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UN Chief Arrives in Kyiv After Moscow Stop; Russia Releases U.S. Marine Veteran Trevor Reed

Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | Getty Images

This has been CNBC's live blog covering updates on the war in Ukraine. Follow the latest updates here.

Russia's gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria were halted Wednesday with Moscow's state gas giant Gazprom telling them that supplies would only resume if and when they paid for the gas in Russian rubles. Gas prices in Europe have risen as a result and the euro has fallen against the dollar.

The move comes as tensions remain high between Western allies and Russia after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday said the threat of a nuclear war is very significant and the risks should not be underestimated.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who visited Kyiv last weekend, responded to those comments Tuesday, calling the nuclear war rhetoric "very dangerous and unhelpful."

The U.S. also said it plans to send diplomats back to Ukraine as Russia focuses its assault on the eastern and southern parts of the country.

Microsoft says Russia-backed hackers began preparing for the war in March 2021

Russia-backed hackers began preparing for the invasion of Ukraine as early as March 2021, Microsoft said in a report.

"When Russian troops first started to move toward the border with Ukraine, we saw efforts to gain initial access to targets that could provide intelligence on Ukraine's military and foreign partnerships," the report said.

"By mid-2021, Russian actors were targeting supply chain vendors in Ukraine and abroad to secure further access not only to systems in Ukraine but also NATO member states," the report added.

Earlier this year, Russia-backed groups conducted "destructive wiper malware" attacks against Ukrainian organizations when diplomatic efforts failed to ease tensions, the report said.

Ukrainian soldiers stand on their armored personnel carrier, not far from the front-line with Russian troops, in the Kharkiv region on April 18, 2022. Russia-aligned actors began pre-positioning for the invasion of Ukraine as early as March 2021, according to a Microsoft report released yesterday.
Anatolii Stepanov | Afp | Getty Images
Ukrainian soldiers stand on their armored personnel carrier, not far from the front-line with Russian troops, in the Kharkiv region on April 18, 2022. Russia-aligned actors began pre-positioning for the invasion of Ukraine as early as March 2021, according to a Microsoft report released yesterday.

Russia has used cyberattacks to support its army's strategic and tactical objectives, the report added.

"Starting just before the invasion, we have seen at least six separate Russia-aligned nation-state actors launch more than 237 operations against Ukraine – including destructive attacks that are ongoing and threaten civilian welfare," the report said.

Microsoft said it expects cyberattacks will continue to escalate as the war goes on. Russian-backed hackers could also target countries that have helped Ukraine and punished Moscow due to the war, the report said.

— Chelsea Ong

Blinken says Europe has 'ambitious' plans to cut energy reliance on Russia

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2022. Blinken and the defense secretary on Monday committed a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries. 
Al Drago | Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2022. Blinken and the defense secretary on Monday committed a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries. 

European countries have 'genuinely ambitious' plans to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, adding that 'further progress' was expected on Russian oil imports in the coming weeks.

"The Europeans have, I think, genuinely ambitious plans to move away from this reliance on Russian energy. The challenge is to put them into effect," Blinken said at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Around half of Russia's 4.7 million barrels per day of crude exports go to the EU. Cutting them off would deprive Moscow of a major revenue stream.

"I think you are likely to see in the coming weeks further progress on the oil side of the equation in terms of Russian imports. Gas is a bigger challenge," he added.

The European Union is considering options to cut imports of Russian oil as part of possible further sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, but none has been formally proposed as governments assess their impact.

— Reuters

White House set to make 'massive' funding request for more Ukraine aid

A C-130 Hercules taxis on the flightline July 14, 2014, at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kelly Goonan | U.S. Air Force
A C-130 Hercules taxis on the flightline July 14, 2014, at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.

The White House is preparing to send a request to Congress for additional Ukraine aid as early as Thursday, administration officials confirmed to NBC News.

Officials described the amount of the request as "massive" but would not provide a specific dollar amount as some of the details have not been finalized.

The officials said the dollar amount sought should be able to fund U.S. support for Ukraine through the end of the current fiscal year, which ends in September. Since Russia's late February invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration has authorized $3.4 billion in military assistance.

Last week, President Joe Biden said that he was running out of funding authorized by Congress and would soon send a request to lawmakers.

The latest military aid package of $800 million, which is the eighth installment of aid, comes after eight weeks of war and as Russian forces prepare for a renewed fight in the east and south of Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

UN mobilizing team for Mariupol steel plant evacuation

The U.N. says its humanitarian office is mobilizing an experienced team from around the world to coordinate the complex evacuation of civilians from the besieged steel plant in the battered Ukrainian city of Mariupol with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in principle to U.N. and ICRC participation in the evacuation from the plant during a nearly two-hour, one-on-one meeting Tuesday. The sprawling Azovstal complex, which has been almost completely destroyed by Russian attacks, is the last pocket of organized Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol. An estimated 2,000 troops and 1,000 civilians are said to be holed up in bunkers underneath the wrecked structure.

— Associated Press

Canada sanctions more than 200 loyal to Putin

The Canadian government said Wednesday that it has imposed sanctions on more than 200 people who are loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region.

Russian forces have been backing separatist rebels in the Donbas area for eight years following Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

The Canadian sanctions are focused on the renewed Russian attempt to annex areas of the Donbas by targeting people attempting to support the next phase of the two-month-old Russian war on Ukraine.

"Canada will not stand idly by and watch President Putin and his accomplices attempt to redraw the borders of Ukraine with impunity," Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said in a statement. "International law must be respected."

Global Affairs Canada, the governmental department that manages the country's diplomatic relations, said the new measures target 11 senior officials and 192 other members of the People's Councils of the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk for supporting Putin's attack on the area.

— Associated Press

Biden set to visit Lockheed Martin facility that produces Javelin weapons

U.S. Army infantryman fires a Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile during a combined arms live fire exercise as part of Exercise Eastern Action 2019 at Al-Ghalail Range in Qatar, Nov. 14, 2018.
US Army photo
U.S. Army infantryman fires a Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile during a combined arms live fire exercise as part of Exercise Eastern Action 2019 at Al-Ghalail Range in Qatar, Nov. 14, 2018.


President Joe Biden will travel to Alabama next week to visit a Lockheed Martin facility that manufactures weapon systems such as Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The U.S. has so far transferred nearly 6,000 Javelins, which are co-produced by defense giants Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, to the Ukrainian government. It has provided $3.4 billion in weapons to Ukraine since Russia's invasion in late February.

The latest military aid package of $800 million, which is the eighth installment of aid, comes after eight weeks of war and as Russian forces prepare for a renewed fight in the east and south of Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

UN secretary-general arrives in Kyiv following meeting with Putin

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at a new conference after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, April 26, 2022. 
Maxim Shipenkov | Reuters
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at a new conference after his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia, April 26, 2022. 

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Ukraine following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.

"We will continue our work to expand humanitarian support & secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones. The sooner this war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and the world," he wrote in a tweet.

The meetings follow Guterres' formal request to meet separately with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in their respective capitals.

— Amanda Macias

A Soviet monument of friendship between Ukraine and Russia demolished in Kyiv

A Soviet monument to friendship between Ukraine and Russia was demolished in Kyiv.

A Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations is seen during its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
A Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations is seen during its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022.
A Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations is seen during its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022. 
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
A Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations is seen during its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022. 
A Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations is seen during its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
A Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations is seen during its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022.
People look and take pictures of a Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations after its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
People look and take pictures of a Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations after its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Children depict a Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations after its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
Children depict a Soviet monument to a friendship between Ukrainian and Russian nations after its demolition, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in central Kyiv, Ukraine April 26, 2022.

— Reuters

Moscow to expel Japanese, Norwegian diplomats

Russia's Foreign Ministry said it will expel eight Japanese and three Norwegian diplomats in a punitive move for what it deemed anti-Russian measures taken by each country.

Moscow said it told a Japanese official that eight of its diplomats must leave Russia by May 10 as punishment for Tokyo's decision earlier this month to banish eight Russian diplomats from Japan.

Russia also plans to expel three Norwegian diplomats after Norway earlier ejected the same number of Russian officials. In justifying the move, Moscow cited what it described as "the provision of military assistance by the Norwegian authorities to the Kyiv regime."

— Thomas Franck

UN says 2,787 killed in Ukraine since start of war, warns death toll is likely higher

Andrii Kihitov is comforted by a mourner following the funeral of his son, 21 year-old Yegor Kihitov, on April 26, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.
Leon Neal | Getty Images
Andrii Kihitov is comforted by a mourner following the funeral of his son, 21 year-old Yegor Kihitov, on April 26, 2022 in Lviv, Ukraine.

The United Nations says it has confirmed 2,787 civilian deaths and 3,152 injuries in Ukraine since Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbor on Feb. 24.

Of those killed, the U.N. has identified at least 61 girls and 74 boys, as well as 67 children whose gender is unknown.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said Monday that the death toll in Ukraine is likely higher, citing delayed reports due to the armed conflict.

The international body said most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as missiles and airstrikes.

— Amanda Macias

Putin threatens to retaliate against anyone who interferes with war in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin walks past a guard during a ceremony honouring the country's Olympians and Paralympians at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia April 26, 2022. 
Maxim Shemetov | Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin walks past a guard during a ceremony honouring the country's Olympians and Paralympians at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia April 26, 2022. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned world leaders against interfering with what he continues to call a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

"I want to stress once more, the special military operation in the Ukraine and Donbas, which started in February, all the objectives will be definitely carried out to guarantee the security of people in the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic, the Russian Crimea and all our country," Putin said before Russia's Council of Legislators in St Petersburg.

He said Russia's military prevented a "real threat, which was hanging over our motherland." Putin added that the Kremlin would retaliate against anyone who interfered with the ongoing military operation.

"Our response, our retaliation, those attacks will be lightning-fast. We have all instruments for that. Such instruments that no one can boast of ... and we're going to use them if we have to. I want everybody to know that," Putin said.

It was not immediately clear what was meant by instruments. Putin also said the rafts of global sanctions against Russia have failed to "strangle us economically."

— Amanda Macias

Russia releases U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed in dramatic prisoner swap

Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was detained in 2019 and accused of assaulting police officers, stands inside a defendants' cage during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia March 11, 2020.
Tatyana Makeyeva | Reuters
Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was detained in 2019 and accused of assaulting police officers, stands inside a defendants' cage during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia March 11, 2020.

Trevor Reed, a former U.S. Marine detained by Russian authorities in 2019, has been released following negotiations between Moscow and Washington.

Reed was accused of assaulting a Russian officer and was later sentenced to nine years in prison, though his family has maintained his innocence and the U.S. government has described him as unjustly iprisoned.

President Joe Biden, who has previously met Reed's family, wrote in a statement that the "negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions."

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Reed was part of a prisoner exchange in which, the U.S. would return Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot serving a 20-year federal prison sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine into the United States.

Read more: Russia releases U.S. Marine veteran Trevor Reed as part of prisoner exchange

— Amanda Macias

Russian gas supply stoppage is 'first shot back at the West,' analyst says

Xi Nan, VP of commodity market analysis at Rystad Energy, says Russia's decision to halt gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria is a shot across the bow as Europe's support of Ukraine continues.

The commodity analyst also discusses the broader implications of Russia's decision for other EU members such as Germany.

Euro falls below $1.06 for first time in five years

The euro fell below $1.06 for the first time in five years on Wednesday morning amid fears over Europe's energy security and economic growth.

The euro declined to a five-year low of $1.05860 after Russia's state-owned gas giant Gazprom said it had cut gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday. By mid-morning, the single currency was trading at $1.0614.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the continuing war, now in its third month, has dented the euro, which has fallen 3.5% against the dollar since the start of April.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia says it has hit an arms depot housing weapons supplied by the U.S., Europe

Russia's defense ministry said it struck an arms depot which houses a "large batch of foreign weapons and ammunition supplied by the United States and European countries for Ukrainian troops."

The statement, which the Defense Ministry posted on its Telegram account, said high-precision, long-range sea-based Kalibr missiles hit the depot in the Zaporizhzhia region.

The ministry also said its air force had destroyed 59 Ukrainian military facilities overnight, including four other warehouses with weapons and ammunition.

CNBC was not able to independently confirm Russia's claim. Moscow has warned Western nations against continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons, saying such supplies are legitimate targets.

Holly Ellyatt

Natural gas prices surge as Moscow toys with European supplies

A photo taken on April 27, 2022 shows the logo of Polish state-controlled gas utility company PGNiG at the company's headquarters in Warsaw.
Janek Skarzynski | AFP | Getty Images
A photo taken on April 27, 2022 shows the logo of Polish state-controlled gas utility company PGNiG at the company's headquarters in Warsaw.

Natural gas prices are surging in Europe after Russia halted supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday.

The Dutch wholesale gas contract for the day-ahead, a benchmark for Europe, rose 24.2% this morning to 115.75 euros ($122.30) per megawatt hour, while the U.K. natural gas price for June rose around 20 pence to 222 pence (278 cents) a therm.

Early Wednesday morning, Gazprom released a statement saying it had halted supplies to both Poland and Bulgaria — both heavy consumers of Russian gas — due to payments not being made in the Russian currency. It said supplies would resume once these payments were made.

The move also coincides with a sharp rise in tensions between Western allies and Russia as the war in Ukraine continues into a third month.

Holly Ellyatt

Russia halts gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria

Poland's state-owned oil and gas company PGNiG said Russia's gas giant Gazprom had informed it on Tuesday that it would halt gas supplies that are delivered via the Yamal pipeline on Wednesday morning.
Igor Russak | Picture Alliance | Getty Images
Poland's state-owned oil and gas company PGNiG said Russia's gas giant Gazprom had informed it on Tuesday that it would halt gas supplies that are delivered via the Yamal pipeline on Wednesday morning.

Russia's gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria have been halted on Wednesday morning after the countries refused Moscow's demand to pay for gas supplies in rubles.

Russia's state gas giant Gazprom had contacted Poland and Bulgaria's state gas companies on Tuesday telling them that their supplies would be halted on Wednesday. Poland said its supplies had been cut today, while the situation in Bulgaria is more uncertain.

Poland's state-owned oil and gas company PGNiG said Russia's gas giant Gazprom had informed it on Tuesday that it would halt gas supplies that are delivered via the Yamal pipeline on Wednesday morning.

PGNiG said in a statement Tuesday that the company is monitoring the situation "and is prepared for various scenarios" and to receive gas from other sources, but said that currently it has enough gas in storage and is meeting demand.

The halting of gas supplies to Poland, which imports around 45% of its natural gas from Russia, according to recent data from the EU, is another sign of rising tensions between Russia and the West following the invasion of Ukraine. One official in Kyiv described Russia's latest move to cut supplies as "gas blackmail."

Bulgaria imported almost 73% of its natural gas from Russia in 2020, EU data shows.

Russia had demanded that countries importing its gas (the EU as a bloc imports around 40% of its natural gas from Russia every year) must pay in rubles, prompting a backlash from importers, including Poland and Bulgaria, which refused and said the demand is a breach of contract.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed accusations that Moscow was using its gas supplies to blackmail European nations Poland and Bulgaria, saying Russia was a reliable energy supplier. He also declined to say how many countries had agreed to switch to paying for gas in rubles, Reuters reported.

Holly Ellyatt

Global sanctions will push back Russian economy gains by 20 years, Blinken says

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2022. Blinken and the defense secretary on Monday committed a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries. 
Al Drago | Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2022. Blinken and the defense secretary on Monday committed a total of $713 million in foreign military financing for Ukraine and 15 allied and partner countries. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he believes Russians are feeling the effect of multiple rounds of coordinated global sanctions for the Kremlin's war in Ukraine.

"I think what we're seeing is that people increasingly in Russia are feeling the effects of the disastrous decision by Putin to attack Ukraine," Blinken said during testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

"For example, upwards of 600 companies have left Russia, including many of the major consumer brands that we all know and are familiar with," he said, adding, "They can't buy the things they've been used to buying for the last almost 30 years."

The nation's top diplomat said that the gains of the last 20 years are being erased and Moscow's ability to modernize key sectors of its economy is slowing. Despite all of that, Blinken said that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin still holds large support from his citizens, largely due to disinformation campaigns.

"For now, I think what we're seeing is Russian people to the extent that they're informed continue to support for the most part President Putin," Blinken added.

In the weeks since Russia's invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbor, Washington and its allies have imposed rounds of coordinated sanctions vaulting Russia past Iran and North Korea as the world's most-sanctioned country.

 — Amanda Macias

U.S. will send diplomats back to Ukraine this week, Blinken says

A woman walks past the closed United States Embassy to Ukraine on April 25, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
John Moore | Getty Images
A woman walks past the closed United States Embassy to Ukraine on April 25, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers that the U.S. is sending its diplomats back to Ukraine this week.

The nation's top diplomat added that the State Department is also working on plans to reopen its embassy in Kyiv.

"We are sending diplomats back to Ukraine this week and they will begin to assess how we can most effectively and securely reopen the embassy in Kyiv. And without going into too much detail in this setting, I anticipate that we will be in Lviv and then head to Kyiv subject to the president's final decision," Blinken said during testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

"We want to have our embassy reopened and we're working to do that," he added.

On Monday, President Joe Biden announced his plan to nominate Bridget Brink to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Brink, a career diplomat, is currently the U.S. ambassador to the Slovak Republic. 

 — Amanda Macias

U.S. Defense Secretary Austin calls Russian nuclear war rhetoric 'very dangerous and unhelpful'

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to the media after the Ukraine Security Consultative Group meeting at Ramstein air base on April 26, 2022 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. The meeting is a U.S.
Thomas Lohnes | Getty Images
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin speaks to the media after the Ukraine Security Consultative Group meeting at Ramstein air base on April 26, 2022 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. The meeting is a U.S.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called Russia's recent rhetoric about the potential use of its nuclear weapons "very dangerous and unhelpful."

"Nobody wants to see a nuclear war that nobody can win at. And as we do things, we are always mindful of making sure that we have the right balance and we're taking the right approach," Austin told reporters at a press briefing in Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

"There's always a possibility that a number of things can happen but again, I think it's it's unhelpful and dangerous to rattle sabers and speculate about the use of nuclear weapons," Austin said, following a trip to Ukraine's capital Kyiv alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Austin's remarks come after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that his country's war with Ukraine could escalate into a nuclear one.

Lavrov said late on Monday that the risks of nuclear war are now "very, very significant and should not be underestimated."

 — Amanda Macias

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

Pentagon chief calls Russia nuclear rhetoric 'dangerous'; U.S. to send diplomats back to Ukraine

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