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Putin to give ‘state of the union’ address on Feb. 29

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual address to the Federal Assembly, on April 21, 2021 in Moscow, Russia.

Konstantin Zavrazhin | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin will present his “state of the union” address to Russia’s Federal Assembly on Feb. 29, Russian news agencies reported Tuesday.

The annual address to Russian lawmakers, in which the president sets out his assessment of the country and goals for the future to Russia’s parliament, has traditionally taken place around this week in February. But this year, it is set to take place after the second anniversary (on Feb. 24) of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The address is expected to form a key part of Putin’s re-election campaign ahead of the vote on March 15-17.

The presidential elections are coming at a time when Russia has celebrated recent victories on the battlefield in Ukraine, most recently with the capture of the industrial city of Avdiivka in Donetsk, and is looking to profit from Western indecision and uncertainty over continued military support for Ukraine.

The vote will also take place in the shadow of the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny last week, however. Western leaders have accused Putin of being responsible for the death of his political nemesis. The Kremlin denies any involvement.

— Holly Ellyatt

Russia detains dual US-Russian citizen for treason, media reports

Russia’s Federal Security Service has detained a woman with dual Russian-U.S. citizenship in the Urals mountain city of Yekaterinburg on suspicion of treason for raising funds for Ukraine’s armed forces, the TASS news agency reported.

The 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles had been collecting funds for a Ukrainian organization whose ultimate beneficiary was the Ukrainian army, the FSB said, according to TASS.

A police car goes past the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images

“The Federal Security Service in Yekaterinburg suppressed the illegal activities of a 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles, who has dual citizenship of Russia and the United States,” TASS quoted the FSB as saying. TASS did not name the woman.

Putin gives luxury Russian car to North Korean leader

Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Amur region on Sept. 13, 2023.

Vladimir Smirnov | Afp | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his North Korean ally Kim Jong Un a luxury Russian car this week, the Kremlin confirmed Monday.

Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov confirmed to RIA Novosti that Russia had presented Kim Jong Un with an Aurus, a luxury brand of Russian car that Kim had admired when he met Putin in Russia last fall.

At the time, media footage showed Kim Jong Un taking an interest in the Aurus Senat limousine routinely used by Putin. The Russian president gestured for Kim to take a closer look, with the North Korean leader taking a seat in its spacious interior.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Aurus Senat limousine.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

On Sunday, North Korean news agency KCNA reported that Kim received a Russian-made car as a gift. The sister of the North Korean leader, Kim Yo Jong, who’s also a senior official in Pyongyang, as well as Pak Chong Chon, the secretary of the central committee of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, also reportedly received gifts.

Kim Yo Jong was reported as saying that the gifts served as clear evidence of the special friendly relations established between the leaders of Russia and North Korea. She also conveyed her brother’s gratitude to the Kremlin, KCNA said.

Kim Jong Un is believed to have a penchant for luxury cars and has been seen in a number of high-end vehicles despite international sanctions on the supply of luxury goods to North Korea, imposed on the country because of its nuclear weapons program.

Russia and North Korea have become closer in recent years, with Western intelligence officials expressing concerns about Pyongyang’s supplying of arms to Russia, for use in Ukraine, in return for advanced Russian weapons technologies. Both deny that any arms exchanges have taken place.

— Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine says air force shoots down 23 Russian drones overnight

A fragment of a drone seen on the ground in the Shevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv. Drones have become a big feature of warfare in Ukraine.

Future Publishing | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Russia launched 23 drones at Ukraine overnight with its air defences destroying all of them, the Ukrainian military said on Tuesday.

“As a result of combat operations, all 23 “shaheds” drones were shot down in Kharkiv, Poltava, Kirovohrad, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions,” the military said on Telegram messaging app.

Reuters could not independently verify the Ukrainian air force’s report. There was no immediate comment from Russia.

— Reuters

Biden administration is leaning toward supplying Ukraine with long-range missiles

After months of requests from Ukrainian officials, the Biden administration is working toward providing Ukraine with powerful new long-range ballistic missiles, according to two U.S. officials.

Late last year, the U.S. began to supply Ukraine with Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as ATACMS, but so far it has provided only the older medium-range ATACMS. Now, the U.S. is leaning toward sending the longer-range version of the missile, the officials said, which would allow Ukraine to strike farther inside the Russian-held Crimean Peninsula. 

But U.S. funding for arms shipments to Ukraine remains uncertain because of opposition from former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress. Last week the Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. But it’s not clear whether or when the GOP-controlled House will vote on the measure or whether it would survive the vote.

Read the full story here.

— NBC News

Trump breaks silence on Navalny — without mentioning Russia or Vladimir Putin

Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Monday addressed the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died in a Russian prison colony on Friday.

“The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country. It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction,” Trump wrote in a post on social media platform Truth Social.

“Open Borders, Rigged Elections, and Grossly Unfair Courtroom Decisions are DESTROYING AMERICA. WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE, A FAILING NATION,” he added.

Trump had been silent on Navalny’s death until Monday, whilst various other U.S. politicians including President Joe Biden and Trump’s fellow Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley have said Russian President Vladimir Putin is responsible.

The Kremlin has rejected these allegations, with the Russian foreign ministry calling the reaction from political leaders “self-exposing,” given that no forensic medical examination has yet been made available.

Haley also reacted to Trump’s post on Monday about Navalny. In a post on social media platform X she said that he could have condemned Putin or praised Navalny, but instead denounced America and compared it to Russia.

— Sophie Kiderlin

U.S. considering sanctioning Chinese firms aiding Russia’s war

The U.S. is considering slapping sanctions on Chinese companies it believes are helping Russia fuel its war in Ukraine, members of Congress told CNBC, marking the first direct apportioning of blame toward Beijing since the start of the war.

Democratic Senator Gerald Connolly, member of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Relations, on Saturday said that lawmakers were already considering such plans after similar measures were proposed last week by the European Union.

Read the full story here.

— Karen Gilchrist

Russia says Ukraine poisoned governors of two annexed Ukrainian provinces

Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Monday that Ukraine poisoned the Moscow-installed governors of Ukraine’s Kherson and Luhansk regions, though both were still alive.

In a briefing published online, the ministry said Ukraine poisoned Moscow-appointed Luhansk governor Leonid Pasechnik in December 2023, and Kherson head Vladimir Saldo in August 2022.

(From left) The Moscow-appointed heads of Kherson region Vladimir Saldo and Zaporizhzhia region Yevgeny Balitsky, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin and Luhansk separatist leader Leonid Pasechnik listen to the Russian national anthem after signing treaties formally annexing four regions of Ukraine Russian troops occupy, at the Kremlin in Moscow on Sept. 30, 2022.

Mikhail Metzel | AFP | Getty Images

Kherson and Luhansk regions were among four Ukrainian provinces that Russia declared it had annexed in September 2022, even though it did not fully control any of them.

The briefing said that on Dec. 5 Pasechnik, a former officer in Ukraine’s SBU security service turned pro-Russia separatist, “received severe poisoning with phenolic compounds”. It gave no information about the current state of his health.

It said that Saldo, a former mayor of Kherson city and pro-Russian lawmaker in Ukraine’s parliament, had been hospitalised on Aug. 9, 2022, with symptoms of poisoning.

Russian-installed authorities in Kherson said in August 2022 that Saldo had fallen sick, but did not say that he had been poisoned. Saldo has since returned to public prominence in the Russian-controlled part of Kherson region.

Ukraine has staged a string of attacks against Russian-installed officials in Moscow-held parts of the country since tens of thousands of Russian troops entered the country in February 2022.

Several targets have been killed and more wounded in bombings and shootings that Moscow has blamed on Ukraine.

Russia says an investigation into Navalny’s death is underway

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a rally in support of political prisoners in Prospekt Sakharova Street in Moscow, Russia on September 29, 2019. 

Sefa Karacan | Anadolu | Getty Images

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday confirmed an investigation is underway into the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and insisted that “all due actions are being taken” to determine the circumstances surrounding his demise.

Earlier on Monday, Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said that Navalny’s mother and lawyers had been blocked from entering a mortuary where his body could be being kept.

CNBC could not independently verify the report. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in blocking the return of Navalny’s body to his relatives.

Here’s the full story.

— Sam Meredith

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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