(Bloomberg) — Dozens were killed Friday morning as Russian troops allegedly shelled people waiting at a train station to be evacuated from the Donetsk region. Russian forces have at this point fully withdrawn from northern Ukraine ahead of what’s expected to be a major offensive in the east. U.S. officials warned that the war may last for weeks, months or even years, as Kyiv’s foreign minister pleaded for urgent military assistance while it can still make a difference.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visits Kyiv on Friday, where she’ll meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The visit comes a day after European Union countries agreed to ban coal imports from Russia, the first time the bloc’s sanctions have targeted Moscow’s abundant energy revenues. Japan is also looking to curb imports. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will meet in London with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, the first country to be kicked off since Libya in 2011, though many countries abstained. China on Friday criticized the move as “hasty.”
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Russia Delivers Surprise Rate Cut (11:02 a.m.)
The Bank of Russia delivered a surprise cut in its key interest rate Friday, reversing some of the steep increase it made after the invasion of Ukraine as the ruble has recovered.
The central bank lowered the rate to 17% from 20% and said further cuts could be made at upcoming meetings if conditions permit.
U.K. Sanctions Putin, Lavrov Daughters (11:09 a.m.)
The U.K. has sanctioned Katerina Vladimirovna Tikhonova and Yekaterina Sergeyevna Vinokurova, the daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Yekaterina Sergeyevna Vinokurova, daughter of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The three will be subject to travel bans and asset freezes, the U.K. said in a release that cited the “lavish lifestyles of the Kremlin’s inner circle.”
Dozens Reported Killed as Russia Shells Train Station (10:42 a.m.)
Dozens were killed Friday morning as Russian troops allegedly shelled people waiting at a railway station for special evacuation trains to transport them out of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine ahead of expected heavy fighting there, officials said.
Tetyana Ignachenko, a regional spokeswoman, said Ukrainian railways were using the station in Kramatorsk to evacuate civilians. A rescue operation is under way, she said.
Ukraine’s defense ministry put the death toll at more than 30, with more than 100 injured. It said Russia used cluster munitions for the strike. There was no immediate response from Moscow.
Ukraine War Drives Up Food Prices at Record Pace (10:00 a.m.)
The war has wreaked havoc on supply chains in the crucial Black Sea breadbasket region, upending global trade flows and fueling panic about shortages of key staples such as wheat and cooking oils. A United Nations’ index of world costs soared another 13% last month.
Japan to Expel Eight Russian Officials (9:53 a.m.)
Japan will expel eight Russian officials including diplomats, a foreign ministry official said. The ministry summoned the country’s ambassador and told him Tokyo believes the Kremlin’s forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine, spokeswoman Hikariko Ono told reporters in Tokyo.
Russia is likely to respond in kind with an expulsion of a similar number of Japanese diplomats.
China Slams Process of Russia’s UN Council Ouster (9:51 a.m.)
China said the drafting of a resolution to oust Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Thursday wasn’t done “in an open and transparent manner.
“Such a hasty move, which forces other countries to choose sides, will aggravate the division among member states,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. China was among the 24 member states to vote against Russia’s expulsion.
Macron Warns of Tough Weeks Ahead for Donbas (9:13 a.m.)
Russia is likely to offer few diplomatic concessions in the coming weeks as it focuses militarily on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview on RTL radio.
“It’s practically certain that May 9 has to be a victory day for President Putin,” Macron said, echoing others who’ve identified that date, the anniversary of Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, as key.
Macron also told Le Parisien newspaper that Moscow is keeping a tight grip on who gets to leave embattled parts of Ukraine. “It’s not a humanitarian operation. France proposes a corridor with the Red Cross. Russia refuses.”
Russia Prepares to Redeploy Forces to the East (7:24 a.m.)
Russian troops are preparing for redeployment to eastern Ukraine ahead of what’s expected to be a major offensive there. The forces have completely left the northern Sumy region, according to its governor Dmytro Zhyvytskyi, and just a few squads remain in several villages of the Mykolaiv region in the south, said its governor Vitaliy Kim.
The troops withdrawing into Russia and Belarus “will require significant replenishment before being ready to deploy,” the U.K. defense ministry said. It added that any mass redeployment is likely to take at least a week — a window that speaks to the urgency of Ukrainian pleas for additional weapons.
Russian shelling of cities in the east and south continues, and forces have advanced further south from the city of Izium which remains under its control, the U.K. said.
Australia to Send Combat Vehicles (12:41 a.m.)
Australia will donate 20 Bushmaster armored combat vehicles to Ukraine following a direct request from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for the locally made equipment. Canberra will also provide a further A$26.5 million ($19.8 million) package that includes anti-armor weapons and ammunition.
The first four vehicles, which have been refitted and repainted with the Ukrainian flag, will be dispatched from the state of Queensland to Europe on Friday, according to a statement. The blast-resistant vehicles are built to carry 10 people and can sustain themselves for up to three days.
Japan Considers Cutting Russia Coal Imports (2:44 a.m.)
Japan is considering curbing imports of Russian coal, signaling a potential shift of policy in one of the world’s biggest energy importers.
The Asian nation “will aim to stop importing coal from Russia” as a longer-term goal, and will over time use energy conservation, other power generation and alternative country supply to reduce its dependency on Russia, Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda said Friday. Japan had previously drawn a line at cutting energy ties to Russia because of its heavy dependence on fuel imports.
Germany Allocates 2 Billion Euros for Ukraine Refugees (12:15 a.m.)
Germany’s federal government will provide 2 billion euros to states in support of efforts to accommodate and integrate Ukrainian refugees, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, according to Deutsche Welle.
Refugees will be integrated into Germany’s social security system and have easier access to health care, job centers and German-language courses, according to the public broadcaster. About 316,000 Ukrainian refugees are currently registered in Germany, it said.
EU Backs Russian Coal Ban in Fifth Sanctions Round (9:06 p.m.)
The European Union agreed to ban coal imports from Russia, its first move targeting Moscow’s crucial energy revenue, after reports of war crimes in Ukraine attributed to Russia.
The bloc’s fifth sanctions package, which also includes a ban on most Russian trucks and ships from entering the EU, was signed off by diplomats on Thursday, France announced. After negotiation, the phase-in period was extended to four months. Germany will make use of the transition period, Scholz said.
The EU’s executive arm told member governments that it will start work on an embargo on Russian oil, gas and nuclear fuel, according to Poland. Preparations are due to begin tomorrow, Poland’s ambassador to the EU told reporters.
UN Votes to Suspend Russia From Rights Panel; 58 Abstain (6:01 p.m.)
The United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, with 93 nations backing the measure and 24 opposing it. There were 58 abstentions.
It’s the first time a nation has been suspended since Libya in 2011. Ukraine’s UN envoy, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said the vote would be a defining moment for the global organization, which he has criticized for not doing enough to stop Russia’s invasion.
While Moscow was backed by longtime allies including Syria, Iran and North Korea, many nations — including Brazil, India and Mexico — said they wanted to see the results of an independent investigation into the killing of civilians before a decision on Russia’s membership was made.
War Will Be a ‘Long Slog,’ Top U.S. General Says (5:22 p.m.)
The war in Ukraine is “going to be a long slog” and a diplomatic solution isn’t an immediate possibility, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.
“It’s an open question now on how this ends,” he said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin acknowledged at the same hearing that guidance on intelligence-sharing hasn’t been clear and that he’s clarifying that the U.S. will share intelligence with Ukraine to conduct offensive operations in the disputed Donbas region.
War in Ukraine Could Last Years, NATO Chief Says (4:26 p.m.)
The war in Ukraine may last for years, according to the chief of NATO. He said foreign ministers from the alliance had agreed to step up support for the country.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters after the meeting in Brussels that allies need to work for a quick end to the war “but at the same time be prepared for a long haul. This war may last for weeks, but also months and possibly also for years.”
Kuleba Says Ukraine Needs NATO’s Help Now (3:21 p.m.)
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said his nation needs urgent military assistance before it’s too late to make a difference in its fight against Russian forces.
“Either you help us now — and I’m speaking about days not weeks — or your help will come too late,” he said after meeting with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. He said he will be following up on specific timelines for his country’s request for more weapons to fight Russian forces. “I have no doubts that Ukraine will have weapons necessary to fight. The question is the timeline.”
“You provide us with everything that we need and we will fight for our security, but also for your security so that President Putin will have no chance to test Article 5,” he added, referring to a provision of the NATO treaty in which countries pledge to defend all alliance members from attack.