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Ukraine Latest: Putin Orders Army to Recruit 137,000 More Troops

Ukraine Latest: Putin Orders Army to Recruit 137,000 More Troops
epa09935438 Russian servicemen take part in the Victory Day military parade in the Red Square in Moscow, Russia, 09 May 2022. Russia marks Victory Day, Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender in World War 2, with the annual parade in Moscow's Red Square on 09 May, after more than two months of attacks on Ukraine. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

President Vladimir Putin signed a presidential decree ordering the Russian army to boost its troop total by 137,000 to 1.15 million from Jan. 1, RIA Novosti reported.

The US and the European Union condemned the Kremlin after a deadly attack on a railway station in the Dnipropetrovsk region of Ukraine that directly hit a passenger train. Russia said it struck a military target.

Pressure piled onto European consumers and industry as German and French power prices hit fresh records, stoked by tighter supplies of Russian gas. At the same time, international concern remained high over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s biggest atomic energy facility, which has been hit by shelling in recent weeks.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

On the Ground

Russian forces fired at four districts in Dnipropetrovsk overnight, local authorities said on Telegram, while Interfax-Ukraine reported several explosions were heard in the Kyiv region overnight. Russia shelled the central city of Kryvyi Rih with Tornado MLRS, according to Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the city military administration. Russia carried out more than 200 air sorties on Wednesday, accounting for the number of air raid alarms across Ukraine, according to Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat, who said in an online briefing that Russia has concentrated 400 combat aircraft and 360 helicopters along Ukraine’s borders.

(All times CET)

Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant Cut Off From Ukraine’s Grid (5:30 p.m.)

Two operating units of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power were disconnected from Ukraine’s grid due to nearby fires, the first such incident in the plant’s operational history, according its state-owned operator Energoatom.

The last transmission line connecting the Russian-occupied atomic plant with Ukraine’s power system was cut off twice due to fires in ash dumps from the Zaporizhzhia thermal power plant. Three other transmission lines have been damaged by Russian shelling earlier.

While the plant is still operated by Ukrainian technicians, startup operations are underway to connect one of its power units to the grid, Energoatom said. There are no concerns about the functioning of automation and safety systems at the plant, it said.

Russians Face Travel Hurdles as EU Mulls Restrictions (3:30 p.m.)

Russians traveling to the EU will have to pay more and withstand additional bureaucracy to obtain a short-term visa, according to a compromise solution aimed at allaying member states’ differences on how far restrictions should go.

The Czech government, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, will propose fully suspending visa-facilitation agreements with Russia and Belarus at a meeting of foreign ministers in Prague next week, according to Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky.

France Warns on Sanctions (3:15 p.m.)

French Transport Minister Clement Beaune urged companies to ensure they aren’t breaching sanctions against Russia after newspaper Le Monde alleged that TotalEnergies SE may be indirectly providing jet fuel to the Kremlin’s air force.

Read more: France Warns on Sanctions After Allegation Over Russian Bombers

The French oil and gas giant denied that it’s backing Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in any way. Le Monde published an article on Wednesday, which said that a Russian company 49% owned by TotalEnergies is producing gas condensates that may ultimately be processed into kerosene for Moscow’s bombers.

Putin Orders Army to Add 137,000 Troops, RIA Says (3 p.m.)

While Russian men are required to serve one year in the armed forces, the Kremlin has avoided a mass mobilization to bolster its forces in Ukraine and has not officially declared war, instead labeling the conflict a “special military operation.”

However, the high toll from the conflict has led to speculation that the government may seek to draft more soldiers. Colin Kahl, US under secretary of defense for policy, said this month that as many as 80,000 Russian troops have probably been killed or wounded in Ukraine in less than six months.

Russia Signs South Korea for Egypt Nuclear Project (3 p.m.)

Russia’s state-owned Rosatom signed a $2.2 billion deal with South Korea. Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. will supply buildings, equipment and materials for Egypt’s El Dabaa project, according to a statement from South Korea’s energy ministry. Rosatom began construction last month of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Cairo.

Read more: Korea in $2.2 Billion Deal With Russia For Egypt Nuclear Plant

South Korean Vice Trade Minister Park Il-joon told reporters Thursday that Seoul closely consulted with the US about the deal, according to the Yonhap news agency. Rosatom, a major global supplier in the nuclear industry, is one of the few big Russian state companies still not subject to sanctions imposed by the US and its allies over the Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russia ‘Can Afford to Shut Europe Off Gas for a Year’ (3 p.m.)

Russia could cut off all gas exports to the EU “for just over one year without adverse consequences for the economy,” according to Capital Economics.

As long as oil prices and export levels remain at current high levels, Russia’s current account surplus will be enough to sustain it even with a cutoff to its main gas market, according to Liam Peach, one of the consultancy’s economists. Surging prices for gas in Europe mean Russia could earn as much as $20 billion per quarter from gas exports despite reduced volumes, he added.

How Europe Became So Dependent on Putin for Its Gas: QuickTake

“Whether or not Russia turns off the taps completely will be a political decision and the length of any cut-off would depend on the size of offsetting oil revenues,” Peach wrote. European leaders have accused Russia of using its massive energy resources as a weapon, an allegation the Kremlin denies. But continuing problems with a key pipeline have slashed deliveries and sent prices soaring.

Citigroup to Wind Down Russia Consumer Unit (2 p.m.)

Citigroup Inc. will wind down its consumer and commercial banking operations in Russia after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine complicated the sale of the business.

The company will incur $170 million in costs tied to the wind-down, mostly tied to restructuring expenses and vendor termination fees, according to a statement Thursday. Citigroup will continue to try to sell certain consumer-banking portfolios in the region.

Read more: Citigroup to Wind Down Russia Consumer Unit After Sale Stalls

Russia Says Train Hit by Missile Was Military (12:10 p.m.)

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the train that it hit in Chaplyne — Chaplyno in Russian — was a military target. An Iskander missile strike on a military train at the Chaplyno station destroyed over 200 Ukrainian reserve troops and 10 pieces of military equipment, Interfax cited the ministry as saying. No reference was made to civilians.

Russia has previously described strikes in which civilians died as attacks on military targets. Among them was a strike on the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia in July in which more than 20 people died, including children.

Frontex Details Ukrainian Entries to EU Since February (12 noon)

In a tweet, the European Border and Coastguard Agency known as Frontex said that there had been a total of 9.5 million entries to the EU by people from Ukraine and Moldova since February.

Frontex

@Frontex

????????????????update:

In the past week, the number of Ukrainians arriving in the ???????? exceeded those returning towards ????????.

In total, there were 9.5 million entries from Ukraine and Moldova since February

Sent via Twitter Web App.

View original tweet.

UK Raises Concerns Over Ukraine Nuclear Plant (10:30 a.m.)

The UK Ministry of Defence raised concerns over the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia atomic plant in its latest defense intelligence briefing, warning of the risks to operations from “disruption to the reactors’ cooling systems, damage to its back-up power supply, or errors by workers operating under pressure.”

The plant, which was seized by Russian forces in early March, was the subject of talks in Istanbul on Wednesday between Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachev and International Atomic Energy Agency General Secretary Rafael Mariano Grossi. The IAEA is preparing a visit to the plant.

Read this exclusive story on how nuclear inspectors will be given wider powers than initially sought to investigate attacks against the plant.

Estonia Ups Pressure on Russian Visas (9:50 a.m.)

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas refocused attention on the issue of Russian tourists traveling to the European Union, highlighting “the burden and gravity of the situation” in a tweet.

Kaja Kallas

@kajakallas

Just to illustrate the burden and gravity of the situation regarding the Russian tourists flow into EU.

Frontex says over 60% of nearly 1 million Russians entering EU since Feb 24 have done so via Estonia (281 957 people) and Finland (329 185 people).

news.err.ee/1608694828/28-…

Sent via Twitter for Android.

View original tweet.

Fellow Baltic leader Gitanas Nauseda, the president of Lithuania, said Wednesday that he supports a proposal to ban visas for Russian tourists, saying the war in Ukraine is supported by the Russian people at large. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is among those to reject such a ban. Should the EU fail to achieve a united response on a ban, a regional solution could be devised that would include the Baltic states and other countries geographically closer to Russia, Nauseda said.

Japanese Firms Stay in Russia LNG Project (9:45 a.m.)

Japanese trading houses will stay in a key Russian LNG export project, highlighting how the Asian nation is prioritizing its energy security despite rising tensions over the war in Ukraine.

Both Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co. said Thursday they’ve decided to remain in the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project after Moscow moved to tighten control over the facility under a new Russian operator. The companies will formally ask the Russian government for permission to acquire stakes in the operator, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said separately in a press briefing.

Death Toll From Railway Attack Rises (8:15 a.m.)

The death toll after the attack in Chaplyne rose to 25, including two children, deputy head of presidential staff Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on Telegram. Thirty-one people were wounded.

Overnight, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Russian missile attack on a Ukrainian train station “fits a pattern of atrocities.” Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, expressed horror over the attack and tweeted that “war crimes will not remain unpunished.”

Russia says it only hits military targets, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Kremlin forces deliberately slowed their offensive to limit civilian casualties.

Kremlin Puts Off Annexation Votes, Vedomosti Says (8 a.m.)

The Kremlin will most likely delay votes on joining Russia in Ukrainian territories that it has occupied, aiming to wait for more progress on the battlefield, the Vedomosti newspaper reported, citing sources it didn’t name.

Moscow had hoped to conduct the “referendums” as early as Sept. 11, when regular regional elections are scheduled in Russia. They would have covered the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. But since its troops don’t control all that territory, especially Donetsk, which Putin has publicly declared as a goal for his invasion, the Kremlin has decided to wait, Vedomosti said.

Though the votes are seen as illegal and wouldn’t be recognized internationally, the Kremlin regards them as a way to symbolically cement its control and signal that it wouldn’t give up the territory in any peace talks. Ukraine and its allies have said that’s unacceptable.

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