(Bloomberg) — European Union leaders are discussing the latest developments in the war at a summit in Brussels, including how to help the Ukrainian people get through the winter following sustained Russian attacks on energy infrastructure.
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“We will continue our efforts to support Ukraine in the context of the war and the Russian aggression,” French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters. EU Council President Charles Michel thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for updating leaders on the latest developments. Zelenskiy again urged “effective” caps on Russian oil and gas prices.
“We are in the process of discussing how to keep the consequences of this war under control for our economies and the world,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said as he arrived at the meeting. “This applies in particular to the question of inflation and energy prices,” he said, adding that the EU is “very close” to agreeing on a cap for gas prices.
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On the Ground
Russian forces continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and Avdiyivka in the east, Ukraine’s General Staff said in its latest update. Russian troops shelled the Nikopol district in the central Dnipropetrovsk region overnight and parts of the Mykolaiv region in the morning, local authorities said. The city of Kherson was hit by artillery fire, with Russian shells hitting residential areas and killing a woman and a child and injuring two people, according to the local military administration.
(All times CET)
Sanctioned Billionaires Sue Over EU Order on Assets (2:55 p.m.)
A group of sanctioned Russian billionaires, including Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, have picked a fight with the European Union — challenging an order to declare all their assets from luxury villas to bank accounts within six weeks or face prosecution.
The lawsuits follow a July ultimatum from the bloc to individuals targeted by an asset freeze following the Kremlin-led invasion of Ukraine.
Read more: Sanctioned Billionaires Sue Over Order to Declare Villas, Cash
Ghana Says Burkina Faso Paid Russian Mercenaries With Mine (2:45 p.m.)
Ghana’s president alleged the government of neighboring Burkina Faso gave Russian mercenaries a mine as payment to help fight an insurgency in their country.
Nana Akufo-Addo, is in Washington for the US-Africa Leaders Summit, raised the claims at a meeting Wednesday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, according to a statement from the department.
Russia’s Asian Oil Flows May Be Wobbling (1:50 p.m.)
There are tentative signs that Russian oil exports from a key port in Asia, southeast of Vladivostock, are dipping following G-7 sanctions targeting Moscow’s petroleum revenues.
In the 10 days since the oil price caps began, 4.4 million barrels have been loaded onto tankers at Kozmino, tanker tracking compiled by Bloomberg News shows, half the month-ago level.
Read more: Russia’s Asian Oil Flows Show Signs of Wobbling After Sanctions
Zelenskiy Calls Again for ‘Effective’ Price Caps on Russian Energy (1:20 p.m.)
Ukraine’s president urged EU to impose “effective” price caps on Russian crude, petroleum products and gas.
“Those price caps should be such that the terrorist state is definitely deprived of the ability to finance the war at the expect of global markets,” Zelenskiy said in his address to the European Council.
Read more: Europe’s New Sanctions on Russian Oil Kick In: What Changes?
Russia Continues to Pound Civilian Infrastructure (1 p.m.)
Relentless Russian targeting of Ukraine’s energy plants and other key infrastructure, which now stretches more than two months, shows little sign of fading.
Since Dec. 8, Moscow’s troops have conducted 41 rocket and 32 single-use drone strikes on civil infrastructure and energy facilities in 17 settlements, including Kyiv, according to Oleksii Hromov, deputy chief of Ukraine’s general staff.
Ukraine’s air defense shot down 22 drones during that time, he said.
Gazprom Daily Gas Exports Rise (12:30 p.m.)
Gazprom PJSC’s daily natural gas exports rose in the first half of December, signaling the first monthly increase since August, amid higher flows to China and eastern Europe.
The Russian gas giant shipped an average of 173 million cubic meters a day to countries outside the former Soviet Union from Dec. 1-15, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data published Thursday. That’s 30% higher than the daily average in November. The company has drastically curtailed shipments to parts of Europe since the start of the war.
Europe’s Gas Infrastructure Holding Up: Engie (12 p.m.)
Engie Chairman Jean-Pierre Clamadieu said Europe’s gas infrastructure has worked well this week during a cold snap, calling it a “good sign” for the rest of the winter.
Engie has completely replaced its Russian gas deliveries, with Norway, the US and a few other countries providing it with more supply and helping it rebalance its portfolio, Clamadieu said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
Poland, Lithuania Holding Up New Russian Sanctions (11:30 a.m.)
Poland and Lithuania are blocking the EU’s ninth package of sanctions against Russia, according to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.
Landsbergis told reporters in Vilnius that details on food security potentially open a loophole and the possibility for sanctioned Russian oligarchs to increase their wealth. “We cannot accept the proposal to ease restrictive measures to those oligarchs, who support and benefit from Putin’s regime, by amending a regulation and unfreezing their personal economic and financial assets,” Landsbergis said.
Russia Better Able to Strike from Belarus: Hromov (11 a.m.)
Russia has expanded its capacity to strike Ukraine from neighboring Belarus by bringing in additional military equipment, according to the deputy chief of Ukraine’s general staff, Oleksii Hromov.
Russia’s forces in Belarus haven’t been built up sufficiently to enable a full-scale invasion into Ukraine from the north, Hromov said in a video briefing. The Kremlin has made use of Belarusian territory and military instructors there to train its troops. Since Dec. 8, Russia has launched 41 rocket and 32 single-use drone strikes on civil infrastructure and energy facilities in 17 settlements, including Kyiv, Hromov added.
Separately, the UK defense ministry said in a Twitter update that recently-arrived Russian units in Belarus “are currently unlikely to constitute a force capable of conducting a successful new assault into northern Ukraine.”
War Hinges on Supplies of Rockets, Shells (9:40 a.m.)
Officials in Kyiv and Moscow face a critical question with the war in its 10th month: Can they secure enough missiles and artillery through winter to prevail?
Which side runs low first could decide whether Ukraine or Russia emerges in the spring with the strategic initiative to potentially end the war on its terms.
Zelenskiy Hails Progress on Air Defense (9 p.m.)
Zelenskiy said his government has made “important progress” on getting “more modern and more powerful” air-defense systems.
Zelenskiy commented in his evening address after US officials said a decision to supply Patriot air-defense missile batteries awaits a final decision by President Joe Biden.
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