Russia-Ukraine war updates on Feb. 13, 2024

Biden urges U.S. House to move ahead with $95 billion Ukraine aid bill

US President Joe Biden speaks about the Special Counsel report in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on February 8, 2024 in a surprise last-minute addition to his schedule for the day.

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged the U.S. House of Representatives to quickly move ahead on a $95 billion aid package providing funds for foreign allies including Ukraine.

“If we do not stand against tyrants who seek to conquer or carve up their neighbors’ territory, the consequences for America’s national security will be significant,” Biden said in a statement.

“Our allies and adversaries alike will take note. It is time for the House to take action and send this bipartisan legislation to my desk immediately so that I can sign it into law,” he added.

Both the Senate and the House must approve the legislation before Biden can sign it into law.

— Karen Gilchrist

Schumer calls on U.S. House to pass Ukraine aid bill

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, speaks during a news conference at the US Capitol on February 13, 2024, in Washington, DC. 

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

U.S. Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday called on leaders of the House of Representatives to do the right thing and allow a vote on a $95 billion aid package providing funds for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Speaking hours after the Democratic-led Senate backed the bill in a pre-dawn vote, Schumer said he was confident the bill would pass the House with bipartisan support if there were a vote.

Both houses of Congress would have to approve the legislation before U.S. President Joe Biden can sign it into law.

— Karen Gilchrist

Ukraine energy minister says U.S. aid needed to protect infrastructure

Further U.S. aid is critical for Ukraine to bolster the air defenses which protect its civilian infrastructure, Ukraine’s Minister for Energy German Galushchenko told CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe.”

Last winter, daily strikes between Oct. 10 and March 9 impacted up to 50% of all Ukraine’s energy system, he said, while this winter the arrival of modern air defense systems such as Patriots meant that consumers were being supplied with electricity and heating.

“This money is critically needed … the consequences of this delay is very important to understand, that it will directly [impact] the civil people in Ukraine,” Galushchenko said Tuesday.

He was speaking as the U.S. Senate approved a bill containing $61 billion in aid for Ukraine.

— Jenni Reid

U.S. Senate passes Ukraine aid bill

The U.S. Senate voted early Tuesday to approve a $95 billion aid package providing funds for foreign allies including Ukraine, but its future remains uncertain amid intense lawmaker opposition.

The package includes $61 billion for Ukraine, $14 billion for Israel and $4.83 billion to support partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan, along with facilities for humanitarian aid.

The bill passed by 70-29 in the Democrat-led chamber.

However, it must still pass the Republican-led House of Representatives, where it faces fierce opposition.

House Speaker Mike Johnson on Monday said that the latest iteration of the bill had failed to meet Republican demands for border security provisions.

Read more here.

— Jenni Reid

Ukraine economy up 3.5% year-on-year on higher exports, end to Poland blockade

Ukrainian gross domestic product grew 3.5% year-on-year in January, the country’s economic ministry said Tuesday, citing higher seaborne exports and the suspension of a Polish border blockade.

ADR trucks carrying flammable substances are blocked at the Rava-Ruska-Hrebenne checkpoint as part of a protest by Polish carriers at three checkpoints, Ukrainian – Polish border.

Ukrinform | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Finance Minister Yuliya Svyridenko said growing investment demand and improved availability of foreign markets for domestic manufacturers both boosted growth at the start of the year.

Ukraine also notched its highest export volumes along what it calls the “Ukrainian Maritime Corridor” — the Black Sea trade route that it has built back up since August 2023, following heightened tensions with Russian ships.

Polish truckers and farmers have meanwhile engaged in a long-running protest over European Union trade rule that blocks several Ukrainian border crossings. The demonstration was suspended halfway through January.

— Jenni Reid

Zelenskyy meets with new army chiefs

Colonel general Oleksandr Syrskyi, Commander of the Ukrainian Ground Forces, attends an interview with Reuters, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine January 12, 2024. 

Valentyn Ogirenko | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held the first meeting with his newly-appointed military chiefs on Monday, following a major leadership shake-up last week.

New Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi and Chief of General Staff Anatoliy Barhylevych were in attendance.

In his nightly address, Zelenskyy said that the commanders provided front-line updates on areas including Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Zaporizhzhia, and on Ukraine’s actions in the southern Kherson region.

He added that the military would strengthen its “mobile firing groups,” which previous reports say defend against air strikes and attacks on critical infrastructure.

“We will increase the number of such groups. They are one of the pillars of our defense against Russian terror,” Zelenskyy said.

— Jenni Reid

U.S. Senate to vote on Ukraine aid bill

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) makes a statement to the press on February 06, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The U.S. Senate is expected to hold a final vote on Tuesday on a $95 billion aid package that would provide funds for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but its future remains uncertain amid intense lawmaker opposition.

A procedural vote passed in the Senate late on Monday, advancing the bill to the final hurdle in the Democrat-controlled legislature, where it is expected to pass.

The package must also be approved in the Republican-led House of Representatives, which appears less likely.

The contentious security aid bill has been stuck in political limbo for months. Many lawmakers, including U.S. President Joe Biden, insist it is crucial to uphold U.S. international obligations and protect domestic security. The package includes a provision of $61 billion for Ukraine, which Ukrainian officials say is sorely needed for the war effort against Russia.

The bill faces continued opposition from many Republicans, who have pushed for the inclusion of funding for domestic security on the southern border.

House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson on Monday said that the latest iteration of the bill had failed to meet those demands, adding it “should have gone back to the drawing board… to include real border security provisions that would actually held end the ongoing catastrophe.”

“Instead, the Senate’s foreign aid bill is silent on the most pressing issue facing our country,” he said in a statement, adding that: “The House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters.”

The Senate vote could be held as early as 7 a.m. EST on Tuesday, aides told Reuters.

— Jenni Reid

Ukraine intelligence agency says Russia buying Starlink terminals ‘in Arab countries’

Ukraine’s military intelligence agency on Tuesday claimed that Russia was purchasing Starlink terminals produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX via unspecified “Arab countries.”

In this photo illustration, a Starlink dish and router are displayed on February 12, 2024 in San Anselmo, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

In a Google-translated post on the Telegram messaging app, the defense ministry department said it had intercepted a radio call in which Russian forces were discussing the possibility of acquiring the technology, which provides high-speed internet through satellite connectivity.

The Ukrainian intelligence department said the cost of a Starlink device was talked near 200,000 roubles ($2,196).

CNBC has not independently verified the claim and has contacted SpaceX for comment.

Musk on Sunday countered Ukraine’s claim that Russian forces are using Starlink terminals in occupied areas.

“A number of false news reports claim that SpaceX is selling Starlink terminals to Russia. This is categorically false. To the best of our knowledge, no Starlinks have been sold directly or indirectly to Russia,” Musk said on social platform X.

— Jenni Reid

Russian air attack damages Dnipro power plant, Ukraine says

Russia attacked the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro with missiles and drones on Tuesday, damaging a power plant and cutting off water supplies to some residents, Ukrainian officials and media said.

The city of just under one million people came under attack from a missile and four groups of drones approaching from the south, east and north, Ukraine’s Air Force said on the Telegram messaging app.

It reported shooting down 16 out of 23 drones launched by Russia.

Ukraine’s largest private energy provider, DTEK, said a thermal power plant was significantly damaged. There were no casualties, it added.

The company did not say where the power plant was located, but Dnipro’s water utility company said on Telegram that “due to power outages” water supply had been partially suspended and Ukrainian media outlets said a power plant in Dnipro was hit.

Regional governor Serhiy Lysak said on Tuesday morning that energy infrastructure had been hit, but gave no further details. He said 10 drones were destroyed over the city and that workers had restored power to all affected homes.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports. There was no immediate response from Russia’s defence ministry to a request for comment.

Both Russia and Ukraine have increased their air attacks away from the frontline in recent months, targeting each other’s critical energy, military and transport infrastructure.

— Reuters

Mon, Feb 12 202410:42 AM EST

Germany’s Scholz says country will meet NATO spending target

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses a press conference at the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12, 2023. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) / ALTERNATIVE CROP (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Odd Andersen | Afp | Getty Images

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday said that Europe must begin mass producing arms and pledged to meet NATO’s target of spending 2% the country’s gross domestic product on defense.

“We have to move away from manufacturing towards large-scale production of defence equipment,” Scholz said during a site visit to a future factory of arms producer Rheinmetall, according to Reuters.

It comes shortly after former U.S. head of state and presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would not protect NATO members from Russia if they were behind on payments.

Scholz noted that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine had highlighted difficulties with the production of ammunition in Europe and called on allies to enhance their assistance to Ukraine.

“Not only the United States, but all European countries must do even more to support Ukraine. The pledges made so far are not enough. Germany’s power alone is not enough,” he said.

— Sophie Kiderlin

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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