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Ukraine Latest: Putin Says Russia to Allow Grain Exports by Sea

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·11 min read
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(Bloomberg) -- The European Union formally adopted new sanctions against Russia, including a partial ban on crude imports, and the UK said Vladimir Putin’s forces have gained momentum in their push to capture Ukraine’s Donbas region 100 days since he invaded.

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Putin said that Russia will allow exports of Ukrainian grain and promised not to attack ports if Ukraine removes its mines.

OPEC+ kept Russia at the oil cartel’s center even as it agreed to increase oil supplies over the summer.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

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  • A Hundred Days of Putin’s War in Ukraine: Balance of Power

  • Serbia Offered Help to Free Itself From Russian Energy Reliance

Oil Sands Crude Prices Nosedive as Russian Bans Upend Market (11 p.m.)

Canadian heavy crude prices have collapsed as the European war upends global market flows and makes oil sands crude less valuable. Western Canadian Select’s discount to benchmark West Texas Intermediate grew $1.70 to $20.80 a barrel in Alberta on Friday, the widest in almost seven months, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Soaring energy costs prompted the Biden administration to tap US strategic petroleum reserves, nearly all of which is similar in grade to oil sands crude. As many as 39 million barrels of these sour barrels will be released this summer, just as oil sands sites come out of maintenance. A glut of ultra-light oil is also contributing to the collapse.

US Must Sanction Enablers of Russia’s War: Senators (7:45 p.m.)

A bipartisan group of US senators, including Mark Warner, Marco Rubio, Ron Wyden and John Cornyn wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to ask for sanctions against “lower-tier enablers” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The senators asked Yellen to take into account a list of 6,000 Russian officials and regime enablers compiled by Anti-Corruption Foundation of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

Putin Says Russia Will Allow Ukraine Grain Exports (7:43 p.m.)

Putin said Russia is ready to facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain and can guarantee the safety of shipments from ports it controls. In an interview with Russian state television, he urged Ukraine to clear its waters of mines and vowed Russia “will not take advantage of the clearance situation in order to launch any attacks from the sea.”

More broadly, the Russian president sought to deflect Russia’s responsibility for contributing to the global run-up in food and energy costs, blaming foreign governments and saying Europe’s “short-sighted policies” drove up gas prices on the continent.

He also slammed the EU for its sixth package of sanctions, warning it will make worse the situation on the fertilizer market. Russia is able to boost its grain exports in the next season to 50 million tons from 37 million tons, Putin said.

Ukraine Imposes a Cap on Natural Gas Prices (6:47 p.m.)

Ukraine’s government put a cap on natural gas prices for utilities companies in an effort to keep household prices unchanged.

Ukrainian utility companies will buy natural gas at a price not higher than 7,400 hryvnia ($253) per 1,000 cubic meters as the government prepares for a heating season that will begin in the middle of October, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at a cabinet meeting on Friday, according to an e-mailed statement.

The government is seeking incentives for Ukrainians to return home from evacuation, the prime minister said. Before the war, Ukraine had agreed to free gas prices from controls as part of its commitments to the International Monetary Fund.

War Forces Biden to Rewrite Security Plan, Nod to Europe (6:05 p.m.)

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a major rewrite of the Biden administration’s National Security Strategy, according to people familiar with the matter.

A new draft, which may still be revised, emphasizes the importance of both Europe and Asia to US national security interests, a shift from an earlier version that focused more squarely on China and Asia. Rather than downplaying the importance of China, the document argues that events in Europe and Asia are intricately connected, according to the people.

Read the full story here.

EU, US to Strengthen Coordination of Export Controls on Russia (5:49 p.m.)

The EU and US agreed to strengthen coordination on the enforcement of export controls on Russia, building on cooperation under the US-EU Trade and Technology Council, according to a statement.

Ukraine Says 74 Million Acres of Land Must Be Demined (5:45 p.m.)

Ukraine needs the help of international partners to clear 30 million hectares (74 million acres) of land land from mines and other explosives, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. After four regions in the north and north east were liberated from the Russian army, mines were cleared from 2.7 million hectares so far, he said.

German Lawmakers Back Constitutional Change for Military Fund (4:50 p.m.)

Germany’s ruling coalition and the opposition conservatives paved the way for the creation of a special fund worth 100 billion euros ($107 billion) for additional military spending, part of a push by the government to transform the armed forces after years of underfunding.

The new investment vehicle, which is not part of the regular budget and not subject to rules limiting net borrowing, will enable Germany to meet a NATO goal of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defense.

Putin Critic Kallas Ends Estonian Coalition After Infighting (4:47 p.m.)

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas ended her 16-month governing coalition after weeks of political squabbling, saying she’ll seek to form a new alliance as the Baltic nation confronts its biggest security threat in decades.

The standoff in Tallinn had hobbled the ability of the nation, which shares a border with Russia, to confront the threat posed by the invasion of Ukraine, he said.

Orban’s ‘Risky’ Sanctions Path Weakens EU, Czech Minister Says (4:44 p.m.)

Hungary’s obstinate approach toward negotiating sanctions against Russia are undermining European Union unity and weakening the bloc’s position on the world stage, Czech Minister for European Affairs Mikulas Bek said in an interview.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s stonewalling against efforts to pass a sixth package of EU sanctions this week, including an embargo on most Russian oil, had increasingly left Budapest isolated among Western powers, even if he eventually relented, Bek said.

EU Formally Adopts Sixth Sanctions Package (3:28 p.m.)

The EU penalized 77 people and 26 entities linked to Russia and Belarus in a sixth sanctions package that includes a ban on seaborne oil from Russia and cuts off Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT international payments messaging system.

Many of the individuals cited are Russian military commanders, including those who led the siege on the Ukrainian city of Mariupol and others accused of atrocities in Bucha. Former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, who the EU describes as a “close associate” of Putin, was sanctioned, along with Arkady Volozh, the co-founder of Russian technological company Yandex NV, who resigned. The EU also sanctioned Peskov’s wife, as well as two of his adult children.

In addition, the EU cited the wives of previously sanctioned tycoons Andrey Melnichenko and Alexey Mordashov. Aleksandra Melnichenko had received some of her husband’s assets after the co-founder of fertilizer maker EuroChem Group and the Suek JSC coal company was penalized in March. Marina Mordashova’s husband transferred his stakes in travel company TUI AG and gold mining firm Nordgold to her.

Putin Told That Africans Are Victims of His War (2:05 p.m.)

African Union head Macky Sall told Putin that people on the continent were suffering from food shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.

Sall, who is also the president of Senegal, said African countries are “victims on an economic level” of the fighting, according to televised comments before he met Putin in Sochi, Russia.

Kremlin spokesman Peskov said on a conference call earlier that Putin would tell Sall that Kyiv was to blame for stranded grain shipments because it mined its ports. Ukraine denies that and has requested that allied nations provide warship escorts to allow for the safe passage of vessels carrying food.

EU, Egypt Near Gas Deal in Shift From Russia (2 p.m.)

The EU and Egypt are set to sign a deal this month on supplying gas as the bloc seeks to slash its dependence on Russian supplies, according to a draft document seen by Bloomberg.

The proposed deal highlights Egypt’s crucial role in ensuring both food and energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. EU leaders have also highlighted the potential of African countries to provide not only the liquefied natural gas needed to replace Russian fossil fuels, but also green hydrogen in the coming years.

Finland Disconnects Russian Power Link (12:26 p.m.)

The interconnector between Imatra in Finland and Svetogorsk in Russia has been disconnected until further notice after flows were suspended, Finnish utility Fortum Oyj said in a company filing.

Russian power flows to Finland were halted last month after a Russian-owned power importer said it stopped receiving payments. There’s enough electricity in Finland even without imports from Russia, the operator of the country’s transmission system said at the time.

‘Certain Results Achieved’ 100 Days Into War, Kremlin Says (12:05 pm)

Russia has achieved some results in the 100 days since sending troops into Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Peskov said, even as the invasion has fallen short of Moscow’s initial goals.

“Certain results have been achieved,” Peskov told a conference call when asked to assess the progress since the so-called special operation began on Feb. 24, citing the “liberation” of some areas from Ukrainian forces.

“This work will continue until all the goals of the special military operation are achieved,” he said, without specifying what those goals are. Russian forces now occupy about a fifth of Ukraine’s territory, and thousands of people have died in President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Kadyrov Meets Russian Defense Minister (11:18 a.m.)

Chechen President Kadyrov said after a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that Russia is planning new measures to speed up the special operation, state-run Tass reported.

Russia refers to the war in Ukraine as a “special military operation,” and Kadyrov’s troops are a key component of Kremlin forces fighting there.

Ukraine Declares EBRD-Backed Kharkiv Lender Insolvent (11:12 a.m.)

Ukraine’s central bank declared Kharkiv-based Megabank, which counts Germany’s KfW, the European Bank For Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation as shareholders, insolvent.

The lender’s problems predated Russia’s invasions, the National Bank of Ukraine said in a statement. Megabank’s net assets account for 0.5% of the banking sector’s total, it said.

Allianz Sells Majority Stake in its Russian Business (9:33 a.m.)

German insurance giant Allianz SE agreed to sell a majority stake in its Russian operations to Interholding LLC, the owner of Zetta Insurance, for an undisclosed price.

The transaction will reduce profit by about 400 million euros ($430 million), the Munich-based company said. Allianz earlier this year stopped insuring new business and making new investments in Russia on behalf of its own investment portfolio following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read more: Allianz Sells Majority in Russian Operations to Interholding

UK Says Luhansk Region Likely to Fall Within Two Weeks (8:05 a.m.)

Russia controls over 90% of the Luhansk region and will likely take complete control of it in the next two weeks, the UK Defense Ministry said on Twitter.

“Following the failure of the initial plan, through false planning assumptions and poor tactical execution, Russia adapted its operational design to focus on the Donbas,” the ministry said.

Yacht of Second-Richest Russian in Turkey (5:21 a.m.)

After not broadcasting its location for almost two weeks, a $150 million luxury yacht linked to sanctioned Russian billionaire Leonid Mikhelson reappeared again -- transmitting it was headed to the Bahamas and Barcelona -- locations that would have put it at risk of seizure.

Turns out, its final destination is a safe haven sought after by many other vessels of tycoons facing sanctions: Turkey. After a nearly month-long journey that took it more than 7,000 miles (11,265 kilometers), the Pacific moored Thursday at the port of Marmaris in the country’s south.

Read more: Yacht of Second-Richest Russian Raced for Turkey’s Safe Waters

US Adds Russia, Belarus Entities to Restricted List (11:16 p.m.)

The US added 71 entities based in Russia and Belarus to a list that prohibits American firms from doing business with them without getting a government license. The action raised the number of parties on the so-called Entity List to 322.

The restrictions limit Russia’s ability “to obtain the items and technologies it needs to sustain its military aggression,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said.

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