Ukraine war live updates: Russia cannot swallow the West whole, Orban says; G7 finance chiefs meet with Ukraine on agenda


Romania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday said it has declared the diplomat of the Russian embassy to Bucharest persona non grata, citing “activities that contravene the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961,” according to a CNBC translation.

Diplomats labeled persona non grata are usually recalled to their home nation.

The Romanian ministry said it communicated its decision to the Russian state. Moscow will respond to the measure, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Russian state news agency Tass, according to a Google translation.

Ruxandra Iordache

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban attends ADF Talks as part of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum (ADF) at NEST Congress and Exhibition Center in Antalya, Turkiye on March 01, 2024.

Emin Sansar | Anadolu | Getty Images

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban downplayed the odds of Russia’s success in a potential offensive against Western countries.

“I do not consider it logical that Russia, which cannot even defeat Ukraine, would all of a sudden come and swallow the Western world whole,” Orban said in an interview on public radio, according to Reuters. “The chances of this are extremely slim.”

Led by national conservative Orban, Hungary has declined providing military assistance to neighboring Ukraine since the start of Russia’s full-fledged invasion, but extends humanitarian aid. Orban is widely seen as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest ally among European nations.

“The Russian military is fighting a serious and difficult war with the Ukrainians,” Orban said. “If the Russians were strong enough to wrestle down the Ukrainians in one go, they would have done so already.”

Russia’s war in Ukraine has now entered its second year, amid mounting concerns of a spillover of the conflict if Western countries intervene militarily.

Ruxandra Iordache

Governor of the Bank of Italy Fabio Panetta (L), Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance Giancarlo Giorgetti (R) and President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde pose on the sidelines of the G7 Finance Ministers meeting in Stresa on May 24, 2024.

Gabriel Bouys | Afp | Getty Images

The Group of Seven of the world’s advanced economies began a meeting of the finance and central banks’ governors in Stresa, Italy — which holds the coalition’s rotating presidency this year — with a view to discuss a potential loan to Ukraine.

Earlier this week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Sky News she saw the “possibility” that G7 nations could assist Ukraine with as much as $50 billion in loans linked to frozen Russian assets.

“I think that’s a possibility. I believe it’s important for the G7 to work together to show a united front and to show that we can generate meaningful resources to support Ukraine over the next several years,” she said, according to Sky News.

“The Russian assets are not earning interest anymore, but they are generating returns for Euroclear. That alone could be given to Ukraine that would be repaid over several years by that flow of interest,” Yellen added.

It remains to be seen whether G7 nations can strike consensus on such a loan and what final sum will be extended to support Kyiv’s military effort.

Ruxandra Iordache

Getty Images | Dominique Boutin | TASS

France’s defense ministry said it test-fired an updated version of a nuclear-capable missile, the ASMPA-R, for the first time on Thursday. The missile is built to be fired from a Rafale fighter jet.

The announcement came a day after Moscow declared it had started nuclear drills in territory that spans Russian and occupied Ukrainian land.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said the missile was launched but without a warhead by a jet above French territory. In a Google-translated post on social media platform X, the minister thanked “all the forces, ministry teams and industrial partners involved” in the operation, which he said was “long-planned.”

— Natasha Turak

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a decree outlining U.S. property that might be used to compensate for the seizure of frozen Russian assets.

“The President signed the Decree ‘on a special procedure for compensation of damage caused to the Russian Federation and the Central Bank of the Russian Federation in connection with the unfriendly actions of the United States of America,'” a Google-translated statement on the Kremlin’s website said.

The U.S. assets that could be subject to the decree include real estate in Russia and shares in Russian companies, according to an NBC translation.

— Karen Gilchrist

A rescuer cries at the Vivat printing house hit by Russian shelling on May 23, 2024 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. 

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images

Seven people were killed and 16 were injured in Kharkiv following a Russian missile attack which damaged local residential, commercial and transport infrastructure, Ukrainian authorities said.

Russian troops targeted a civilian building in Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine, around 10:30a.m. local time, and a fire broke out in a print shop, the regional police force said in a Google-translated Telegram post.

“In the Osnovyansk district of Kharkiv, enemy rockets hit the territory of the printing house. There was a large-scale fire. Seven people died, another 16 were injured. All the victims are employees of the enterprise. Debris analysis is ongoing,” the prosecutor’s office of Kharkiv said in a separate Google-translated Telegram update.

Rescuers extinguish a fire at the Vivat printing house hit by Russian shelling on May 23, 2024 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. 

Global Images Ukraine | Getty Images

The institution added that Russian forces struck the Lyubotyn and Kharkiv cities with 15 S-300 and S-400 missiles launched from the Russian region of Belgorod, as part of the attack, the latest in a long series of strikes targeting Kharkiv.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the ground.

Firefighters rest after extinguishing a fire in a private house destroyed by a Russian drone attack in the suburbs of Kharkiv, on May 21, 2024, amid the Russian invasion in Ukraine. 

Sergey Bobok | Afp | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy characterized the incident as an “extremely brutal” offensive on the X social media platform and said that emergency services have arrived at the scene.

“Russian terrorists are taking advantage of Ukraine’s lack of sufficient air defense protection and reliable capability to destroy terrorist launchers at their exact locations, which are close to our borders,” he said.

Ruxandra Iordache



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