Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Japan announces fresh sanctions on Russia

Japan’s foreign and trade ministries jointly announced on Friday that Tokyo would impose sanctions on 15 Russian individuals and nine organizations.

The move will raise the number of Russian individuals sanctioned by Japan to 76, and the number of organizations to 12.

The 15 additional individuals include Russian Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Maria Zakharova, Deputy Minister of Defense Alexey Krivoruchko, Rosoboronexport CEO Alexander Mikheev and Suleyman Kerimov, owner of financial and industrial group Nafta.

The additional organizations include Rosneft Aero, United Shipbuilding Corporation and Kurganmashzavod.

— Chloe Taylor

Attack on Lviv shows Russia is ‘at war with Ukrainian population,’ official says

Smoke rises after an explosion in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on March 18, 2022.

Yuriy Dyachyshyn | AFP | Getty Images

Ukrainian forces shot down some Russian missiles fired from the Black Sea toward Lviv early Friday morning, an official has said.

But some of the missiles made it past Ukraine’s defenses and struck an aircraft repair plant on the outskirts of the city.

“Today there was a strike to the city of Lviv,” Maksym Kozytskyi, governor of Ukraine’s Lviv region, said in a Facebook post translated by NBC News. “The air alert worked and the armed forces worked. Some of the missiles fired from the Black Sea were shot down. Four of them hit, as you already know, in the aircraft repair plant.”

Lviv, in western Ukraine, has so far not been the scene of active hostilities, with many refugees flocking to the city to escape conflict in other parts of the country.

Kozytskyi said one person had been wounded in Friday’s strike, and no one had been killed.

He noted that the Lviv region currently has “no working military … at all,” suggesting that these facilities meant Russia was purposely civilians targeting.

“This is an attack on the city of Lviv, to the humanitarian hub, which now has at least 200,000 displaced people who have already left the war once,” Kozytskyi said. “The enemy’s attack on the city of Lviv is once again a confirmation that they are not at war with the Ukrainian army, but at war with the population: women, children, immigrants. They have nothing sacred.”

A spokesperson for the Russian government was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Chloe Taylor

British regulator bans Russia’s RT from broadcasting in UK

The English-language Russian news website RT “is for a western audience, and so what’s being shown on RT is not what’s being told in Russia,” said Security Discovery’s Jeremiah Fowler.

Lionel Bonaventure | AFP | Getty Images

British broadcasting regulator Ofcom has revoked RT’s license to broadcast in the UK with immediate effect.

Ofcom said Friday morning that it did not consider RT’s licensee, ANO TV Novosti, “fit and proper to hold a UK broadcast license.” The decision came amid 29 ongoing investigations into the impartiality of RT’s news and current affairs coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We consider the volume and potentially serious nature of the issues raised within such a short period to be of great concern — especially given RT’s compliance history, which has seen the channel fined £200,000 for previous due impartiality breaches,” Ofcom said in a statement .

These concerns prompted Ofcom to launch a separate investigation into whether ANO TV Novosti should retain its license.

“This investigation has taken an account of a number of factors, including RT’s relationship with the Russian Federation,” Ofcom said. “[The investigation] has recognized that RT is funded by the Russian state, which has recently invaded a sovereign country.”

The organization also said it had considered the new laws in Russia which “effectively criminalize any independent journalism that departs from the Russian state’s own news narrative, in particular in relation to the invasion of Ukraine.”

“We consider that given these constraints it appears impossible for RT to comply with the due impartiality rules of our Broadcasting Code in the circumstances,” Ofcom concluded.

RT is currently off-air in the UK after EU sanctions disrupted its broadcast feed to Britain.

Anna Belkina, deputy editor in chief of RT, told CNBC in an emailed statement that Ofcom’s decision painted the regulator as “nothing more than a tool of government.”

“By ignoring RT’s completely clean record of four consecutive years and stating purely political tied directly to the situation in Ukraine, Ofcom has falsely judged RT to not be ‘fit and proper’ and in doing so robbed the UK public of access to information, Belkina said.

— Chloe Taylor

Watch: CNBC gets an inside look at NATO operations in eastern Europe

CNBC’s Silvia Amaro reports from Estonia’s Tapa military base — around 70 miles from the Russian border — where troops from NATO countries have been in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine opening 9 humanitarian corridors

A service member of pro-Russian troops walks near a line of cars with evacuees, who leave the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 17, 2022.

Alexander Ermochenko | Reuters

Nine humanitarian corridors will be opened in Ukraine on Friday to allow the evacuation of civilians and the import of vital supplies, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has announced.

The plans for Friday include routes out of Mariupol, Sumy, and the villages of Krasnopillia and Velyka Pysarivka.

Vereshchuk said authorities were working on arranging humanitarian help for the Kherson region. Kherson, a key city in southern Ukraine, became the first major Ukrainian city to be captured by Russian forces earlier this month.

Residents of the city have since taken to the streets on several occasions to protest the Russian occupation.

— Chloe Taylor

1 person killed in Kyiv airstrike, officials say

Ukraine’s State Emergency Services have said one person was killed this morning in an airstrike on Kyiv.

A fire broke out in a five-story apartment block in the capital’s Podil district, the SES said, after the building was hit by a rocket.

— Chloe Taylor

Missiles hit western city of Lviv

Several missiles hit an aircraft repair center on the outskirts of Lviv, western Ukraine, the city’s mayor said Friday.

The attack suggests Russian forces are continuing to widen their attack. Many Ukrainians have fled their homes elsewhere in the country to the relative safety of Lviv. The city’s mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, has had to take action to stop landlords raising their rents as refugees flood into the city.

In a series of Telegram posts Friday morning, Sadovyi said Russian missiles had hit the area near Lviv airport.

“Several missiles hit the aircraft repair plant. Its buildings were destroyed by the blows,” he said, according to an NBC News translation. “The active work of the plant was stopped in advance, so there are no liability now. Rescuers and relevant utilities are working on the site.”

He also clarified that the airport itself had not been hit.

NBC reporters on the ground in Lviv said an air alarm sounded in the city just after 6 am local time, and three explosions were heard from the outskirts of the city at around 6:25 am

— Chloe Taylor

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

Chinese state media continues to blame US ahead of Xi-Biden call

Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden are set to speak Friday evening Beijing time, Chinese state media announced Thursday. The reports did not specifically mention Ukraine by name.

In the run-up to the call, Chinese state media have packed away from primarily pro-Russian coverage of the war in Ukraine. Even Qin Gang, China’s ambassador to the US, said up front in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Wednesday that the conflict is not good for China, and Beijing would have tried to prevent it if they had known ahead of time.

But one of the consistent state media messages has stuck to blaming the US for making the tensions worse.

People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, put a headline about the upcoming Xi-Biden call in a prominent spot on its website’s front page on Friday. Several lines below it was holding a headline for an editorial blaming the US for double standards.

— Evelyn Cheng

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