Latest news on Russia and war in Ukraine

Kremlin says U.S. defence budget ‘confrontational’ towards Russia

The Kremlin on Wednesday said that a U.S. military aid spending bill providing $800 million to Ukraine approved by U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday was “confrontational” towards Russia.

In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “The document that has been adopted is of an extremely confrontational nature in relation to our country.”

Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov seen during the military parade at Red Square, on May 9, 2021 in Moscow, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorizes the additional spending for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, an increase of $500 million over U.S. President Joe Biden’s request earlier this year.

The bill also suspends some restrictions on contracts for munitions to support Ukraine.

It is expected to pass the Senate and House of Representatives this month, and be sent to the White House for Biden to sign into law.

— Reuters

Southern and eastern Ukraine bear the brunt of Russian attacks, officials say

The southern and eastern regions of Ukraine continue to bear the brunt of Russian missile attacks with strikes continuing overnight and into Wednesday, regional officials said.

Yaroslav Yanushevych, the head of the Kherson Regional Military Administration, said that the southern region had been shelled 51 times over the past 24 hours, with two civilians killed during the strikes and another injured.

“Russian occupiers shelled the territory of Kherson region 51 times,” Yanushevych said on Telegram, adding that Russia had employed “artillery, MLRS (multiple launch rocket systems), tanks and mortars” to do so. “Civilian infrastructure objects” and residential buildings were damaged during the shelling, he said.

Workers repair a destroyed bridge, blown up by Russian troops during their retreat from Kherson region on December 6, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Anatolii Stepanov | Afp | Getty Images

The southeastern region Zaporizhzhia has also experienced continued assaults into Wednesday, according to Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration (RMA). He said on Telegram that two communities in the Zaporizhzhia district had been targeted with explosive-carrying drones and S-300 missiles.

“In one of the villages, two houses were destroyed and eight more were damaged. According to preliminary data, three people, including a 15-year-old girl, were injured,” Starukh said on Telegram.

The Dnipropetrovsk region toward eastern Ukraine was also shelled overnight with Valentyn Reznichenko, the head of the regional RMA, stating that Nikopol city was particularly badly hit.

“Nikopol suffered the most. Up to a dozen private houses, farm buildings and gas pipelines were damaged in the city,” he said on Telegram, adding that several shops, office buildings and a college had been “mutilated by Russian shells.”

CNBC was unable to immediately verify the information contained within the reports.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia beefing up defenses in Belgorod needlessly, UK says

The U.K.’s Ministry of Defence said Russia’s decision to extend defensive positions along its international border with Ukraine, and deep inside the border region of Belgorod, reflects a misplaced belief that Ukraine could try to invade Russia.

A view of damaged structures in Belgorod in Russia after suspected attacks, seen on Nov. 6, 2022.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The U.K. said in its latest intelligence update that the recent beefing up of defenses in Belgorod could be due to Russian authorities wanting to promote a baseless idea that Ukraine could invade.

“There is a realistic possibility that the Russian authorities are promoting defensive preparations within internationally recognised Russian territory to burnish patriotic feeling. However, it probably illustrates some Russia decision-makers’ genuine (but false) belief that there is a credible threat of invasion by Ukrainian forces,” the U.K. said.

“Paucity in strategic assessment is one of the critical weaknesses in the central Russian government architecture: as highlighted by Russia’s original decision to invade Ukraine,” it noted, adding: “Impartial official analysis is almost certainly frequently undermined by a tendency toward group-think and politically expedient conclusions.”

In its latest intelligence update, the ministry noted that trench digging has been reported in Belgorod since at least April, “but the new constructions are probably more elaborate systems, designed to rebuff mechanised assault.” In addition, the governor of Belgorod announced Tuesday that he was establishing local “self-defence units.”

Russia has accused Ukrainian forces of shelling Belgorod and other border regions repeatedly during the war, killing a number of civilians in the process. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for any incidents within Russian…

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