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UKRAINE UPDATE: 12 AUGUST 2022

Nine Russian combat planes destroyed in Crimea blast; McDonald’s plans to reopen in Kyiv

Nine Russian combat planes destroyed in Crimea blast; McDonald’s plans to reopen in Kyiv
A handout photo made available by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Service shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) during a video conference with former US president Bill Clinton (on screens) in Kyiv, Ukraine, 8 August 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / Handout)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces lost nine combat aircraft in Crimea this week, as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz suggested the reconstruction of Ukraine will be bigger than the post-World War 2 Marshall Plan.

Speaking at an international donors’ conference in Copenhagen, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged more funding and weapons for Kyiv. “The sooner we stop Russia, the sooner we can feel safe,” he said. Estonia imposed tough new restrictions on visas for Russian nationals, even as Germany signalled it didn’t want a European Union-wide ban. 

In a return to relative stability, McDonald’s said it would reopen some restaurants in Kyiv and in western Ukraine. Elsewhere, Russian oil output is set to fall about 20% by the start of next year as an EU import ban comes into force, according to the International Energy Agency. 

Key developments 

On the ground

Ukrainian forces said they damaged a bridge near the Kakhovska hydropower station in the Kherson region as they continue to target key Russian logistics links. Fighting continued in eastern and southern Ukraine, with Russian forces mounting ground attacks to the southeast of Siversk and around Bakhmut, as well as to the north and southwest of Donetsk, according to the latest report from the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. A number of Russian attacks in the east of the country were unsuccessful and their forces later withdrew, the Ukrainian general staff said.   

UN chief urges ceasefire around Ukraine nuclear plant 

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “gravely concerned” about the situation unfolding at the Russian-seized Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, Europe’s largest.

“Instead of de-escalation, over the past several days there have been reports of further deeply worrying incidents that could, if they continue, lead to disaster,” Guterres said in a statement. “I am calling for all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant to cease immediately and not to target its facilities or surroundings.”

Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was preparing to brief the UN Security Council later in the day.

Germany plans Ukraine reconstruction conference in October  

Germany will host an international conference in Berlin in October on how to organise the reconstruction of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Chancellor Scholz, who currently chairs the Group of Seven most industrialised countries, plans to co-host the event with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to plot the way forward to rebuild large parts of Ukraine’s infrastructure, the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Bloomberg on Thursday.

Conference in Denmark raises €1.5bn for Ukraine  

International donors committed €1.5-billion in funding to Ukraine on Thursday, Danish Defence Minister Morten Bodskov told reporters after a donors’ conference in Copenhagen. More will follow with another meeting in September, he said. 

UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace said the funds would focus on buying arms from third countries or placing orders in factories to increase supply to Ukraine as the allies get to the end of their stored capabilities.

Russia shells grounds near nuclear plant – Energoatom 

Ten Russian projectiles hit the vicinity of administrative buildings and a nearby fire station at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, with some shelling near a storage facility for radioactive materials, Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom said on Thursday. 

Staff rotation wasn’t possible because of the attacks, with workers having to stay overtime. Energoatom said the situation was under control. Russia has repeatedly blamed Ukraine for the attacks. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency said last week that fighting around the plant poses a “real risk of a nuclear disaster.” 

 

 

 

Estonia tightens Russian visa rules as Scholz sceptical of ban 

Estonia issued tough new restrictions on visas for Russian nationals, reinforcing a call to ban entry for many into the European Union even as Germany’s chancellor all but ruled out such a bloc-wide measure. 

Calls are mounting among eastern member states that a new round of EU sanctions should include restrictions on Russian nationals entering the 27-member bloc. Ukraine’s top diplomat added his voice to those saying President Vladimir Putin’s invasion should have consequences for Russians wanting to travel west. 

“This is Putin’s war,” Scholz told reporters. 

McDonald’s plans to reopen some of its restaurants in Ukraine  

The world’s biggest fast-food chain will begin working with partners in the coming months to supply locations with products, prep the properties and bring employees back on site, the company said in a statement. McDonald’s didn’t provide a specific reopening date. 

“It’s not just Big Macs that millions of Ukrainians miss so much,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement on Facebook. “The return of a large American company is primarily a signal for international business about the possibility of working in Ukraine, even amid the war.” 

German fertiliser maker sees possible 25% drop in gas supplies 

German chemicals company K+S said natural gas availability at its sites in the country may fall by as much as a quarter, and warned of a potential impact on production.

“For the first time, the outlook assumes a scenario in Q4 for a 25% reduction in natural gas availability at all German sites and increased gas costs” that could run to a “low triple-digit million euro amount,” the company, whose products include fertilisers and salts, said in an earnings report.

Read more: German fertiliser maker sees possible 25% drop in gas supplies

Scholz says Ukraine reconstruction package to surpass Marshall Plan  

Germany’s leader said a reconstruction package for Ukraine will be “bigger” than the Marshall Plan, which helped western Europe recover from World War 2. 

“The damage is dramatic, it will cost billions and will require the entire global community to develop reasonable solutions,” Scholz said on Thursday during a press conference in Berlin. “It will be a big, big task that has little to do with the Marshall Plan. It will be bigger.” 

At a summer press conference in Berlin, Scholz pledged further financial assistance to low-income earners as Germany scrambles to deal with surging energy prices brought on by Russia’s move to cut natural gas supplies. 

Read more: Scholz promises Germans more relief to endure energy crisis  

More EU assistance delivered to Ukraine  

The European Union has delivered in-kind assistance to Ukraine that includes 180 ambulances, 125 fire-fighting vehicles, 300 power generators, 35 heavy-machinery vehicles, and four pontoon bridges, according to a release on Thursday. 

The latest offers from the EU Civil Protection Mechanism include hospital beds and hygiene kits from Austria, an ambulance and medical equipment from Norway, shelter equipment from Finland, personal protective personal equipment from Germany, medicines from Czechia and Slovakia, power generators from Italy, and energy supply equipment from France.

 

 

 

Denmark, UK pledge additional funds for weapons  

Denmark will contribute another €110-million to Kyiv for weapons, equipment and training, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at the donors’ conference in Copenhagen co-hosted by Denmark and the UK. 

The UK will send further multiple-launch rocket systems to Ukraine to defend against Russia’s invasion, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said. It will also give a significant number of precision-guided M31A1 missiles, which can strike targets up to 80km away, according to a statement.

The arrival of that kind of weaponry from the West over the summer has helped Kyiv’s forces strike Russian targets behind enemy lines, including ammunition caches and command and control posts.  

Russia keeps firing from nuclear plant, says Ukraine 

Russian troops continue to shell the towns of Nikopol and Marganets across the Dnipro river from Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Volodymyr Orlov, deputy head of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Military Administration, said at a briefing. 

“They shell residencies and infrastructure at night,” he said, adding that the towns have “no military targets.” On Wednesday, 13 people were killed and 11 were injured by Russian shelling in Marganets, according to Ukrainian authorities. 

Kyiv has said Russian troops are using the nuclear plant to target nearby settlements in the belief there will be no response from Ukraine. Moscow has said that recent shelling of the plant was done by Ukrainian forces.

Zelensky urges partners to keep up weapons, financial support  

Sufficient and timely financial support is as important as weapons and ammunition, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address to the Copenhagen donors’ conference. 

More weapons and ammunition support for Kyiv may make Russia consider a peaceful solution to the almost six-month-old conflict, he said. “The sooner we stop Russia, the sooner we can feel safe,” he said. 

“We need armaments and ammunition for our defence to the maximum, and finances for Ukraine in the necessary and sufficient volume without bureaucratic blockages,” Zelensky said. 

International Energy Agency sees Russia oil output down 20% 

Russia’s oil output is set to fall roughly 20% by the start of 2023 as an EU import ban comes into force, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Gradual monthly declines will start as soon as this month as Russia cuts back refining, and will quicken as the embargo takes effect, the IEA said in a market report. The agency expects to see close to two million barrels a day shut in by the start of 2023, despite a healthy recovery in production in recent months.  

Latvian legislators label Russia ‘state sponsor of terror’  

Latvia’s Parliament has declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, calling on EU countries to suspend tourist visas for Russian and Belarusian citizens. Neighbouring Lithuania also recognises Russia as a terrorist state

“Russia has for many years supported and financed terrorist regimes and organisations in various ways,” Latvian legislators said in a declaration adopted on Thursday. They cited Moscow’s support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the alleged poisoning of the Skripal family, and the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, allegedly by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile. 

“Russia has now adopted similarly ruthless” tactics in Ukraine, Latvian legislators said in the statement. 

Ukraine maize cargo finds buyers in Turkey, Egypt 

The vessel Razoni, carrying maize from Ukraine, is expected to unload its cargo in Turkey and Egypt after initially being stranded after losing its Lebanese buyer. 

The ship is expected to unload 1,500 tonnes at the Turkish port of Mersin for a domestic buyer, and then about 24,500 tonnes in Egypt. 

Zelensky cites loss of 10 Russian combat planes  

Russia lost nine combat planes in Crimea “in just one day”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, the first official indication that a blast at an air base on the Black Sea peninsula was a deliberate attack. Another plane was lost in the Zaporizhzhia region, he said. 

Moscow’s forces “also suffer new losses of armoured vehicles, warehouses with ammunition, logistics routes,” Zelensky said. 

Russian officials have denied Ukrainian strikes caused explosions at the Saky airbase, some 200km from the nearest front lines. There’s been no response so far to Zelensky’s comment.  

Zelensky steps up contact with African leaders 

Ukraine’s president has increased his contact with African leaders, at a time the US and Russia are contending for influence there. 

“Food security, cooperation in international organisations, economic ties are a range of issues that benefit both our state and African countries,” Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday in his nightly video address. 

Zelensky said he spoke on Wednesday with Ghana’s president, after speaking earlier in the week with the president of the Republic of Congo and recently with the leaders of Malawi and Guinea-Bissau. DM 

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