Ukraine update: Russia continues to target sites around Kyiv

(Bloomberg) —

The Russian military continues to target sites around the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The head of Ukrainian diplomacy on Friday rejected the suggestion of a “positive movement” in the talks with Russia cited on Friday by President Vladimir Putin, saying that there had been “no progress”.

About 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country, the majority passing through Poland, and this figure could rise to 4 million in a few days.

The European Union has proposed doubling the size of a fund that supplies arms to Ukraine. He also disbursed 300 million euros in financial aid, with more to come. Additional EU sanctions should be confirmed. The United States will ban imports of Russian caviar and vodka in its latest effort to pressure the Kremlin.

Key developments

  • Satellite images of Russian tanks fail to penetrate the fog of war
  • A new world energy order emerges from Putin’s war on Ukraine
  • US warns UN that Russia may deploy chemical and biological weapon
  • Technology is walling off Russia like never before, posing risks for the United States
  • Russian state media heard loud and clear on Washington airwaves
  • Biden calls for end to Russia’s preferred trade status

Every hour CET:

The freezing of Russian assets in Belgium reaches 10 billion euros (9:27 a.m.)

Some 10 billion euros ($10.9 billion) in Russian assets have so far been frozen by the Belgian government following European Union sanctions, the finance ministry told L’Echo newspaper. . These figures include 2.7 billion euros in frozen accounts and 7.3 billion euros in transactions, but do not take into account the additional real estate and real estate assets that have been seized.

Almost all of these funds are newly frozen. Ten days ago, Belgium froze only 25.5 million euros in Russian assets, the newspaper notes.

Russia continues to target sites near Kiev (8:41 a.m.)

Ukraine says the “situation is tense” in towns near the capital as the government tries to speed up evacuations. The battles continue in Irpin, about 20 kilometers (16 miles) northwest of Kiev, and near Hostomel airport. Russian troops are also bombarding towns northeast of Kiev.

Tass reported that Russia had targeted two other sites near Kiev: the military airbase near Vasylkiv to the southwest and a radar center at Brovary to the northeast. The sites were rendered non-operational, Tass reported, citing Russian military officials.

Further, Ukrainian officials said Russia bombed residential areas in Chernihiv and dropped aerial bombs on Sumy. Explosions were reported in Kropyvnytskyi, central Ukraine, where Russian forces targeted an airport, according to preliminary information. Russia continued to shell the southern city of Mykolaiv, including residential areas, Ukraine said. Local authorities in Lugansk, in the far east of Ukraine, said Russia now controls 70% of the region.

Refugee floods put European solidarity to the test (6:00 a.m.)

The number of people fleeing Ukraine could reach 4 million within days, matching the highest global projection of migrants by UN agencies before the war after less than three weeks.

While the refugees have been greeted with an outpouring of support, their numbers are beginning to strain the resources Eastern European countries have to care for them.

“We have never been in such a situation,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Thursday. “We are trying to deal with it, but if we don’t get international help, it could end up being a humanitarian disaster.”

Russian space explorers demand removal of sanctions (7:36 a.m.)

Roscosmos, the Russian space exploration company, will write to its partners on the International Space Station demanding the lifting of sanctions imposed on the company, Russian news agency TASS reported.

The Russian company will write to NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency demanding the lifting of illegal sanctions against it, TASS said, citing the company’s chief executive, Dmitry Rogozin, via his channel. Telegram.

Sailors Reportedly Denied Entry into the United States (3:48 a.m.)

U.S. border protection officials are refusing to let some Ukrainian and Russian sailors into the country for fear they might try to stay in the country, Dow Jones reported.

Crew members from Russia and Ukraine working primarily on commercial vessels have been barred from entering the United States at ports such as Port Canaveral, Florida, Port Arthur, Texas and the Port of New Orleans, Dow said, citing industry and government officials familiar with the matter.

US State Department. Issue more penalties (2:56)

The US State Department has sanctioned Russian businessmen linked to ABR Management and Novikombank, seeking to target elites close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a statement said.

The sanctions apply to ABR Management and Yuri Kovalchuk, Kirill Kovalchuk, Dmitry Lebedev and Vladimir Knyaginin for their links with the management of the company. Four members of Novikombank’s board of directors, chairwoman Elena Georgieva, German Belous, Andrey Sapelin and Dmitri Vavulin, were also sanctioned.

Abramovich’s U.S. investments to be frozen: WSJ (2:30)

Several US hedge fund firms with investments in Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich have been told to freeze its assets after the businessman was sanctioned by the UK, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Since late February, Abramovich had tried to sell investments in funds, including those managed by Empyrean Capital Partners in Los Angeles and Millstreet Capital Management in Boston, the newspaper said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. He also accessed hedge fund investments through New York-based Concord Management, according to the newspaper.

Start of repairs in Chernobyl (9:46 p.m.)

Technicians have started repairing damaged power lines at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement, adding that additional fuel for diesel generators had been delivered.

At the Zaporizhzhya plant, which Russia now controls, ordnance exploded during the March 4 attack is detected and disposed of.

Pentagon Official Says More Jets Won’t Help Ukraine (7:45 p.m.)

A US defense official said it was unclear whether Ukraine needed additional fixed-wing fighter jets like the MiG proposed by Poland earlier this week, but could use more ground-to-air and shoulder anti-aircraft systems.

The Ukrainian Air Force has about 56 planes and they only fly five to ten hours a day, the official said. This is partly because of Russia’s extensive coverage of Ukrainian airspace. So it makes no sense to US officials that sending more jets to Ukraine would tip the scales, the Pentagon official said.

The Ukrainian Air Force consists of MiG-29 and SU-27 air-to-air fighters and SU-24 and SU-25 ground-attack aircraft, according to the 2022 edition of the annual review of Global Military Balance from the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

EU promises fourth package of sanctions against Russia for Saturday (6:19 p.m.)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would introduce a fourth package of sanctions on Saturday to isolate the Russian economy.

The proposal includes revoking Moscow’s most favored nation trading status, banning the export of luxury goods to Russia, ensuring that Russians cannot use crypto assets to circumvent sanctions, and the ban on the import of certain steel products from Russia.

Kuleba cites no progress in talks with Russia (5:57 p.m.)

The head of Ukraine’s diplomacy said he did not see the progress of the Russian-Ukrainian talks cited by Putin and reiterated that the country could compromise on neutral status if it offered security guarantees.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Thursday that high-level talks with his Russian counterpart had yielded no progress.

“There has been no progress in the talks, so it’s hard for me to understand what kind of progress President Putin is referring to,” Kuleba said on Bloomberg Television.

The Russian economy is already in freefall (2:59 p.m.)

Russia’s economy was on track to grow for a second straight year, but two weeks after Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, output fell by around 2% – a decline that rivaled the full-year contraction during the pandemic in 2020, estimates Bloomberg Economics.

More than $30 billion has probably already been wiped out of Russia’s annual gross domestic product, based on last year’s prices, and the drop for 2022 is expected to be around 9%.

Two weeks after the start of the war, the Russian economy has rarely been worse than today

Putin sees ‘positive’ developments in the talks (12:32 p.m.)

President Vladimir Putin noted “positive” changes in the talks between Russia and Ukraine, IFX reported at the start of a meeting Friday with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

“There is positive movement there, as our negotiators have told me,” Putin said, noting that talks are happening “virtually daily.” He gave no further details, but it is likely a reference to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this week indicating he is open to discussing Ukraine adopting a more neutral status.

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