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Ukraine Latest: US and Partners Seek to Sideline Russia at G-20

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·10 min read
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(Bloomberg) -- The US is expected to press the case at a G-20 meeting in Bali that Russia’s military actions set a dangerous precedent as it works with its partners to prevent the attendance of the top Kremlin’s diplomat from subverting the gathering’s agenda.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 ministerial meeting, where they spoke about the solidarity of the long-time partners. A Biden administration official earlier this week urged Beijing to stop spreading Russian “lies” about the Kremlin’s invasion of its neighbor.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he’s confident UK policy toward Ukraine won’t change any time soon, after Boris Johnson announced his intention to resign as prime minister.

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

Key Developments

  • Europe Gas Heads for Another Weekly Gain on Deep Supply Concerns

  • US to Seek G-20 Side Deals on Ukraine to Get Past Russia, China

  • Germany to Breach Debt Limits Once Again If Putin Shuts Off Gas

  • US, Allies Discuss Capping Russian Oil Price at $40-$60 a Barrel

  • Russian Tycoon Calls Sanctions ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’

  • Russia’s War-Weary Tech Talent Floods Into Neighboring Georgia

On the Ground

A Russian missile struck the Donetsk city of Kramatorsk on Thursday with casualties reported, with city’s mayor said. Ukrainian forces raised their nation’s flag on the island early Thursday. Also hit was the Moldovan-flagged tanker “Millennial Spirit” which has been adrift for four months after shelling early in the war. In the east, Russian troops attempted to establish full control over Luhansk, Ukraine’s General Staff said. Russian forces appear to have taken an operational pause, confining themselves to small-scale offensive actions as they rebuild military units, the Institute for the Study of War said.

(All times CET)

Europe Gas Heads for Weekly Gain, Again (9:05 a.m.)

Traders and European policy-makers will be keenly watching Russian President Vladimir Putin’s scheduled discussions on energy issues with officials in his government on Friday. The head of state-run exporter Gazprom PJSC will be among the speakers, according to the Kremlin press service, which didn’t elaborate further on the agenda.

UK Sees Siversk as Russia’s Immediate Tactical Goal (7:34 a.m.)

Russia is expected to move toward the Slovyansk region -- about 8 kilometers (5 miles) ahead of the current frontline -- before launching new offensive operations in eastern Ukraine, according to an intelligence update by UK’s Ministry of Defence published Friday on Twitter.

“There is a realistic possibility that Russia’s immediate tactical objective will be Siversk,” the ministry said, warning that President Vladimir Putin’s forces are likely targeting the Slovyansk-Kramatorsk urban area as next operational goal.

China Tells Russia Its Ukraine Position to Remain ‘Just’ (1:26 a.m.)

Wang told Lavrov that China will continue holding an “objective and just” position on the Ukraine situation, Xinhua reported. Wang added Beijing will promote peace talks and support all efforts for a peaceful settlement of the crisis, the Chinese news agency said.

US officials have been frustrated at what they view as China’s echoing of Moscow’s disinformation about the Ukraine invasion and decision to abstain from a vote condemning it earlier this year at the United Nations.

EU’s Borrell Vows to Reject Russian ‘Lies’ at G-20 Meeting (9:54 p.m.)

With G-20 foreign ministers -- including Lavrov -- arriving in Bali for the two-day summit, the EU’s foreign policy chief warned that Moscow would try to use the gathering for its own propaganda purposes.

“We will clearly reject the false Russian narratives,” Josep Borrell said. “We will clearly tell Foreign Minister Lavrov to his face what we think, and we will expose the Kremlin’s lies.”

Borrell said that in all the meetings at the G-20 so far -- with partners from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Gulf -- he stressed that no country could stay neutral in the face of Russian aggression. He added that while it is “very difficult” to sit at the table with Russia under the current circumstances, the EU doesn’t want to harm the G-20 and the forum was too important to all involved.

West Won’t Defeat Russia on the Battlefield, Putin Tells Party Leaders (7:35 p.m.)

Putin painted a defiant picture to leaders of Russian parliamentary parties, saying his military won’t be defeated by the smaller Ukrainian military.

“We hear today that they want to defeat us on the battlefield. What can you say here? Let them try,” Putin said at the Kremlin. Even as Western analysts estimate that thousands of Russian troops have died in the war, Putin warned “we haven’t started in earnest yet” in the military campaign.

Hemmed in by international sanctions and facing much tougher resistance in Ukraine than it expected, Putin claimed Russia wasn’t isolated. Peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials have been stalled for months as intense fighting goes on in the east.

US to Seek G-20 Side Deals on Ukraine (5:43 p.m.)

The US will seek to forge agreements with like-minded countries over Ukraine on the sidelines of the G-20 foreign ministers’ meeting, a senior state department official said, a sign that broader consensus will be tough with Russia and China in attendance.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will use the event to stress that Washington can’t conduct business as usual with Moscow and argue that many of the problems confronting the globe, including a food and energy crisis, were caused by Russia’s invasion.

US to Seek G-20 Side Deals on Ukraine to Get Past Russia, China

WNBA’s Griner Pleads Guilty as Russia Hits at US ‘Hype’ (5:09 p.m.)

WNBA star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty at a Moscow court to smuggling cannabis oil in vape cartridges as Russia blamed US media “hype” over the fate of jailed Americans for impeding talks on potential prisoner swaps.

Griner Pleads Guilty as Russia Hits at US ‘Hype’ on Prisoners

Russian Tycoon Calls Sanctions ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ (3:35 p.m.)

A Russian fertilizer tycoon said Western sanctions on companies like his are “economic weapons of mass destruction,” hurting people most at risk from hunger.

His comments to a Swiss newspaper come as Russian and Ukrainian fertilizer, grains and other farm exports have been disrupted by Moscow’s invasion, helping food costs to spiral. US and European Union sanctions on potash sales from Russian-allied Belarus and China’s move to rein in shipments added to the crunch.

“EU sanctions mean suffering, famine and migration flows for many hundreds of millions of people,” Andrey Melnichenko, founder of fertilizer-maker EuroChem Group AG, told Die Weltwoche.

Russian Tycoon Calls Sanctions ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’

Zelenskiy Tells CNN UK’s Johnson Is ‘True Friend of Ukraine’ (3 p.m.)

Zelenskiy called British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “a true friend of Ukraine,” and told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in an interview on Thursday he’s confident the UK’s policy toward his nation won’t change.

Ukraine President Meets US Senators (2:20 p.m.)

Zelenskiy met US senators, Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina in Kyiv and told the pair that he counts on Congress’s support for the continued delivery of modern air defense systems. His comments came a day after he said that “finally” Western artillery has “started working very powerfully” for Ukraine.

Zelenskiy said he wants “to allow women with children (to) return home by Sept. 1” when the new school year will start in Ukraine.

EU Parliament Approves 1 Billion Euros Loan for Ukraine (2:04 p.m.)

The loan is to help Ukraine’s “acute funding gap exacerbated by war,” according to a statement on the website of the EU parliament.

“Ukraine’s external financing needs ballooned due to the Russian invasion: besides the tremendous damage to roads, bridges, factories, houses, hospitals and other physical infrastructure, the country has also lost its access to the international financial markets.” The approved loan is the first part of 9 billion euros in planned macro financial assistance for Kyiv

Poland May Build Terminal to Help Move Grain (1:36 p.m.)

Poland is considering building a large grain terminal as part of efforts to help move Ukrainian grain to the Baltic port of Gdansk for export, its agriculture ministry said. Poland sees a chance to use 15 trains with special adapters to avoid the need to change to a different track gauge between countries. Other proposals include streamlining veterinary procedures.

Ukrainian Airline Starts Flights for Polish Tourist Operator (1:05 p.m.)

Ukrainian International Airlines started charter flights this months for Polish tourist operator Itaka, the company said by email. A Ukrainian Boeing 737-900 will be based at Katowice Airport in southern Poland and serviced by four Ukrainian crews.

Ukrainian International will service flights from Katowice to destinations around the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Canary Islands.

Ukraine Air, Grounded by War, Finds New Role Flying Poles to Med

Ukraine Summons Turkish Ambassador Over Released Russian Vessel (11:02 a.m.)

Ukraine summoned the Turkish ambassador, citing an “unacceptable situation” after authorities in Turkey released a Russian-flagged vessel that Kyiv said was shipping grain seized from the Ukrainian port of Berdyansk.

“The Ukrainian side has received this information with deep disappointment,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, calling for an investigation and a “comprehensive answer” to the events.

The Ukrainian chief prosecutor’s office last week asked Ankara to detain the Zhibek Zholy and confiscate its cargo of about 7,000 tons of grain.

Germany’s Habeck Urges Canada to Release Turbine (10:31 a.m.)

German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck made a public plea to Canada to release a turbine that’s caught up in sanctions against Russia and critical for gas flows. He said the equipment for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline needs to be returned before maintenance work begins on Monday -- eliminating an excuse for Putin to keep the conduit closed.

“I’ll be the first one who will fight for a further strong EU sanction package, but strong sanctions means it must hurt and harm Russia and Putin more than it does our economy,” Habeck told Bloomberg. “Therefore, I ask for understanding that we have to take this turbine excuse away from Putin.”

Romania Reopens Soviet-Era Rail Line to Aid Ukraine Grain Sales (9:53 a.m.)

Romania reopened a Soviet-era rail link connecting its Danube River port of Galati to Ukraine a month earlier than expected to help boost vital grain exports from its neighbor. Ukraine grain exports, blocked from leaving key Black Sea ports, have been confined to road, river and rail routes to European countries, with shipments well below the normal pace.

Zelenskiy Says Western Weaponry Making an Impact (9 a.m.)

Ukraine’s president said Western artillery has “started working very powerfully” to help Kyiv’s troops push back against Russia.

“Its accuracy is exactly as needed. Our defenders inflict very noticeable strikes on depots and other spots that are important for the logistics of the occupiers. And this significantly reduces the offensive potential of the Russian army,” Zelenskiy said Wednesday in his nightly video address to the nation.

Zelenskiy said large parts of Kharkiv’s National Pedagogical University were destroyed Wednesday by a Russian missile strike. “When it comes to the definition of barbarism, this strike fits the bill the most,” he said.

European Gas Extends Rally as Supply Crunch Haunts Market (8:55 a.m.)

Natural gas in Europe headed for the longest stretch of daily gains in more than nine months as persistent fears of deeper supply cuts by Moscow spread through the market.

The crisis has also sent power prices to record highs as Russia’s tightening hold on energy supplies brings the risk that Europe may struggle to keep the heat and lights on this winter.

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