(Bloomberg) — Dozens were killed Friday as Russian troops reportedly bombed civilians waiting at a train station to be evacuated from the Donetsk region. Russia denied it was responsible and blamed the “provocation” on Ukraine.
Russian forces have fully withdrawn from northern Ukraine ahead of what’s expected to be a major offensive in the east. NATO warned that the war may last for weeks, months or even years, as Ukraine’s foreign minister pleaded for urgent military assistance.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visits Kyiv on Friday, where she’ll meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The European Union and Japan agreed to ban coal imports from Russia, a first step targeting Moscow’s vast energy revenues.
(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)
Slovakia Donates S-300 Air Defense (1:32 p.m.)
Slovakia gave an S-300 air-defense system to neighbor Ukraine, Premier Eduard Heger said in a Twitter post, adding that it can’t stand back and ignore the loss of life under Russia’s aggression.
EU Freezes $32 Billion in Russian Assets (1:10 p.m.)
European Union nations have frozen some 29.5 billion euros ($32.1 billion) in assets linked to Russian and Belarusian individuals and entities since the bloc adopted its first sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The frozen assets include boats, helicopters, real estate and artwork valued at almost 6.7 billion euros. Additionally, the EU has blocked approximately 196 billion euros worth of transactions, it said.
Finland Suffers Cyber Attack (1:02 p.m.)
Finland’s Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry suffered a cyber attack on their websites, according to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. The denial-of-service attack came as Ukraine’s president was about to address the Finnish Parliament remotely.
U.K. Joins Condemnation of Attack (1 p.m.)
U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted her condemnation.
Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a video briefing that 39 people had been killed and 83 wounded as result of the missile attack on Kramatorsk train station. It was a deliberate attack by Russia intended to hit civilians, he said.
Japan to Ban Russian Coal Imports (12:41 p.m.)
Japan will ban imports of Russian coal, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, adding to pressure on Moscow after the EU announced its own halt to the fuel.
The coal plan signals a policy reversal for Japan, which had previously drawn a line at cutting energy ties to Russia because of its heavy dependence on fuel imports. Russian coal imports make up about 13% of Japan’s power-generating supply and are also used in steel-making and the cement industry.
EU’s Borrell Condemns Russia’s ‘Indiscriminate Attack’ (11:28 a.m.)
European Commission foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, due in Kyiv for meetings with Ukrainian officials, tweeted his condemnation of Russia’s alleged bombing of a train station in eastern Ukraine.
Charles Michel, president of the European Council, tweeted that “action is needed” after the bombing in Kramatorsk.
Russia Delivers Surprise Rate Cut (11:02 a.m.)
The Bank of Russia delivered a surprise cut in its key interest rate Friday, reversing some of the steep increase it made after the invasion of Ukraine as the ruble has recovered.
The central bank lowered the rate to 17% from 20% and said further cuts could be made at upcoming meetings if conditions permit.
U.K. Sanctions Putin, Lavrov Daughters (11:09 a.m.)
The U.K. has sanctioned Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Maria Vladimirovna Vorontsova, the daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Yekaterina Sergeyevna Vinokurova, daughter of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The three will be subject to travel bans and asset freezes, the U.K. said in a release that cited the “lavish lifestyles of the Kremlin’s inner circle.”
Dozens Reported Killed as Train Station Shelled (10:42 a.m.)
Ukrainian officials said dozens were killed as Russian troops shelled people waiting at a railway station for special evacuation trains out of the Donetsk region ahead of expected heavy fighting there.
Tetyana Ignachenko, a regional spokeswoman, said Ukrainian railways were using the station in Kramatorsk to evacuate civilians. A rescue operation is under way, she said. Thousands of people were gathered there Friday morning.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry put the death toll at more than 30, with over 100 injured. It said Russia used cluster munitions for the strike. Russia’s Defense Ministry denied responsibility, saying the type of missile found on the scene is used only by Ukrainian forces, Interfax reported.
Ukraine War Drives Up Food Prices at Record Pace (10 a.m.)
The war has wreaked havoc on supply chains in the crucial Black Sea breadbasket region, upending global trade flows and fueling panic about shortages of key staples such as wheat and cooking oils. A United Nations’ index of world costs soared another 13% last month.
Japan to Expel Eight Russian Officials (9:53 a.m.)
Japan will expel eight Russian officials including diplomats, a foreign ministry official said. The ministry summoned the country’s ambassador and told him Tokyo believes the Kremlin’s forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine, spokeswoman Hikariko Ono told reporters in Tokyo. Russia is likely to respond in kind with an expulsion of a similar number of Japanese diplomats.
China Slams Process of Russia’s UN Council Ouster (9:51 a.m.)
China said the drafting of a resolution to oust Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday wasn’t done “in an open and transparent manner.
“Such a hasty move, which forces other countries to choose sides, will aggravate the division among member states,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. China was among the 24 member states to vote against Russia’s expulsion.
Macron Warns of Tough Weeks Ahead for Donbas (9:13 a.m.)
Russia is likely to offer few diplomatic concessions in the coming weeks as it focuses militarily on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on RTL radio.
“It’s practically certain that May 9 has to be a victory day for President Putin,” Macron said, echoing others who’ve identified that date, the anniversary of Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, as key.
Macron also told Le Parisien newspaper that Moscow is keeping a tight grip on who gets to leave embattled parts of Ukraine. “It’s not a humanitarian operation. France proposes a corridor with the Red Cross. Russia refuses.”
Russia Prepares to Redeploy Forces to the East (7:24 a.m.)
Russian troops are preparing for redeployment to eastern Ukraine ahead of what’s expected to be a major offensive there. The forces have completely left the northern Sumy region, according to its governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, and just a few squads remain in several villages of the Mykolaiv region in the south, said its governor Vitaliy Kim.
The troops withdrawing into Russia and Belarus “will require significant replenishment before being ready to deploy,” the U.K. defense ministry said. It added that any mass redeployment is likely to take at least a week — a window that speaks to the urgency of Ukrainian pleas for additional weapons.
Russian shelling of cities in the east and south continues, and forces have advanced further south from the city of Izium which remains under its control, the U.K. said.