Ukraine Latest: Chelsea Deal; NATO Calls for More Modern Weapons

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the West to supply more modern weapons to Ukraine, saying much of its equipment dates back to the Soviet era. President Joe Biden announced the latest installment of $150 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

Group of Seven leaders plan to discuss potential new penalties against Russia on Sunday, a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to a address a military parade in Moscow and may lay out new aims for the war in Ukraine. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed confidence the European Union can reach a deal on a Russian oil ban after proposing to give Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic more time to comply. Hungarian leader Viktor Orban earlier compared the proposal for an embargo by year-end to a “nuclear bomb” being dropped on his nation’s economy. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says that helping to rebuild Ukraine is “an investment in the stability of the whole of Central and Eastern Europe.” He made the comments in a speech by video link to the International Donors’ Conference for Ukraine, held in Warsaw. (Audio translation from source)Source: Bloomberg

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Zelenskiy Fleece Sells for $110,000 at Fundraiser (9:10 a.m.)

A khaki fleece jacket worn by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy sold at a fundraising auction at London’s Tate Modern gallery for 90,000 pounds ($110,000), the Telegraph reported. 

Zelenskiy wore the jacket as he walked the streets of Kyiv while Russian troops were close to the capital in the early weeks of the war. 

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended Thursday’s “Brave Ukraine” event. He termed the 50,000-pound opening price for the jacket “a snip” and urged buyers to “dig deep” for it and other items on offer, which included a guided tour of Kyiv by Mayor Vitali Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion. 

Boris Johnson, left, walks with Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, on April 9.Source: Ukrainian Presidency

World Food Programme Warns of Spiraling Hunger Crisis (4:30 a.m.) 

The United Nations World Food Programme is today calling for the re-opening of the ports in the Odesa area of southern Ukraine so that food being produced in the war-torn country can flow freely to the rest of the world, before the current global hunger crisis spins out of control.

Stoltenberg Calls for More Weapons to Ukraine (4 a.m.)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the West to supply more modern weapons to Ukraine. 

“In the long run, Ukraine cannot carry out its defence only with weapons that date back to the era of the Soviet Union, but it must switch to modern Western weapons,” Stoltenberg told Welt am Sonntag. “The West should intensify its deliveries” as Ukraine must prepare for “a long war,” he said.

Boehly-Clearlake in $5.25 Billion Deal for Chelsea (3:42 a.m.)

A group led by former Guggenheim Partners President Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital has reached a deal to buy Chelsea FC for 4.25 billion pounds ($5.25 billion) that will mark the 10th Premier League team to be fully or partly backed by U.S. investment.

The sale still requires approval from the British government, which sanctioned the club’s current owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich after the invasion of Ukraine. The sale proceeds will be deposited into a frozen U.K. bank account with the intention to donate 100% of them to charitable causes as confirmed by Abramovich. 

A group of U.S. investors has reached a deal to buy Chelsea FC for $5.25 billion.  (Photo by Jose Coelho – Pool/Getty Images)

Senate Intelligence Leader Calls U.S. and U.K. Intel Crucial (12:10 a.m.)

Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner said intelligence that the U.S., U.K. and other allies are sharing “is one of the reasons why the Ukrainians are doing so well,” though he added that some recent news reports on the secret information has been too detailed.

Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said in an interview with Joe Mathieu on Bloomberg Radio’s “Sound On” that he had hoped Congress already would have approved the latest $33 billion in military aid that Biden is seeking. But he said he hopes lawmakers act soon to send a clear message to President Vladimir “Putin and the Russian leadership that the West is not going to walk away from this commitment.”

U.S. to Give Ukraine $150 Million More in Military Aid (11:01 p.m.)

Biden announced the latest installment of U.S. military aid to Ukraine. It’s $150 million in artillery rounds, radars, jamming equipment and spare parts.

Urging Congress to approve supplemental spending, Biden said in a statement, “With today’s announcement, my administration has nearly exhausted funding that can be used to send security assistance through drawdown authorities for Ukraine.”

Italy Holds a Superyacht, Cites Links to Top Russian Officials (10:43 p.m.)

Italian authorities ordered the superyacht Scheherazade held in a Tuscan port, saying it’s linked to top figures in the Russian government that are under European Union sanctions.

Investigations by Italy’s Finance Police led officials to detain the yacht at its dock at the Marina di Carrara port, the Finance Ministry in Rome said in a statement. Its owner has significant links “with prominent elements of the Russian government and with other subjects” included under European Union restrictive measures after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the statement, which didn’t identify any of the people.

The multi-million-dollar superyacht Scheherazade, docked at the Tuscan port of Marina di Carrara, Tuscany, on May 6, 2022.Source: AFP

U.S. Replenishing Stocks of Javelin, Stinger Missiles, Pentagon Says (10:00 p.m.)

As the U.S. sends “unprecedented” amounts of munitions to Ukraine, a Pentagon contract with Lockheed Martin Corp. to replenish Defense Department stocks of Javelin anti-tank missiles is imminent, acquisition chief William LaPlante told reporters.

He said the Pentagon also plans to announce a contract this month to stock up on Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, made by Raytheon Technologies Corp. The Pentagon hasn’t purchased Stingers in 18 years.

So far, the Defense Department has issued contracts for $136 million out of $300 million in supplies for Ukraine, LaPlante said. Those include orders for 300 original Switchblade drones and 10 anti-armor Switchblades, military-grade binoculars and packaged meals.

UN Security Council Endorses Peace Efforts (9:25 p.m.)

The United Nations Security Council — at a stalemate for months over the Ukraine war — issued a rare statement of support for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s efforts to broker a peaceful solution.

The move by the council — where Russia holds veto power — comes after Guterres visited Turkey, Russia and Ukraine last week to press for an opening of humanitarian corridors and an end to the war.

Russia Says it Evacuated Civilians at Azovstal (9:12 p.m.)

Russia evacuated another 50 civilians, including 11 children, from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, the Russian defense ministry said. All of the civilians were handed over to representatives of the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross. 

Hundreds of civilians have been evacuated from the steel facility in the past week, traveling in the first instance north via bus to Zaporizhzhia. Some are now being relocated to Bukovel in Ukraine’s southwest, closer to Romania, the Ukrainian Red Cross said Friday. 

Russian Ministry Summons U.K. Ambassador (7:15 p.m.)

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned U.K. Ambassador Deborah Bronnert to warn that it would continue to act “harshly and decisively” in response to U.K. sanctions, including by taking retaliatory measures, according to a ministry statement. 

On Wednesday, the U.K. cut off Russia’s access to management consulting and public relations services, and moved to block the websites and social media of state-run media outlets RT and Sputnik.

Danube Port Output Quadruples on Black Sea, Azov Blockage (6:55 p.m.)

Cargo turnover in Ukraine’s three Danube River ports quadrupled the past two months to help compensate for blocked shipments due to closed ports on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuriy Vaskov said in Kyiv. The ports along the Danube handled 850,000 tons of cargo in April, including 450,000 tons of agriculture goods.

That total is equal to about 10% of the current demand for shipping, and the government said it aims to bring that up to 1 million tons per month. Before the war, 90% of Ukraine’s total cargo shipping turnover went through ports that are now blocked or destroyed.

Shell Will Sell Russia Fuel Stations as It Withdraws From the Country (5:05 p.m.)

“We can confirm the ongoing negotiations on the sale of Shell Neft, which owns a retail network and lubricants plant which is located in Torzhok,” Shell’s press office said in a statement. 

Russia’s second-largest oil producer Lukoil PJSC, which has its own retail network, is the most likely buyer, Forbes reported on Friday. Shell’s retail network includes more than 370 branded sites in 28 cities in Russia, according to its website.

Russia’s War Shows Security Role of Wind and Solar: Austria (2:55 p.m.)

The conflict is catalyzing Europeans to demand greater energy independence and convincing leaders that power from renewables is essential for national security, the Austrian energy minister said.

“This is really the one thing that has changed most,” Leonore Gewessler said in an interview in Vienna. “It was always sensible to go renewable for climate reasons, but the amount to which we can produce our own energy in Europe, in a safe and resilient and renewable way has also become a matter of security policy.”

G-7 Leaders to Discuss Russia Sanctions on Sunday (2:52 p.m.)

Group of Seven leaders will discuss potential new sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine on Sunday, according to people familiar with the plan. The call will give the countries the opportunity to coordinate — and potentially finalize — any new measures, said one of the people.

Zelenskiy was invited to join the call, the people said.

European Banks Set Aside Billions for Russia Loans (12:32 p.m.)

European banks are starting to see the costs of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increasingly show up on their balance sheets, with several large lenders setting aside billions of euros to cover the cost of Russia-related loans going sour. So far, the region’s lenders have flagged a hit of about $8.6 billion to their earnings, including costs to leave the country.

French bank Societe Generale has already said that it’s exiting and will sell its business in Russia to Vladimir Potanin, the nation’s richest man. UniCredit is still weighing whether to stay in the country, as is Raiffeisen, which earlier this week said that it had received multiple approaches from interested buyers. More hits may still be to come, with some banks fearing that the pain from Russia will spread to the wider European economy, hitting their loan books.

Russian Energy Ban Would Make U.K. Inflation Worse: BOE (10:51 a.m.)

A full European embargo on Russian energy supplies would drive inflation in the U.K. even higher, the Bank of England’s chief economist said.

Huw Pill told CNBC said there are “upside risks” to consumer prices if the European Union steps up efforts to sanction oil and natural gas imports from Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. 

The BOE’s forecast for inflation to peak at 10.2% in October assumes energy costs stabilize over time. 

Von der Leyen Says Oil Sanctions Plan May Take ‘Some Days’ (9:57 a.m.)

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said finding unity on the proposed ban on Russian oil imports among the EU’s 27 member states isn’t easy, and may take “some days” longer. 

She told an audience in Germany on Friday that she’s confident a deal will be reached. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the EU plans to ban Russian crude oil over the next six months. Extensions are proposed for Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Source: Bloomberg

EU Revises Russia Oil Plan to Placate Hungary (9:03 a.m.) 

The EU has proposed a revision to its planned Russia oil import ban that would give Hungary and Slovakia until the end of 2024 to comply, said people familiar with the matter. The Czech Republic would be granted an exemption until June 2024.

The revision would also extend the time frame for when a ban on shipping oil to third countries would kick in, from one month to three months. EU ambassadors meet on Friday to discuss the proposal. 

All other member states would phase out their imports by the end of 2022 as originally proposed. Hungary has said it wants a five-year exemption, and Slovakia said Thursday it needs until the end of 2025 to comply.  

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