Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, marking the first foreign visit for the Russian leader this year, Russian news agencies said — and the first trip abroad since he was issued with an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court in March.
Russia's foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment.
In other news, Ukraine said it thwarted an overnight attempt by a Russian saboteur group to cross its north-eastern border in the Sumy region, the commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Thursday.
International Olympic Committee suspends Russian Olympic Committee until further notice
The International Olympic Committee, or IOC, suspended the Russian Olympic Committee for breaching the Olympic Charter by violating Ukraine's territorial integrity.
"The Russian Olympic Committee is suspended with immediate effect until further notice," the group wrote in a statement.
Additionally, the IOC wrote that it "reserves the right to decide about the participation of individual neutral athletes with a Russian passport" who are looking to compete in the Olympic Summer Games in Paris next year and the Olympic Winter Games in Milan in 2026.
— Amanda Macias
U.S. sanctions two tankers for carrying overpriced Russian oil
Two tanker owners have been hit with U.S. sanctions for carrying Russian crude oil above the agreed price cap, the U.S. Treasury said in a statement.
One owner is based in Turkey and the other in the United Arab Emirates, Reuters reported.
"Today's action demonstrates our continued commitment to reduce Russia's resources for its war against Ukraine and to enforce the price cap," Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo said in the Treasury press release.
G7 countries imposed a price cap of $60 a barrel on Dec. 5 to allow Russian flows into the market to maintain stability while restricting revenue for the Kremlin. Russia announced later that month that it would ban oil sales to countries that accept the price cap.
— Hannah Ward-Glenton
Almost 60 people killed in Hroza attack, Ukrainian officials say
Police have finished identifying bodies, finding that 59 people were killed last week in a series of attacks in Hroza in the Kharkiv region, Ukrainian officials said.
In a Google-translated Telegram post, Home Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko wrote that all the victims were local residents and included the elderly, doctors, farmers, teachers and entrepreneurs.
Forensics teams spent six days piecing together the profiles of each person, using the DNA of surviving relatives and personal items from the homes of those who died.
A village cafe was hit by a rocket on Oct. 5.
"It was important for us to establish the name of each dead person, preserve their memory and record all the victims of the Russian attack," Klymenko wrote.
— Hannah Ward-Glenton
Russia's Putin says Moscow to expand defense cooperation with Kyrgyzstan
Russia expects its military and defense cooperation with Kyrgyzstan to expand, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday during a visit to a Russian airbase near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.
Putin is making a two-day visit to Kyrgyzstan, during which he is due to attend a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit on Friday.
It is Putin's first international visit since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for him in March.
Ukraine holding its ground in Avdiivka despite Russian onslaught
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country's armed forces are holding their ground in the heavily destroyed town of Avdiivka in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, despite Russian forces intensifying their attempts to seize the settlement.
"Avdiivka. We are holding our ground. It is Ukrainian courage and unity that will determine how this war will end. We must all remember this," Zelenskyy said on Facebook on Thursday. The comment comes as Ukrainian defense officials point to the town facing relentless attacks from Russian forces.
Ukraine's troops said on Facebook on Thursday that forces in the Avdiivka area "repelled more than 10 enemy attacks" in the last day.
"We withstood everything, we held our positions, all the attacks were repulsed. In some places (we) even tried to counterattack," local Mayor Vitaliy Barabash said on television, in comments reported by AFP
Barabash said the situation was "very tense," calling it the "largest offensive" on Avdiivka since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022.
"For the third day, the fighting around the town has not subsided, with shelling both on positions and on the town itself," the mayor said, AFP reported.
Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War said Russian forces were employing new tactics in their assaults on the town, with varying success.
"Ongoing localized Russian offensive operations near Avdiivka likely demonstrate the ability of Russian forces to learn and apply tactical battlefield lessons in Ukraine," the ISW said Wednesday. Nevertheless, they said it's uncertain whether these adaptations "translate into wider operational and strategic gains for Russian forces."
"Geolocated footage shows that Russian gains around Avdiivka are concentrated to the southwest of Avdiivka, and Russian forces have not completed an operational encirclement of the settlement and will likely struggle to do so if that is their intent."
Avdiivka is also a notoriously well fortified and defended Ukrainian stronghold, the ISW noted, "which will likely complicate Russian forces' ability to closely approach or fully capture the settlement."
— Holly Ellyatt
Counteroffensive is behind schedule, intelligence chief concedes
Ukraine's intelligence chief admitted Thursday that Ukraine's forces are behind schedule when it comes to the counteroffensive they launched in June.
“We are behind it [the combat schedule] ... Not everything went smoothly,” Kirill Budanov told Ukrainian news outlet Ukrayinska Pravda without explaining further.
Ukraine's forces have made less progress in their counteroffensive than hoped or expected, impeded by the breadth and depth of Russian defensive lines in the south and east where the fighting remains intense and concentrated.
There are concerns that the window of opportunity to make gains this year is closing as the fall sets in and rainy weather turns roads and fields to mud, making progress even harder.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ukraine says it prevented Russian saboteurs crossing border
Ukraine thwarted an attempt overnight by a Russian saboteur group to cross its northeastern border in the Sumy region, the commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Thursday.
"The saboteurs tried to cross the state border of Ukraine and intended to move further towards one of the civilian critical infrastructure facilities," Lieutenant General Serhiy Naev wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
The eight-member group was repelled by Ukrainian fire, and there were no losses among Ukrainian troops, he said. The group was detected by members of a territorial defence brigade, Naev said.
"Having suffered combat losses, the saboteur group retreated towards the state border," he said.
In a video posted with his message, Naev said there had been more than 10 attempts to cross the Ukrainian border in the last two months. All had been prevented and the enemy retreated after suffering losses, he said. Russia did not immediately comment on Naev's Telegram post.
Putin arrives in Kyrgyzstan, in his first known trip abroad since arrest warrant
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, marking the first foreign visit for the Russian leader this year, Russian news agencies said, and the first trip abroad since he was issued with an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court in March.
Russia's Foreign Ministry was not immediately available for comment.
Putin is due to meet his Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov for talks before a press briefing. He will then take part in a gala event dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Russian military air base in Kant in northern Kyrgyzstan.
Putin is also scheduled to hold talks with Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev on Thursday, ahead of a meeting of regional leaders on Friday.
— Holly Ellyatt
Putin: Russia is on the right track
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow "is on the right track" in a speech given during Russian Energy Week, as reported by state media outlet TASS on Telegram and translated by Google.
Putin said that it "goes without saying" that Western attempts to isolate Russia have failed, and that people around the world no longer want to tolerate "colonial thinking [that] persists in the West."
Many Western countries placed sanctions on Russia following the Kremlin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but there have been doubts as to the effectiveness of some of the measures put in place.
— Hannah Ward-Glenton
Putin to visit Kyrgyzstan in first known trip abroad since arrest warrant
Vladimir Putin will visit Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, Reuters reported, marking what will be the Russian president's first known trip abroad since he was issued with an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court in March.
Russia's Foreign Ministry was not immediately available to comment when contacted by CNBC.
Speaking at the 10th Kyrgyz-Russian interregional conference, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Akylbek Japarov said the two countries were working to solve similar issues and wanted more industrial cooperation between them, according to a statement posted Wednesday, as translated by Google.
"It is very gratifying that the jubilee conference with the representative delegations of our countries is being held before the eagerly awaited official visit of the President of the Russian Federation, Honorable Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, to the Kyrgyz Republic," Japarov said.
The Russian president is then expected to visit China next week for the Belt and Road Forum.
— Hannah Ward-Glenton
Ukraine's Zelenskyy urges support for victims of Israel terror attacks
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the international community to support the people who were harmed during the Saturday terrorist offensive of Palestinian militant group Hamas against Israel.
The Ukrainian premier spoke at a press briefing during his first visit to the Brussels headquarters of the NATO military alliance since Russia's full-scale invasion of Kyiv. He is attending to request defense aid and weapons to tide another challenging wartime winter.
"We are in war, so we understand what does it mean, such terroristic attacks," he said Wednesday. Zelenskyy has previously called for international solidarity with Israel, following the attacks. The NATO coalition has likewise condemned the Hamas assault.
The Kremlin has meanwhile placed blame on a failure of U.S. foreign policy for the latest spate of hostilities in the Middle East, Reuters reports.
"I remember the first days of our full-scale war. It began from terroristic attacks from Belarus, by missile, then Russian army. And, you know, that was the biggest tragedy that we had. So many dying people and so many deaths, and so ... it was very important not to be alone," Zelenskyy said Wednesday.
"My recommendation to the leaders [is] to go to Israel. And I think to support people. Just people. I'm not speaking about any institutions. Just to support people who have been under terroristic attacks," he stressed, adding, "Unity is more important than to be alone."
— Ruxandra Iordache
Russia warns that 'hot war' in Israel is 'potentially very dangerous'
The Kremlin warned Wednesday that the Israel-Hamas conflict has the hallmarks of a "hot war" right now and could potentially be "very dangerous," especially on a humanitarian level.
"The situation is alarming, it is potentially very dangerous, dangerous with consequences, [including] of a humanitarian nature,” Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday, news agency TASS reported.
As Peskov noted, “after it is possible to bring [the conflict] out of the hot war phase, the period of searching for ways of a peaceful settlement will already begin," he said.
“It is too early to talk about [Russia’s] role in the actual settlement, because the conflict is at the stage of a hot war," he said.
Russia's reaction to the outbreak of violence in Israel and Gaza is being closely watched, given that it occupies a strange and somewhat unique position in Middle Eastern geopolitics, being allies with both Israel and Iran, which traditionally backs Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that attacked Israel last weekend.
The group, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., U.K. and EU, launched one of the deadliest attacks Saturday, prompting Israel to declare a state of war against the group. Israel has since launched relentless airstrikes on Gaza and its troops are massing at the border.
Peskov appeared to criticize both Hamas and Israel, saying "we need to stop terrorist attacks. We need to stop the disproportionate use of force. We need to ensure the minimum needs of the population in Gaza," the Kremlin spokesman said.
"The fact is that now this area is completely closed ... [There is] a shortage of medicines, a shortage of beds in hospitals, a shortage of hospitals themselves. Which is now leading to very serious humanitarian problems."
Russia's concerns for the humanitarian situation in Israel come 19 months into its own invasion of its neighbor Ukraine, a conflict which has thousands of soldiers and civilians die and millions of people displaced. Russia says it does not target civilians despite numerous instances of civilian infrastructure being targeted and destroyed.
— Holly Ellyatt
Meeting with allies 'critical' to Ukraine's resilience this winter, Kyiv says
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his latest meeting with Kyiv's allies in Belgium on Wednesday — at which Kyiv hopes to secure more air defense systems, artillery and ammunition — could be "critical" to Ukraine's resilience this winter.
On Wednesday, Zelenskyy arrived in Belgium, where he is to take part in a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group — comprising 54 of Ukraine's international allies, including NATO members — on extra support for the country.
"I have an important appeal to all present defense ministers of the countries that are members of this powerful coalition," he said on Telegram, ahead of the meeting.
Zelenskyy is due to hold meetings with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
"We are preparing, we are ready. Now we need some support from the leaders," he told reporters, Reuters said, before meeting defense ministers from NATO and other allied countries.
Ahead of the meetings, Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin was "preparing once again to use winter as a weapon of war" by attacking energy infrastructure in Ukraine.
"We need to prevent that, with more advanced and increased capabilities for air defense, we can make a big difference," Stoltenberg said, according to Reuters.
The meeting comes at a difficult time for Ukraine; the counteroffensive it launched in June has not made as much progress as allies hoped, given the extensive lines of defenses and fortifications laid by Russia last winter and spring.
— Holly Ellyatt