This was CNBC's live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine on Feb.28, 2023. See here for the latest updates.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged Monday that the situation is deteriorating in and around Bakhmut, a besieged mining city in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine that Russia has targeted for months.
"[In the] Bakhmut direction - the situation is getting more and more difficult," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address.
"The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions, to gain a foothold and ensure defense," he added.
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Meanwhile, U.S.-based think tank CSIS released a report indicating that Russia has suffered more battle deaths in the last year than in all its military conflicts since the end of World War II, combined.
On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow has to take into account NATO's nuclear capabilities as he again falsely claimed that the West wants to eliminate Russia.
Echoing that sentiment on Monday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the West wants to "isolate, and even dismember" Russia. He added that the future world order is being decided now.
Russian combat deaths in Ukraine have exceeded all its post-WWII wars combined
In the year since it invaded Ukraine, Russia has suffered more troops killed than in all Russian wars following World War II combined, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
CSIS, a 62-year-old, U.S.-based think tank, concluded that about 5,000 to 5,800 Russian military personnel have been killed monthly since February of last year, bringing the total dead to 60,000 to 70,000 individuals.
"The average rate of Russian soldiers killed per month is at least 25 times the number killed per month in Chechnya and 35 times the number killed in Afghanistan," CSIS said in a detailed report it released this week, highlighting "the stark realities of a war of attrition."
Russia's Ministry of Defense did not respond to a CNBC request for comment.
Since Ukraine defeated Moscow's initial drive to take Kyiv last year, Ukrainian and Russian forces have arrayed against one another along a meandering, 500-600 mile front.
Russia has lost huge numbers of tanks, leaving its military increasingly dependent on infantry attacks.
Ukraine's army has fought primarily from defensive positions and has come up with "new ways of fighting that improve the efficiency" of its forces, CSIS said.
— Ted Kemp
Traces of war in Kramatorsk
Photos show a building damaged in Kramatorsk by a Russian rocket attack. Three people were killed and ten apartments were damaged in the strike.
As Russian forces ramp up their offensive in the Donbas, the number of casualties has increased.
— Ignacio Marin | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Zelenskyy discusses tax system for Ukrainians with OECD secretary-general
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he met with the secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday and discussed a "fair tax system for Ukrainians."
The tax system aims to balance the stimulation of economic growth and ensuring social justice, Zelenskyy said in his nightly address. "Our goal is for Ukraine to fully join the organization and to use the OECD experience to modernize our country," he added.
A new OECD-Ukraine liaison office in Kyiv will begin operating Wednesday, OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann said in a statement on Feb. 24. When at "full capacity," a team of four OECD officials will implement a new OECD-Ukraine country program, he added.
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the OECD has coordinated international support for Ukraine and worked with its government on "rebuilding, reconstruction and reform," Cormann said.
— Audrey Wan
IAEA chief says team at Zaporizhzhia heard 20 explosions near the nuclear power plant
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi renewed his concerns about heavy artillery fire near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Grossi said the site, which is Europe's largest nuclear power plant, temporarily lost power on "its only remaining backup power line."
He said that IAEA inspectors at the site documented at least 20 detonations on Monday.
He also expressed concerns about the IAEA inspectors at the facility who have not been able to rotate out of working there. He added that the team should have been replaced nearly a month ago.
— Amanda Macias
Launching a 'digital dollar' could help the U.S. government defend against crypto-funded ransomware attacks, says security expert
A central bank digital currency, also called the "digital dollar," is the "single best step" the U.S. government could take to defend against Russian cybercriminals.
"It would crowd out the ecosystem of crypto that allows national security adversaries like Russia to exploit our deficiencies or weaknesses in terms of our critical infrastructure," Daleep Singh, a former advisor for the National Security and National Economic Councils, told senators during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
The current ecosystem enables Russian criminal organizations to hold American businesses, schools and hospitals "hostage" with ransomware attacks and evade sanctions, according to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
"Some have even declared allegiance to Vladimir Putin vowing quote to 'strike back at critical infrastructures of Russia's enemies,'" Warren said of Russian hackers.
The Massachusetts Democrat cited several cyberattacks across the country funded by cryptocurrency.
— Chelsey Cox
U.S. Senate considers measures to ensure Russia's compliance with price cap on oil products
U.S. senators are considering further actions that aim to enforce Russia's compliance with a $60 per barrel price cap imposed on crude oil products imported to and from the country.
The cap, developed by countries including the G-7 and Australia, is designed to deprive Russian President Vladimir Putin of a source of income to press his invasion of Ukraine. Recent reports show that Russia was able to sell crude oil for an average of $74 a barrel a month following the Dec. 5 price cap, according to GOP Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, who sits on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
Daines also cited reports indicating that "current economic sanctions were failing to provide a deterrent to Russia's aggression, and seems to indicate that more aggressive limits or further measures may be needed."
Clay Lowery, a former official at the U.S. Treasury and at the National Security Council, told senators that there are complex reasons behind Russia's price cap evasion tactic.
"Obviously not every country said 'hey, we're gonna go on with this cap,'" Lowery said during a committee hearing. "There was a number of countries have said they are willing to do it, but there are a number of countries that they're not willing to do it."
"Now at this point in time, most of Russia has been offering discounts anyway prior to the price cap that kind of brought the price down below $60 a barrel, on aggregate," he added.
— Chelsey Cox
At least 406 children have died in Russia's war, Ukraine says
Ukraine said that at least 460 children have been killed due to Russia's war, and another 927 have been wounded since the conflict began a year ago.
More than 340 are missing, and approximately 16,220 have been deported from Ukrainian cities to Russia.
About 307 children have since been returned to Ukraine, according to an NBC News translation.
Russia has previously said that its forces in Ukraine do not target civilians and has denied forcefully detaining and deporting Ukrainian children.
— Amanda Macias
Ukraine's top intelligence agency says there is no evidence China is supplying Russia with weapons
Ukraine's top intelligence agency said that it had not seen evidence that China agreed to supply Russia with weapons.
"There are no signs that China will agree to send any weapons to the Russian Federation," Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry, said in an interview with Voice of America.
"As of now, I don't think that China will agree to the transfer of weapons to Russia. I don't see any signs that such things are even being discussed," Budanov said.
He added that the majority of the weapons being sent to aid the Kremlin's war in Ukraine are from Iran.
— Amanda Macias
USAID donates mobile boiler homes to residents in Kharkiv to help with energy blackouts
The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, in Ukraine said it was providing mobile boiler houses to residents in Kharkiv.
The agency is set to donate five of the houses.
Earlier this month, Ukraine's Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said at least 75,000 buildings, including homes, schools and hospitals, have been reduced to rubble due to Russian shelling.
— Amanda Macias
Putin gives U.S. actor Seagal top state award for 'humanitarian work'
Russian President Vladimir Putin has bestowed a top state award on Hollywood actor Steven Seagal to reward him for his international humanitarian and cultural work, a state decree showed.
The decree said the 70-year-old star of action films such as "Under Siege" had been given Russia's Order of Friendship. There was no immediate reaction from Seagal.
The decree mentioned Seagal's work as a special representative of Russia's Foreign Ministry for humanitarian ties with the United States and Japan.
The U.S.-born actor and martial arts practitioner has worked in Japan and has long admired Putin, from whom he received a Russian passport in 2016.
Seagal, a frequent visitor to Russia, backed Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014 as "very reasonable", joined a pro-Kremlin party in 2021, and visited a Russian-controlled part of eastern Ukraine last summer, where he met with a Russian-backed separatist leader.
Zelenskyy speaks with ICC prosecutor Karim Khan about Russian war crimes
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke with Karim Khan, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, about "terrible crimes committed by the Russian occupiers on the territories of Ukraine."
No crime committed by Russian troops should go unpunished and "those guilty of them must be brought to justice," Zelenskyy said on his official Telegram channel, according to an NBC News translation.
"From the first day of the full-scale invasion of Russia, our state has felt the support of the International Criminal Court," Zelenskyy added.
"It is important for us to hear signals of support and the importance of justice. So that such terrible crimes could not be repeated in the future, even theoretically," he said.
Earlier this month, Ukraine's prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said that regional authorities have logged more than 65,000 Russian war crimes since Moscow invaded Ukraine a little over a year ago.
— Amanda Macias
Soldiers tend Ukraine's air defense systems on the front line
Photos show the lives of soldiers in the 59th cavalry of the Ukrainian Army stationed at the front in the Donetsk Oblast.
— Mustafa Ciftci | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
China to host Belarusian leader amid Ukraine tensions
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russia, was expected to arrive in Beijing for a state visit that will be watched for hints about China's attitude to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
China claims neutrality in the war, but U.S. officials have warned recently that it is considering sending military assistance to Russia. Beijing has called the U.S. allegations a smear campaign, and said it is committed to promoting peace talks.
China has long had a close relationship with Lukashenko. But his trip also illustrates the depth of Beijing's ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his allies.
Lukashenko's government has strongly backed Moscow and allowed Belarus' territory to be used as a staging ground for the initial invasion of Ukraine a year ago.
This stance left Lukashenko even more isolated in Europe, where his country faces sanctions from the European Union over both its role in the war and his repression of domestic opposition. Belarus continues to host Russian troops, warplanes and other weapons.
— Associated Press
Putin tells FSB security service to up its game against Western spy agencies
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the FSB security service on Tuesday to step up its activity to counter what he described as growing espionage and sabotage operations against Russia by Ukraine and the West.
In a speech to FSB officials, Putin said the agency had to stop "sabotage groups" entering Russia from Ukraine, step up protection of key infrastructure, and prevent any attempts by Western security services to revive what he called terrorist or extremist cells on Russian territory.
"Western intelligence services have traditionally always been actively working in Russia, and now they have thrown additional personnel, technical and other resources against us. We need to respond accordingly," Putin said.
He instructed the FSB to prevent illegal weapons flows into Russia, and to strengthen security in four regions of Ukraine that Moscow has partially seized and claimed as part of its own territory, a move most countries do not recognise.
Moscow says Ukraine launched failed drone attacks on Russian territory overnight
Russia's defense ministry on Tuesday accused Ukraine of launching attempted drone strikes against civil infrastructure targets in two southern Russian regions overnight, but said the attacks had failed.
There was no immediate comment from Ukrainian authorities.
"Overnight, the Kyiv authorities attempted to use unmanned aerial vehicles to attack civilian infrastructure facilities in the Krasnodar and Adygea regions," the defense ministry said in a statement.
It said its anti-drone defense systems had repelled the attacks, causing the drones to veer off course and fail to inflict any damage.
"Both drones lost control and deviated from their flight paths. One fell into a field, the other, deviating from its trajectory, did not harm the intended target," it said.
Russian state news agencies had earlier reported a fire at an oil depot in the Krasnodar region, around 240 km (149 miles) south-east of the Crimean peninsula, after a drone was spotted flying overhead.
Russian forces are bearing down on Bakhmut, Kyiv concedes 'extremely tense' situation there
Officials in Kyiv conceded that the situation is rapidly deteriorating around Bakhmut, a besieged mining city in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine that Russian forces have been hell-bent on capturing for months.
Russia's slow but steady march on Bakhmut has raised questions over whether Ukraine will have to decide to withdraw its troops from the city in order to save its personnel. But there are no signs Kyiv is ready to give up just yet.
Read more on the situation in Bakhmut here: As Russian forces bear down on Bakhmut, Ukraine admits situation there is 'more and more difficult'
Kremlin says it's open to peace talks but 'new territories' must be taken into account
The Kremlin said Tuesday it's open to peace talks with Ukraine but signaled again that it is not wiling to give up four territories that it declared it had annexed last September.
"There are certain realities which have become Russia's domestic matters, I mean, Russia's new territories. There is the Russian constitution, which cannot but be reckoned with by anyone ... and moreover, there are certain goals Russia is attaining in the course of the special military operation," Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.
"Naturally, in favorable conditions and if the Ukrainian side demonstrate a corresponding attitude, it can be resolved at the negotiating table," he said. "But in this case, the most important thing is to achieve our goals. It is our unconditional priority."
Russia insists that while it is willing to engage in peace talks, it will not give up the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson that it illegally annexed after sham referenda on joining Russia. Russian forces do not fully occupy any of these regions, however.
Ukraine has said it will not negotiate with Russia while its forces are on its territory and has said it will only settle for the complete return of all its territory, including Crimea.
— Holly Ellyatt
Moscow accuses U.S. of preparing a 'toxic chemicals' provocation in Ukraine
A top Russian defense official claimed Tuesday that the U.S. is planning a provocation in Ukraine using toxic chemicals.
The official — Igor Kirillov, chief of the radiation, chemical and biological defense troops of Russia's armed forces — said comments by former U.S. ambassador to Russia John Sullivan on Feb. 22 were a basis for Russia's suspicions.
"On February 22, an influential American nongovernmental organization held a conference on the events in Ukraine. During the event, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan made a statement, claiming that Russian troops were allegedly planning to use chemical weapons in the special military operation zone," Kirillov said, according to Russian state news agency Tass.
"We regard this information as the intention by the U.S. itself and its accomplices to stage a provocation in Ukraine using toxic chemicals," he added.
Kirillov added that Moscow believed preparations for a provocation were underway, claiming that toxic chemicals and protective gear were delivered simulataneously to Ukraine. He said that if such a provocation takes place, Russia would "identify the true culprits and punish them."
It's not the first time that Russia has baselessly accused the West of planning a provocation that, it said, could then be blamed on Moscow. Similarly, the West has accused Russia, a country that has used chemical weapons in Syria, of potentially planning "false flag" attacks that it could blame on Ukraine.
CNBC has asked U.S. defense officials for a response to the claims.
— Holly Ellyatt
Belarus and Russia can produce 'any type of weapon together,' president says
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday that Russia and Belarus are capable of producing "any type of weapon" and can export such products to 57 countries around the world, circumventing sanctions on weapons production.
"Despite unprecedented sanctions pressure, we produce sufficient quantities of weapons and military equipment to meet the needs of the Belarusian army. This is due to the fact that all we need in terms of military hardware we easily receive from Russia," the president said during a meeting on military procurement that was posted on the Lukashenko-aligned Pul Pervogo Telegram channel.
"But as far as microelectronics, optical electronics, optics, etc. are concerned, kudos to those who preserved the legacy of the Soviet Union, and therefore, together with Russia, we are capable of manufacturing any type of weapon," Lukashenko added.
"We can also afford to export this sort of product to 57 countries of the world. This is what we are doing", he added.
Lukashenko's latest comments come on the eve of his trip to China. The U.S. has warned Beijing against giving weapons to Russia as Moscow looks for other sources of military hardware.
Belarus has sought to stay out of actively participating in the war while assisting Russia in terms where it can, having allowed Russia to launch its initial invasion of northern Ukraine from Belarusian territory.
Last Monday, Lukashenko said he had ordered the formation of a new volunteer territorial defense of up to 150,000 people. And on Friday, he said he'd had a long chat with Russia's President Vladimir Putin on the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ukraine concedes it's facing a deteriorating situation in besieged Bakhmut
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged Monday that the situation is deteriorating in and around Bakhmut, a besieged mining city in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine that has been a key target for Russia for months.
"[In the] Bakhmut direction - the situation is getting more and more difficult," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address. "The enemy is constantly destroying everything that can be used to protect our positions, to gain a foothold and ensure defense," he added.
Zelenskyy said those defending Bakhmut and the surrounding area are "real heroes" and said officials are doing what they can to ensure Ukrainian forces "have as many weapons, long-range weapons, powerful weapons as possible."
Russian forces and private military contractors belonging to the Wagner Group have been trying to capture Bakhmut for months, with the city and surrounding area a scene of mass destruction, although several thousand civilians are believed to remain in the city.
Because of the sheer scale of bombardment and manpower thrown at Bakhmut, Russian forces have made incremental gains in the surrounding area and have gradually encircled the city.
On Monday, one official claimed Russian forces now controlled all roads into Bakhmut, stopping supplies of ammunition and forces into the city, although Ukraine's armed forces said they're still repelling attacks.
Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Telegram Monday that "the situation at the front is difficult. The enemy army is increasing the intensity of its assaults. The most difficult situation remains in the Bakhmut direction."
— Holly Ellyatt
Kremlin says China's peace plans 'deserve attention'
A peace plan put forward by China that it believes could resolve the Ukraine war should be given attention, the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday.
"Any attempts to develop plans that will help transfer the conflict to a peaceful course deserve attention," Peskov told reporters, Russian news agency Ria Novosti said.
"We treat the plan of our Chinese friends with great attention. As for the details, of course, the details should be the subject of careful analysis, taking into account the interests of the parties," he added.
Russia counts China among the last of its powerful international allies, having burned bridges with much of the global community following its invasion of Ukraine a year ago.
On the first anniversary of the war last Friday, China called for a comprehensive ceasefire in Ukraine and promoted its own 12-point peace plan that called for a cessation of hostilities, the sovereignty of all countries to be respected, warned against the use of nuclear weapons, and called for nuclear power plants to be kept safe as well as calling for a Cold War mentality to be abandoned.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was open to considering parts of Beijing's proposed peace plan.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russian forces control all roads into Bakhmut, official claims
Russian forces are now in control of all the roads leading into the Donetsk city of Bakhmut, according to a spokesperson for pro-Russian separatists in the region.
Yan Gagin, an advisor and spokesperson for the acting head of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, a pro-Russian separatist area in eastern Ukraine, told the Tass news agency that Russian forces had cut off the supply of the Ukrainian forces in Artemovsk (the Russian name for Bakhmut).
"Artemovsk [Bakhmut] has finally fallen into a classic operational environment, our forces completely control the roads leading to the city. The supply of ammunition to the garrison of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been disrupted and stopped, the rotation and supply of replenishment of manpower has been stopped," he said, in comments translated by Google.
CNBC was unable to immediately verify the claims but the comments are the latest in a string of claims made by Russian officials that Bakhmut is coming under their control.
Ukraine and Russian forces have been engaged in fierce fighting around Bakhmut for months, turning the city and surrounding area into a landscape of death and devastation. Both forces claim that the other side is losing hundreds of soldiers every day because of fighting around Bakhmut.
Russian forces have been seen to have slowly encircled the city, prompting the question of whether Ukraine would choose to tactically withdraw from the city in order to save its remaining troops.
Kyiv's top general visited the front-line town of Bakhmut on Sunday and on Monday. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in an update Monday that "the Russian army continues to keep its main efforts on the offensive actions in the directions of Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Shakhtarsk." It said that, over the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian army had repelled 81 attacks in those areas.
— Holly Ellyatt
Future world order is being decided now, Russia's foreign minister says
The future world order is being decided right now, Russia's foreign minister said Monday, adding that Moscow has frustrated the West's plans "to isolate, and even dismember" the country.
Speaking at a conference of regional representatives of his ministry on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that "at the moment, the configuration of the future world order is being decided."
"[This determines] Russia's place in the democratic, fair, polycentric system that is being formed now and for which there is no and cannot be an alternative," he said according to comments reported by news agency Tass.
"I want to emphasize that we managed not only to disrupt the plans of the collective West to isolate, and even dismember Russia, but also to ensure ongoing cooperation with the overwhelming majority of members of the international community. We now call it the world majority," he said in comments translated by Google.
Lavrov cited closer ties with countries like China and India and "many other international partners" including post-Soviet states like Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and the BRICS nations (which include Brazil and South Africa).
Lavrov's comments parrot similar remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday in which he said the West wants to defeat and divide Russia.
— Holly Ellyatt
Ukraine hit by more drone attacks overnight
Ukraine's air force said the country was targeted by a series of drone attacks overnight.
"On the night of February 27, the enemy attacked Ukraine with Iranian-made Shahed-type attack drones from the north," the Air Force said in a Telegram update Monday.
It said up to 14 unmanned aerial vehicles were launched and that air defense teams destroyed 11 of them.
Russia has unleashed multiple drone strikes on Ukraine, with much of the country's energy infrastructure damaged by drone attacks. Iran initially denied supplying drones to Russia but in November it acknowledged for the first time that it supplied Moscow with the UAVs, but said they had been sent to Russia before the war in Ukraine.
— Holly Ellyatt
Russia has to take into account NATO's nuclear capability, Putin says
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow has to take into account NATO's nuclear capabilities and claimed again that the West wants to eliminate Russia.
"Where the leading NATO countries have proclaimed their main goal to be the strategic defeat of Russia, in order for our people 'to suffer' as they put it, how, in these conditions, could we not take into account their nuclear potential?," Putin asked during an interview with Pavel Zarubin on the Rossiya-1 TV channel on Sunday, according to an NBC translation.
Putin said the West is complicit in "crimes" being committed by Ukraine by supplying the country with weapons and that the end goal is to destroy and divide Russia.
"They have one goal – to destroy what was the Soviet Union and it's central part – the Russian Federation. After that they may indeed accept us into the so-called "family of civilized nations", but only separately, each part separately. Why? To order around these parts and to put them under their control," Putin said, claiming that plans to destroy the Russian people are "on paper," without presenting evidence.
Putin has repeatedly blamed the West for starting the conflict in Ukraine. In a speech last week ahead of the first anniversary of the start of the war, Putin tried to justify Russia's invasion by claiming it has been attempting to allow citizens in the contested Donbas region in eastern Ukraine to speak their "own language."
— Holly Ellyatt
Read CNBC's previous live coverage here:
Putin warns NATO's nuclear capability can't be ignored; future world order is being decided, Russia says