Ukraine war live updates: Drone warfare intensifies as Moscow and Kyiv report attacks; Chinese and Ukrainian officials meet

A man makes a selfie photo in front of the Kremlin’s Spasskaya tower and St. Basil’s cathedral in downtown Moscow on September 11, 2023. Russia’s Elections Commission said that the pro-Kremlin United Russia part had won local elections in four regions of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces, in a vote dismissed by Kyiv. (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV / AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

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The Kremlin, asked on Tuesday about potential U.S. strikes on Iranian interests, said tensions in the Middle East were high and that steps were needed to de-escalate rather than destabilise the wider region.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday vowed the U.S. would take “all necessary actions” to defend its troops after a deadly drone attack in Jordan by Iran-backed militants, even as President Joe Biden’s administration stressed it was not seeking a war with Iran.

“We do not welcome any actions that lead to destabilisation in the region and increase tensions, especially against the backdrop of the excessive potential for conflict,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“We will not welcome the continuation of such actions, regardless of who they come from. The level of tension is high now and we need to take steps to de-escalate. This is what will prevent the conflict from spreading.”

Russia enjoys increasingly close ties with Iran at a time when its ties with the United States are at their lowest level since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis over what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

— Reuters

Russian Sukhoi Su-34, Sukhoi Su-35S and Sukhoi Su-30S fighter jets perform ahead of Victory Day in Red Square in Moscow.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian forces claim to have destroyed a Russian Su-34 fighter jet in the partially occupied eastern Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine.

Andrii Kovaliov, spokesperson for the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said this on Ukrainian television, Ukrainian news outlet Ukrinform reported Tuesday.

Kovaliov was cited as saying that a Russian Su-34 fighter bomber aircraft was shot down. CNBC was unable to immediately verify the report but if accurate, the loss of a modern Su-34 aircraft, estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars, would be a significant loss for Russia’s air force.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia’s former leader Dmitry Medvedev, a President Putin ally who is now deputy chairman of the country’s security council, visits the Prudboy range in the Volgograd region, southern Russia, on June 1, 2023.

Yekaterina Shtukina | AFP | Getty Images

Senior Russian security official Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday that Moscow will deploy new weapons on the Kuril Islands which are at the centre of a territorial dispute with Japan, the TASS state news agency TASS reported.

Russia and Japan have never signed a peace treaty formally ending the conflict between them that dates back to World War Two, with the Kuril Islands – which Japan calls the Northern Territories – remaining the primary stumbling block between the two sides.

TASS cited Medvedev as saying that Russia was not against signing a peace treaty with Japan, but only if Tokyo no longer disputed the islands’ status.

— Reuters

Security measures are taken after Il-76 plane with 65 Ukrainian military prisoners on board crashed, as the entrances and exits are kept under control in the Belgorod, Russia on January 24, 2024.

Emil Leegunov | Anadolu | Getty Images

Data from the flight recorders of the Il-76 aircraft that Russia says was shot down by Ukrainian armed forces last week confirms the external impact on it, law enforcement agencies reportedly told Tass news agency.

Black boxes from the Russian military transport plane were retrieved last week after the plane crashed over the Belgorod region, killing 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war on board, as well as nine Russians. Moscow accused Ukraine of shooting down the plane with Western missiles; Ukraine has neither accepted nor denied responsibility for the incident.

“The black box data … confirms that the plane was subjected to external influence, that is, it was shot down in the air. Everything is obvious,” the law enforcement agency’s interlocutor reportedly told Tass.

Analysis of the black box data is ongoing. “This work is nearing completion. There is no rush here,” a representative of the security forces was cited as saying.

CNBC was unable to verify the information in the media report.

— Holly Ellyatt

China Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong met with Ukrainian ambassador to China Pavlo Riabikin and exchanged views on issues of shared concern, including the Ukraine crisis, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong.

Francis R. Malasig | Afp | Getty Images

Sun, in their meeting, said both China and Ukraine should respect each other and treat each other sincerely, so as to promote the steady and long-term development of bilateral relations.

— Reuters

Regional officials of both Russia and Ukraine reported a series of attempted drone attacks against territories in their countries overnight.

Russian authorities reported early Tuesday that air defense systems shot down Ukrainian drones over the regions of Bryansk, Kaluga and Tula, as well as over the sea area in the Sevastopol area in Russian-occupied Crimea, Russian news agency Interfax reported, citing officials in each of the regions.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said air defense forces destroyed and intercepted 21 Ukrainian drones over those territories.

“Over the past night, an attempt by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack using an aircraft-type UAV on targets on the territory of the Russian Federation was stopped,” the department said, news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Two State Emergency Service employees look at a response effort to the Russian drone strike at industrial warehouses in Lviv, western Ukraine. In the early hours of Tuesday, September 19, the Russian army launched 18 Shahed one-way attack drones in the direction of Lviv Region. 

Ukrinform | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s air force said air defense systems destroyed 15 out of 35 Russian drones that were launched at Ukrainian energy and military infrastructure within the Mykolaiv, Sumy, Cherkasy, Kirovohrad, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Kherson and Kyiv regions. Two missiles were also launched by Russian forces in the Donetsk region.

The enemy directed part of the attack UAVs on the front-line territories, trying to hit the infrastructure of the fuel and energy sector, civilian and military facilities near the front line and the state border with the Russian Federation,” the air force said on Telegram.

It was not immediately clear what happened to the drones that were not destroyed, or the two missiles that Ukraine reported.

— Holly Ellyatt

Hungary accused the European Union of blackmail after a leaked document reportedly suggested that the bloc plans to sabotage Budapest’s economy if it vetoes fresh aid for Ukraine at a summit later this week.

Hungary’s minister for EU affairs took to social media to lambast the paper drawn up by EU officials and cited Sunday by the Financial Times, which said that Brussels has developed a strategy to target Hungary’s economic weak spots and undermine investor confidence over its blockade of funds to Kyiv.

“Hungary does not give in to blackmail,” Bóka János wrote in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

— Karen Gilchrist

A Ukrainian rocket strike in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Monday killed at least three civilians and wounded one more, Russian-installed Mayor Alexei Kulemzin announced on Telegram.

Multiple unverified pictures and videos had earlier emerged on social media showing a vehicle on fire and several bodies lying in the street.

CNBC was not able to independently verify Kulemzin’s claims.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó arrived in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, on Monday for talks with senior officials ahead of Thursday’s EU summit, at which the bloc hopes Budapest will sign off on a 50 billion euro ($54 billion) aid package to Ukraine.

Andriy Yermak, Ukraine’s presidential chief of staff, shared a photograph on X of the two men sitting opposite one another.

“For a better relationship, a frank dialogue is needed. We are ready,” Yermak said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 16, 2024. 

Denis Balibouse | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday published his income over a two-year period, as he looks to promote transparency as part of Kyiv’s push for European Union membership.

According to the declaration, the president and his family members received 10.8 million hryvnias ($286,168) in 2021, the year before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, down almost 12 million hryvnias from the previous year. The 2021 figure included income from the sale of around $142,000 in government bonds.

In 2022, the Zelenskyy family’s income fell to 3.7 million hryvnias due to the “temporary termination of lease agreements on the territory of Ukraine as a result of the beginning of Russia’s full-scale aggression.”

The family’s cash balance at the end of 2022 dropped by almost 1.8 million, while there were no other changes across the two years relating to assets, real estate, vehicles etc.

Ukraine formally started the screening process to begin talks over its future membership of the EU on Thursday, and faces stringent conditions to increase transparency and root out corruption.

Zelenskyy has called for all public officials to disclose their incomes, while the U.S. and other allies supporting Ukraine’s war effort, including the International Monetary Fund, have sought assurances about the country’s efforts to eradicate corruption.

Elliot Smith

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