Ukraine Latest: EU Russia Oil Ban Stumbles on Hungary’s Holdout

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Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) —

Hungary continues to block the European Union’s latest package of sanctions against Russia, and Sunday’s talks in Brussels ended without an agreement. 

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy issued a video to mark Ukraine’s Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, a day before Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to a address a military parade in Moscow and may lay out the next steps of the Ukraine war.   

Rescue efforts are under way after a Russian air strike on a school in Ukraine’s Luhansk region, with dozens of civilians feared dead. All women, children and elderly have been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a week into a rescue operation facilitated by the UN and Red Cross. Zelenskiy said efforts to get Ukrainian fighters out of the site are continuing. 

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Key Developments

G-7 Leaders to Discuss More Russia Sanctions on Sunday Call Ukraine’s Tiny Neighbor Suffers Economic Fallout From the WarHungary Continues to Block EU Oil Sanctions on RussiaBoehly-Clearlake Group Lands $5.25 Billion Deal for Chelsea Trading Russian Oil Will Become Harder From Mid-May, Says VitolRussia Can’t Shake Default Risk After Last-Minute Bond Payment

All times CET:

Vitol Says It’ll Get Harder to Trade Russian Oil From Mid-May (2: 30 p.m.)

Commodity firms will find it much harder to buy and sell Russian oil from the middle of this month, according to the world’s biggest independent crude trader, as Europe tightens sanctions on Moscow. 

Russia’s exports of crude and oil products have probably dropped by about 1 million barrels a day from 7.5 million before the attack in late February, Mike Muller, head of Asia at Vitol Group, said Sunday. They could fall further after May 15, he said, because many trading houses interpret EU regulations as prohibiting them from dealing with Russian state energy companies beyond then. “There will be a “different reality.”

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U2’s Bono, the Edge Perform in Kyiv Metro (2: 26 a.m.)

Bono and the Edge, members of Irish rock band U2, performed in a Kyiv metro station on Sunday at the invitation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a “show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people,” the band said on Twitter.  

In a video posted by Ukrainian politician Serhiy Leshchenko, the pair were seen with Taras Topolia, frontman of the local band Antytila, performing the Ben E. King standard, “Stand by Me.”

Hungary Continues to Block EU Oil Sanctions Against Russia (2: 16 p.m.)

Hungary continued to block a European Union proposal that would ban Russian oil imports, holding up the bloc’s package of sanctions meant to target President Vladimir Putin over his war in Ukraine, according to people familiar with the talks. 

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A meeting of the EU’s 27 ambassadors ended on Sunday without an agreement, with talks expected to resume in the coming days, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private. 

The EU had been pushing to have the process concluded by Russia’s Victory Day military parade on Monday, at which Putin is expected to speak about the invasion of Ukraine. 

EU Tries to Finalize Russia Oil Sanctions Plan Before G-7 Call (11: 27 a.m.)

Current proposals would see Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic granted extra time for compliance. Croatia has also indicated it wants more time. Other countries would phase out imports by the end of 2022, with imports of crude to halt in six months and refined petroleum products in eight.

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The Russian oil ban wouldn’t affect purchases and shipments that originate in other countries and transit through Russia, as long as they don’t lead to sanctions being circumvented. 

The EU’s sanction package, which requires the backing of all 27 member states, would also see more banks cut off the SWIFT system and restrictions on purchasing property in the EU and providing consulting services to Russian companies. 

G-7 Leaders to Discuss More Russia Sanctions 

Zelenskiy Tells Fox Some Countries Trying to Buy Stolen Grain (10: 15 a.m.)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says some countries are attempting to buy grain taken from Ukraine by Russia. His comments to Fox News came days after Ukraine’s Ministry of Agriculture said that farmers have reported Russians in occupied territory “stealing their grain en masse.” 

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“I don’t want to name specific countries who behind our backs are making deals to buy our grain from Russia,” Zelenskiy told Fox News. “If they will do it, of course we’ll tell.” 

The United Nations World Food Program has called for the urgent reopening of Ukraine’s grain export seaports, which have been shut by Russian blockades.  

German Bundestag President Visits Kyiv (9: 26 a.m.)

Germany’s Baerbal Bas is in Kyiv on Sunday to take part in World War II commemorations and to meet with Ukraine’s president, the DPA news agency reported. 

The second-highest representative in Germany after President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Bas becomes the highest-ranked German official to visit Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will visit on Tuesday, according to Germany media reports: Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said Baerbock will make the trip “soon.”

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Zelenskiy Marks Ukraine’s Day of Remembrance in Video (8: 44 a.m.) 

Volodymyr Zelenskiy released a 15-minute video to mark Ukraine’s Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation. The black and white footage shows the president speaking in front of a bombed-out apartment building in Borodyanka, northwest of Kyiv.

Ukraine’s president mused on the post-World War II vow of “never again,” saying that decades later, “darkness returned” to Ukraine “in a different uniform, under different slogans, but for the same purpose.”  

“All nations who have been branded ‘third-class,’ slaves without the right to their own state or to exist at all, hear statements that exalt one nation and erase others with ease,” he said. “They claim that you don’t really exist, you are artificially created, and therefore you have no rights.” 

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Official Says Many Feared Dead in School Shelter Bombing (6: 45 a.m)

As many as 60 people may have died in a Russian strike on a school in Bilohorivka, a village in the Luhansk area, according to regional head Serhiy Haiday on Telegram. 

Russian forces on Saturday bombed a school building where most residents of the village had been sheltering, he said earlier. About 30 people were rescued from within the rubble and two were found dead. The final number of victims will be known once the debris is cleared, Haiday said.

Ukraine’s Counteroffensive Said to Make Progress Near Kharkiv (7: 30 a.m.)

Pushback from Kyiv’s forces northeast of Kharkiv “is making significant progress and will likely advance to the Russian border in the coming days or weeks,” according to the Institute for the Study of War. 

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The U.S.-based think tank said the offensive “likely intends to push Russian artillery away from Kharkiv city and drive to the border” of Belgorad oblast in Russia. 

Moscow’s forces may be conducting a limited withdrawal in the face of successful Ukrainian attacks, and reportedly destroyed three bridges to slow Ukraine’s advance, ISW said, adding, “Armies generally only destroy bridges if they have largely decided they will not attempt to cross the river in the other direction anytime soon.”

Ukraine Says It Destroyed Two Raptor-Class Boats (6 a.m.)

Ukraine destroyed two Russian Raptor-class boats craft with Bayraktar drones near Snake Island in the Black Sea, according to its southern operational command in a Facebook post. Bloomberg News couldn’t independently verify the claim. 

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U.K. Pledges 1.3 Billion Pounds of Aid to Ukraine: PA (11: 31 p.m.) 

The U.K. will provide an additional 1.3 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in military support to Ukraine, adding to earlier commitments of 1.5 billion pounds to assist in its war against Russia, Press Association reported. 

The funding includes the 300 million pounds of military equipment announced earlier this week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and will be drawn from the U.K.’s reserves, PA said. That marks the highest rate of U.K. military spending on a conflict since the height of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the report.

Still Trying to Get Fighters Out of Mariupol, Zelenskiy Says (9: 45 p.m.)

Ukraine is still working to extricate its fighters from the besieged steel mill in Mariupol after humanitarian aid agencies helped evacuate 300 women and children, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Saturday.

“It is extremely difficult, but we’re not losing hope,” he said in his nightly video address. “Now we are preparing the second phase of evacuation mission — the wounded and health-care workers.” He thanked the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations for helping with the first phase.

On Friday, Zelenskiy said “influential states” are involved in mediation to free armed defenders holding out at the Azovstal complex. 

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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