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Biden Seeks Aid, Power to Seize Russian Wealth

Visible damage to buildings and streets partially destroyed by bombing, seen during a visit by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Irpin, Ukraine, 28 April 2022. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is scheduled to visit the Kiev quarters as well as the theater of operations attributed to the Russian forces, including Bucha, Irpin and Borodyanka. Guterres arrived in Ukraine after a visit to Moscow. EPA-EFE/Laurence Figà-Talamanca

President Joe Biden will seek $33 billion in aid to Ukraine and new authority to seize and sell property linked to wealthy allies of President Vladimir Putin, as the Russian military intensifies its offensive. 

Biden plans to deliver remarks Thursday on support for Ukraine as his administration looks to send a proposal to Congress for more weapons and humanitarian aid for Kyiv. Meanwhile, NATO allies have pledged and provided more than $8 billion in military assistance to Ukraine so far, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres visited sites near Kyiv where Russian forces are accused of committing atrocities and is scheduled to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after holding talks earlier in the week with Putin.

Key Developments

(All times CET)

Old-Fashioned Artillery Proves a Big Plus for Ukraine’s Forces (5 p.m.)

Basic artillery has played a central role in Ukraine’s resistance against Russia’s invading forces. Its function explains why the U.S. and other nations that collectively make up Ukraine’s arsenal are now putting so much emphasis on providing 155mm howitzers — in the case of the U.S., at least 90 of them, worth as much as $750,000 a piece, plus 184,000 rounds of ammunition.

Traditional firepower, supported by drones that allow for pinpoint targeting, is set to remain dominant in the next phase of the war, along a 300-plus mile (482 km) front in the eastern Donbas region. Even before the arrival of the more sophisticated, often longer range canons now being fed into the Ukrainian war effort, artillery was key.

Old-Fashioned Artillery Proves a Big Plus for Ukraine’s Forces

Biden to Request Emergency Funding for Ukraine (4:30 p.m.)

The U.S. president will ask Congress to provide $33 billion for military, economic, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, as well as the power to seize and sell the assets of wealthy allies of Putin.

The plan includes $20.4 billion in military and security assistance for Ukraine, $8.5 billion in economic assistance to help support the government in Kyiv, and $3 billion in humanitarian assistance and food security, according to a senior administration official who requested anonymity. Biden will outline his request in a speech from the White House on Thursday.

“My administration is committed to providing the Ukrainian people the assistance they need,” Biden wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Our assistance to date has made a difference on the battlefield, helping Ukraine win the battle for Kyiv.”

Biden to Request $33 Billion in Emergency Funding for Ukraine

Russia May Need Half Its Planes for Spare Parts (3:36 p.m.)

Russia may be forced to ground between half and two-thirds of its commercial aircraft by 2025 in order to cannibalize them for spare parts, Kommersant newspaper reported, citing an unidentified official at the Transport Ministry.

In the ministry’s base case, at least 70% of the country’s foreign-made planes will still be flying by the end of 2025, Kommersant said. In a worst-case scenario, Russia could begin to face severe shortages starting in the second half of this year as sanctions prevent the airline industry from importing components, the report said.

Kyiv Remains Unsafe as Russia Pushes Forward, Mayor Says (3:27 p.m.)

Authorities in the Ukrainian capital still can’t guarantee safety to residents willing to return even after Russian forces pulled back from the city’s surroundings, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko told Bloomberg Television.

“We don’t know how long the war will be and how much it will cost in the next weeks — maybe months, maybe years”, Klitschko said in the interview. With more than 200 buildings in the city damaged by Russian shelling, it may take around $100 million to rebuild them, in Klitschko’s estimated.

Germany Prepares for Potential Russian Gas Halt (2:15 p.m.)

Germany has started preparations for a potential halt in Russian gas deliveries, with steps started even before the Ukraine invasion, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Tokyo on Thursday.

Germany has said gas buyers should stick to paying in euros or dollars and leave it up to Gazprombank PJSC to do the conversion, but it’s unclear whether that would be accepted by Moscow.

“Whatever the Russian government decides on this, we can only speculate,” said Scholz. “You have to prepare for it, and we already started this before the war broke out. We know what we have to do.”

Top Polish Retailer Explores Sale of Russian Operation (2:13 p.m.)

Poland’s biggest fashion retailer LPP SA began talks about selling its fast-growing Russian business, it said in a statement, citing ongoing uncertainty caused by the war in Ukraine. The company has 553 Russian stores, which it suspended last month. LPP competitor Inditex SA, seeks to return to Russia when possible, while H&M says it only paused operations.

German Inflation Hits Record on War Fallout (2 p.m.)

Surging energy costs and disruption to supply chains caused by the war helped push German inflation to the quickest pace since records began in the early 1990s.

Consumer prices soared 7.8% in April from a year earlier — higher than the 7.6% median estimate in a Bloomberg survey for the European Union harmonized reading. The European Central Bank — which aims for 2% inflation over the medium term — is expected to raise interest rates in the coming months in what would mark the first hike in more than a decade.

German Inflation Quickens to Record on Fallout From War

EU Firms Opening Ruble Accounts Breach Sanctions, Officials Say (1:01 p.m.)

Companies in the EU that open an account in rubles to pay for Russian gas would violate sanctions imposed by the bloc, according to EU officials. The new Russian demand is problematic because it involves the country’s central bank, which is under sanctions, the officials added.

The warning was issued Thursday as governments and companies are seeking clarity on the impact of a demand by Putin that gas must now be bought in local currency.

German Parliament Urges Heavy Weapons to Ukraine (11:36 a.m.)

Germany’s parliament urged the government to quickly supply Ukraine with heavy weapons and other equipment to help its defense.

The three parties in Chancellor Scholz’s coalition and the largest opposition group — which combined hold over 80% of the seats in the lower house of parliament — teamed up to support a motion in a show of broad-based solidarity.

UN Preparing for Possible Mariupol Evacuations (11:35 a.m.)

The United Nations resident coordinator in Ukraine tweeted that she’s going to Zaporizhzhia to prepare for possible evacuations of civilians from the besieged Black Sea port city of Mariupol.

UN officials are seeking to translate Russia’s agreement “in principle” for a UN role, reached during talks between Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Russian leaders in Moscow on Tuesday, into an agreement in detail and action on the ground.

Russia Condemns ‘Terrorist’ Acts in Transnistria  (11:33 a.m.)

Russia warned that it considers as “acts of terrorism” recent violent incidents in the breakaway Transnistria region of Moldova, Tass reported.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Moscow will respond harshly to any Ukrainian attacks on targets within Russia after a series of fires at Russian oil and weapons depots.

Moldovan authorities have blamed the violence in Transnistria on separatist factions and vowed to resist attempts to drag the country into conflict. Transnistria leaders say they’ve traced the attacks to Ukraine.

Scholz Says Pressure on Russia Must Be Maintained (11:30 a.m.)

The German chancellor said the EU and its allies must keep up the pressure on Russia with further sanctions and weapons deliveries to Ukraine to force Putin to end the war.

Scholz told a business conference in Tokyo that any peace deal must be acceptable to Ukraine, and ruled out an agreement “dictated” by Moscow.

Germany is ready to consider including Sberbank PJSC, Russia’s largest bank, in the European Union’s next sanctions package that’s currently being finalized, said people familiar with the matter.

Germany had been one of the more reluctant member states in the push to exclude Sberbank from the SWIFT international payments messaging system, since Berlin was worried it could disrupt energy transactions.

In recent weeks, Germany has moved quickly to tap alternative suppliers for energy and is now preparing to back a phased-in ban on Russian oil.

Crossings to Poland From Ukraine Reach 3 Million (11:10 a.m.)

The number of people crossing into Poland from Ukraine since Feb. 24 has hit 3 million, Polish border authorities said.

Another 25,000 people crossed the border on Wednesday, while 18,400 entered to Ukraine from Poland.

NATO Members’ Military Aid Offers $8 Billion: Stoltenberg (10:31 a.m.)

NATO members have “pledged and provided” at least $8 billion dollars in military aid to Ukraine, said alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg. “We see the importance of further stepping up our support,” he said in a statement ahead of a meeting at the European Parliament.

NATO allies met earlier this week at an event hosted by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to coordinate new support for Kyiv. Just prior, the U.S. announced additional aid, saying it wants to see Russian forces ground down to the point where they can’t attempt a repeat of the invasion.

UN’s Guterres Visits Borodianka (10:30 a.m.)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is in Ukraine, two days after meeting in Moscow with Russian leaders.

He visited Borodianka, near Kyiv, one of the towns where Russian troops have been accused of killing civilians. He’s expected to visit Bucha before meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Defense Minister Dragomir Zakov are also in Kyiv and will meet with Zelenskiy. Their visit comes a day after Russia cut off gas deliveries to Bulgaria and Poland in a major escalation between Moscow and Europe.

European Gas Prices Tumble (10:21 a.m.)

Natural gas prices in Europe declined as buyers considered options to keep receiving supply from Russia without violating sanctions Benchmark futures fell as much as 6.9% following two days of gains.

Russian Party Says 600,000 Jobs at Risk (9:57 a.m.)

About 600,000 people working in Russia for companies from “unfriendly” nations could lose their jobs, Tass news service reported, citing Andrey Turchak, a top official at the country’s ruling party.

The war on Ukraine has spurred an exodus of international companies from the Russian market, with brands ranging from McDonald’s to Adidas to BMW suspending operations in the country.

Unilever Warns on Raw Material Inflation (8:14 a.m.)

The food and consumer goods company Unilever Plc warned that raw material inflation will be worse in the second half because of the war in Ukraine.

Underlying operating margins will probably be in the bottom end of its forecast range of 16% to 17% this year, the company said. Even so, sales growth was above analysts’ estimates.

In contrast, the metals and agricultural trading company Glencore Plc is anticipating bumper profits from soaring metals and energy prices and market volatility created by the war.

Russia Intensifying Its Offensive, Ukrainian General Staff Says (7:37 a.m.)

Russia’s offensive operation in eastern Ukraine is picking up pace and there’s intensive fire along the entire line of contact, General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Facebook.

Russian troops are assembling in large numbers around Izyum, near Kharkiv. Additional airborne troops and as many as 500 military vehicles have been moved by Russia to Izyum, Ukraine said.

From there, continued attacks are happening on three lines of advance: to the southeast, the southwest, and directly west.

Japan to Transport Aid Via Dubai After India Balks (4:57 a.m.)

Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are set to transport United Nations humanitarian aid for Ukraine via Dubai, after the Asahi newspaper and others reported that India refused permission for its military planes to land. India, the top buyer of Russian weapons, has been reluctant to join the U.S. and its allies in condemning Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

House Passes Bill to Help Fund Rebuilding (4:29 a.m.)

U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers passed a bill urging the U.S. to seize assets valued at more than $2 million that belong to Russian individuals and entities who benefit from ties to Putin’s regime. The funds would be used to help rebuild Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian people should see the boats, planes, and villas of Putin’s enablers being seized and sold, and they should know that the proceeds will help their country and cause,” bill sponsor Tom Malinowski, a New Jersey Democrat, said when the measure was first introduced.

EU Energy Firms Prepare to Meet Putin’s Terms, FT Says (3:26 a.m.)

Some European companies are making preparations to comply with a new payment system sought by Russia to pay for its gas in rubles, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified people familiar with plans. Energy companies in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are preparing to open ruble accounts at Gazprombank in Switzerland, it said.

Share of natural gas imports coming from Russia, 2020 |

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Gerrit Marais says:

    And the cANCer remains firmly behind this evil. Just like they looked the other way when Mugabe perpetrated genocide against his own people. Just like they continue to slurp down Moët when children are dying of hunger and thirst right under their noses.

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