Kyiv presses criminal charges against Wagner group chief; EU-Ukraine summit begins

Zelenskyy urges EU allies to impose 10th sanctions package on Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged EU allies to deploy a 10th sanctions package against Russia

Yan Dobronosov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged EU allies to deploy a 10th sanctions package against Russia as top officials from the bloc meet in Kyiv for a summit between the EU and Ukraine.

He warned that Russia was adapting to sanctions, while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that a new sanctions package would be ready by Feb. 24, the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

“We see today that the pace of sanctions in Europe has slowed down a little,” Zelenskyy told a joint press conference, speaking next to Von der Leyen. “The terrorist state increases the pace of adaptation to sanctions instead. It should be resolved. We believe that we can do it together.”

Von der Leyen said Thursday that “Russia is paying a heavy price, as our sanctions are eroding its economy, throwing it back by a generation… By 24 February, exactly one year since the invasion started, we aim to have the 10th package of sanctions in place.”

— Natasha Turak

Air raid sirens heard across Kyiv as EU-Ukraine summit begins

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (center) and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left) pose for a photo with Ukrainian and European Union flags after their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine on Feb. 2, 2023.

Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Air raid sirens rang out across Kyiv and other parts of the country as EU leaders arrived for a summit in the capital with Ukrainian officials. It’s first such summit since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the country nearly a year ago.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is hosting European Council President Charles Michel and EU President Ursula von der Leyen to discuss their partnership and Ukraine’s candidacy for EU membership.

Kyiv was granted candidacy status at a record speed in June of last year, but EU officials warn there is a fair way to go and a slew of important reforms to make — especially over corruption, which has long been endemic in Ukraine — before progress can be made in terms of membership to the bloc.

— Natasha Turak

Kyiv presses criminal charges against Wagner Group chief

A mural depicting the Wagner Group’s logo in Belgrade, Serbia.

Srdjan Stevanovic | Getty Images

Ukraine’s government is pressing criminal charges against Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner group, the Russian private mercenary firm whose fighters have been engaging in combat operations in Ukraine.

According to Ukrainian state news outlet Ukrinform, Prigozhin “was charged with encroaching on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine (Article 110 Part 3 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) and of waging an war of aggression against Ukraine (Article 437 Part 2).”

Prigozhin, formerly Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal chef and a longtime ally of the Russian leader, has been sanctioned by the U.S. and plays a key role in his country’s operations in Ukraine.

The U.S. estimates Wagner group has some 50,000 men deployed in Ukraine, many of whom are convicted criminals. The Biden administration designated the mercenary firm as a transnational criminal organization in late January with the aim of limiting its power around the world. Wagner has been active in battlefields in the Middle East and Africa as well.

— Natasha Turak

Ukraine hopes to join EU quickly may clash with bloc’s timeline, says former U.S. envoy to Russia

Ukraine wants to fast-track its membership application for the European Union, but that could clash with the bloc’s timeline, according to a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

“With respect to fast track, the Ukrainians are very set on this. They think that these long timelines don’t apply to them because they’ve done so many of the reforms necessary before they got on the track,” Michael McFaul, now a director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, at Stanford University, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“I think Brussels has a somewhat different view and let’s wait to see what they come out with tomorrow, in terms of the update where Ukraine is,” he added.

His comments come ahead of the Ukraine and EU summit due to take place in Kyiv on Friday.

It will host European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other top EU officials, with hopes high in Kyiv that its application to join the EU will progress quickly.

— Sumathi Bala

Backlog of 27 ships with Ukrainian agricultural goods wait to depart for global destinations

Ships, including those carrying grain from Ukraine and awaiting inspections, are seen anchored off the Istanbul coastline on November 02, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Chris Mcgrath | Getty Images

The organization overseeing the export of Ukrainian crops said there is a backlog of 27 vessels loaded with agricultural goods that are waiting to depart for their global destinations.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, a deal brokered in July among Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and the United Nations, eased Russia’s naval blockade and saw the reopening of three key Ukrainian ports.

Since the deal was signed, more than 690 ships carrying 19.2 million metric tons of grain and other food products have left Ukrainian waters.

Kyiv has previously blamed Moscow for holding up inspections and delaying vessel movements.

— Amanda Macias

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

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