Ukraine Latest: Russia’s Donbas Advance Meet Strong Resistance

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reaches the two-month mark, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he’s preparing for a visit to Kyiv by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. He hailed accelerated weapons supplies that he said could help Ukraine step up its counteroffensive.

Russia said it struck a “large consignment” of foreign weapons in Odesa on the Black Sea coast. The missile attack killed eight people and wounded 18, Zelenskiy said.

Turkey closed its airspace to Russian jets flying to Syria, a significant shift in policy aimed at increasing the cost of the war in Ukraine for President Vladimir Putin.

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

UN Chief Will Meet Erdogan Before Moscow, Kyiv Trip (9:05 a.m.) 

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres will meet Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Monday, Turkey’s foreign ministry said. 

Guterres then travels to Moscow, where he’ll meet President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and on to Kyiv for meetings with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. 

The UN. chief last week asked for separate meetings with Putin and Zelenskiy to discuss “urgent steps” for peace. Turkey has been a leading mediator during the two-month war. 

Traveler Flow Between Poland, Ukraine Reversing (8:38 a.m.) 

More travelers entered Ukraine from Poland on Saturday than departed, Polish border authorities said, continuing the recent trend of Ukrainians slowly returning after Russian forces pulled out of the north. 

Some 15,100 people were cleared to enter Poland on the day while 21,100 left Poland for Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 over 2.9 million people have entered Poland from Ukraine — a large proportion of the over 5 million who’ve left the country. 

Ukraine Continues to Repel Russia Along Line of Contact (7:30 a.m.)

Russia has made some territorial gains, likely at “significant cost” to its troops, but numerous assaults along the line of contact in the Donbas this week have been repelled, the U.K. said in an intelligence update. 

“Poor Russian morale and limited time to reconstitute, re-equip and reorganize forces from prior offensives are likely hindering Russian combat effectiveness,” the U.K. said.  

Russian forces continued to attack the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on Saturday, including with air strikes and a bid to storm the facility. Missile strikes in the Dnipropetrovsk region overnight killed one person and destroyed eight buildings, the governor said. 

Germany to Borrow Extra 40 Billion Euros to Cushion War Blow (11:41 p.m.)

Germany will increase its borrowing plans this year to cushion the effect of the war in Ukraine, taking the total for net new debt to almost 140 billion euros, according to three people familiar with the matter. 

The adjustment is needed to help finance measures to offset the economic impact of the war and surging energy prices on companies and consumers, said the people. The plan will be presented to the cabinet on Wednesday, and then onto parliament for approval. 

Turkey Shuts Airspace to Russian Planes Carrying Troops to Syria (11:05 p.m.)

Turkey’s move, which includes civilian flights carrying troops, is the first such airspace ban since Russia intervened in Syria’s civil war in 2015 in support of President Bashar al-Assad. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Putin of his decision in a phone call, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was cited as saying by state broadcaster TRT. 

Most Russian flights to Syria pass though Turkish airspace, though exact numbers of troops or materiel isn’t publicly disclosed. The move also signals Turkey’s solidarity with fellow NATO members and adds to Turkish pressure on Russia to end the war in Ukraine.

Zelenskiy Says Austin, Blinken Will Visit (6:40 p.m.)

“We’ll be discussing the list of weapons we need and the pace of their delivery to Ukraine,” Zelenskiy said at a press conference in a Kyiv subway station. “I will emphasize again — the last week, the signals, the messages, the tone on weapon supplies — everything has improved.” Ukraine is waiting for the security situation to allow the U.S. president to visit, he said.

The U.S. National Security Council and the State Department did not immediately comment. The visits, if confirmed, would be the first by top American officials to Ukraine’s capital since the war began.

Zelenskiy Says Weapons Flow May Bolster Counteroffensive (6:40 p.m.)

Zelenskiy also said accelerated weapon supplies from the U.S. and European nations may enable Ukraine’s military to step its counteroffensive. “Particularly, we see a change in the speed of response from the U.S., and if this speed increases, we’ll be able to speed up de-occupation of our territory.”

The president said Ukraine’s military isn’t in a position to relieve forces and citizens trapped in the Azovstal factory in Mariupol, which is encircled by Russian forces.

Russian Missiles Strike Odesa Residential Building (6:12 p.m.)

Russian missiles struck a residential building in Odesa, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said. An unspecified military site was also hit, authorities said, adding the missiles were launched from long-range bombers.

Russia targeted a logistics terminal at a military airfield where a “large consignment” of weapons from the U.S. and European countries were stored, Russian Defence Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said in a statement. Odesa, a key Black Sea port and Ukraine’s third-largest city, has seen sporadic shelling from Russia over the two-month war. 

Ukraine Latest: Russia’s Donbas Advance Meet Strong Resistance

Naftogaz CEO Says Some Gas Transit Via Ukraine at Risk (6:00 p.m.)

One-third of gas volumes shipped via Ukraine to Europe could be lost due to Russian forces in recently occupied territories, according to the head of state-owned Naftogaz Ukrainy.

Moscow’s troops are disrupting the operation of pumping stations, Chief Executive Officer Yuriy Vitrenko said on Twitter. Russia has continued to pay Kyiv to ship about a third of its supplies to Europe via Ukraine, despite the war.

West African Nations Struggle With Basics (5:17 p.m.)

Nations in West Africa have been hard-hit by the Russian war in Ukraine as they struggle to import basics like fertilizer and rice, finance ministers from the region said. 

Gambia imports a large amount of its wheat and fertilizer from Ukraine, and has lost about 20% of its revenues trying to subsidize the price of fertilizer, Finance Minister Mambury Njie said during an online briefing hosted by the International Monetary Fund. 

Liberia has started talks with rice importers in a bid to secure supplies, and Gambia is trying to become self sufficient in rice production. Malawi is also discouraging the excess use of cooking oil, and making plans to start producing more locally. 

Top Kremlin Official Visited Donetsk, Tass Says (4:21 p.m.) 

President Vladimir Putin’s First Deputy Chief of Staff visited Donetsk to meet with the leaders of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, Russia’s state-run Tass reported, citing a person it didn’t identify. 

Sergei Kiriyenko, who curates domestic policy at the Kremlin, has already returned to Moscow, Tass said. 

Curfews in Lviv, Elsewhere for Orthodox Easter (2:20 p.m.) 

Regional governors, including from the far western Lviv region, urged people to stay at home as much as possible during the Orthodox Easter, citing information on possible Russian air strikes. 

Curfews will typically run from 11 p.m. Saturday night until 5 a.m. Sunday. Lviv’s regional governor cited new intelligence for the directive. In Mykolaiv, a curfew was announced starting at 7 p.m. 

Europe Must Sustain Sanctions Long-Term: Germany (2:05 p.m.)

Europe needs to be prepared to sustain sanctions against Russia “for months, maybe for many years, and with some probability, maybe permanently,” Germany’s finance minister said. 

Christian Lindner said “the danger of stagflation is real” for Germany as it grapples with the potential for an embargo against Russian oil that many in Europe favor. “This is a danger of impoverishment for many people.”

His comments came a day after Germany’s central bank warned the nation is in danger of recession this year if an embargo on Russian coal, oil and gas leads to restrictions on power providers and industry. 

Ukraine Latest: Russia’s Donbas Advance Meet Strong Resistance

Poland Plans Anti-Russia Media Campaign in Western Europe (12:52 p.m.)

Poland will rent out billboards in western Europe in a bid to strengthen public support for further sanctions against Russia. 

The “Stop Russia Now” campaign, which will also extend to social media, will be a “scream from those, who were brutally murdered” across Ukraine, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters in Warsaw. He singled out Germany, Italy, Austria and France as countries that can do more to support Ukraine.

Almost 3 million Ukrainians have crossed into Poland since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. In recent days more have returned. Poland’s border service showed 17,700 travelers cleared for entry on Friday, against 23,800 who left Poland for Ukraine. 

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