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Russian forces continue efforts to encircle Avdiivka

Smoke rises from the area in the direction of Avdiivka in the course of the Russia-Ukraine war, as seen from Donetsk, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on Oct. 11, 2023.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Russian forces are continuing efforts to encircle and capture the town of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, according to the head of the town’s military administration.

Avdiivka in Donetsk has become a focal point of intense fighting in recent weeks with Russian forces anxious to capture the strategically-important town in a bid to capture more of the wider Donbas region.

Vitaliy Barabash, head of Avdiivka’s military administration, said Tuesday that “things in the Avdiivka sector have become even tougher,” he told the media outlet Espreso TV, according to comments reported by Sky News.

“The intensity of clashes has been increasing for some time,” he said, adding: “The Russians have opened up two more sectors from which they have begun making assaults in the direction of Donetsk and in the so-called industrial zone. The enemy is attempting to storm the city from all directions.”

Ukraine’s General Staff said Tuesday morning that its forces continue to defend the city even though “the enemy does not abandon attempts to surround Avdiivka.”

“Our soldiers are steadfastly holding the defense, causing the occupiers significant losses,” the military added. CNBC was unable to verify developments on the ground.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russian court extends detention of U.S. reporter Gershkovich

Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich looks out of an enclosure for defendants before a court hearing to consider an appeal against his pre-trial detention on espionage charges in Moscow, Russia, October 10, 2023. 

Evgenia Novozhenina | Reuters

A Russian court said on Tuesday it had extended the detention of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who is awaiting trial on espionage charges he denies, until Jan. 30, 2024.

Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen, was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) on March 29 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg on charges of espionage that carry up to 20 years in prison.

“The court ruled to extend the term of detention of Gershkovich, accused of a crime under Article 276 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, for up to 10 months, that is, until January 30, 2024,” Moscow’s Lefortovo district court said.

Gershkovich denies the charges.

He is the first U.S. journalist to be detained on spy charges in Russia since the Cold War. Russia said Gershkovich was caught “red-handed” while the FSB, the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said he was trying to obtain military secrets.

The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones say that Gershkovich was simply doing his job in Russia and deny the espionage charges. The Journal and Dow have repeatedly demanded that Russia release him, to no avail.

“Evan has now been unjustly imprisoned for nearly 250 days, and every day is a day too long,” The Journal said in a statement.

“The accusations against him are categorically false and his continued imprisonment is a brazen and outrageous attack on a free press, which is critical for a free society. We continue to stand with Evan and call for his immediate release.”

— Reuters

Snowstorms and high winds cannot stop military activity entirely, analysts say

A Ukrainian soldiers are seen in a trench on the front line in the direction of Kupiansk, where clashes with the Russian army continue despite the severe winter conditions, in Kupiansk, Kharkiv region, Ukraine on November 21, 2023.

Ozge Elif Kizil | Anadolu | Getty Images

Heavy fighting continues along the front line in Ukraine, against a backdrop of severe weather including snowstorms and high winds that have caused widespread damage to infrastructure, power and water supplies.

“A cyclone in the Black Sea and southern Ukraine caused infrastructure damage in many areas of coastal southern Russia and occupied Ukraine and is impacting the tempo of military operations along the frontline in Ukraine, but has notably not stopped military activity entirely,” analysts at the Institute for the Study of War noted in an analysis report on Monday.

Russian sources posted images and footage of the impact of the cyclone on civilian and transportation infrastructure in coastal areas of Krasnodar Krai, including near Sochi, Anapa, Gelendzhik, Novorossiysk, and Taupse,” the ISW said.

UKRAINE – NOVEMBER 22: Specially trained Ukraine Army soldiers clear out the areas reclaimed from Russian forces from explosives and ammunitions in Ukraine on November 22, 2023. (Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

“Ukrainian and Russian sources also noted that coastal areas of occupied Crimea, occupied Kherson Oblast, and much of Odesa Oblast were heavily impacted by heavy snow and high winds, leaving large swaths of the population without electricity.”

The ISW said that Ukraine’s navy had noted that dangerous weather in the Black Sea had forced Russia to return all of its naval vessels and missile carriers to their base points.

“Several sources also reported that the storm damaged rail lines in coastal areas, which may have logistical ramifications for Russian forces in occupied Crimea and southern Ukraine.”

Ukraine’s general staff reported on Tuesday morning that Russian forces continued to launch widespread “missile and air strikes … firing multiple launch rocket systems not only at the military, but also at numerous civilian targets across Ukraine.” It said there had been 84 combat engagements between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the past 24 hours.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the ground.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ten people die in Ukraine snowstorms, interior minister says

ODESSA, UKRAINE – 2023/11/26: A snowplow drives along Pasteur Street in a heavy snowstorm. Odessa weather forecasters believe that the current snowfall has become the heaviest in the last five years and has surpassed the scale of the blizzard of 2009 when the city was completely paralyzed. According to the city authorities, 78 units of equipment and 249 employees are working to eliminate the consequences of bad weather, the city council reported. Roads are sprinkled with anti-icing materials and cleared of snowdrifts according to approved routes. (Photo by Viacheslav Onyshchenko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Ten people have died in snowstorms in Ukraine, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said on Tuesday.

Icy winds and storms have swept in since Sunday, cutting power and blocking roads, particularly in the south.

“As a result of worsening weather conditions, 10 people died in Odesa, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and Kyiv regions,” Klymenko wrote on the Telegram app.

“Twenty-three people were injured, including two children,” he added.

A total of 411 settlements in 11 regions had lost power, and more than 1,500 vehicles had to be rescued, Klymenko said.

— Reuters

Storms continue to batter Ukraine and Russia, causing deaths and injuries

Waves crash against a seafront in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi during a storm on November 27, 2023. (Photo by Mikhail Mordasov / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL MORDASOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Mikhail Mordasov | Afp | Getty Images

Southern Ukraine and Russia continue to be battered by extreme weather, with storms causing widespread power cuts, losses of water supplies, mass flooding, traffic chaos and destruction.

There have been a number of deaths and injuries as a result of a surge in bad weather in recent days, with storms hitting southern regions of Ukraine particularly hard, as well as Russian-occupied Crimea and southern Russia — especially its Black Sea coastal area.

Ukrainian President Volodymy Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Monday that almost 1,500 settlements in 17 regions across the country had lost power and that “engineers are working everywhere to restore supplies.”

“As soon as this is possible, every city, every village will receive electricity. Currently, hundreds of people and hundreds of units of equipment are working around the clock … the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. The National Police, the National Guard, and utilities are involved.”

Zelenskyy said that five people are now known to have died during the storms, most of whom were in the southern Odesa region. At least 19 other people have been injured, he added.

A picture shows damage at a storm-hit seafront in Crimea’s largest city of Sevastopol on November 27, 2023. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

Russian media is also reporting on the scale of the destruction caused by the storms and what it described as a hurricane waging across southern Russia.

Four people have died and more than 20 have been injured, news agency Tass reported, while almost two million people have been left without electricity because of the bad weather. 

“In some regions, water supply and urban transport have been disrupted. Regional authorities are organizing work to overcome the consequences of the disaster and are preparing for worsening weather, which forecasters and emergency services” are warning of, Tass said.

Russian-occupied Crimea has been particularly badly hit, with states of emergency declared in 10 of the peninsula’s municipalities. Hurricane wind speeds reached 144 km/h (or almost 90 miles per hour) in Crimea, Tass reported.

A rescuer carries a cat and helps a woman during an evacuation of residents of the flooded village of Pribrezhnoe in Crimea on November 27, 2023, following a storm. Over 400,000 people in Crimea were left without power on November 27, 2023 after hurricane force winds and heavy rains battered the Russian-annexed peninsula over the weekend. Wind speeds of more than 140 kilometres per hour (about 90 mph) were recorded during the storm, which triggered a state of emergency in some of the peninsula’s municipalities. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations told the Tass news agency that 600 incidents had been logged in more than 300 settlements in Crimea. The ministry was reported as saying that 995 people had to be evacuated as a result of bad weather, with 179 children among them. 

— Holly Ellyatt

Photos show storms in Ukraine and Russia

Storms have brought flooding and heavy snowfall to parts of Ukraine, Russian-occupied Crimea and Russia in recent days. Multiple casualties as well as road and infrastructure chaos have been reported.

A rescuer carries a cat and helps a woman during an evacuation of residents of the flooded village of Pribrezhnoe in Crimea on November 27, 2023, following a storm.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

Waves crash against a seafront in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi during a storm on November 27, 2023.

Mikhail Mordasov | Afp | Getty Images

A warship is seen docked in the port of the Black Sea resort city of Sochi during a storm on November 27, 2023.

Mikhail Mordasov | Afp | Getty Images

A tree, broken in half by storm-force winds, is lying on the ground in Odesa, southern Ukraine, on November 26, 2023.

Ukrinform | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Russia is willing to put a lot of effort into this war, NATO warns

Wars tend to last longer than people expect, NATO’s secretary general told CNBC, warning that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had shown Moscow had no intentions of capitulating.

“What we have seen is that Russia is willing to put a lot of effort into this war. They’re ramping up [weapons] production and they’re also sacrificing soldiers in large numbers,” Jens Stoltenberg told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro in Brussels on Monday.

“We need to be prepared for the long haul,” he added. “Yes, it has a price, but the price of not supporting Ukraine is much higher than the price of supporting Ukraine.”

— Holly Ellyatt

Three dead as storm hits Crimea and Russia’s Black Sea coast

Waves crash against a seafront in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi during a storm on November 27, 2023. (Photo by Mikhail Mordasov / AFP) (Photo by MIKHAIL MORDASOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Mikhail Mordasov | Afp | Getty Images

Fierce storms killed three people on the Russian and Crimean Black Sea coast on Monday, with hundreds evacuated.

State news agency TASS reported that one person had been killed in the resort city of Sochi, another on the Russian-held Crimean peninsula, and a third person onboard a vessel in the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from the Russian mainland.

Storms have been raging in the Black Sea since Friday.

Video published online showed large waves sweeping over the seafront in Sochi, and carrying away cars. In the Crimean town of Yevpatoriya, streets were flooded.

The Russian-installed governors of Crimea and Sevastopol, both of which Moscow seized and unilaterally annexed from Ukraine in 2014, declared states of emergency.

Russia’s emergency services ministry said it had evacuated more than 350 people. And the Energy Ministry said bad weather had left about 1.9 million people without electricity on Monday morning in the southern Russian regions of Dagestan, Krasnodar and Rostov, as well as Crimea and the regions of Ukraine that Russia unilaterally said it had annexed last year.

In the Russian port of Novorossiysk, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium and Russia’s Transneft state oil pipeline company announced a halt to loadings due to weather conditions.

— Reuters

Storm chaos continues across Ukraine, south hit worst

A communal worker cleans snow at the memorial of Maidan activists, also known as “Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred,” referring to the people killed in the anti-government demonstrations of 2013-2014, in Kyiv on Nov. 22, 2023.

Sergei Supinsky | Afp | Getty Images

Heavy snowstorms continue to rage across Ukraine, with the southern port of Odesa seeing some of the most extreme weather and 1.5 meters of snow.

The Kyiv-Odesa highway is closed, a 100-meter-long pipe of a boiler-house collapsed in the city and 71 car accidents took place in the region over the past 24 hours, NBC News reported.

Over the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service reported the following:

  • 892 vehicles had to be towed
  • 103 fallen trees were removed
  • Traffic is blocked on 14 highways
  • 2,019 settlements are currently experiencing power blackouts
  • There are about 1,370 cargo vehicles in temporary parking areas
  • 1,525 rescuers and 402 pieces of equipment are at work on the ground

— Holly Ellyatt

Bad weather grips Ukraine, causing power cuts and traffic chaos

Severe weather in Ukraine has made conditions “extremely difficult” in a large part of of the country, with snowstorms causing widespread power cuts.

Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said Sunday that 386 settlements in 10 regions were disrupted by extreme weather conditions, including snowstorms that trapped motorists, cars and trucks and brought down trees on major roads.

An aerial view of the Podol district after fresh snowfall on Nov. 22, 2023, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Libkos | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday evening that “weather conditions are extremely difficult in a large part of our country” and that southern regions were experiencing considerable problems, Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.

“I ask all citizens of Ukraine in areas where bad weather prevails: please be as careful as possible … As soon as possible, our power engineers will restore electricity supply to all cities and villages that are currently experiencing a temporary blackout due to bad weather,” he said.

Poor weather is already affecting conditions on the battlefield but fighting remains intense, Zelenskyy said.

“Intense fighting does not stop for a single hour in the Donetsk directions, in the Kharkiv region – the Kupyansk direction. Our soldiers are also holding positions in the south of the country: this is the Zaporizhzhia region, this is our Kherson region,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

A win for Putin would be a ‘tragedy’ for Ukrainians, NATO chief says

It would be a 'tragedy' for Ukrainians if Putin wins the war, NATO's Stoltenberg says

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told CNBC it would be a “tragedy” for Ukrainians if Russian President Vladimir Putin wins the war.

Victory would also send a dangerous message to other authoritarian leaders, he warned.

Speaking as NATO foreign ministers meet on Monday to discuss developments in the war and what further support Ukraine needs, Stoltenberg said it would “be a tragedy for Ukrainians if President Putin wins but also dangerous for us.”

“The message sent to authoritarian leaders, in Moscow but also in Beijing, would be that when they use military force and invade another country, they get what they want. Therefore we will be more vulnerable if President Putin wins so it’s in our security interests to support Ukraine,” he told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro in Brussels.

Concerns have grown recently that public support for continued military funding for Ukraine has declined. Political shifts in Europe have also heralded new leadership in a number of countries that is more skeptical about continued support for Kyiv.

Stoltenberg said bipartisan support for Ukraine remained strong in the U.S., despite some rumblings of Republican discontent over military aid. The U.S. has committed around $44.2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February 2022.

“I’m absolutely confident that the United States understands that it’s dangerous for the United States if President Putin wins in Ukraine,” he said.

— Holly Ellyatt

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