russian forces have taken over nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

"There are credible reports, including in the media today, that Russia is using this plant as the equivalent of a human shield, but a nuclear shield in the sense that it's firing on Ukrainians from around the plant," Blinken told reporters at the United Nations, adding that this was "the height of irresponsibility."

"And of course, the Ukrainians cannot and will not fire back, lest there be a terrible accident involving a nuclear plant," he said.

Blinken said that it was important that the International Atomic Energy Agency be granted access to nuclear facilities in order to safeguard against an accident.

— Amanda Macias

Germany argues over nuclear shutdown amid gas supply worries

Steam rises from the cooling tower of the nuclear power plant (NPP) Isar 2 in Essenbach Germany.
Armin Weigel | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Rising concern over the impact of a potential Russian gas cutoff is fueling the debate in Germany over whether the country should switch off its last three nuclear power plants as planned at the end of this year.

The door to some kind of extension appeared to open a crack after the Economy Ministry in mid-July announced a new "stress test" on the security of electricity supplies. It's supposed to take into account a tougher scenario than a previous test, concluded in May, that found supplies were assured.

Since then, Russia has reduced natural gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to 20% of capacity amid tensions over the war in Ukraine. It cited technical issues that Germany says are only an excuse for a political power play. Russia recently has accounted for about a third of Germany's gas supply, and there are concerns it could turn off the tap altogether.

The main opposition Union bloc has made increasingly frequent demands for an extension of the nuclear plants' lives. Similar calls are coming from the smallest party in Chancellor Olaf Scholz's coalition government, the pro-business Free Democrats.

— Associated Press

Macron tells Zelenskyy that Russian war crimes will not go unpunished

French President Emmanuel Macron says he's in favor of a price cap on Russian oil as he speaks to the media on the third and final day of the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau on June 28, 2022 near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a phone call that war crimes committed by Russian forces will "not go unpunished."

"While war crimes are multiplying, the President of the Republic reaffirmed his support for the Ukrainian people and their resistance and declared his determination to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished," a French presidential office source wrote in a readout of the call.

During the call, the 36th exchange between the two leaders since Russia's war in Ukraine began, Macron said that France would send a team of forensic experts and a mobile DNA analysis laboratory to Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

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