Ukraine war live updates: Russian investigators say genetic test proves Prigozhin death; Billionaire Yandex co-founder pleads for sanctions relief


The more territory Russia loses, the faster Putin’s support will decline, Kyiv official says

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s support in the war is heavily reliant on his forces’ ability to hold onto the territory it illegally annexed from Ukraine, one high-ranking Ukrainian official argued.

“All of Putin’s domestic legitimacy is built on the belief among Russian elites that he has ‘not lost the war yet.’ The Kremlin understands the inevitable: the more Russia loses the occupied territories, the faster support for the regime will decline,” Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head the Ukrainian presidency’s office, wrote in a post on social media platform X.

“The murder of Prigozhin and the preparation of a new mobilization to saturate the front is a time-saving measure. But the clock is already counting down.”

The Kremlin vocally rejected any accusation that Russia’s government was behind the death of Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash last Wednesday. Putin insists that the four regions his forces annexed from Ukraine belong to Russia, despite his country’s actions being a violation of international law and of the rights of sovereign states.

— Natasha Turak

Lithuania to propose closing half of its remaining border crossing points with Belarus

The Lithuanian interior ministry will propose closing two out of the four border crossing points it still has left with Belarus, according to Lithuanian interior minister Agne Bilotaite, who was quoted in local media outlet BNS.

Belarus’s neighbors in NATO have dramatically cut down their border crossing points since the country became a staging ground for Russian troops entering Ukraine. Poland closed all but one after Polish diplomats were expelled from Belarus, and Lithuania closed two other border crossing areas in mid-August citing “geopolitical circumstances”.

Belarus’s government invited the Wagner Russian mercenary group to base itself in Belarus instead of Russia in late June, and the country has staged military excercises with Wagner troops near the Lithuanian and Polish borders.

— Natasha Turak

Ukrainian foreign minister Kuleba meets with Czech counterpart

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, met with his Czech counterpart Jan Lipavsky and thanked him for the opportunity to speak to Czech ambassadors on Monday.

Kuleba tweeted: “Ukrainian and Czech diplomacies work shoulder to shoulder to defend freedom, advance Ukraine’s path to the EU and Nato, strengthen ties with African nations, and other shared priorities.”

The Czech Republic has been a staunch ally of Ukraine’s since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

— Natasha Turak

Two dead and five injured in Russian strike on Poltava region

Two people were killed and five injured by a Russian missile strike in the central-eastern Ukrainian region of Poltava, local authorities said.

The chief of staff of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, Andriy Yermak, wrote in a Telegram post that missiles hit a vegetable oil factory and that the people inside “were working the night shift,” according to a Google translation.

Yermak posted photos showing a facility and its metal structures up in flames. Ukraine’s military said that Russian forces launched four missiles from the Black Sea overnight, and that two of them were shot down. CNBC could not independently verify the information.

— Natasha Turak

Russia says genetic evidence proves Wagner’s Prigozhin died in plane crash

A view of site after a private jet, allegedly carrying Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin and other passengers crashed in Russia’s northwestern Tver region, Russia on August 23, 2023.

Wagner Telegram Account | Handout | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian state investigators announced that results of genetic tests proved the death of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin in a plane crash last Wednesday.

Prigozhin was on a list of ten people onboard the aircraft that crashed over Russia’s Tver region, according to the Russian federal transport agency. All ten people were killed.

“As part of the investigation of the plane crash in the Tver region, molecular-genetic examinations have been completed. According to their results, the identities of all 10 dead were established. They correspond to the list stated in the flight sheet,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement on Telegram. An English translation was provided by Reuters.

A screen grab captured from a video shared online shows Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Russian private security company Wagner, holding a rifle in a desert area while wearing camouflage in a video for the first time after his rebellion against the Russian administration in an unspecified location in Africa on August 21, 2023. In the footage shared on the Telegram channel ‘Wagner’s evacuation’, Prigozhin stated that they have made Russia ‘even greater’ on all continents, including Africa. 

Wagner Account | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Speculation remains rampant as to how the plane itself, a private jet belonging to Prigozhin, came down. Many commentators and analysts have speculated that Russian Vladimir Putin may have been behind it, a charge the Kremlin strongly denies. Prigozhin led an aborted mutiny against the Russian government on June 23, exactly two months before the plane crash.

— Natasha Turak

EU trade commissioner urges restoration of Black Sea grain deal

EU Trade Commissioner Dombrovskis: Russia is using food as a 'weapon of war'

EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis spoke to CNBC about the Black Sea Grain Initiative, criticizing Russia for using food as a “weapon of war” and stressing the need for a revival of the deal that allowed Ukrainian ships to safely export grain amid a Russian naval blockade.

“Indeed what we are seeing is Russia is using food as a weapon of war … It’s deliberately destroying Ukrainian grain storages, it’s stealing Ukrainian grain,” Dombrovskis told CNBC’s Tanvir Gill. “This not only creates problems for Ukraine, it also creates problems for developing countries across the world, because they are the ones which are suffer most in terms of food security in terms of food affordability,” he said.

The EU has been raising the issue at the G20 meetings and supporting diplomatic efforts by the U.N. and Turkey to restore the deal, Dombrovskis said.

Remnants of Russian missiles lie in the foreground of wreckage as Ukrainians salvage barley and peas three days after five Russian missiles struck a grain storage facility in the village of Pavlivka, Odesa region, Ukraine, on July 24, 2023. 

Scott Peterson | Getty Images

“We are also providing alternative export routes for Ukraine, so-called ‘solidarity lanes’,” which he said has enabled a significant volume of Ukrainian exports out so far.

“But in any case, it’s important to continue to put pressure on aggressor Russia not only to stop its aggression, but also to stop using food as a weapon of war.”

Russia pulled out of the deal in July, expressing frustration at the fact that the deal was not allowing Russian farmers and fertilizer producers to export their goods. It has since launched several attacks, destroying Ukrainian port and grain storage infrastructure as well as large amounts of stored grain.

— Natasha Turak

Russian billionaire pleads for sanctions relief after criticizing war: FT

Arkady Volozh, billionaire and co-founder of Yandex, speaks during a panel session at the annual VTB Capital “Russia Calling” Forum in Moscow, Russia, on Nov. 20, 2019.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Russian billionaire Arkady Volozh, the co-founder of social media and tech company Yandex, appealed via his lawyers to have EU sanctions against him lifted shortly after openly condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Financial Times reported.

“Lawyers for Volozh petitioned the EU to repeal the measures days after Volozh condemned Vladimir Putin’s ‘barbaric’ invasion of Ukraine, according to people familiar with the move. The request will be discussed by EU officials next month,” the FT wrote Sunday.

In a statement published on Aug. 10 by Russian independent website The Bell, Volozh said: “I am categorically against Russia’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine.”

He said he was horrified that the “homes of Ukrainians are being bombed every day, adding that he understood that he also shared “responsibility for the country’s actions.” Access to The Bell in Russia was blocked by Moscow in February.

The Yandex search engine is often dubbed as Russia’s Google. It came under European sanctions in the months following Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine for what the EU said was its role in “promoting state media and narratives in its search results” and removing “content related to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.” Volozh resigned from Yandex shortly after that.

— Natasha Turak

Ukraine says its forces liberated southeastern village of Robotyne

Ukrainian forces have retaken the southeastern settlement of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia region, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar told national television on Monday.

“Offensive operations are ongoing in the southern region. Robotyne has been liberated. And our troops are moving further south-east of Robotyne and south of Mala Tokmachka,” Maliar said according to an English translation by Ukrainian state news outlet Ukrinform. CNBC could not independently verify details on the ground.

Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia, along with three other eastern regions, in late September of 2022. Ukraine’s counteroffensive is attempting to take back as much of that territory as possible, though progress is slow.

— Natasha Turak

Russian air defense shoots down drones approaching Moscow and western border region, officials say

Russian defense forces shot down drones approaching Moscow and flying over the country’s western border region of Bryansk, officials reported.

“Today the Air Defense Troops destroyed a drone flying towards Moscow in the Lyubertsy area. For the time being, there are no casualties and no destruction. Emergency services are working at the scene of the incident,” Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin wrote on his Telegram channel, according to an English translation provided by Russian state news agency Tass.

Russia’s Defense Ministry earlier in the morning reported that air defenses also took down two drones flying over Bryansk, a region that has had numerous drone incursions in the past several weeks.

Moscow calls the attacks acts of “terrorism” from Ukraine. Kyiv has not officially commented.

— Natasha Turak

Putin expected to meet with Turkey’s Erdogan soon, Kremlin says

Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) with Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) in October 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to hold in-person talks with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan soon, as Ankara seeks to mediate a return to the Black Sea grain deal that Moscow exited last month.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday in a briefing with reporters that the time and location of the meeting is currently being finalized.

“We usually synchronize announcements of such visits with our partner countries. We will announce shortly when and where it will take place. The meeting is being prepared, and is being prepared very thoroughly,” he said, in comments reported by Reuters.

— Karen Gilchrist

Speculation that Putin killed Prigozhin is an ‘absolute lie,’ Kremlin says

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that an investigation into Wednesday’s plane crash that President Vladimir Putin said had killed Prigozhin was ongoing, according to a Reuters translation of a call with reporters.

Getty Images

The Kremlin on Friday rejected what it said was Western “speculation” that Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin had been killed on its orders, calling it an “absolute lie.”

Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that an investigation into Wednesday’s plane crash that President Vladimir Putin said had killed Prigozhin was ongoing, according to a Reuters translation of a call with reporters.

Peskov added that it’s impossible to say whether Putin would attend the funeral of Prigozhin, citing the president’s “very full schedule.”

— Karen Gilchrist

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:


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