Russia-Ukraine live updates: Putin submits candidacy for Russia's 2024 election; EU adopts 12th package of sanctions against Moscow

Karen Gilchrist
Natasha Turak

This has been CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual press conference in Moscow, Russia December 14, 2023. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that Moscow had no interest in fighting NATO, noting instead that he was interested in "developing relations" with the military alliance.

In an interview with state TV network Rossiya 24, Putin dismissed comments by U.S. President Joe Biden, who said earlier this month that Russia would attack a NATO country if it won the war in Ukraine, according to Tass news agency.

Biden's claim forms part of his appeal to Republicans not to block further military aid to Ukraine.

European Union leaders said Friday that they were confident that they would also pass a large package of aid for the war-torn country in early 2024, despite pushback from Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Meantime, the EU on Monday adopted a long-delayed 12th package of sanctions against Russia after Austria removed its objections.

The package includes a ban on Russian diamonds and aluminum, as well as a tightening of the price cap on Russian oil.

Mon, Dec 18 2023 1:14 PM EST

Putin submits documents to run for Russian 2024 presidential election

Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted documents to the country's Central Election Commission to register his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election.

"He submitted them," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said of Putin and the documents, confirming the news to Russian state media. The president was nominated by a group of prominent members of the ruling United Russia party as well as famous actors, athletes and other Russian celebrities.

Putin has been either prime minister or president of Russia continuously since 1999, and is Russia's longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin. He is widely expected to win the election as he faces no significant competition and his government has jailed his most serious political rivals, opposition politicians Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin.

Putin consistently saw landslide wins in previous elections, but independent observers say the votes were neither free nor far and were rife with fraud.

— Natasha Turak

Mon, Dec 18 2023 12:24 PM EST

Russia has destroyed nearly every building in Ukraine's Avdiivka, report says

Panorama of the city from a bird's-eye view, shot on a drone, covered with snow on December 7, 2023 in Avdiivka, Ukraine.

A new report found that Russian bombings have destroyed nearly every building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Avdiivka.

The Centre for Information Resilience, an independent non-profit group that exposes and tracks human rights abuses and war crimes, detailed in its report the extent to which civilian infrastructure across the city has been flattened. Russian strikes have hit 17 of Avdiivka's educational institutions, nine of its 11 medical clinics, all five of its churches and its three major supermarkets, as well as extensive strikes on residential tower blocks.

"Avdiivka has been a central battleground in Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine," Belen Carrasco Rodriguez, who spearheaded the project, wrote in the report.

"The bombardment of the city has been relentless – almost no building in the city centre has been left unscathed, with nearly all critical civilian infrastructure like schools, hospitals and supermarkets largely destroyed or damaged."

— Natasha Turak

Mon, Dec 18 2023 11:34 AM EST

EU adopts 12th package of sanctions against Russia

The EU Council has passed its 12th package of sanctions against Russia, it announced Monday, which it said will target additional imports and exports as well as close loopholes that enabled countries to sidestep previously issued sanctions.

"These measures target high-value sectors of the Russian economy and make it more difficult to circumvent EU sanctions," the Council wrote on its website.

The package includes "prohibition on the direct or indirect import, purchase or transfer of diamonds" from Russia, strengthening cooperation with third countries to prevent sanctions circumvention, tighter export restrictions on dual-use technologies, and enforcement of the EU-imposed price cap on Russian oil.

It imposes more restrictions on the import of commodities that provide significant revenue for Russia including iron, copper and aluminum wires, and foil tubes and pipes, and prohibits the import of liquefied propane from Russia.

The package also contains something called a "no Russia clause," which the EU Council defines as "a new clause which applies to EU exporters and bans the re-exportation to Russia and re-exportation for use in Russia of certain goods."

— Natasha Turak

Mon, Dec 18 2023 9:08 AM EST

West's promises to help developing countries are 'pure lies': Russian foreign minister

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov deliveries his speech at the annual meeting of the Caspian Sea littoral states, known as the 'Caspian Five' in Moscow, Russia December 5, 2023. 

Western countries' pledges to help developing countries economically are "nonsense and pure lies," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian television broadcaster Channel One, saying that whatever amount the West promised was a fraction of what it provided to Ukraine.

"There is a tenfold difference between what the West has promised, say, to African countries ... and what the West has pledged to the developing world to cover the costs of overcoming climate change" versus Ukraine funding, Lavrov argued, according to state news agency Tass.

The minister also argued that Western countries are running out of funds to support Ukraine. "Everybody's saying that openly, as far as I understand, there is no secret here," he said.

— Natasha Turak

Mon, Dec 18 2023 7:36 AM EST

Germany signs 'historic' deal stationing brigade in Lithuania, country's defense minister says

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius gives a joint press conference with the NATO Secretary General at the Federal Ministry of Defense in Berlin on November 10, 2023.

Germany on Monday signed an agreement to station a brigade of around 4,800 soldiers in Lithuania as part of a pledge to bolster NATO's eastern flank on the border with Russia.

Speaking at a press conference Monday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius dubbed the move "historic" and said that the troops would be combat-ready in 2027.

It marks the first permanent foreign deployment of German troops since WWII and comes as NATO has sought to reinforce its defenses in response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

"The eastern flank has now moved to the east, and it's the duty of Germany to protect it," Pistorius said, in comments reported by Reuters. "The speed of the project clearly shows that Germany understood the new security reality."

"We should expect not only good scenarios, but also the very worst scenarios. So we must be ready ... Russia remains the main threat to us and NATO", Lithuania's Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas added, according to Reuters.

— Karen Gilchrist

Mon, Dec 18 2023 6:30 AM EST

Kremlin welcomes Serbia's election result

Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's president, during celebrations at the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) headquarters following the general election in Belgrade, Serbia, on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023.

The Kremlin on Monday welcomed the result of a snap election in Serbia, which saw incumbent President Aleksandar Vučić declare victory.

"We welcome this achievement from Vučić," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters.

Peskov, who referred to Serbia as a "brotherly" country, added that Moscow hoped the result would lead to the "further strengthening of friendship" between the countries.

— Karen Gilchrist

Mon, Dec 18 2023 5:33 AM EST

U.S. Treasury report finds Putin's war putting 'considerable strain' on Russia's economy: FT

President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine is "putting Russia's economy under considerable economic strain," according to a draft report from the U.S. Treasury department seen by the Financial Times.

The combination of war, Western sanctions and Moscow's policy response — which has seen a third of the country's budget spent on the military — has hampered Russia's growth by 5%, the report, due to be published Thursday, found.

It marks one of the most comprehensive analyses of the economic consequences that the conflict has had on the Russian economy.

— Karen Gilchrist

Mon, Dec 18 2023 4:47 AM EST

Serbia's President declares victory in snap elections

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a press conference in Belgrade on September 24, 2023.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić declared victory for his ruling SNS party in Sunday's snap parliamentary election.

Early results put the SNS at about 46%, while opposition center-left Serbia Against Violence coalition was set to come second with around 23% in a vote that was marred by reports of irregularities.

Serbia has resisted implementing sanctions against Moscow but has previously said Crimea and Donbas are Ukrainian sovereign territories.

— Karen Gilchrist

Mon, Dec 18 2023 4:21 AM EST

Kherson bombarded by shelling, killing one, authorities say

Ukraine's Kherson region has been hit by 374 shells over the last day, Gyunduz Mamedov, a former deputy prosecutor general of the country, said Monday.

"A civilian was killed, residential buildings and infrastructure were damaged. At least 8-9 regions of Ukraine are shelled every day," he wrote in a post on social media.

CNBC could not independently verify the claims.

— Karen Gilchrist

Mon, Dec 18 2023 2:31 AM EST

Russia's prime minister to meet with Xi in China

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin meets with China's President Xi Jinping in Moscow on March 21, 2023.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to China on Tuesday, Moscow said Monday.

Mishustin will also hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, the government said.

— Karen Gilchrist

Mon, Dec 18 2023 2:30 AM EST

EU to pass 12th sanctions package against Russia

The European Union is on Monday due to adopt a long-delayed 12th package of sanctions against Russia after Austria removed its objections.

The package will include a ban on Russian diamonds and aluminum, as well as a tightening of the price cap on Russian oil.

— Karen Gilchrist

Mon, Dec 18 2023 2:26 AM EST

Putin says Russia has 'no interest' in fighting NATO

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures during his combine call-in-show and annual press conference on December 14, 2023 in Moscow, Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday that Moscow had no interest in fighting NATO, noting instead that he was interested in "developing relations" with the military alliance.

In an interview with state TV network Rossiya 24, Putin dismissed comments by U.S. President Joe Biden, who said earlier this month that Russia would attack a NATO country if it won the war in Ukraine, according to Tass news agency.

"It is complete nonsense - and I think President Biden understands that," Putin said in comments cited by Reuters.

"Russia has no reason, no interest - no geopolitical interest, neither economic, political nor military - to fight with NATO countries," he added.

NATO's eastward expansion has long been seen as a chief driver of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Biden's claim formed part of his appeal to Republicans not to block further military aid to Ukraine.

— Karen Gilchrist

Fri, Dec 15 2023 10:13 AM EST

Putin would prefer 'constructive' U.S. president: Kremlin spokesperson

A U.S. president who is "more constructive" on Russia and realizes the "importance of dialogue" would be President Vladimir Putin's preference, a Kremlin spokesperson told NBC.

This pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik shows Russia's President Vladimir Putin attending a meeting with President of the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi on December 6, 2023. 

Putin would work with "anyone who will understand that from now on, you have to be more careful with Russia and you have to take into account its concerns," Dmitry Peskov said when asked if the Kremlin would be content working with Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

Peskov also suggested that the financial support given to Ukraine by the U.S. was ineffective, likening it to throwing money "into the wind" and that the U.S. and the West were prolonging the conflict.

Sophie Kiderlin

Fri, Dec 15 2023 7:06 AM EST

Hungary's Orban says he could still block Ukraine's EU membership talks

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for a meeting of European Union EU leaders in Brussels, Belgium, Dec. 14, 2023.

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he could still block Ukraine's European Union membership talks, hours after the bloc voted to open discussions.

Orban, who abstained from the vote Thursday by leaving the room, said the move to admit the war-torn country to the EU was "a bad decision."

"We can halt this process later on, and if needed we will pull the brakes, and the ultimate decision will be made by Hungarian parliament," he said, without adding detail on how he might do that.

Orban — Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest ally in the bloc — has proved a thorn in the EU's side in its efforts to get the membership talks over the line.

The nationalist leader also blocked plans to extend a new financial package to Ukraine, with discussions set to resume in January.

— Karen Gilchrist

Mon, Dec 18 2023 1:50 AM EST

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