Ukraine’s Zelenskyy sends defiant message on War Day: ‘This is a year of our invincibility’

“On February 24, millions of us made a choice. Not a white flag, but a blue and yellow flag. Not fleeing, but facing. Facing the enemy. Resistance and struggle,” Zelenskyy wrote in a post on Telegram.

Julien De Rosa | Pool | Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a defiant message on the day to mark one year since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“On February 24, millions of us made a choice. Not a white flag, but a blue and yellow flag. Not fleeing, but facing. Facing the enemy. Resistance and struggle,” Zelenskyy wrote in a post on Telegram.

“It was a year of pain, sorrow, faith and unity. And this is a year of our invincibility. We know this will be the year of our victory!”

— Natasha Turak

Turkey, Finland and Sweden are to resume talks on NATO accession in mid-March

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference at the end of a two-day meeting with the alliance’s defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels on February 15, 2023.

Kenzo Tribouillard | AFP | Getty Images

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on Friday that talks between Sweden, Finland and Turkey will resume next month after stopping in January.

Sweden and Finland applied to join the defense alliance already in May. So far, 28 of the 30 NATO member states have approved their membership, but Hungary and Turkey have yet to do so. Budapest says it will hold parliamentary debates on the two accessions in the coming weeks, but the timeline from Ankara is a bit vaguer given upcoming elections and tensions with Stockholm.

Already in January, discussions between Turkey, Finland and Sweden were put on hold after far-right activists burned a copy of the Koran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Signaling an improvement in relations, Stoltenberg said on Friday that the three nations will resume talks and meet in Brussels in mid-March.

“We agreed to resume talks and convene a trilateral meeting between Finland, Sweden and Turkey at NATO headquarters in mid-March,” he told a press conference in Estonia.

“Our goal is for both Sweden and Finland to join as soon as possible,” he added.

At a news conference that also marked a year since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Stoltenberg said Putin “has not given up on his goals” and that he is “not preparing for peace, but for more war”.

— Silvia Amaro

Ukrainian refugees can help Germany’s labor market, but not for long: They are ‘ready to go home’

Student Marharyta (l) sits next to her German classmate Milena (r) during geography lessons in a classroom at Lorup primary and secondary school (Werlte municipality).

Friso Gentsch | Image Alliance | Getty Images

Germany’s labor market is under severe pressure, and the recent influx of Ukrainian refugees is unlikely to solve the country’s workforce issues in the long term. More than half of German companies are struggling to find qualified workers to fill vacancies, the German chambers of commerce reported in January.

Apart from Poland, Germany has taken in more refugees than any other region since Russia invaded Ukraine a year ago. The conflict has ravaged parts of Ukraine and saw 8 million people leave in search of safety.

Over a million of these Ukrainian refugees have been registered as arriving in Germany, a country that has welcomed them warmly.

The arrival of these often highly educated Ukrainians could bring benefits to Germany, especially in terms of strengthening its workforce. Sylvain Broyer, chief economist for EMEA at S&P Global Ratings, said the presence of refugees would be “positive” for Germany’s economy right now.

Read the full story here.

—Hannah Ward-Glenton

Ukraine and the West are preparing for the biggest reconstruction since World War II

Ukraine needs $40 to $48 billion this year to function, IMF says

A year since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure are in shambles, and the government and its allies are planning the biggest reconstruction effort since World War II.

The World Bank estimates that Ukraine’s GDP shrank by 35% in 2022, and expected in October that the share of the population with incomes below the national poverty line would rise to almost 60% by the end of last year – up from 18% in 2021.

The World Bank has so far mobilized $13 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine since the war began, including grants, guarantees and linked parallel funding from the US, UK, Europe and Japan.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that the Ukrainian economy shrank by 30%, a less severe decline than previously estimated. Inflation has also started to moderate, but ended 2022 at 26.6% on an annual basis, according to the Central Bank of Ukraine.

In a statement following a visit to Ukraine this week, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said she saw “an economy that works, despite the enormous challenges,” and praised the government’s vision to move from recovery to a “transformational period of reconstruction and EU accession.”

Read the full story here.

— Elliott Smith

After a year of death and destruction, Ukraine is gearing up for a sharp escalation of the war

Destruction seen through a broken car window in Lyman, Ukraine, on February 20, 2023.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

As Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine enters its second year, military analysts say they believe capturing the Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk (regions home to two self-proclaimed, pro-Russian “republics”), remains a key target for Russia as it launches a new large-scale offensive using several hundred thousand conscripts drafted by Putin last September.

How that offensive progresses, and how quickly and effectively Ukraine can counter it, will be crucial, defense experts warn.

Russia’s “main strategic goal is to destroy Ukraine, all of it,” Andriy Zagorodnyuk, Ukraine’s former defense minister, told CNBC ahead of the one-year anniversary.

Read the full story here.

—Holly Ellyatt

Both Russia and Ukraine are facing ammunition shortages, says Eurasia Group chairman

China is likely to offer a peace plan for Russia and Ukraine, the consultancy says

The war between Russia and Ukraine is characterized by a shortage of ammunition, Eurasia Group Chairman Cliff Kupchan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

China supplying Russia with the ammunition it lacks could “swing … the war in Russia’s favor,” Kupchan said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m so worried and focused on China right now,” he added.

Meanwhile, the US government’s “main concern” is getting more ammunition to the Ukrainians, who are running low, Kupchan said.

“I don’t think either side has a structural advantage, because they’re both pretty sore,” he said.

Putin is also unlikely to invade Poland, Kupchan said. Putin “can’t get a straight yes” to Ukraine being a sovereign, independent country, he added.

“I don’t think he thinks about any other country like he thinks about Ukraine.”

— Audrey Wan

China reiterates call for ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia

China reiterated its call for peace talks and a ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine

“All parties should support Russia and Ukraine to work in the same direction and resume direct dialogue as soon as possible, to gradually de-escalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire,” China’s Foreign Ministry said. said in a statement.

China added that it supports the International Atomic Energy Agency in playing a “constructive role in promoting the safety and security of peaceful nuclear facilities.”

China said the international community should “help the parties to the conflict to open the door to a political solution as soon as possible and create conditions and platforms to resume negotiations.” It added that it is ready to “play a constructive role in this regard”

— Jihye Lee

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here: