Russia carries out intense missile and drone strike overnight; Russia's Medvedev says conflict could last decades

This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments of May 27, 2023, on the war in Ukraine. See here for the latest updates

Hostilities intensified overnight, with Ukrainian officials reporting enemy forces targeted the east of the country with substantive drone and missile attacks.

The Ukrainian air force says it has struck down 10 missiles, 23 Iran-made Shahed drones and two reconnaissance drones, as air alarms blared in Kyiv. Russia has struck targets in the regions of Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk, according to the Ukrainian air force. CNBC could not independently verify the developments.

Serhiy Lysak, Dnipropetrovsk regional governor, said separately that Russia had launched a substantial mass drone and missile incursion overnight, damaging homes and private companies and starting a fire.

A war plane of the Ukrainian Air Force flies through the Donetsk region on May 9, 2023.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Beyond the front line, President Alexander Lukashenko of Moscow ally Belarus signaled that Russia has moved ahead with plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on Belarus' territory.

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, said Moscow may consider a preemptive strike if Western powers supply Ukraine with nuclear weapons.

Russia denies third request for consular access to Evan Gershkovich, State Department says

U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich, arrested on espionage charges, stands inside a defendants' cage before a hearing to consider an appeal on his arrest at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, April 18, 2023.
Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The State Department said Russia denied for a third time consular access to Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

"Just in the last few hours, the Russians denied our latest request, the third request that we've made for consular access to Evan Gershkovich since April," State Department spokesman Matt Miller said during an interview on MSNBC.

"We have had one consular visit with him. Our Ambassador Lynne Tracy was able to visit him in prison in April," Miller added.

Earlier this week, a Russian court extended Gershkovich's pretrial detention by three months.

— Amanda Macias

UN condemns attack on hospital in Dnipro

Medical workers get patients on a specially equipped train, run by Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in collaboration with Ukraine's Ministry of Health and National Railways, to evacuate wounded people from war-affected areas of eastern Ukraine, amid Russia's invasion of the country, in Dnipro, Ukraine May 10, 2022. 
Gleb Garanich | Reuters

The United Nations condemned an early morning attack on a medical facility in Dnipro and said that its humanitarian partners were providing emergency assistance to survivors.   

"We, along with our humanitarian partners, continue to reach more people with assistance across the country," United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during a daily press briefing.

Dujarric told reporters that so far the U.N. has reached more than 5 million people in Ukraine with humanitarian aid.

According to data collected by the World Health Organization, there have been more than 870 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine since the start of Russia's war last February.

— Amanda Macias

Yellen speaks with IMF chief about the effects of Russia's war in Ukraine on global economies

Janet Yellen, US Treasury secretary, speaks at the Johns Hopkins Universitys School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, April 20, 2023.
Ting Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen met with International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva to discuss the effects of Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine on global economies.

The two also discussed the Biden administration's financial priorities and U.S. economic forecasts, according to a release from Treasury.

Yellen recently galvanized allies during G7 meetings to intensify economic pressure on Russia and look for additional ways to mitigate sanctions evasion.

— Amanda Macias

Zelenskyy thanks Sen. Lindsey Graham for support during meeting in Kyiv

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on his official Telegram channel that he met with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in Kyiv.

"I am grateful to Lindsey Graham for the meeting, unflagging position and contribution to bolstering Ukraine's defense capabilities," Zelenskyy wrote in his Telegram post, sharing a video of the Republican Senator from South Carolina.

"We appreciate this assistance. We know that from the first days of Russia's full-scale invasion, we have had full support, which is very important. We are very grateful for this," Zelenskyy said, adding that he was thankful for bipartisan support.

— Amanda Macias

Brazil's president discusses need for peace in Ukraine with Putin and Xi in separate calls

Brazilian President Luiz Lula da Silva wrote in a pair of tweets that he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday about achieving peace in Ukraine.

"I just spoke by phone with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. I thanked him for an invitation to attend the International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg and replied that I could not go to Russia at the moment, but reiterated Brazil's willingness, along with India, Indonesia and China, to talk to both sides of the conflict in pursuit of peace," Lula wrote in a tweet, according to a Google translation.

In a separate conversation with Xi, Lula said the two discussed "the need for peace in Ukraine" as well as Brasilia's and Beijing's strategic bilateral relationship, according to a Google translation of the tweet.

— Amanda Macias

Blinken heads to Sweden, Norway and Finland to discuss ways to support Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his plane for travel to Berlin at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, June 22, 2021.
Andrew Harnik | Pool | Reuters

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel next week to Sweden, Norway and Finland to "deepen transatlantic cooperation on top national security and economic priorities," according to a State Department release.

Blinken will arrive in Sweden on May 29 and attend meetings on increasing financial support with Ukraine alongside Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

In Norway, Blinken will meet with his NATO counterparts for an informal meeting ahead of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July.

President Joe Biden's top diplomat will end his trip in NATO's newest member country where he will meet with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.

— Amanda Macias

Seventh straight day of stalled ships at Ukrainian ports

Farmer Artur Tabor shows wheat at his farm in Buczyna, Poland on April 25, 2023. Polish farmers protest as some Ukrainian grain and other products stay in the country during transport abroad. Ukrainian grain is cheaper than local, which has a strong impact on prices on the market. 
Jakub Porzycki | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

No vessels have left Ukrainian ports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative in the last week, according to figures provided by the U.N.-backed organization responsible for tracking export movements. The last vessel to leave under the deal carried 6,800 metric tons of wheat to Italy on May 19.

Ukraine has previously blamed Russia for stalling the departure of vessels and creating a backlog of now more than 60 ships.

The Black Sea grain deal, which established a humanitarian sea corridor for agricultural exports amid Russia's war in Ukraine, was extended earlier this month to about mid-July.

— Amanda Macias

Russia's central bank says sanctions, pressure on foreign banks destabilizing FX market

National flag flies over the Russian Central Bank headquarters in Moscow, Russia May 27, 2022.
Maxim Shemetov | Reuters

Sweeping sanctions and pressure on foreign banks operating in Russia are destabilizing the country's foreign exchange market, Russia's central bank said Friday.

In a financial stability review, the Bank of Russia also warned of risks from Russians amassing funds in foreign banks, especially if access to them becomes restricted.

"In the long term, should private investors' confidence in the Russian stock market decline, there are risks of an increase in citizens' savings in foreign instruments and the outflow of funds from the Russian banking system, as well as a reduction in companies' ability to attract long-term financing," the bank said, according to Reuters.

— Karen Gilchrist

Russia-Ukraine war main reason for German recession, ministry spokesperson says

Russia's war in Ukraine is the key reason for weakness in the German economy, a spokesperson for the economy minister said Friday.

The German economy has entered into recession, new data showed Thursday. Gross domestic product fell by 0.3% in the first quarter of the year, the revised official figures showed.

That follows a decline of 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2022. A recession is commonly defined as two successive quarters of economic contraction.

However, speaking during a news conference, the spokesperson said the data reflected Germany's shift away from its reliance on Russia, and that overall consumer development was strong.

— Karen Gilchrist

Japan expands sanctions on Russia

Japan on Friday announced more sanctions on Russia, including the freezing of assets of 24 individuals and 78 organizations.

The curbs, approved by the government at a Cabinet meeting, target Russian military personnel and pro-Russian individuals in eastern and southern Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

Tokyo will also ban exports to 80 Russian entities, such as military-related organizations, the ministry added.

The announcement comes after Group of Seven leaders pledged to maintain and strengthen sanctions against Russia at their summit in the western Japanese city of Hiroshima that ended Sunday.

— Karen Gilchrist

Russia's Medvedev says Ukraine conflict could last decades

Former Russian President and close Putin ally, Dmitry Medvedev, said Friday that the conflict in Ukraine could continue for decades, and added that negotiations with Ukraine could not occur while President Volodymyr Zelenskyy remains in charge.

"This conflict will last for a very long time. For decades, probably. This is a new reality," Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said, according to reports from Russian news agencies cited by Reuters.

Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev wearing sunglasses arrives to the Victory Day Red Square Parade on May 9, 2023 in Moscow, Russia.
Contributor | Getty Images

Describing Zelenskyy as "the clown," Medvedev said negotiations with the current government were impossible.

"Everything always ends in negotiations, and this is inevitable, but as long as these people are in power, the situation for Russia will not change in terms of negotiations."

Medvedev, who was seen as a liberal modernizer during his presidency from 2008-2012, now casts himself as an anti-Western Kremlin hawk, and his views are seen as closely aligned with those at the top levels of the government.

— Karen Gilchrist

Zelenskyy says two killed in Russian attack on Ukrainian clinic

At least two people were killed and 23 wounded after a Russian missile strike on a clinic in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an update Friday.

"Russian terrorists once again confirm their status of fighters against everything humane and honest," Zelenskyy wrote in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

"A rocket attack on a clinic in the city of Dnipro. As of now, one person was killed and 15 were wounded. The shelling aftermath is being eliminated and the victims are being rescued."

The post was shared under a video, which showed a building with smoke pouring out of it.

That comes after reports from Ukrainian officials earlier on Friday, who said that air defenses had shot down 10 missiles and more than 20 drones launched by Russia in overnight attacks on the capital Kyiv, Dnipro and eastern regions. CNBC could not independently verify the developments.

— Karen Gilchrist

Negotiations 'impossible' while Zelenskyy in power, Russian official says

Russia's Deputy Security Council Chairman Dmitry Medvedev on Friday said that negotiations with Ukraine are "impossible" as long as the Kyiv administration of Volodomyr Zelenskyy stays in power, in comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass.

"Everything always ends with negotiations, and this is inevitable, but as long as these people are in power, the situation for Russia will not change in terms of negotiations," he said, according to a Google translation.

Ukraine has, likewise, previously said negotiations were not possible as long as Vladimir Putin stays at the helm of Russian leadership. Zelenskyy nevertheless presented a 10-point peace plan proposal to G20 leaders on Nov. 15.

Global powers — including close Russia trade partner China — have vied for a chance to mediate in the conflict.

Russia carried out intense overnight drone and missile attack, Ukrainian officials say

The Ukrainian air force said 10 missiles, 23 Iran-made Shahed drones and two reconnaissance drones were shot in an overnight attack by Russia, focused on the eastern parts of the country.

The strike began around 10:00 p.m. local time on May 25 and lasted until 5:00 a.m. on May 26, the Ukrainian air force said on Telegram, adding that several of Moscow's attack hit targets in the regions of Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk.

Serhiy Lysak, Dnipropetrovsk regional governor, said on Telegram that it was a difficult night and that Russia had carried out a mass drone and missile incursion, damaging homes and private companies and starting a fire.

Air alert sirens also blared in Kyiv, according to the Kyiv City State Administration.

CNBC could not independently verify the situation on the ground.

Ruxandra Iordache

Russian official says Moscow to consider preemptive strike if Ukraine receives nuclear weapons

Russia will need to launch a preemptive strike if Ukraine is supplied with Western nuclear weapons, said Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council.

"There are some irreversible rules of war. If it comes to [deliveries of] nuclear weapons [to Ukraine], a pre-emptive strike will have to be carried out," he said, in comments carried by Russian state news agency Tass. He admitted that it was possible that NATO countries will provide Kyiv with warplanes and nuclear arsenal to assist Ukraine in hostilities against Russia.

Western powers have attempted to limit the risk of a nuclear escalation throughout the conflict — whether intentional or through negligent fire around nuclear facility sites, such as Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia plant.

Ruxandra Iordache

Russia moved ahead with plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signaled that Russia has moved ahead with plans to deploy Russian tactical nuclear weapons on Belarus' territory, leaving open the possibility that some equipment may have already reached the country.

According to Belarus' state news agency Belta, Lukashenko said he and his counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the topic ahead of the Eurasian Economic Forum that took place in Moscow from May 24-25.

"He told me he had signed a decree on our actions concerning the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus. I mean a concrete document was discussed. A decision had been made in furtherance of a verbal discussion," Lukashenko said.

"We had to prepare storage facilities and the rest over there [in Belarus]. We've done all of that. This is why the relocation of nuclear munitions began."

When asked if Russian nuclear warheads were already present in Belarus, he said, "Maybe. I will go and take a look."

Russia's intention to station tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian ground was announced on March 25. Washington has denounced the plan.

Ruxandra Iordache

Russia summons ambassadors over Nord Stream investigations

Russia's Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of Germany, Denmark and Sweden to "strongly" protest against what it saw as a "complete lack of results" of their investigations into the causes of explosions that damaged the Nord Stream gas pipelines last September.

The ministry said in a statement that it had summoned the officials due to what Russia saw as their countries' "inability to ensure transparency investigative actions."

Germany, Denmark and Sweden launched their own investigations into what happened to the gas pipelines, which span the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, but said they were exchanging information. Russia has repeatedly asked for its own experts to be part of the investigations into explosions that severely damaged the pipeline. But Moscow has been rebuffed, a decision it has called "unthinkable."

Investigators in Europe believe the pipelines were sabotaged but said it is difficult to establish and confirm exactly who carried out the attacks and whether it was a state-sponsored group or not and no definitive conclusions have been published yet. Kyiv denied any involvement in the incidents.

Gas emanating from a leak on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea on Sept. 27, 2022.
Swedish Coast Guard | Getty Images

On Thursday, the Russian foreign ministry again lambasted "the refusal of the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany, Denmark and Sweden to cooperate with the Russian side in this case" and accused them of "clearly dragging out time and trying to hide the traces and true perpetrators of the crime, which, as we think, are well-known countries." 

Russia said it would continue to press the countries' authorities to "conduct an objective comprehensive investigation of sabotage on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines with the obligatory involvement of Russia."

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian soldiers replacing Wagner mercenaries in Bakhmut, official says

Smoke rises from buildings in this aerial view of Bakhmut, the site of the heaviest battles with Russian troops, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine on April 26, 2023.
Libkos | AP

Ukraine said Russian soldiers are replacing Wagner Group mercenary fighters who have begun to withdraw from Bakhmut in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

"In the suburbs of Bakhmut, the enemy replaced Wagner's units with army regular units. At the moment, the Wagnerites remain in the city of Bakhmut," Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Telegram Thursday.

She said Ukraine's forces still controlled the southwestern outskirts of the town but that Russian forces were trying to stop Ukraine's advances on its flanks and were "pulling up additional units to the flanks for reinforcement."

The head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said earlier Thursday that his fighters were already starting to withdraw from Bakhmut, where they've been fighting for months. Prigozhin said the withdrawal process would take several days.

"Before June 1, most of the units are rebasing to rear camps, handing over to the military, ammunitions, positions, everything, including dry rations," he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian mercenaries begin withdrawal from Bakhmut

The entrance of the "PMC Wagner Centre," associated with Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block on National Unity Day, in St. Petersburg, on Nov. 4, 2022.
Olga Maltseva | AFP | Getty Images

The head of Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, said his fighters are beginning to withdraw from Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said that the Wagner Group had fully captured Bakhmut in the heavily contested Donetsk region last weekend, adding that it would hand the town over to the regular Russian army units around May 25.

"PMC 'Wagner' began the withdrawal of units from Bakhmut," a message posted on Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's Concord Group Telegram channel said.

"We're withdrawing our units from Bakhmut today, now it's 5am, 25 May, "Prigozhin said, although NBC was unable to verify if the footage had been filmed in Bakhmut.

"Before June 1, most of the units are rebasing to rear camps, handing over to the military, ammunitions, positions, everything, including dry rations," Prigozhin added, according to an NBC translation. He said his forces would have a "new objective" after having a rest following prolonged fighting in Bakhmut.

Ukraine has denied it has lost Bakhmut, with defense officials saying their forces still control a southwestern part of the town and have made progress in their bid to take back control of the flanks of the town to the north and south.

— Holly Ellyatt

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