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Ukraine war live updates: Questions arise over U.S. aid to Ukraine after McCarthy ouster; Russia, Ukraine down dozens of drones

Jenni Reid

This is CNBC’s live blog tracking developments on the war in Ukraine. See below for the latest updates. 

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy talks to reporters after a House Republican Conference in the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 3, 2023.
Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

The dramatic ouster of U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has raised questions about the future of the country’s supply of aid to Ukraine.

McCarthy, who has previously backed U.S. support for Ukraine, was removed in a no confidence vote led by members of his own party on Tuesday.

That comes amid a growing divide within the Republican party over the continuation of U.S. aid. The U.S. is by far the biggest provider of military aid to Ukraine.

Lawmakers earlier in the week suggested McCarthy arranged a standalone vote on Ukrainian aid with President Joe Biden in order to pass a government spending bill which did not contain provisions. McCarthy denied there had been a so-called “secret side deal.”

“President Biden made clear we cannot, under any circumstances, allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, according to a Reuters report. He was referring to Biden’s call with allied leaders Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited troops in the Kharkiv border region, which he said “helps keep our entire east strong.”

Zelenskyy said provisions and plans were needed to prepare the region for winter as it continues to come under Russian attack.

In the latest developments in a drone-heavy war, Russia and Ukraine both said they shot down dozens of unmanned aerial vehicles overnight.

UK says ‘highly likely’ Russia shot down own jet over occupied Tokmak

U.K. intelligence suggests Russian air defense “highly likely” shot down one of its own Su-35S Flanker M multi-role combat jets over the Russian-occupied city of Tokmak in the Zaporizhzhia region, roughly 20 km behind the front line.

“Although Russia has lost around 90 fixed wing aircraft since the start of the invasion, this is probably only the fifth loss of a Su-35S, Russia’s most advanced combat jet in widespread service,” the Ministry of Defense said in its daily update.

It added that the location is relevant because Tokmak is heavily fortified and often acts as a Russian base for one of the most intensely contested sectors of the front line.

Soldiers of the 47th Brigade of the Ukrainian army with the Leopard 2 at the Tokmak front in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine on Sept. 16, 2023.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

“These headquarters would typically be protected with dedicated short and medium range air defence systems. These are almost certainly held at very high readiness, as Ukraine continues to conduct effective deep strikes against such locations,” the defense ministry said.

— Jenni Reid

Eyes on Ukraine consequences after U.S. speaker’s ouster

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) confers with his Communications Director Joel Valdez as he takes an elevator back to his office after his motion to vacate the chair of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and end McCarthy’s continued leadership succeeded by a vote of 216-210, on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 3, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

U.S. military and financial support for Ukraine may face more obstacles following the unprecedented ouster of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday.

Despite President Joe Biden’s continued commitment to aid, a divide is deepening among Republican lawmakers over the issue.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who led the rebellion against fellow Republican McCarthy, on Monday suggested the speaker had struck a “secret side deal on Ukraine” in order to push through a short-term funding bill that avoided a government shutdown. The bill did not contain Ukraine aid.

In a speech following his removal, McCarthy compared Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine to Hitler in the 1930s.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told the Wall Street Journal it was a “bad day for Ukraine.”

“Kevin supports Ukraine. I’m not sure where the next speaker will be,” he told the WSJ.

— Jenni Reid

Russia to conduct emergency public warning

Russia will conduct a nationwide test of its emergency public warning systems on Wednesday, blaring out sirens and interrupting television broadcasts to warn the population of an impending danger.

The test, first conducted in 2020, is part of a new initiative that requires authorities to conduct tests twice a year, starting from Sept. 1.

It comes, though, amid the war in Ukraine which has triggered the deepest crisis in Russia’s relations with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

At 10:43 a.m. Moscow time (0743 GMT), sirens will wail and stern announcements demanding “Attention everyone!” will alert the public, mimicking what would happen in a true disaster or catastrophe.

“When you hear the sound of a siren, you need to remain calm and not panic, turn on the TV – any publicly accessible channel or radio – and listen to the information message,” the Ministry of Emergency Situations said in a statement.

“The warning system is designed to timely convey a signal to the population in the event of a threat or emergency of a natural or man-made nature.”

The United States is also conducting a large-scale test of its public warning systems on Wednesday, via U.S. mobile phones and TV and radio stations.

— Reuters

Zelenskyy says Kharkiv must ‘keep our entire east strong’ on visit

A view of damaged houses in Kamianka village in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region on Oct. 2, 2023.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his nightly address to give an update from the northeastern border region of Kharkiv, which he said must continue to keep the country’s “entire east strong.”

The region has been subjected to heavy fire and extensive damage and resulted in casualties, with large areas coming under Russian occupation before being recaptured by Ukraine.

During a visit Tuesday, Zelenskyy said he met with battalion commanders and identified changes needed to ensure “greater motivation and combat capabilities.”

“It is extremely important that Kharkiv, despite everything, does not just hold on, but helps keep our entire east strong.”

He also said the region has socioeconomic needs ahead of winter, “given the constant Russian terror against Kharkiv, against the region and the occupier’s attempts to intensify the assaults on our positions.”

— Jenni Reid

Russia, Ukraine say dozens of drones downed

Russia’s Defense Ministry said it downed 31 Ukrainian drones overnight in the border regions of Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk, without citing any casualties or damage.

The Ukrainian armed forces separately said its anti-aircraft defense systems destroyed one Iskander-K cruise missile and 29 Shahed drones.

Ukraine also said Russia had launched five rocket and 108 airstrikes over the past day. Residential buildings and civilian infrastructure were damaged and there were civilian injuries and casualties, the army said.

CNBC has not independently verified the reports on the ground.

— Jenni Reid

Read CNBC’s previous live coverage here:

Russia says no new mobilization planned, claims 335,000 entered military service this year alone

Biden holds Ukraine call with U.S. allies

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday held a call to coordinate the support efforts of Ukraine’s allies, NBC reported, citing three administration officials. It comes despite Republican resistance in Congress.

The call featured the leaders of Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania and the U.K., as well as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton

Kremlin: Russia has not abandoned its temporary ban on nuclear testing

The Kremlin said that Russia has not abandoned a moratorium on nuclear testing, Reuters reported, after a spokesperson dismissed the suggestion that Moscow should detonate a thermonuclear device in Siberia.

The editor of the state-funded channel RT suggested in an interview that the detonation could serve as a warning to the West.

“At present, we have not left the regime of abandoning nuclear tests,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov seen during a bilateral meeting at the Second Summit Economic And Humanitarian Forum Russia Africa, on July 28,2023.
Contributor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned the West that he is not bluffing when it comes to the possibility of using nuclear weapons.

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people, this is not a bluff,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation in September 2022, as translated and reported by Reuters.

— Hannah Ward-Glenton