Ukraine war live updates: Moscow says ties with China are at post-Cold War peak; Russia scrambles to deal with massive floods

A view of a damaged fire truck after Russian forces launched a massive drone attack on the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine on April 4, 2024. The drone attack killed 4, injured 12 people. 

Anadolu | Anadolu | Getty Images

Ukrainian air defense systems destroyed 20 “Shahed” attack drones as well as four missiles from S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, the head of Ukraine’s air force said Tuesday.

The drones were shot down over the Mykolaiv, Odesa, Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava, Vinnytsia and Lviv regions, Air Force Commander Lieutenant General Mykola Oleschuk said on Telegram. “Shahed” drones are Iranian-made one-way attack UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that have been a prominent feature in the Russia-Ukraine war.

Oleschuk did not mention what happened to the S-300 missiles. CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information in Oleschuk’s post.

— Holly Ellyatt

An aerial picture taken on April 8, 2024 shows the flooded part of the city of Orsk, Russia’s Orenburg region, southeast of the southern tip of the Ural Mountains. Russia said on April 8, 2024 that more than 10,000 residential buildings were flooded across the Urals, Volga area and western Siberia as emergency services evacuated cities threatened by rising rivers. On April 7, Russia declared a federal emergency in the Orenburg region, where the Ural river flooded much of the city of Orsk and is now reaching dangerous levels in the main city of Orenburg. Much of the city of Orsk has been flooded after torrential rain burst a nearby dam. (Photo by Anatoliy Zhdanov / Kommersant Photo / AFP) / Russia OUT (Photo by ANATOLIY ZHDANOV/Kommersant Photo/AFP via Getty Images)

Anatoliy Zhdanov | Afp | Getty Images

Floods are threatening Russia’s southern Kurgan region, putting more than 19,000 people’s lives at risk, the state news agency said on Tuesday, days after unprecedented flooding displaced thousands of people and inundated a city in the Ural region.

Citing the local branch of Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, TASS news agency reported that at least 4,000 homes could also be affected. Emergency measures were put in place in the region, it added.

Some of the worst floods in decades have hit a string of Russian regions in the Ural Mountains and Siberia, alongside parts of neighbouring Kazakhstan in recent days, after Europe’s third-longest river burst through a dam.

In the city of Orsk in the Orenburg region, angry residents asked President Vladimir Putin for help, complaining that their local officials had not done enough to help with the worst flooding on record.

The head of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, Alexander Kurenkov, flew to the region on Tuesday to monitor the situation after being tasked to do so by Putin, the ministry said on the Telegram messaging app.

Kurenkov will also visit the Kurgan and Tyumen regions in the Urals, the ministry added.

“Preventive measures are already being taken there, rescue teams have been strengthened, and the forces and means of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations have been put on high alert,” the ministry said.

The Ural River, which rises in the Ural Mountains and flows into the Caspian Sea, swelled several metres in just hours on Friday due to melt water, bursting through a dam embankment in the city of Orsk, 1,800 km (1,100 miles) east of Moscow.

— Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of China, back in 2015 in Vienna, Austria. 

Thomas Imo | Photothek | Getty Images

Relations between Russia and China have reached an “unprecedented level,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday after holding talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.

“We see that thanks to the leaders, Russian-Chinese relations of comprehensive partnership and strategic interaction have reached an unprecedented level, without any exaggeration,” Lavrov said, Russian news agencies reported.

“And with the re-election of Vladimir Putin, the continuity of the line for their comprehensive strengthening, of course, received additional guarantees,” he said during an official visit to Beijing Tuesday.

Lavrov said cooperation between the nations “exceeds, as our leaders have stated more than once, the military-political alliances of the Cold War, and is not directed against any third party.”

Russia and China have become increasingly close in recent years, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping noting that a deep friendship had developed between them.

China is seen as the senior partner in the relationship, however, and is seen as one of the few countries that could wield influence over Moscow when it comes to the war in Ukraine. Nonetheless, China has refused to condemn Russia’s 2022 invasion and has done little to bring about peace talks.

— Holly Ellyatt

The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Monday alleged that a Ukrainian drone was shot down over one of its reactors, a day after Russia accused Ukraine of launching three drone attacks on the plant.

Russia has also accused Ukraine without evidence of facilitating last month’s terror attack in Moscow that killed 140 people. Terror group ISIS-K claimed responsibility.

Kyiv denies having anything to do with Sunday’s strikes or the terror attack, and on Monday Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company accused Moscow of orchestrating a “campaign of provocations.”

The head of Ukraine’s center for countering disinformation, Lieutenant Andriy Kovalenko, said on Monday that Russia’s attempts to blame Ukraine for the terror attack were “propaganda.”

“At the same time, Russia is striking the ZNPP with drones, pretending that the threat to the plant and nuclear safety is coming from Ukraine,” he added.

– Elliot Smith

Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina told lawmakers in Russia’s lower house of parliament that production in the country is being constrained by worker shortages, according to Reuters.

Nabiullina reportedly told the State Duma that Russia’s economy is continuing to grow at an impressive rate.

Elliot Smith

A view of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on June 15, 2023. 

Olga Maltseva | Afp | Getty Images

The United Nations’ atomic energy watchdog sounded the alarm Sunday after drones struck a nuclear reactor at the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said the serious incident “endangered nuclear safety and security” as Europe’s largest nuclear plant was directly targeted by military strikes for the first time since November 2022. However, it added that there are no indications of critical damage at this stage.

“This is a major escalation of the nuclear safety and security dangers facing the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. Such reckless attacks significantly increase the risk of a major nuclear accident and must cease immediately,” IAEA Director General Grossi said.

Russian nuclear power company Rosatom said Ukraine’s military was behind the attack, without providing any evidence. Ukraine has denied any involvement and alleged Russia launched the drones.

Elliot Smith

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