Ukraine’s foreign minister said he pushed G-7 leaders to take steps to allocate seized Russian assets to Kyiv to finance rebuilding. The G-7 foreign ministers continue talks in Germany and will be joined over the weekend by NATO officials as Finland and Sweden prepare to announce possible bids to join the military alliance.
The European Union is working on new investment tools to fund the bloc’s military spending, according to a draft report. Some EU nations say it may be best to consider delaying the drive to embargo Russian oil. But Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said he would push the bloc’s foreign ministers to “provide the political impetus” for the oil ban.
Ukraine’s agriculture minister appealed for help in exporting millions of tons of grain in the face of Russian blocks of Black Sea ports. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy decried Russian shelling of schools in the Chernihiv region as “sick.”
- EU Plans Joint Investment Tools to Boost Defense Spending
- EU Starts Considering Delay in Oil Sanctions as Hungary Digs In
- Mystery Deepens as Oligarch’s Yacht Goes Dark on Way to Bahamas
- Global Diamond Trade Fractures Under Russia Sanctions Pressure
- Russia Curbs Gas Supplies to Germany in Warning for Europe
- Finnish Leaders Back Joining NATO With Sweden Set to Follow
All times CET:
G-7 Plans $31 Billion Ukraine Aid Package: Der Spiegel (1 p.m.)
The Group of Seven industrialized nations is preparing a financial aid package for Ukraine worth about 30 billion euros ($31 billion) to help it through to the end of this year, according to a Germany magazine report.
G-7 finance ministers meeting next week in Bonn will discuss the plan, and the aid would be a mixture of loans and grants, Der Spiegel reported Friday, citing people involved in the talks that it didn’t identify.
Kuleba Says Asked G-7 to Seize Russian Assets, Reallocate to Kyiv (12:41 p.m.)
“I have asked the G-7 countries to adopt legislation and put in place all necessary procedures needed to seize Russian sovereign assets and give them to Ukraine,” said Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. “To use this money to rebuild our country after all the damage inflicted on us.”
Speaking after a meeting with foreign ministers of the Group of Seven in Germany, Kuleba said he had feeling that the G-7 would reach that point “rather sooner than later.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin would celebrate if the next European Union sanctions package doesn’t include an oil embargo, Kuleba said.
UK Goes After Putin ‘Luxury Lifestyle’ Abettors (12:20 p.m.)
The UK ramped up sanctions against Putin’s financial network on Friday, targeting a number of the Russian leader’s family members and associates.
“We are exposing and targeting the shady network propping up Putin’s luxury lifestyle and tightening the vice on his inner circle,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.
The UK has steadily ratcheted up its sanctions on Russia and wealthy and influential Russians since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February. Those targeted on Friday include Putin’s relatives Igor Putin, Mikhail Putin, Roman Putin and Mikhail Shelomov, as well as retired Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, the gymnast’s grandmother, and Putin’s ex-wife.
EU Plans Joint Investment Tools For Defense Spending (12:13 p.m.)
The European Union is working on new investment instruments to fund the bloc’s military spending as part of an overhauled defense strategy following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a draft report seen by Bloomberg.
The set of instruments—collectively dubbed Defend-EU—would enable the bloc “to map, coordinate and incentivize joint development, procurement and ownership across the full life cycle of defense equipment,” the document says.
Ukrainian Minister Asks for Help With Grain Exports (10:30 a.m.)
Agriculture Minister Mykola Solskyi said Ukraine is sitting on about 20 million tons of grain from previous harvests and appealed to international partners to help export it.
“This year’s harvest will be much smaller than the previous year but we’re still talking about very large volumes,” Solskyi told reporters in Stuttgart. He said he expects an additional volume of 30 million and 40 million tons of grain which need to be exported even with most of Ukraine’s ports out of action.
Wheat production in Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest growers, will fall by one-third this year compared to last season, the US Department of Agriculture forecast on Thursday. Smaller global harvests and a slow start to the US planting season are threatening more food inflation at a time hunger is on the rise in many countries.
European Gas Retreats; Traders Eye Russia’s Next Move (10:52 a.m.)
Natural gas prices in Europe declined after a rally triggered by disruptions at a key transit route through Ukraine and retaliatory action by Moscow that curbed supplies to Germany. Benchmark futures fell as much as 5.3% on Friday.
Russian shipments through Ukraine have dropped this week, but may stay broadly stable on Friday—near the lowest since late April—based on data published by the Ukrainian gas grid late on Thursday and a statement from Gazprom PJSC.
Ukraine Shocks Push Euro Closer to Dollar Parity (10:35 a.m.)
The euro’s slide this week has brought it to the cusp of one of the last major support levels standing in the way of its tumble toward parity with the dollar.
The currency has been pummeled for months as an increasingly hawkish U.S. Fed supercharges the dollar, while the war in Ukraine has worsened the outlook for growth in Europe and pushed up the cost of its energy imports.
“The market is finally starting to accept that the Ukrainian crisis is a disproportionate shock to the euro area economy,” Paul Meggyesi, a strategist at JPMorgan Chase & Co., wrote in a research note published Thursday.
Europe Faces Shortfall of Key Gasoline Input (10:15 a.m.)
The market for naphtha, a key component in the production of gasoline, is about to get tighter in Europe—bad news for motorists already contending with soaring prices for the fuel.
Exports of the product from Russia, the world’s top supplier, have shriveled to a multiyear low as countries and companies shun the nation’s oil following its invasion of Ukraine. Naphtha is used to make goods from fuel to plastics, and seasonal demand is about to kick into higher gear.
EU’S Borrell Wants ‘Political Impetus’ For Oil Sanctions (9:49 a.m.)
Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said he would push the bloc’s foreign ministers at a meeting on Monday to “provide the political impetus” for a sixth sanctions package, including a ban on Russian oil, if ambassadors fail to reach an agreement before then.
Borrell told reporters before a meeting of Group of Seven countries in Weissenhaus, Germany, that it was necessary to understand “the specific circumstances of every one of the 27 member states.” Hungary has said an oil embargo would be too damaging to its economy.
Some EU nations are saying it may be time to consider delaying a push to ban Russian oil so they can proceed with the rest of the package if the bloc can’t persuade Budapest to back the embargo.
Ukrainians Crossing Back From Poland Reach 1.2 Million (9:03 a.m.)
Ukrainians continue to return to the country in small numbers although the UN’s High Commission for Refugees says it’s “premature to draw conclusions on definitive trends.”
Polish border authorities showed 27,000 people cleared to travel into Ukraine on Thursday, taking the total since Feb. 24 to 1.21 million. In that time, 3.34 million have departed Ukraine for Poland, including another 22,000 on Thursday.
Curfew rules will be eased by an hour each day in Kyiv and surrounding regions from Sunday, the city’s mayor said. Public transit hours will expand too, as of Monday.
Russia Continues Attacks on Azovstal Amid Evacuation Talks (7:42 a.m.)
Russian forces continued to attack Mariupol’s Azovstal plant with artillery and airstrikes overnight, according to a Ukrainian military update.
Red Cross representatives were in Russia Thursday to discuss the evacuation of heavy wounded Ukrainian soldiers from the steel complex, said Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk. Late Thursday she said the United Nations was also involved, and that Turkey has agreed to be a middleman. Ukraine wants to sign a document on how evacuation will transpire, she said.
Kyiv said Russia is relocating artillery to the Bryansk region as a potential staging point for renewed shelling of Ukraine’s Chernihiv region.
Ukraine Repels Russian River Crossing in Donbas, U.K. Says (7:24 a.m.)
Ukrainian forces prevented an attempted Russian river crossing by Russian troops in the Donbas, the U.K. military said in an intelligence update. The river at issue was the Siversky Donets in Bilohorivka in the Luhansky oblast, the region’s governor said.
The U.K. termed such crossings in a contested environment “a highly risky maneuver and speaks to the pressure the Russian commanders are under to make progress in their operations in eastern Ukraine.”
Russian forces may be abandoning efforts at a “wide encirclement” of Ukrainian troops along the Izyum-Slovyansk-Debaltseve line in favor of shallower encirclements of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, according to U.S.-based analysts at the Institute for the Study of War.
Oil Extends Gains as Investors Weigh Ban (6:02 a.m.)
Oil advanced for a third day, bookending another tumultuous week of trading as investors weigh the prospect of a EU ban on Russian crude imports and uncertainty over China’s virus resurgence.
West Texas Intermediate futures rose above $107 a barrel. Some EU nations said the bloc may have to consider delaying the ban on Russian oil if it can’t get Hungary to agree on the embargo.
Russia to Boost Border Defense If Finland Joins NATO (11:40 p.m.)
Russia’s ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said plans by Finland and Sweden to join NATO will “necessitate certain military-technical measures, like improving or raising the degree of defense preparations along the Russian-Finnish border.”
Joining NATO “has never made any country more secure,” Chizhov said in an interview with the UK’s Sky News. He also said he was “sure” there would be a negotiated solution to the war in Ukraine that would see the country become a neutral state and recognize the Donbas republics and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Ukraine says it’s open to neutrality but won’t concede any territory.
UN Human Rights Council Inks Resolution on Ukraine (11:20 p.m.)
The council in Geneva on Thursday voted to conduct an inquiry into the alleged misconduct of Russian troops in Ukraine in February and March.
“Summary executions of men, women and children; and sexual- and gender-based violence that could amount to war crimes; and the near-total destruction of Mariupol’s civilian infrastructure, were all vitally important issues,” according to a statement.
Russia’s War Is ‘Nuremberg Moment,’ US Official Says (7:29 p.m.)
The US will soon begin a “major initiative” alongside the EU and the UK to help Ukraine document potential war crimes and human rights abuses committed during Russia’s invasion, Beth Van Schaack, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Van Schaack appeared remotely from a conference in the German city of Nuremberg, where Nazi leaders were tried after World War II. “This is another Nuremberg moment,” she told senators. “There’s a global consensus that Russia’s conduct is intolerable and that those responsible for atrocities must be held accountable.”