(Bloomberg) — Germany signaled it wouldn’t oppose a European Union embargo on Russian oil, but expressed skepticism that it’s the most effective means of damaging Vladimir Putin.
Russian missiles struck Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, on Thursday evening, a few miles east of the city center. Odesa was also hit. Still, the battle for Donbas remains Russia’s strategic focus; territorial gains have been slow in the face of stuff Ukrainian resistance. Direct talks with Russia are “somewhat on pause” as the Kremlin presses ahead with its attack, one of Ukraine’s negotiators said.
President Joe Biden is seeking an additional $33 billion in aid to Ukraine and new authority from Congress to seize and sell property linked to wealthy allies of Putin. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the U.S. will “strongly support” Sweden and Finland if they decided to apply to join NATO.
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Poland Has Sent Ukraine T-72 Battle Tanks, Security Official Says (8:18 a.m.)
Poland has already supplied a “significant” number of T-72 tanks to Ukraine and will continue delivering military support to its eastern neighbor, Pawel Soloch, the head of Poland’s National Security Bureau, told Polsat News.
The state newswire IAR reported earlier that the NATO member has shipped to Ukraine more than 200 of the tanks, enough to form two brigades. On Saturday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland provided Kyiv with military aid worth about 7 billion zloty ($1.58 billion).
Major Deployment of U.K. Troops in ‘Show of Solidarity’ (8 a.m.)
About 8,000 British Army troops will conduct a series of planned exercises across Europe this summer, in what the U.K. Ministry of Defence called one of the largest deployments since the Cold War.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the move would be a “show of solidarity and strength” at a time when the security of Europe “has never been more important.”
Some 72 Challenger 2 tanks, 12 AS90 tracked artillery guns, and 120 Warrior armoured fighting vehicles will deploy to countries from Finland to North Macedonia.
Indonesia’s President Had a Call With Putin (7:30 a.m)
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he exchanged views with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the situation in Ukraine as well G-20 cooperation. The call between the two leaders comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Indonesia as the G-20 chair had invited him to attend the summit this year.
The Kremlin earlier said that both leaders had discussed “various aspects of the G-20’s activities in view of Jakarta’s presidency in the group.”
Russia Tees Up Another Big Rate Cut (5:00 a.m.)
Russia’s central bank is set to push interest rates below zero when adjusted for inflation, as priorities shift to helping the economy adjust to unprecedented international pressure after the invasion of Ukraine.
Just weeks after reversing nearly a third of the emergency hike delivered after the attack, the Bank of Russia will lower the benchmark to 15% from 17%, according to most economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
Tycoon Abramov’s Megayacht Likely Racing to Turkey (4:50 a.m.)
The $100 million megayacht Titan tied to steel billionaire Alexander Abramov is racing near top speed to reach the Suez Canal, likely bound for the safe waters of Turkey favored by other sanctioned Russian moguls.
The Titan, a $100 million yacht that can accommodate 14 guests and 19 crew, is headed toward the Suez Canal after long stays in Dubai and the Maldives, two destinations that are considered safe havens from sanctions and the seizure of Russian assets.
Germany, Greece Set to Send More Gas to Poland, Bulgaria, FT Says (4:17 a.m.)
Data from from Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator showed Germany and Greece are preparing to send more natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria after Russia reduced deliveries, the Financial Times reported.
Orders for gas volumes through the pipeline at Sidirokastro, a border-crossing point between Greece and Bulgaria, increased on Thursday, with higher flows to exit toward Bulgaria than those heading south to Greece, according to the report.
U.S. Will Back NATO Bids of Sweden, Finland, Post Reports (2:30 a.m.)
The U.S. will “strongly support” Sweden and Finland if they decided to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Washington Post reported, citing Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“The world has changed pretty dramatically and one of the ways it has changed is in the very strong interest of both countries to become members of NATO,” he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “We, of course, look to them to make that decision. If that’s what they decide, we will strongly support it.”
Earlier this month, Russia threatened to deploy nuclear weapons in and around the Baltic Sea region if Finland and Sweden join the NATO. Both nations have said they’re stepping up consideration of the issue in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Oil Heads for Longest Run of Monthly Gains Since Early 2018 (2:22 a.m.)
Oil is poised to eke out a fifth monthly advance after another tumultuous period of trading that saw prices whipsawed by the fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the resurgence of Covid-19 in China.
The market is on the rise as prospects for a European Union ban on crude imports from Russia seemed more likely, with Germany signaling it’s prepared to phase in an end to purchases.
Negotiator Says Battlefield Success Key to Talks (12:50 a.m.)
Mykhailo Podolyak, one of Ukraine’s chief negotiators and a top adviser to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said more Ukrainian military successes must occur before negotiations can bear fruit.
“Positions in negotiations, including the Russian position, and the way in which the war will end, and the way in which the war will end will be defined in the east of Ukraine, in different tactical battles,” he said on Bloomberg TV.
Peace talks groups continue working together, but it’s hard to predict the next date for in-person meetings, he said.
Putin’s War Targets Democracy, Scholz Writes in Die Welt (12:00 a.m.)
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine goes beyond destroying the country and is an attack on tenets of democracy, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an opinion piece for Die Welt.
“Putin isn’t just following the goal of destroying Ukraine,” Scholz wrote. “His war targets everything that makes up democracy: freedom, equality in front of the law, self-determination, people’s dignity.”
Europe Rethinks Its Ties With China Amid Russian Aggression (11:00 p.m.)
Russia’s war on Ukraine has triggered a profound reassessment in European capitals of their individual and collective relations with China. Senior lawmakers in Berlin who now concede that such closeness to Russia was a historic liability are starting to see the danger of repeating the mistake with Beijing.
At the European Union level, attitudes have soured over China’s refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion and its attempts to undermine the transatlantic unity the war fostered. A virtual EU-China summit on April 1 took place in the context of what a person familiar with the discussions described as an increasingly challenging relationship.
U.S., Canada Say Weapons Arriving Quickly in Ukraine (9:01 p.m.)
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Canadian Defense Minister Anita Anand said howitzers and other weaponry promised to Ukraine are being delivered quickly.
Canada has also been training Ukrainian forces on the use of the howitzers, Anand said during a joint news conference at the Pentagon. Austin urged Congress to quickly approve Biden’s proposed $33 billion supplemental for Ukraine.
Mayor Says Kyiv Is Hit by Two Missile Strikes (7:51 p.m.)
Kyiv was hit by two missile strikes on Thursday evening, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko. He didn’t provide details except to say the missiles hit a central district of Ukraine’s capital city. Ten people were said to have been injured. There also were reports of strikes elsewhere, including in Odesa.
Ukrainian Negotiator Cites ‘Red Lines’ in War With Russia (6:05 p.m.)
Direct Russian-Ukrainian talks to end the war are “somewhat on pause” as the Kremlin presses ahead with its attack, one of Ukraine’s main negotiators said in an interview.
Potential additional war crimes, the destruction of Mariupol and organizing fake referendums on Ukrainian territory are “red lines” that could bring a halt to negotiations, Mykhaylo Podolyak told Bloomberg Television. “There isn’t even a subject for discussion because everything is going to be decided in terms of direct combat in the east of Ukraine,” he said.