Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of plots and provocations ahead of war anniversary

This has been CNBC's live blog covering updates on the war in Ukraine. [Follow the latest updates here.]

The first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine is coming up on Friday and we've seen geopolitical tensions ramp up this week in the lead-up to the event.

Both Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden have made high-profile speeches this week in which they criticized each other's countries and traded barbs over the conflict.

Putin blamed the West for the war in Ukraine during a State of the Union speech Tuesday, and at another pro-war event on Wednesday, the president led the crowd in chants of "Russia!" saying the country was fighting for its "historical lands" in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a patriotic concert dedicated to the upcoming Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on February 22, 2023.
Maksim Blinov | Afp | Getty Images

Meanwhile Biden, during a trip to Europe this week, reaffirmed his commitment to Ukraine and said Moscow would "never" win the war. He also called Russia's decision to suspend its participation in the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the U.S. — a pact that limits the two sides' strategic nuclear arsenals — a "big mistake."

While severing ties further with the West, Putin looked to deepen ties with China on Wednesday as he welcomed one of Beijing's top diplomats to Moscow. Russia's courting of China comes ahead of an expected visit by President Xi Jinping to Russia this spring.

Both Russia and Ukraine face an ammunition shortage, Eurasia Group chairman says

China is likely to offer a peace plan for Russia and Ukraine, consultancy says
China is likely to offer a peace plan for Russia and Ukraine, consultancy says

The Russia-Ukraine war is characterized by an ammunition shortage, Eurasia Group chairman Cliff Kupchan told CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia."

China providing Russia with the ammunition it lacks could "swing ... the war in Russia's favor," said Kupchan. "That's one of the reasons I'm so concerned and focused on China right now," he added.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government's "main concern" is getting more ammunition to the Ukrainians, who are running out, said Kupchan.

"I don't think either side has a structural advantage, in that they're both hurting pretty bad," he said.

It is also unlikely that Putin will invade Poland, said Kupchan. Putin "can't get a straight yes out" that Ukraine is a sovereign, independent country, he added.

"I don't think that he thinks of any other country like he thinks about Ukraine."

— Audrey Wan

China reiterates call for cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia

China reiterated its call for peace talks and a cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine

"All parties should support Russia and Ukraine in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire," China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

China added that it supports the International Atomic Energy Agency in playing a "constructive role in promoting the safety and security of peaceful nuclear facilities."

China said the international community should "help parties to the conflict open the door to a political settlement as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiation." It added it is ready to "play a constructive role in this regard"

— Jihye Lee

U.S. Embassy in Kyiv issues warnings ahead of one-year anniversary of Russia's war

A picture shows a view of the US embassy in Kyiv on May 18, 2022. There is an American military officer in Ukraine as part of the U.S. embassy's defense attache, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said, but the stance that U.S. troops will not be fighting in the Ukraine war has not changed.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

The State Department warned U.S. citizens of a higher threat of missile attacks across Ukraine on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia's war.

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv urges U.S. citizens to "observe air alarms, shelter appropriately, follow guidance from local authorities" and take other safety precautions.

— Amanda Macias

Ukraine's Zelenskyy says a meeting with China is 'desirable'

"Over 20 Iranian murderous drones, plus missiles, numerous shelling occasions, and that's just in one last night of Russian terror against Ukraine," Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Twitter Wednesday.
Julien De Rosa | Pool | Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he had not yet seen a Chinese plan for ending Russia's war on Ukraine but that he would welcome talks with Beijing.

China, a close Russian ally, has said it will set out its position on settling the Ukraine conflict through political means in a document that will take into account territorial integrity, sovereignty and security concerns.

Asked about prospects for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Zelenskyy told a news briefing in Kyiv: "We would like to meet with China."

"This is in the interests of Ukraine today," he told the joint briefing with visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

— Reuters

Russia agrees to give mercenary group more ammunition after row, Wagner boss says

A repainted mural depicting the logo of Russia's Wagner Group on a wall in Belgrade, Serbia, on Jan. 19, 2023.
Darko Vojinovic | AP

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia's Wagner Group mercenary force, said that much-needed ammunition for his troops had been dispatched, after a public row in which he accused the military leadership of treason.

Prigozhin had on Wednesday published a grisly image of dozens of men who he said had been killed because commanders including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov had withheld ammunition to spite him. Neither man commented but the ministry rejected the charge.

In an audio clip, Prigozhin said he felt the pressure he and others had put on the defense ministry had paid off, and that he had been told ammunition was now on its way.

Wagner has spearheaded Russia's months-old battle for the small city of Bakhmut in Ukraine's Donetsk region — a fact he has advertised loudly — and has helped Moscow make small but steady gains.

— Reuters

G-7 leaders will hold virtual meeting with Zelenskyy to discuss additional supportive measures and sanctions

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks to reporters on the situation in Ukraine before a meeting with his Infrastructure Implementation Task Force, in the Cabinet Room at the White House, in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2022.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Joe Biden and other G-7 leaders will meet virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss additional ways to support Ukraine.

"The G7 has become the anchor of our strong and united response to Russia. Tomorrow the leaders will discuss how we continue supporting Ukraine and continue to increase pressure on [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and all those who enable his aggression," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a daily news briefing.

"Among other announcements, the United States will implement sweeping sanctions against key sectors that generate revenue for Putin. Go after more Russian banks, Russia's defense and technology industry and actors in the third-party countries that are attempting to backfill and evade our sanctions," she added.

Jean-Pierre also said the Biden administration will announce new energy and security assistance to help the Ukrainian government provide electricity and heat throughout the country.

— Amanda Macias

EU fails again to agree to new Russia sanctions, talks to resume Friday

A national flags of Ukraine an EU flags outside the Town Hall in Lille, France, on Wednesday, March 16, 2022.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

European Union countries failed to agree on a new set of sanctions against Russia that they had planned to have in place for the one-year anniversary of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine on Friday, diplomatic sources told Reuters.

The 27 EU countries need to agree unanimously to introduce sanctions. The sources said Poland was blocking the package over proposed exemptions to a ban on EU imports of Russian synthetic rubber.

Polish diplomats said the exemptions were so big they would render the sanctions ineffective. Other sources said the exemptions were proposed to accommodate Italy, backed by Germany.

Representatives of the member states were due to meet again at 4:00 p.m. EST on Friday, the day Russia invaded Ukraine last year, to try seal a deal, according to the sources.

— Reuters

Ukraine will propose a one-year extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the reopening of an additional port

Ships, including those carrying grain from Ukraine and awaiting inspections, are seen anchored off the Istanbul coastline on November 02, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

Ukraine will propose to Turkey and the United Nations the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative to include the Mykolaiv seaport. 

Deputy Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Vaskov said that by blocking Ukrainian ports, Russia violates international conventions on shipping. He called on the international community to intervene and restore Ukrainian ships' access to the sea.

In addition, Vaskov said that Ukraine will insist on increasing the number of inspection teams to eliminate the backlog of vessels that are awaiting inspection. Ukraine has previously blamed Russia for creating a backlog of ships.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia's naval blockade and saw three key Ukrainian ports reopen.

So far, more than 700 ships have sailed from Ukrainian ports.

— Amanda Macias

Key G-7 financial officials pledge 'unwavering support' to Ukraine on eve of one-year invasion anniversary

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a working session of G-7 leaders via video link, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv,on June 27, 2022.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service | via Reuters

Finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-7 countries reaffirmed their "unwavering support of Ukraine" and "unity in our condemnation of Russia's war of aggression" in a joint statement released on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of its neighbor

"We remain determined to foster international cooperation to uphold multilateralism and address the global economic hardships caused by Russia's war and its weaponization of food and energy, which are disproportionately felt by low-and middle-income countries," the statement said.

The leaders are in India for the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors ministerial meeting on Friday and Saturday.They have increased their budget commitment to the Ukrainian government to $39 billion for 2023 "based on the Government of Ukraine's needs," according to the statement.

The group also acknowledged contributions from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in supporting Ukraine's economic recovery. The statement further praises the effectiveness of sanctions against Russia and the price caps on Russian oil products in depleting the Russian economy.

"We reject Russia's false narrative about the spillover effects of the sanctions on food and energy security. We reaffirm that our sanction measures targeting Russia are intended not to contribute to energy and food insecurity, while these measures are tailored to reduce Russia's ability to reap windfall profits from changes in global oil prices," the statement reads.

— Chelsey Cox

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says Putin's invasion of Ukraine has failed

Janet Yellen, US Treasury secretary, speaks during a news conference at the Group of 20 (G-20) finance ministers and central bank governors meeting in Bengaluru, India, on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.
Samyukta Lakshmi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin's brutal, year-long invasion of Ukraine has failed, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

"One year later, Putin's war has been a strategic failure for the Kremlin. Ukraine still stands. And NATO and our global coalition stand united behind it," Yellen said during a press conference in Bengaluru, India, where she is participating in a bilateral meeting with Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The Treasury chief also praised Ukraine's resistance against the Russian military and reiterated the U.S. government's financial commitment to aid Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in defending the country.

"Our military assistance includes key defensive weapons that Ukraine has asked for – such as the Patriot missile defense system," Yellen said. "And our economic assistance is making Ukraine's resistance possible by supporting the home front: funding critical public services and helping keep the government running. In the coming months, we expect to provide around $10 billion in additional economic support for Ukraine."

The U.S. has already given over $46 billion in security, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Yellen said.

—Chelsey Cox

Stoltenberg sees progress in Sweden's NATO bid, talks to resume in March

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a news conference following a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 16, 2022. 
Yves Herman | Reuters

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he saw progress in stalled talks with Turkey on Sweden's membership bid and aimed to have both Sweden and Finland join the alliance by the time of its July summit.

Stoltenberg told Reuters he and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had agreed that Turkey, Finland and Sweden would meet at NATO headquarters mid-March "to address the challenges we face when it comes to Turkish ratification of the Swedish accession protocol."

Stoltenberg, who met Erdogan last week in Ankara, sounded more upbeat on the topic than in past months.

"I see progress," he said in an interview. "My aim is to have both Finland and Sweden as full members by the NATO summit," due to take place in Lithuania from July 11-12.

— Reuters

German energy boss warns: Don’t let guard down on gas supply

The temperature outside Klaus Mueller's office almost resembles spring, exactly the kind of mild weather that helped Germany get through the winter without Russian natural gas.

But Germany's chief utility regulator is not ready to sound the all clear on an energy crisis spawned by the war in Ukraine, even with natural gas reserves abundant and prices well down from their peak.

Too much could go wrong — especially if consumers and companies grow weary of the conservation habits they learned during a winter fraught with fear of rolling blackouts and rationing, Mueller, head of the Federal Network Agency, said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press.

Plus, there's next winter to think about.

Other risks, such as a pipeline accident or a sudden cold snap, could set back plans to keep natural gas storage as full as possible as Europe learns to live without the cheap Russian gas that fueled its economy for decades.

— Associated Press

Two ships leave Ukrainian ports under Black Sea Grain Initiative

A team inspects the produce in the ship carrying wheat from Ukraine to Afghanistan after inspection in the open sea around Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Turkey, on Jan. 24, 2023.
TUR Ministry of National Defence | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Two vessels carrying about 96,895 metric tons of grain and other food products have left Ukrainian ports, the organization overseeing the export of agriculture from the country said.

The ships are destined for Italy and Portugal and are carrying corn.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations, eased Russia's naval blockade and saw three key Ukrainian ports reopen.

So far, more than 700 ships have sailed from Ukrainian ports.

— Amanda Macias

Ukrainian Railways CEO shares the story behind 'Rail Force One,' the train that ferried Biden to Kyiv

US President Joe Biden sits on a train with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan after a surprise visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in Kyiv on February 20, 2023. (Photo by Evan Vucci / POOL / AFP) (Photo by EVAN VUCCI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Evan Vucci | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian Railways CEO Alexander Kamyshin shared the story behind U.S. President Joe Biden's secret trip to Kyiv.

In a Twitter thread, Kamyshin described the project as "complicated" but added that it "was an honor and a privilege for me and the whole Iron Team to deal with this visit."

Kamyshin also dubbed the train that Biden traveled in "Rail Force One" to play off of the transportation typically used by U.S. presidents.

— Amanda Macias

Western Europe should supply weapons to Ukraine faster, Polish PM says

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, along with leaders from Belgium, Italy and Greece, will propose a plan for a 'gas price corridor' across Europe in an attempt to bring down soaring prices.
Thierry Monasse / Contributor / Getty Images

Western European countries should be faster and more generous in supplying Ukraine with weapons, Polish Premier Mateusz Morawiecki said in Copenhagen after meeting Danish counterpart Mette Frederiksen.

"I would like them to be exactly like Denmark and Poland. A longer version is to be more generous in terms of weapon delivery and more quick," Morawiecki told reporters.

— Reuters

Protestors paint giant Ukrainian flag outside Russian embassy in London

Activists from political campaign group Led By Donkeys poured paint onto the road to create a giant Ukrainian flag outside the Russian Embassy on February 23, 2023 in London, England. The group created the flag using washable paint poured onto the road and then driven through by passing vehicles.
Handout | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Demonstrators have painted the Ukrainian flag on the road outside the Russian embassy in London on Thursday ahead of the first anniversary of the war Friday.

The protest was purportedly carried out by campaign group Led By Donkeys, which said on Twitter Thursday:

"Tomorrow is the first anniversary of Putin's imperialist invasion of Ukraine, an independent state and a people with every right to self-determination. The existence of a massive Ukrainian flag outside his embassy in London will serve to remind him of that."

— Holly Ellyatt

Hungary to start debating NATO accession of Sweden, Finland next week

The flooded Danube river is seen in front of the Hungarian Parliament building in Budapest, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007. The river is expected to reach its peak level in the Hungarian capital Wednesday. (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)
Photo: AP

The Hungarian parliament will begin debating the NATO accession of Sweden and Finland next week, according to its provisional schedule.

It shows that Hungary's parliament could vote on the issue during the week of Mar. 6. Hungary and Turkey are the only two NATO members that have so far withheld their approvals to integrate the Nordic countries into the military alliance.

Finland and Sweden jointly applied to enter the coalition in May, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine forced a departure from their long-standing policy of military non-alignment. Ankara objects in particular to the bid of Sweden, whom it accuses of harboring alleged members of the Kurdish Workers' Party, which both countries designate as a terrorist organization.

Ongoing delays have raised questions over whether Sweden and Finland's application processes will be delinked. But Sweden's Foreign Minister Tobias Billström told CNBC earlier this week that Stockholm and Helsinki's admission into NATO was "just a matter of time."

Ruxandra Iordache

'Russia has chosen the path of the murderer,' Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via video link to the 2023 Munich Security Conference (MSC) on February 17, 2023 in Munich, Germany.
Johannes Simon | Getty Images

On the eve of the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has condemned Russia's ongoing aggression.

"Russia has chosen the path of the murderer. The path of the terrorist. The path of the torturer. The path of the looter. This is the state choice of Russia, and there will be state responsibility for the terror committed," Zelenskyy said on Telegram in a post accompanied with images of the war.

"Dozens, hundreds of thousands of photos that leave deep scars in your heart and soul. They remind us of the path we have gone from February to February. It must be in our DNA," the president added.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine would prevail and would "hold to account all those who brought this evil, this war to our land."

Ukraine has accused Russia of committing multiple war crimes, from launching missile strikes on civilian infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, to the use of torture on prisoners of war and civilians. Russia has denied targeting civilians during the war, despite multiple instances of civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings, being struck by Russian missiles, and has also accused Ukraine of committing war crimes, including the execution of prisoners of war, which Ukraine denies.

UN-appointed independent human rights investigators said that war crimes have indeed been committed in the conflict. It said last September, after an initial inquiry, that while Ukrainian forces were responsible for some human rights violations, a larger number of instances that amount to war crimes had been carried out by Russian forces.

— Holly Ellyatt

China says U.S. intelligence on giving weapons to Russia is speculation

Chinese Premier Li Qiang said on Wednesday that China was willing to work with Russia to promote their pragmatic cooperation in various fields and take it to a "new level."
Mladen Antonov | AFP | Getty Images

China's Foreign Ministry said any potential intelligence on arms transfer by China to Russia that the United States plans to release is just speculation, its spokesman said on Thursday.

"As for the so-called intel, this is just speculation and smearing against China," Wang Wenbin said at a regular briefing.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that the U.S. government is considering releasing intelligence on China considering supplying weapons to Russia.