(Bloomberg) — With conditions in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol looking increasingly fraught, the U.S. announced fresh sanctions on Russia — including on a cryptocurrency miner — and the UN secretary-general sought meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
In addition, the Biden administration is preparing to announce another $800 million in weapons and support for Ukraine, according to people familiar with the matter.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned again that his nation wouldn’t cede territory in any negotiations with Russia, even as Moscow’s forces step up their offensive in the east. Putin, meanwhile, reiterated that his “military operation” will continue, saying the goal is to protect the population of Donbas in Ukraine’s east.
Russia Test-Fires Nuclear-Capable ICBM in Warning to U.S. AlliesKremlin Insiders Are Alarmed Over Growing Cost of Putin’s WarGermany to Support Ukraine With Artillery Ammunition, TrainingFinnish Lawmakers Begin NATO Debate as Russia Risk WeighedAeroflot May Buy Airbus Jets, Tapping EU Sanctions WorkaroundUkrainian Troops Risk Being Encircled in New Russian Offensive
All times CET:
U.S. Targets Russia Crypto Miner BitRiver in New Sanctions (8:41 p.m.)
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned cryptocurrency miner BitRiver — the first time it has targeted such a company — as well as dozens of other entities and individuals it said were involved in helping Russia evade sanctions linked to its invasion of Ukraine.
Along with BitRiver, which was founded in Russia in 2017, Treasury penalized 10 of the company’s subsidiaries. It also sanctioned Russian commercial bank Transkapitalbank and a global network of more than 40 individuals and entities led by Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev.
In addition, the State Department issued visa bans on 635 Russian nationals it said are involved in suppressing dissent abroad and at home.
Sanctions Move Russian Bank to Sell Subsidiary (8:39 p.m.)
Russia’s Alfa-Bank sold its Kazakh subsidiary to Kazakhstan’s Bank CenterCredit, Interfax reported, to remove the subsidiary from sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other countries. The bank’s Kazakh arm had introduced temporary restrictions due to sanctions.
Alfa-bank bank is owned by its founder, Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, who is sanctioned in the U.K. and in the European Union.
Ukraine Supports UN Proposal for Temporary Easter Truce (8:11 p.m.)
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a “humanitarian truce” proposed by the UN over the upcoming Orthodox Easter holiday would help allow for the evacuation of thousands of civilians, including from heavily hit Mariupol.
Luhansk has not received clear signals on any four-day truce, Serhiy Haiday, the governor of the eastern region, said in televised remarks, but is prepared to use it for maximal evacuation and to fill up humanitarian aid stockpiles.
Zelenskiy Calls Russian Attacks on Mariupol ‘Terrorism’ (7:38 p.m.)
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called Russia’s actions toward Mariupol “terrorism.” In an interview with French TV, he said that 95% of the coastal city has been destroyed.
He said Ukrainians aren’t able to leave the city to safety via proposed humanitarian corridors. An evacuation effort failed Wednesday amid continued Russian shelling.
Poland Asks U.S. to Speed Up Delivery of Weapons (7:10 p.m.)
Poland asked the U.S. to accelerate the delivery of military hardware including Abrams tanks and Patriot missile systems, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said after meeting at the Pentagon with his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin. Poland seeks to purchase more equipment such as helicopters and drones and plans to file a letter of request to U.S. producers in a “short time,” Blaszczak said.
UN’s Guterres Seeks Meetings with Putin, Zelenskiy (6:45 p.m.)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivered a letter to Russia’s mission on Tuesday requesting a meeting with Putin, according to the UN chief’s office. Separately, he delivered a similar letter to the Ukrainian mission asking for a meeting with Zelenskiy, as he seeks to mediate between the warring sides.
Guterres, who has mostly tried not to alienate any of the world’s top powers, took an unusually strong stance against Russia’s invasion at the start of the war. His position was praised by Western leaders but may have alienated Putin, depriving him of a mediator’s role in the conflict.
Yellen Leads G-20 Walkout as Russian Officials Speak (6:25 p.m.)
Multiple finance chiefs and central bank governors including U.S. Treasury Secretary Yellen and Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko walked out of a Group of 20 meeting in Washington when Russia’s representative started speaking, people familiar with the situation said.
Some officials who were virtual participants also turned their cameras off when Russia’s representative spoke, the people said, declining to be identified.
Lavrov Discusses Mariupol With Turkish Counterpart (6:21 p.m.)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the situation in Mariupol by phone with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, according to a statement on the website of Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
Russia repeated that its negotiations with Ukraine “depend entirely on Kyiv’s readiness to take into account our legitimate demands,” the statement said.
Russia Tests Ballistic Missile Amid Putin Praise (6:17 p.m.)
Russia’s Defense Ministry released video of a Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile being test-fired from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the northern Arkhangelsk region, Tass said. The ministry previously showed videos of the missile in 2018.
“This unique weapon will strengthen the military potential of our armed forces, will reliably guarantee Russia’s security against outside threats and force those who in the heat of frenzied aggressive rhetoric try to menace our country to think again,” Putin said on state TV.
IMF Urges Nations to Help on Ukraine Financing (6:02 p.m.)
The International Monetary Fund called on nations to provide grants and donations to fill a $5 billion monthly financing need for Ukraine, while signaling that more of the institution’s own lending will need to wait for when there is more stability.
The IMF last month approved a $1.4 billion emergency loan for Ukraine — the maximum it can provide with few conditions based on the fund’s rules. Ukraine canceled an existing loan that had $2.2 billion left to disburse but was subject to reforms such as tackling corruption.
Russia Ruled in Potential Default By Derivatives Panel (5:55 p.m.)
The Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee said a “potential failure-to-pay event” occurred for credit-default swaps when Russia made two dollar-bond payments in rubles after foreign banks declined to process U.S. currency transfers. The nation could still avert a default if it pays bondholders in dollars before a 30-day grace period ends.
Opinion on Ukraine Membership Due by End-June, Michel Says (5:53 p.m.)
“We will have this opinion of the Commission by the end of June and it will be my responsibility to asses when I can put this point on the agenda of the European Council,” Charles Michel, who chairs meetings of EU leaders, said at a news conference in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. EU leaders next meet June 23-24.
Michel said he was personally convinced that “sooner or later we will target oil and gas,” as the EU prepares a sixth package of sanctions against Russia.
Biden Expected to Send Ukraine $800 Million More in Arms (5:01 p.m.)
The money will come from the president’s draw-down authority to send stockpiles of weapons to a U.S. ally in an emergency, according to people familiar with the matter. Its contents are expected to be similar to the last package of aid, according to the people. That package included artillery systems, armored personnel carriers and the transfer of additional helicopters.
Ukraine Won’t Give up Territory, Kuleba Says (4:38 p.m.)
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Bulgaria’s BNT TV that Ukraine would not cede on territory in any negotiations with Russia. “We won’t allow the Russian army to stay in the territories that have been occupied since Feb. 24, these are absolute red lines,” Kuleba said via a translator.
Kuleba met government officials and lawmakers in Sofia, seeking military aid. Bulgaria has so far refused to provide arms to Ukraine as the pro-Russian Socialists in the ruling coalition have threatened to leave the government if that happened.
Germany Rejects Ruble Payments for Gas (4 p.m.)
Companies buying Russian natural gas should not have to set up ruble accounts to pay for it, German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said, pushing back against a demand made last month by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Contracts are contracts,” Lindner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Washington. “Contracts are based on dollars and euros and so private-sector companies should pay in dollars or euros.” EU lawyers drafted a preliminary finding that the mechanism Putin wants would violate EU sanctions, raising the prospect of a de facto embargo on Russian gas.
Russian Finance Minister to Participate in G-20 (3:58 p.m.)
Anton Siluanov will take part in the meetings in Washington this week via video link, according to two people familiar with the matter. The meetings will include sessions on the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Ukraine’s finance minister will attend the opening session of the event, according to a senior Treasury official. Secretary Janet Yellen plans to skip some meetings due to Russia’s involvement, the official said.
U.K. Plans Further Russia Defense Sanctions (3:46 p.m.)
The fresh penalties will come this week, a person familiar with the matter said. The U.K. will also target more Russian tycoons and their associates, the person said. The measures will add to sanctions that already target more than 1,300 Russian individuals, companies and banks.
U.S., China Defense Officials Hold Rare Phone Call (3:41 p.m.)
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Defense Minister Wei Fenghe about the conflict in Ukraine and, more broadly, defense ties and regional security issues, according to a U.S. statement. It was the first time they’d chatted since the Biden administration took office, AP reported.
A Chinese statement confirmed the Ukraine discussion, without providing details. In the statement China said it also urged the U.S. to stop military provocations at sea and refrain from using Ukraine to “smear” China.
Austin will host Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak at the Pentagon on Wednesday.
Ukrainian Army Is Counterattacking in Kharkiv Region (2:20 p.m.)
Ukraine’s military is mounting a counterattack in the northeastern Kharkiv region, liberating some towns even as Russian forces attempt to advance in the area, Presidential spokesman Oleksiy Arestovych said in a televised briefing.
Russian troops were storming the towns of Popasna and Rubizhen in the Luhansk region and “attempted to launch a quiet offensive” in the Zaporizhzhia region, he said. The battle continues at the Azovstal steel mill in Mariupol, Arestovych said.
Ukraine Studies Russia’s Latest Proposal in Talks (2:05 p.m. CET)
Ukraine is studying Russia’s latest proposal in peace talks, a senior official said, without indicating whether or when progress might be expected.
The documents submitted by Russia came in response to drafts that Ukraine offered at the last round of in-person talks on March 29 in Istanbul, according to presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak. Since then, with talks continuing via video link, top officials from both sides have said the negotiations were at a dead end.
Earlier Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had submitted a draft document, but he declined to provide details. “The ball is in their court,” he said. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Bulgarian public BNT TV channel the country would not cede ground on territory. ”
Zelenskiy Touts Macron Ties, Sees Potential With Le Pen (1:47 p.m.)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he has a relationship that he wouldn’t want to lose with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who is seeking re-election in Sunday’s runoff ballot against right-wing candidate and Putin ally Marine Le Pen.
But, speaking in a video address ahead of the last debate between Macron and Le Pen, the Ukrainian leader left the door open to building bonds with Le Pen. “As long as she was to understand that she was wrong” to speak to Putin, “our relation could change,” Zelenskiy said.
Wartsila Books Just Under $220 Million Writeoff on Russia (1:40 p.m.)
Finland’s Wartsila, a maker of ship engines and power plants, will make the write off on its assets and business operations in Russia in the first quarter.
Maintaining activities in Russia is not viable, the company said. It has therefore decided to further downscale operations there, having already suspended all deliveries, sales, orders, and bidding to Russia. Russia-related activities accounted for about 5% of its net sales in 2021.
UN Says 5 Million Ukrainians Have Fled Abroad Due to War (12:45 p.m.)
More than 5 million people have fled Ukraine, the United Nations refugee agency said. Among its neighbors Poland has accepted more than 2.8 million people, Romania 757,047, Hungary 471,080, Moldova 426,964 and Slovakia 342,813. Russia took in 549,805 people and Belarus 23,759, the UNHCR said.
Russia Offers Oil in a Rush, Hinting at Trade Impact (12:40 p.m.)
Russia’s state oil-producing giant Rosneft PJSC surprised traders in Europe and Asia with offers to sell large amounts of crude quickly, as well as setting out significant changes to the payment process for some cargoes.
The move is another sign of disruption to some of the firm’s operations following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There has been a growing pressure in Europe to ban Russian oil imports, creating a potential impetus to get purchases finalized before any such step is taken.
Kazakhstan Sees Main Oil-Export Route Fully Restored This Week (12:37 p.m.)
Kazakhstan expects to resume full operations on its main oil-export route via Russia in the coming days, after storms curtailed shipments. The Central Asian country was forced to reduce deliveries through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium pipeline late last month following damage to moorings at the Black Sea port where it terminates.
The route is expected to be fully up and running again later this week, Energy Minister Bolat Akchulakov said, according to his press office.
NATO-Linked Center to Hold ‘Live-Fire’ Cyber Drills (12:25 p.m.)
The world’s largest “live-fire” security exercise will involve 2,000 people from 32 countries, according to Jaak Tarien, director of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia. Some 8,000 real attacks will be carried out this week on computers simulating military, civilian and financial IT networks.
The exercise is intended to boost the skills of cybersecurity experts defending national IT systems and critical infrastructure under real-time attacks amid Russia’s war against Ukraine. Tarien added that “Ukraine is surprising Russia” with its cyber-defense capabilities.
Turkey Nears LNG Loan in Shift From Russian Natural Gas (12:10 p.m.)
Turkey and Deutsche Bank AG are in the final stages of talks for a pioneering 1 billion-euro loan to finance liquefied natural gas purchases that will reduce the country’s reliance on Russian imports.
State-owned pipeline operator Botas will use the money to buy LNG from U.S. producers and from traders in Europe, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. The transaction marks the company’s first loan for LNG imports and paves the way for similar deals that will allow Botas to diversify supplies currently dominated by Russia and Iran.
Germany to Provide Rockets, Artillery Training (11:30 a.m.)
Germany will provide Ukraine with ammunition and training for heavy artillery to help fend off Russian forces, according to a senior government official.
The training and ammunition are for the PzH 2000, a self-propelled, rapid-fire artillery system, which the Netherlands is sending to Ukraine, said the official. The training could be provided in Poland or Germany, but not in Ukraine because of ongoing attacks from Russia, the official said.
Finnish Lawmakers to Debate NATO Bid (11:20 a.m.)
Finland’s parliament is gearing up for a security policy debate that’s expected to pave the way to an application to join NATO, with lawmakers weighing how neighboring Russia’s attack on Ukraine will reflect on the Nordic country.
“Finns lost all the remaining trust, the little bit of trust we had on the Russian regime,” Atte Harjanne, a lawmaker for the Greens, said on Bloomberg TV.
European Stocks Gain, Crude Rebounds (11:10 a.m.)
Stocks in Europe rose, while futures on the Nasdaq 100 and S&P 500 gauges fell after U.S. shares rallied the most in a month on Tuesday.
Shares of Credit Suisse AG declined after the Swiss lender signaled a first-quarter loss due to a revenue hit form Russia’s invasion. Treasuries and bonds in Europe gained. Gold extended losses, while crude oil rebounded as industrial activity in virus-hit China picked up.
Ukraine Says Allies Haven’t Delivered New Planes (11 a.m.)
Ukraine’s air force pushed back against reports that it had received new deliveries of aircraft from allies, saying instead that the U.S. has sent equipment to help get more planes into service.
European Firms Cite War’s Impact on Business (10:30 a.m.)
Joining Credit Suisse, German turbine maker Siemens Energy said the war was impacting its business, while car sales in Europe fell for a ninth consecutive month in part due to the conflict’s impact on supply chains.
New-car registrations in Europe slumped 19% in March to 1.13 million vehicles as a lack of semiconductors and other components roils production, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.
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