Zelensky urges repairs after Russian missile barrage; Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant restores power supply

Zelensky urges repairs after Russian missile barrage; Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant restores power supply
Locals salvage items after two rockets hit buildings in the Zolochiv district near the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv on 9 March 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Mykola tys)

President Volodymyr Zelensky urged a rapid repair of energy infrastructure in areas hit by a barrage of Russian missile attacks that cut power to hundreds of thousands across war-battered Ukraine.

‘We must ensure the protection of energy infrastructure from enemy fire and ensure the rapid restoration of power supplies,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement posted on Telegram.

Power was restored to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after the attacks knocked out its supply for the sixth time. At least five people were killed near the western city of Lviv in the attack, which included an array of weapons, including Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones and Kinzhal missiles, which Russia says are hypersonic rockets and able to evade air defences.

Key Developments

Russia still uses ‘toxic’ euro, dollar to sell exports

Russia still conducted nearly half of all trade late last year in the currencies of its adversaries that imposed sanctions over the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, even as the yuan and the rouble made deep inroads into the settlement of transactions.

Payments for exports using what the Bank of Russia calls “toxic” currencies, primarily US dollars and euros, accounted for 48% of the total at the end of 2022, down from 87% at the start of the year. The yuan’s share increased to 34% from 0.5% and the rouble made up 16%, a report by the central bank showed on Thursday.

Russian oil flows to China hit by Pacific diversions and delays  

The shipment of Russia’s key Espo crude oil to China is showing signs of running into trouble, with deliveries slowing and fully-laden vessels still floating around Asia a month after taking on their cargoes.

Vessels hauling Russia’s main Pacific export crude are waiting weeks to discharge, ships are bouncing between ports and more cargoes are heading to India. Delays are tying up tankers for longer on voyages, reducing loading frequency and increasing the number of ships needed to keep exports flowing. The slowdown is also contributing to a surge in shipping costs.

Russia’s resilience may thwart oil market squeeze 

The oil market squeeze that’s predicted for later this year depends in large part on something that doesn’t seem to be happening: a large and lasting reduction in Russian output.

Oil traders and analysts across the industry widely expect the world’s demand to exceed supply in the second half of 2023, depleting inventories and sending prices toward $100 a barrel. The views are largely based on estimates of a rebound in Chinese consumption as the Asian giant’s economy reopens, but also on assumptions that Russian output will buckle under international sanctions — a prediction that Moscow has so far defied.




Ukraine restores supply to nuclear plant after attack 

Power supply was restored to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, national grid operator Ukrenergo said on Telegram. The plant had been running on emergency diesel after disruption from the Russian missile attack, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said earlier.

“This cannot go on,” Grossi told the UN watchdog’s board of governors in comments posted on Twitter. “Each time we are rolling a dice — and if we allow this to continue, time after time, then one day our luck will run out.” It was the sixth time that Europe’s largest nuclear power station had lost all off-site power and had to tap emergency resources, he said.

EU stalls in search for billionaires’ assets

The EU is struggling to find and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russian billionaires, with the total figure increasing only modestly in recent months.

The bloc has so far frozen €20.9-billion in assets, even though the EU has targeted Russia with 10 rounds of sanctions since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago. Back in October, the bloc reported that some €17.4-billion had been frozen.

Energy facilities damaged in eight regions – Ukraine’s premier  

Russia’s attack damaged energy generating and distribution facilities in eight Ukrainian regions, though the country’s energy system as a whole was operational, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Telegram.

“Repair crews are on the spot, special attention is paid to restoring electricity supply to Kharkiv,” Shmyhal said.

Germany identifies ship possibly involved in Nord Stream bombing 

German authorities said they searched a vessel that may have transported explosives used in the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines last year, signalling that an investigation may yield more on who was behind it. Traces and items found in the search of a vessel from January 18 to 20 are being probed, the Federal Prosecutor said in a statement on Thursday. Germans working for the company that leased the ship were not under investigation, it said.

“The identity of the perpetrators and their motives are the subject of the ongoing investigation,” the Federal Prosecutor’s office said in a statement. “At present, it is not possible to make any statements of a concrete nature; in particular, on the question of whether this was a state-sponsored action.”

Russia has resources for another two years of war – Lithuania  

Russia has enough resources and capabilities to sustain its war in Ukraine at its current intensity for another two years, according to estimates by Lithuanian intelligence.

“Russia is likely preparing itself for a protracted conflict, no matter what the cost,” Lithuania’s intelligence agency said in a report assessing threats to national security. The Kremlin was increasing the size of its army and defence spending in preparation for a long-term conflict with Ukraine and the West, it said.

The highly-militarised Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders Lithuania, remains the country’s biggest threat, the report said, adding that while ground deployment in Kaliningrad was reduced, air and naval forces remained unaffected by the war.

Russia still has many questions about grain deal 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said many questions remained open over implementing the United Nations-brokered grain deal, Russia’s Tass news agency reported. The agreement, whose 120-day run ends on 18 March, has enabled the shipment of more than 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian crops since it was negotiated last July.

Peskov said there were no plans for talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who stressed the importance of renewing the Black Sea agreement during a visit to Kyiv this week.

Grain traders bank on renewal of Black Sea deal  

Markets are betting the grain deal gets extended. The agreement can be extended for another 120 days after March 18 if no side seeks to modify or terminate the pact.

Futures for wheat and corn — the top two crops shipped through the corridor — have fallen in recent weeks amid an outlook for ample supplies. Wheat has hit its lowest since 2021, also pressured by big Russian and Australian harvests.

Ukraine vows to keep fighting for Bakhmut

Ukraine will hold the line in Bakhmut “until it becomes impossible”, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and other media.

“No one will be sacrificed,” and if there is a “concrete threat of encirclement” the decision can be reviewed, he said. Still, he said that “if we can still fight in Bakhmut, we must fight.”




Russia fired 81 missiles on Thursday, says Ukraine 

Of those, Ukraine downed 42 missiles and four drones, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s armed forces, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said on Telegram. That included six Kinzhal missiles fired from Russian jets, he said.

Russian missile kills five people in Lviv region 

A missile killed at least five people in their homes near Lviv in western Ukraine, regional Governor Maksym Kozytskyi said on Telegram.

Recovery work was under way, and more people may remain buried under the debris. The resulting fire destroyed three houses, he said.

Russian Kinzhal missile hit Kyiv, say authorities 

Russia launched Shahed drones and practically all available missiles against Ukraine, Kyiv’s city military administration said on Telegram.

During the seven-hour-long air raid alarm, the capital’s air defences downed all Russian single-attack drones and cruise missiles. However, one Kinzhal hypersonic missile hit infrastructure in the capital, according to the statement. Missile debris wounded two people as well as damaged cars in western Kyiv. DM


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