Drones attack Russian oil refineries; Germany closes Russian consulates in retaliatory move

Amanda Macias
Natasha Turak

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

Drone attacks on Russian soil continued into their second day, with reported strikes on two oil refineries roughly 50 miles from Russia's highly important Black Sea oil export terminals, local authorities said.

The strikes come just a day after drone attacks in Moscow that damaged buildings and prompted the Kremlin to say it reserves the right to take "severe measures" in response.

Meanwhile, several people have been killed in shelling in the central and eastern Ukrainian regions of Dnipropetrovsk and Russian-occupied Luhansk, according to local officials.

Wed, May 31 2023 5:11 PM EDT

Putin shows 'zero inclination' to end war in Ukraine, White House says

US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 31, 2023.

The White House said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown "zero inclination" to end the war in Ukraine as the conflict approaches its 500th day.

"The Russians have shown no inclination of being interested at all in a negotiated settlement," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said during a White House briefing.

"I think this week as you have all seen, Russia has continued to wage just a brutal, completely unprovoked war against Ukraine," Kirby said, referencing a slew of Russian air strikes across Ukraine.

He added that so far this month, Russia has launched 17 air assaults on Kyiv.

— Amanda Macias

Wed, May 31 2023 3:41 PM EDT

Biden administration approves new security assistance package worth $300 million for Ukraine

Workers and Ukrainian servicemen unload a shipment of ammunition delivered as part of the United States of America's security assistance to Ukraine, at the Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, Ukraine November 14, 2021.

The Pentagon announced a new security assistance package for Ukraine worth $300 million. The latest package is the 39th tranche of weapons and contains artillery and anti-armor defenses as well as ammunition.

Here's what is included in the new security package:

  • Munitions for Patriot air defense systems
  • AIM-7 missiles
  • Avenger air defense systems
  • Stinger anti-aircraft systems
  • Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS
  • 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds
  • 105mm tank ammunition
  • Precision aerial munitions
  • Zuni aircraft rockets
  • Munitions for Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS
  • AT-4 anti-armor systems
  • More than 30 million rounds of small arms ammunition

The security assistance package also includes demolition munitions, mine-clearing equipment, night vision devices, as well as spare parts for equipment and generators.

The U.S. has provided approximately $38 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia's invasion in February 2022.

— Amanda Macias

Wed, May 31 2023 2:33 PM EDT

Zelenskyy meets with wounded Ukrainian troops at a hospital in Odesa

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits an injured Ukrainian serviceman at a military hospital, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine March 13, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited wounded soldiers recovering at a hospital in Odesa.

"I wish you a speedy recovery. Thank you from all Ukrainians for your service. You are real heroes," Zelenskyy said, according to a readout from Kyiv. "I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your golden hands. Thank you for your endurance and your honorable profession."

Zelenskyy also presented awards for military service to the Ukrainian troops.

— Amanda Macias

Wed, May 31 2023 1:42 PM EDT

U.S. has given nearly $38 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since start of Russia's war

Ukrainian servicemen unload missiles provided by U.S. to Ukraine as part of a military support on Feb. 11, 2022. The U.S. has committed more than $4.5 billion on security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration.

The Biden administration has provided $38 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the inception of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022.

According to a Pentagon release, the U.S. weapons packages have thus far included more than 10,000 Javelin anti-armor systems, over 345,000 mortar rounds, 72 Howitzers and artillery rounds, 31 Abrams tanks, and 38 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS.

— Amanda Macias

Wed, May 31 2023 12:51 PM EDT

Germany closing Russian consulates in tit-for-tat move

Germany will close four out of its five Russian consulates, the German government said Wednesday, in response to a move from Moscow to limit the number of German diplomats in the country.

Russia will still be allowed to operate its embassy in Berlin and one general consulate, according to Reuters. Germany, meanwhile, will only be allowed to have 350 officials in Russia.

The move comes amid deteriorating ties between the two countries amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Germany's foreign ministry specifically cited Russia's new limits on staff when it announced the consulate decision.

"This unjustified decision is forcing the federal government to make very significant cuts in all areas of its presence in Russia," a spokesperson said, according to Reuters.

— Michele Luhn

Wed, May 31 2023 11:47 AM EDT

Six ships leave Ukrainian ports under Black Sea grain deal following a week of delays

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

One ship departed Ukraine's port of Chornomorsk for Spain carrying 33,000 metric tons of wheat under the Black Sea grain deal.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative is a deal between Russia, Ukraine, the United Nations and Turkey that established a humanitarian sea corridor amid the Kremlin's ongoing war. The deal, which was extended earlier this month, is set to expire in mid-July.

Over the weekend, five ships left Ukrainian ports carrying 210,471 metric tons of agricultural products, according to the U.N.-backed organization that

Those vessels, loaded with corn and barley, left for China, Spain and Egypt on Sunday.

Before those departures, no ships had set sail under the agreement for a week.

— Amanda Macias

Wed, May 31 2023 8:57 AM EDT

France's Macron to call for a European 'strategic awakening' at Bratislava security conference

French President Emmanuel Macron looks on after delivering a speech to the Nexus Institute in the Amare theatre in The Hague on April 11, 2023 as part of a state visit to the Netherlands.

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to call for a European "strategic awakening" in planned remarks at the Globsec security forum in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Wednesday, according to the Élysée Palace. He is expected to urge allies to provide better security guarantees for Eastern European countries following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In the remarks, he will highlight France's military support for Eastern European allies, which includes the country's deployment of 1,250 French troops to Romania and 300 to Estonia, as well as France's provision of battle tanks to Ukraine.

Macron will also urge the EU to do more to bolster its own defense supplies and production, as well as develop new arms production partnerships among member countries.

— Natasha Turak

Wed, May 31 2023 8:25 AM EDT

Putin and Turkey's Erdogan to hold a meeting in the foreseeable future, Kremlin says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets President of Russia, Vladimir Putin (R) within the 22nd meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders' summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on September 16, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his recently re-elected Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet in the foreseeable future, Reuters reports the Kremlin as saying. No details were given as to where or when the meeting will be held.

Putin sent Erdogan a message of congratulations after his re-election on Sunday, which saw the Turkish leader seal another five-year term to add to his two decades already in power. The Russian head of state called Erdogan a "dear friend" and thanked him for maintaining an independent foreign policy and for being an important partner to Russia.

Under Erdogan, Turkey has pursued a balancing act between its Western and NATO allies and Moscow — Ankara led important negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and sent aid and weapons to Kyiv while also greatly expanding its trade and economic ties with Russia, instead of imposing Western sanctions on the country.

— Natasha Turak

Wed, May 31 2023 6:43 AM EDT

EU's von der Leyen suggests NATO members should give Ukraine security guarantees

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has pushed for a policy of derisking from China.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen suggested NATO members should give Ukraine security guarantees in the form of "deterrence by denial" as a way of helping it defend itself short of NATO membership.

That can be done by providing "military equipment that can fortify Ukraine against future Russian attacks," she said during a security conference in Bratislava, Slovakia. She stressed that there needs to be certainty that "Ukraine's friends would be there for the long term."

Ukraine has long sought membership in NATO, which through Article 5 of its treaty guarantees retaliation by all member states if one member country is attacked by a state outside of the 31-country alliance. Having part of its territory occupied by Russia has virtually guaranteed Ukraine cannot enter the alliance.

Von der Leyen repeated her previous stance opposing a peace plan for Ukraine based on a frozen conflict with Russia, warning that the threat of a repeat Russian invasion will remain until all Russian troops and equipment are withdrawn from Ukrainian soil.

— Natasha Turak

Wed, May 31 2023 5:44 AM EDT

Medvedev calls UK Russia's 'eternal enemy,' says British officials aiding Ukraine can be legitimate targets

Dmitry Medvedev, Russian security council deputy chair and former president, called the U.K. Moscow's "eternal enemy" and suggested that any British official aiding Ukraine should be considered a legitimate military target.

Responding to U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly's comment that Ukraine has the right to use force beyond its borders, the hawkish Medvedev lashed out at what he called the U.K.'s "goofy officials" and said in a Twitter post that "their state can also be qualified as being at war."

"Today, the UK acts as Ukraine's ally providing it with military aid in the form of equipment and specialists, i.e., de facto is leading an undeclared war against Russia. That being the case, any of its public officials (either military, or civil, who facilitate the war) can be considered as a legitimate military target," he wrote.

Medvedev is known for his often incendiary and intensely anti-Western posts on social media.

— Natasha Turak

Wed, May 31 2023 5:33 AM EDT

Drones hit two oil refineries in Russia, causing fire, local authorities say

Drones attacked two oil refineries in Russia, roughly 50 miles from some of the country's largest oil export terminals in the strategically important Black Sea region, the Krasnodar regional governor said.

One of the attacks caused a fire at the Afipsky oil refinery, which was put out, and the other attack caused no damage, local officials said.

The Afipsky refinery is about 50 miles east of Novorossisk, a Black Sea port that is home to a key Russian oil export terminal. The other drone attack hit the Ilsky refinery, Russia state media outlets reported, which is some 40 miles east of Novorossisk.

The drone strikes come just a day after a highly rare attack on Moscow which also used drones and damaged some residential buildings, causing two injuries but no deaths, according to Moscow officials. Russia's government blames Kyiv for that attack, while a Ukrainian presidential advisor denied his government's involvement but expressed joy at seeing such an occurrence.

— Natasha Turak

Tue, May 30 2023 10:24 AM EDT

Russia says it reserves right to take 'severe measures' after Moscow drone attack

A view of a damaged multi-storey apartment building after a reported drone attack in Moscow on May 30, 2023.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said it has the right to implement the most "severe measures" after Tuesday morning's drone attack on Moscow that it blames on Kyiv.

"Assurances by NATO officials that the Kyiv regime will not launch strikes deep into Russian territory prove to be completely hypocritical," the ministry said in a statement.

"Russia reserves the right to take the harshest possible measures in response to the terrorist attacks by the Kyiv regime," it added.

A Ukrainian presidential advisor denied the government's involvement in the strikes, but said that "we are pleased to watch and predict an increase in the number of attacks." The drone strikes caused "minor damage" and two injuries but no deaths, Moscow authorities said.

The drone attacks followed three heavy Russian missile and drone bombardments of Kyiv in a 24-hour period that began Sunday, which killed at least one person, according to the city's officials.

— Natasha Turak

Tue, May 30 2023 10:00 AM EDT

Russia says it will target Western weapons supply routes in Ukraine

Russia will target and strike any Western weapons supply routes it detects ahead of Ukraine's anticipated counteroffensive, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying by state media outlet TASS.

Shoigu noted that Ukraine's Western allies are boosting arms deliveries to Kyiv prior to what he described as an upcoming "large-scale" Ukrainian offensive.

The defense chief said Moscow was imposing "effective fire damage on the enemy" and that Ukraine's Western-supplied arms would not change the result of his country's "special military operation," which is the term the Kremlin uses for its full-scale war in Ukraine that began in February 2022.

— Natasha Turak

Tue, May 30 2023 6:33 AM EDT

Finland hosts NATO exercises for the first time since becoming alliance member

Finnish and Nato flags flutter at the courtyard of the Foreign Ministry in Helsinki, Finland, ahead of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on April 4, 2023.

Finland is hosting NATO exercises for the first time as an official member of the alliance, along with Norway and partner country Sweden.

It kicked off the event on Monday. NATO's Arctic Challenge Exercise, which this year is planned and directed by the Finnish Air Force, runs from May 29 to June 9 and has taken place every other year since 2013.

"The Arctic Challenge Exercises is part of the NORDEFCO cooperation between Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Their Air Forces regularly carry out combined air combat-related Cross Border Training operated from their home bases," a description of the event on NATO's website read.

"The purpose was for the three Nordic nations to practice together and across their countries' borders," it continued. "Since then, the exercise has grown to include even more allied nations. It is a unique opportunity for nations to be practicing across larger training areas and with other aircraft."

— Natasha Turak

Wed, May 31 2023 4:52 AM EDT

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