Russian drone attack takes out power supplies in Kyiv; Ruble tumbles

The US deputy treasury secretary met with German officials about retaliatory measures against Russia

Economist Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo reacts as he testifies before the Senate Finance Committee during his confirmation hearing as Deputy Treasury Secretary at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2021. February 23

Jim Lo Scalzo | Reuters

US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo and top German officials renewed their countries’ commitment to cut off Russian President Vladimir Putin from funding his war in Ukraine through sanctions and a strategic ceiling on Russian oil prices, the results of meetings showed.

Adeyemo welcomed the head of the German Federal Chancellery, Wolfgang Schmidt; Susanne Baumann, State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office; and Udo Philippa, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, on Sunday for an agreement with the European Union to give Ukraine an additional 18 billion.

The deputy head of the US Treasury also encouraged a joint effort to hold Russia accountable and help the Ukrainian government during the crisis.

– Chelsey Cox

Moldova fears a Russian attack in the east of the country next year, spy chief says

in 2022 May 5 The flags of Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region and Russia fly in the center of Tiraspol, in the Transnistria breakaway region of Moldova.

Vladislavas Bachiova | Reuters

Moldova’s spy chief has warned of a “very high” risk of a new Russian offensive against his country’s east next year, saying Moscow is still seeking to secure a land corridor through Ukraine to Moldova’s breakaway Transnistrian region.

The comments by the head of the Information and Security Service, Alexandru Musteata, echo recent messages from Ukraine, where top military generals have warned in recent days of the threat of another major Russian attack early next year.

“The question is not whether the Russian Federation will make new advances towards the territory of Moldova, but when it will,” Musteata told TVR-Moldova.

He said his agency believed Russia was considering several scenarios to reach Moldova, and it was possible the offensive would be launched in January-February or later in March-April.

– Reuters

Kremlin slams EU natural gas cap measure as ‘unacceptable’

in 2022 December 17 a worker walks past gas pipes connecting the floating storage and gasification unit to the main land in Wilhelmshaven, northern Germany. EU energy ministers clash over proposed gas price cap.

Michael Sohn | Afp | Getty Images

Moscow lashed out in response to the European Union’s measure to cap natural gas prices, a deal the bloc reached after months of negotiations.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the measure was an attack on market pricing and was “unacceptable,” Reuters reported, citing Russian news agency Interfax.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the EU’s subsequent rush to end its heavy dependence the price of Russian gas contributed to energy shortages that caused prices to rise sharply and led to market volatility.

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– Natasha Turak

To combat the energy crisis, the EU has approved a measure to cap natural gas prices

European Union energy ministers on Monday agreed on a “dynamic” cap on natural gas prices after two months of intense negotiations.

The introduction of the gas price cap was controversial for European officials. While many EU member states have argued that the measure is necessary to reduce the exorbitant energy costs for consumers, others are concerned about the potential impact of the policy on the market.

“We have done our job, we have an agreement. Another impossible mission has been accomplished,” Jozef Sikela, Minister of Industry of the Czech Republic, which holds the EU Council presidency, said at a press conference.

Energy ministers have overcome their differences and agreed on what they call a market correction mechanism. It will be automatically activated under two conditions: if first-month gas contracts exceed 180 euros ($191) per megawatt hour under the Dutch Property Transfer Instrument, the main benchmark for natural gas prices in Europe, for three consecutive business days; and the price is 35 euros higher than the reference price of liquefied natural gas in the world markets for the same period.

The measure will be applied from February 15. When implemented, it will set a 20-business-day “dynamic bid limit” on natural gas futures contracts.

Read the full story here.

– Jenny Reid

Shareholders of the energy company Uniper have a clear path to German nationalization

German Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and German Finance Minister Christian Lindner leave the pier at the Hoegh Esperanza LNG floating storage degassing unit (FSRU) at the Wilhelmshaven LNG terminal, operated by Sniper SE, in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, Saturday, May 22, 2022. December 17 Germany has launched its first state-run liquefied natural gas ship as Europe’s biggest economy bids to replace Russian gas amid energy shortages and freezing temperatures. Photographer: Liesa Johannssen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Lean Johansson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shareholders of German energy company Uniper have approved a rescue package for the gas supplier, paving the way for its nationalization.

The government announced a plan to nationalize Uniper in September, expanding state intervention in the energy sector to avoid energy shortages due to Russia’s war in Ukraine. The deal builds on an initial rescue package agreed in July and includes a capital increase of $8 billion. euros ($8.5 billion), which will be financed by Germany.

Under the deal, the government will acquire nearly 99% of the energy supplier, which until now was controlled by Finland-based Fortum. The largest stake in Fortum is held by the Finnish government.

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Uniper said its shareholders “overwhelmingly approved the proposed capital measures” at an extraordinary general meeting on Monday.

Approval by the European Commission under state aid law is “expected in the near future”, the statement said.

– Associated Press.

Putin arrives in Belarus for talks with Lukashenka

MINSK, BELARUS – DECEMBER 19: (RUSSIA OFF) Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (R) are seen during a welcoming ceremony at the Independence Palace in 2022. December 19, Minsk, Belarus.

Helper | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in Minsk for talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Russian state media reported Monday afternoon.

The meeting, Putin’s first in the Belarusian capital since 2019, comes amid growing fears that Moscow could push its ally to increase its military presence in the war.

Speaking to Russian news agencies earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called Belarus “Russia’s number one ally” but said claims that Moscow wanted to pressure Minsk into joining the conflict were a “stupid and baseless fabrication”.

– Karen Gilchrist

UK’s Rishi Sunak met with allies in Latvia to discuss Ukraine

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will meet other members of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a UK-led European military alliance that shares tactical expertise and holds joint training exercises to increase interoperability, in the Latvian capital Riga.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) 2022 December 19 In Riga (Latvia), he participates in a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Latvia Krisjanis Karins (JEF).

Henry Nichols | AFP | Getty Images

He intends to announce a new artillery package for Ukraine and urge other member states to continue supporting Ukraine. The next day, he will meet with British soldiers in neighboring Estonia.

Ahead of the visit, Sunak said in a statement: “From the Arctic Circle to the Isle of Wight, the UK and our allies in Europe have been blocked by our response to the invasion of Ukraine, and we remain steadfast in our pursuit of peace.” In Europe once again… I know this Joint Expeditionary Force summit will only emphasize our close friendship and unwavering support for Ukraine.

The JEF covers the UK, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

– Natasha Turak

The Kremlin rejects reports that Belarus intends to join the conflict

The Kremlin on Monday dismissed claims that President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Belarus signaled Minsk’s growing involvement in the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2022 December 14 chairs a meeting with members of the government via video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia.

Sputnik | Reuters

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the reports “baseless” and “stupid”, hours before Putin arrived in the Belarusian capital.

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Putin’s visit on Monday afternoon is his first to a former Soviet ally in more than three years and comes after Belarus’ defense ministry announced it had completed a series of inspections of the military readiness of its armed forces.

– Karen Gilchrist

Zelensky asks for Western weapons systems

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday called on Western leaders gathered in Latvia to provide various weapons systems in Kiev’s ongoing war with Russia, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is shown on screen as he speaks via video link during a Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) plenary session in Riga, Latvia, in 2022. December 19

Henry Nichols | Afp | Getty Images

“I am asking you to increase the ability to supply our country with air defense systems and help speed up the relevant decisions made by our partners,” Zelensky asked during his speech via video link to the leaders’ meeting in Riga.

Western allies including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden are meeting in the Baltics on Monday for a British-led group.

– Karen Gilchrist

Belarus says military inspections have been completed ahead of Putin’s visit

Belarus’ Defense Ministry announced on Monday that it had completed a series of military readiness checks of its armed forces, signaling a possible shift to a more active role in the conflict, Reuters reported.

Russia’s ally Belarus, which was a staging post for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February, has engaged in a series of military maneuvers in recent weeks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin heads to Minsk on Monday, raising fears that he may be pressuring his former Soviet ally to join a new offensive against Ukraine.

– Karen Gilchrist

The Russian ruble fell to a six-month low

The Russian ruble The dollar fell to its lowest level in more than six months on Monday as low oil prices and rising sanctions threaten the country’s export earnings.

The ruble weakened by 2.4% against the dollar and on Monday around 9:00 a.m. GMT was 66.22. The drop marks the ruble’s lowest level since May 30.

– Karen Gilchrist

‘Quite serious’ damage caused by Russian drone attack

This photo shows a critical energy infrastructure facility burning after a drone attack in Kiev, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sergej Supinski | AFP | Getty Images

A Russian drone attack in the Kiev region on Monday caused “quite serious” damage, Governor Oleksiy Kubela said, Reuters reports.

Three areas of the region were left without power, the governor said, after Russia launched 35 kamikaze drones in Ukraine early Monday morning.

Reuters reported that the attack, which hit critical infrastructure, was Moscow’s third airstrike against the Ukrainian capital in six days.

– Karen Gilchrist

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