Ukraine Latest: U.S. Gives Sweden, Finland Security Assurances – Regina Leader Post

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Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) — International donors gathered in Warsaw Thursday to drum up further humanitarian aid for Ukraine as it seeks to evacuate civilians trapped by more than two months of fighting. 

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, announced 200 million euros ($211.44 million) in support for displaced people in Ukraine with other donors expected to make further pledges at Thursday’s conference. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy also launched a global fundraising site. 

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The efforts come as Russia announced a three-day daytime cease-fire in the vicinity of Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant to allow for further evacuations. Ukrainian officials say Russia has continued to attack soldiers that remain holed up there, including with new air bombardments. 

Key Developments

EU Squeezes Hard on Russia, Sweeping In Oil, Bank, Business Oil Steadies Before OPEC+ Meet After Surging on EU Russian BanRussia Fallout Hits $7 Billion for European Banks Pulling Back’I Don’t Want to Sell to an Oligarch’: A CEO on Exiting RussiaU.S. Gives Sweden and Finland Security Promises on Road to NATO

All times CET:

European Bank’s Russia Hit — $7 Billion (1: 43 p.m.) 

European banks are counting the rising cost of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as they prepare for a wave of defaults that several fear will spread to the wider economy.

Led by Italy’s UniCredit SpA, the industry has ratcheted up the amount of cash set aside to cover doubtful loans by the most in over a year. Alongside trading losses, writedowns and costs to exit the country, European lenders have so far flagged a hit of about $7 billion — with the potential for more to come.

Ukraine Begins Counterattacks Near Kharkiv (1: 40 p.m.)

Ukrainian forces have shifted to counterattacks in areas near Kharkiv and Izyum while Russia has resumed missile attacks on key supply lines, Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zaluzhnyi said.

Zaluzhnyi told General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a telephone conversation that Russian missiles have targeted routes that provide military and technical assistance to Ukraine, according to a post on Facebook. 

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He repeated Ukraine’s call for the U.S. to provide his country with advanced missile defense systems. 

EU Pledges 200 Million Euros to Ukraine (12: 59 p.m.)

The European Union pledged an additional aid package of 200 million euros for displaced people in Ukraine, as international donors met at a conference in Warsaw.

Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, announced the bloc’s new funding, recalling that last month a pledging event raised 9.1 billion euros for Ukrainians inside and outside the country.

“We know that more will be needed,” von der Leyen said. “And we will continue to stand up for Ukraine.”

Germany Eyes LNG to Cut Russian Gas (11: 51 a.m.)

Germany signed contracts to charter four floating terminals to import liquefied natural gas in partnership with utilities RWE AG and Uniper SE as it races to reduce its energy dependence on Russia.

Shipping companies Hoegh LNG and Dynagas will each provide two of the LNG terminals — which each have the capacity to convert 5 billion cubic meters of the super-cooled gas per year — and RWE and Uniper will operate them, the economy ministry said Thursday in an emailed statement.

European countries are seeking to rapidly diversify their energy supplies to punish Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. 

Zelenskiy Says Ukraine Launches ‘United24’ Initiative (11: 16 a.m.)

Kyiv has launched a global initiative, “United24,” that in the first instance will be an online platform to raise funds for Ukraine from anywhere in the world. 

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“Together we have the potential to stop the war that Russia has started, and to rebuild what Russia has destroyed,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in an English-language video posted on Twitter. All money raised will be transferred to Ukraine’s national bank and allocated to the relevant ministries, he said.  

Zelenskiy announced the project in a speech to the U.S. Congress in March, saying its goal was to “respond to the outbreak of any war within 24 hours.” 

Lukashenko Says Belarus Doing ‘Everything’ to End War (10: 32 a.m.)

Belarus’ president said he’s doing “everything” to end the war in Ukraine. “Thanks to yours truly, me that is, negotiations between Ukraine and Russia have begun,” Alexander Lukashenko told the Associated Press in an interview. 

Meanwhile, the U.K. in an intelligence update on Thursday said Belarusian forces “have been observed deploying from garrison to the field, for exercises.” 

“Russia will likely seek to inflate the threat posed to Ukraine by these exercises in order to fix Ukrainian forces in the north, preventing them from being committed to the battle for the Donbas,” the U.K. said. 

Italy’s Unicredit Takes $2 Billion Charge on Russia (10: 30 am.) 

Milan-based bank UniCredit SpA took charges totaling 1.85 billion euros ($2 billion) on its business in Russia, with Chief Executive Officer Andrea Orcel saying the actions mean the bank is covered in the event of a pull-out from the country. 

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“Our conservative approach will allow UniCredit to have zero impact on capital under any possible worst-case scenario from Russia exit,” Orcel said.  

Slovakia Says It Needs Through 2025 for Russia Oil Ban (8: 49 a.m.)

Slovakia backs a proposed European Union embargo on Russian oil imports but needs until the end of 2025 to implement it, said Economy Minister Richard Sulik.

Sulik told German radio that the government in Bratislava, and its counterparts in the Czech Republic and Hungary, “want to maintain EU unity” but need the extra time because of their heavy reliance on Russian oil.

Germany’s Factory Orders Plummet on War Pressure (8: 30 a.m.)

German factory orders fell more than anticipated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine darkened the prospects for Europe’s largest economy economy by adding to inflation pressure and disrupting global supply chains.

The heightened uncertainty related to the war in Ukraine “is reflected in significantly more restrained demand, especially from non-euro area countries,” Germany’s Economy Ministry said in a separate statement. “The outlook for the coming months is currently muted.”

ECB’s Panetta Says Europe’s Economy ‘de Facto Stagnating’ (8: 19 a.m.)

With war on its doorstep and energy prices high, European Central Bank Executive Board Member Fabio Panetta said economic expansion in the euro area has almost ground to a halt. 

“The major economies are suffering — GDP growth has slowed in Spain, halted in France and contracted in Italy,” Panetta told La Stampa in an interview published Thursday. “In Germany growth momentum is low and has been weakening since the end of February, which is the point when everything changed.” 

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Shell Profits Highest in Decade Despite Russia Charge (8: 17 a.m.)

The oil supermajor Shell Plc posted its highest quarterly earnings in more than a decade, as the company was buoyed by high oil and gas prices despite taking a $3.9 billion accounting charge on its planned exit from Russia.

The majors, with the exception of Chevron Corp., have written off a combined $37 billion as they sever ties with the Kremlin after its invasion of Ukraine.

Separately, BMW AG said quarterly earnings rose 12% even as the war in Ukraine and Covid-lockdowns in China disrupted the automaker’s supply chain.

U.S. Gives Security Promises to Sweden, Finland (8: 08 a.m.) 

Sweden and Finland are starting to win assurances of help if threatened by Russia in the interim period between an expected application to join defense alliance NATO and an eventual entry to the bloc. 

The Nordic countries, which began to seriously consider joining NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have worried of an insecure “gray period” before full membership unlocks its security guarantees. 

The U.S. is “ready to provide various forms of security assurances” to both countries, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said after talks in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

Oil Advances Before OPEC+ Meet After Surging on EU Russian Ban (6: 12 a.m.)

Oil steadied ahead of an OPEC+ meeting on supply after surging on the European Union’s plan for a phased ban on Russian crude. 

The EU plans to ban Russian oil over the next six months and refined fuels by the end of the year, to increase pressure on Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine. The bloc is also targeting insurers in a move that could dramatically impair Moscow’s ability to ship oil around the world.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Bloomberg.com

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