Ukraine Update: Swedish Ruling Party to Back NATO Entry Bid

Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party leaders will support the country’s bid to join NATO in a sign of how the war in Ukraine is redrawing the European security map. The presidents of Poland and the three Baltic states are heading to Kyiv in a show of support.

U.S. President Joe Biden ramped up his condemnation of Vladimir Putin by accusing the Russian president’s forces of committing genocide in Ukraine, as Washington prepares a new military aid package for Kyiv. Russia has been massing its forces in the east of Ukraine with a fresh push expected to try and seize control of the Donbas region.

Putin said peace talks are stalled, and vowed to continue his “military operation” even as he called the conflict “a tragedy.” Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said the discussions are “extremely difficult.”

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

Bulgaria to Evacuate Ship’s Crew Stranded in Mariupol (12:05 p.m.)

Bulgaria is evacuating the crew of a bulk carrier that has been stranded in Mariupol since the beginning of the war, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said. Fourteen Bulgarian sailors and one Ukrainian are traveling to Donetsk and then on to Bulgaria, while three crew members and the ship’s captain will remain on the ship. 

Zelenskiy Asks Estonian Officials to Join War Crimes Taskforce (12:00 p.m.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy invited Estonian officials to join an initiative to investigate war crimes in Ukraine and to find EU instruments to bring deported Ukrainians back home.

Zelenskiy made the appeal Wednesday in an address to the parliament of Estonia, whose president is in Kyiv today along with his Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish counterparts.

Sweden’s Social Democrats Change Tack on NATO (11:55 a.m.)

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and other Social Democratic Party leaders will support a bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by June, newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported, citing party sources it didn’t identify.

The party has been a long-time holdout in the debate on whether Sweden should join NATO, officially opposing an entry and arguing that any application should have strong support among lawmakers. Its backing would mean majority backing for the bid in parliament.

Finland has also seen a tectonic shift in attitudes toward NATO membership following the invasion of Ukraine, and is set to kick off a process that is likely to end in joining the military alliance. Russia has repeatedly warned both states will face consequences if they do. 

The Netherlands Probes 20 Yachts Related to Russian Sanctions (10:47 a.m.) 

The Netherlands has put a total of 20 yachts under surveillance due to sanctions against Russia and Belarus, according to a statement by the Dutch government.

Of the total, 14 are under construction, two are in storage and four are under maintenance, according to the statement. Two of the yachts that have been placed under stricter surveillance by the Dutch customs service are linked to a person on the European sanctions list. The shipyard of concern has been ordered to freeze the two vessels.

Finland Cuts GDP Forecast on Sanctions Sting (10:47 a.m.) 

This year, Finland’s economy looks set to grow at half the pace estimated before its neighbor Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine, according to the finance ministry.

Gross domestic product will probably expand just 1.5%, down from a previous projection of 3%, as sanctions sap exports and manufacturing output, the ministry forecast in a report published on Wednesday. The economy will grow at a similar pace through 2024, it said, assuming sanctions stay in place.

China’s Exports to Russia Slump (9:48 a.m.) 

China’s exports to Russia fell in March after the invasion of Ukraine even as shipments to other nations grew quickly, indicating Chinese companies are likely being cautious about trading with Russia. 

Chinese firms sold $3.8 billion worth of goods to Russia in March, official data showed Wednesday, a 7.7% drop from a year earlier. That was the lowest amount since May 2020, when global trade was badly affected by the outbreak of Covid-19. 

China has said it will continue normal trade relations with Russia. However, the increasing sanctions on Russia by many nations, the slump in the Russian currency and U.S. efforts to stop Russia from using the dollar has probably pushed Chinese firms to hold back on exports.

Ukraine Update: Swedish Ruling Party to Back NATO Entry Bid

Read More: China’s Exports to Russia Slump After Invasion of Ukraine

Ukraine Captures Oligarch Ally of Putin, Offers Him for Swap (8:30 a.m.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy offered to swap an oligarch and close friend to Putin, Viktor Medvedchuk, who was detained yesterday after he escaped house arrest following Russia’s invasion.

“I offer the Russian Federation to swap your guy for our boys and girls, who are currently being held prisoners,” Zelenskiy said in a video address late Tuesday.

Medvedchuk, a leader of Ukraine’s pro-Russian opposition, was detained last year over accusations of state treason and was put under house arrest, but he managed to escape at the start of the war. 

Ukraine Update: Swedish Ruling Party to Back NATO Entry Bid

Baltic and Polish Leaders to Visit Kyiv (6:28 a.m.)

The leaders of Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are on their way to Kyiv, Jakub Kumoch, a foreign policy aide to Polish President Andrzej Duda, wrote on Twitter.

Oil Holds Advance as Putin Continues War (6:04 a.m.)

Oil steadied in Asia after rallying back above $100 a barrel as the Russian president vowed to continue his war in Ukraine, which has rattled markets and tightened global crude supply. West Texas Intermediate surged 6.7% on Tuesday, the most in three weeks. 

U.S. Prepares New Surge of Military Aid (4:44 a.m.)

Roughly $750 million in weaponry is expected to be sent under presidential drawdown authority, people familiar with the matter said. This allows Biden to transfer equipment from U.S. stocks without congressional approval to speed up delivery during an emergency. The types of weapons are still being discussed.

The U.S. has provided more than $2.4 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since Biden took office. Of that, more than $1.7 billion was delivered after the invasion began on Feb. 24.

Top Oil Merchant Will Stop Trading Russian Crude (2:57 a.m)

Volumes of Russian oil handled by Vitol “will diminish significantly in the second quarter as current term contractual obligations decline,” a company spokesperson said by email. “We anticipate this will be completed by end of 2022.”

BP Plc, Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. earlier announced plans to abandon their stakes in investments related to Russia as they take steps to halt dealings with the nation. Refiners in India and China have continued to purchase Russian oil cargoes, either directly from Moscow or via traders. 

Separately, Russia is ready to sell crude oil and petroleum products to “friendly countries” within any price range, Izvestia reports, citing an interview with Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov.  

Biden Says Putin Has Committed ‘Genocide’ (11 p.m.)

Biden for the first time accused Russia of committing genocide in Ukraine. Speaking at an event in Iowa on Tuesday laying out steps to lower fuel costs that have surged during the war, Biden described Russia’s actions in the conflict as a “genocide.” He later stood by his comments, but said lawyers would ultimately make the official determination. 

“Yes, I called it genocide because it has become clearer and clearer that Putin is just trying to wipe out the idea of being able to be Ukrainian,” the president told reporters before departing Iowa. “The evidence is mounting.” 

Ukraine Update: Swedish Ruling Party to Back NATO Entry Bid

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