NATO bids gain support, China in focus at summit

Group of Seven nations moved forward plans to limit President Vladimir Putin’s energy revenue by curbing oil and gas prices.
Image: Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images

Finland and Sweden cleared a major hurdle for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership after Turkey dropped its opposition to their bids, all but ensuring the military alliance’s expansion on Russia’s doorstep.

For the first time, the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand are attending the summit of the 30-member NATO, stoking fears in China of an expanded military alliance in the Asia-Pacific that would pressure Beijing.

Group of Seven nations moved forward plans to limit President Vladimir Putin’s energy revenue by curbing oil and gas prices, a day after a Russian missile strike on a shopping center in central Ukraine killed at least 20 people. Russia, however, is getting higher prices for its oil as strong demand in Asia undermines Western powers’ efforts to curb revenues.

Key Developments

  • Finland, Sweden Closer to Joining NATO With Turkey Deal
  • NATO Finds Embrace in China’s Backyard, Stoking Xi’s Worst Fears
  • ‘They Do Not Want Us,’ Ukraine Says of NATO as Leaders Meet
  • Soviet Terror Made Sacrifice Second Nature for Baltics
  • NATO to Label China ‘Systemic Challenge’ in Strategic Plan
  • Russian Crude Flows Slump, But It’s Likely to Prove Temporary

On the ground

Russian forces are pressing ahead with their goal of occupying all of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said during a video briefing. Kyiv-led forces are withdrawing from Sievierodonetsk, as the Russian military moved in on neighboring Lysychansk from the south, closing in on the last major redoubt in the Luhansk region that Kyiv still controls. While Lysychansk remained the main hot spot of military action, Russian troops shelled Ukrainian positions and civilian areas elsewhere along the front line, including with air-to-land missiles. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was also being shelled, its mayor said.

(All times CET)

Zelenskiy Dismisses Russian Claims on Mall Strike (6:37 a.m.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dismissed Russian claims over a missile strike on a mall in Kremenchuk that left at least 20 people dead.

“Obviously there was an order to do this,” Zelenskiy said. “They wanted to kill as many people as possible in a peaceful location.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said it carried out a precision strike on hangars storing Western arms and ammunition, which triggered the fire at the mall. The ministry didn’t provide evidence to back up its claims.

Russian Oil Prices Go Up Despite G-7 (6:00 a.m.)

Russian government data shows the actual price of the nation’s flagship Urals grade has appreciated relative to the international benchmark Brent. It’s a reminder that underlying demand — mostly from countries that would have to enforce any price cap — has held up.

A stronger focus on Asian buying, and the emergence of smaller trading houses willing to deal with Russia, has helped to maintain flows.

Zelenskiy Says Sanctions Will Work (12:09 a.m.)

Zelenskiy said in an interview with NBC News that sanctions against Russia will greatly impact the state but when that takes place is a matter of time.

He also repeated his calls for support from the outside world, saying his country’s forces were outnumbered 10-to-1 and need more weapons on the battlefield to hold out. “The war will end for sure with Ukraine winning,” he said.

Ukraine Raises Railway Cargo Tariffs by 70% (9:40 p.m.)

Ukraine’s government approved a 70% hike in tariffs on railway cargo shipments to ease pressure on its state-run railroad operator JSC Ukraine Railways, which is facing severe damage to its infrastructure and financial troubles due to the war, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook.

The decision raised concern among Ukraine’s grain exporters, which have urged the government to cancel the decision and instead impose a moratorium on increases in the tariffs for the wartime and three to six months beyond, citing the difficulties they are facing. Ukraine’s grain and oilseed exports have been significantly curbed as Russia’s navy blocks the country’s Black Sea ports.

NATO Deal on Finland, Sweden Closer (8:49 p.m.)

Turkey will support inviting Finland and Sweden into the NATO military alliance, with details to be hashed out at a summit that started in Madrid on Tuesday, Finland’s president and NATO’s secretary general said in a statement.

“I am delighted to conclude this stage on Finland’s road to NATO membership,” Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said. “I now look forward to fruitful conversations on Finland’s role in NATO with our future Allies here in Madrid.”

Ankara is satisfied with pledges from Finland and Sweden addressing its security concerns, including restrictions on Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists, according to an official who declined to be named on a confidential issue.

Dnipro Among Targets in Latest Missile Barrage (6:53 p.m.)

Six rockets were launched by Russia on central Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, with several hitting railway infrastructure, an industrial enterprise and a car service station in the region’s major city of Dnipro, Valentyn Reznichenko, the head of the regional government, said on his Telegram account.

Fire erupted after a missile strike on the service station, where employees still remain under rubble, and it’s being extinguished, he said. Explosions were also heard Tuesday in another big city, the southern seaport of Mykolayiv.

Johnson Says Allies Can Send China a Signal With Ukraine Action (6 p.m.) 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain and its allies have to stand by their principles in supporting Ukraine and demonstrate to China that countries won’t be allowed to expand their territory by military force.

On a flight to Madrid for a summit of NATO leaders, Johnson was asked whether failure to support Ukraine might encourage China to consider invading Taiwan.

“It’s very important that countries around the world should not be able to read across from events in Europe and draw the conclusion that the world will simply stand idly by if boundaries are changed by force,” Johnson said. “That’s one of the most important lessons that we pick up from Ukraine.”

Treasury Announces Sanctions on Russian Gold, Companies (5:21 p.m.)

The US Treasury Department announced its previously planned ban on the import of Russian gold and issued full-blocking sanctions on Russian defense company Rostec. The action also targeted several other military contractors and individuals tied to the industry.

“Targeting Russia’s defense industry will degrade Putin’s capabilities and further impede his war against Ukraine, which has already been plagued by poor morale, broken supply chains, and logistical failures,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement timed to coincide with the end of the G-7 summit.

Pentagon Watchdog to Probe Sharing of Ukraine Intel (4:51 p.m.)

The Pentagon’s inspector general opened an inquiry into US intelligence-sharing with NATO allies and Ukraine on Russia’s invasion.

The “objective of this evaluation is to determine the extent to which the DoD developed, planned, and executed cross-domain intelligence sharing with European partners in support of Ukraine,” Maurice Foster, acting assistant inspector general for evaluations, said in a statement.

Officials at the Defense Department and other agencies have been questioned by lawmakers and analysts about the extent and details of US tactical and strategic intelligence-sharing.

At Least 20 Killed in Missile Strike at Shopping Center (4:17 p.m.)

The number of people killed in the shopping center strike in Kremenchuk has climbed to at least 20, and more than 40 are missing, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the presidential office, said on Telegram. Another 59 were injured.

Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky said in televised remarks that identifying remains was complicated by serious burns, adding that many appeared to have ignored an air-raid alarm and remained in the building. Zelenskiy said in a video address that about 1,000 were at the site, and called the Russian state the “largest terrorist organization in the world.”

Close to 3,000 civilians have been killed in Russian attacks since the invasion began Feb. 24, the State Emergency Service of Ukraine said on Telegram.

European Gas Demand Rose to Highest in a Decade in 2021, BP Says (2:09 p.m.) 

Europe’s natural gas demand soared to the highest in a decade last year, and the war in Ukraine will only tighten the market further, BP Plc said in its annual Statistical Review.

Energy use roared back in 2021 as nations emerged from months of pandemic restrictions. But the rebound coincided with capped gas flows from Russia and a squeeze on liquefied natural gas. The European market ended the year with volatility at an all-time high, and the wild price swings have continued in 2022 with the invasion of Ukraine stoking fears over supply.

European Gas Demand Rose to Highest in a Decade in 2021, BP Says

Leaders Want Urgent Evaluation of Energy Price Caps (1:45 p.m.) 

G-7 leaders agreed that they want ministers to discuss urgently and evaluate how the prices of Russian oil and gas can be curbed to limit revenues flowing to the government in Moscow.

“We reaffirm our commitment to phase out our dependency on Russian energy,” the leaders said in a statement after the three-day summit meeting in the Bavarian Alps. “In addition, we will explore further measures to prevent Russia from profiting from its war of aggression.”

G-7 Nations to Attend G-20 in November, Scholz Says (1:30 p.m.)

Asked whether Germany and other G-7 nations will attend a G-20 summit in November, which Putin may also take part in, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said there was “broad agreement” among leaders in Bavaria that they “don’t want to drive the G-20 apart.”

“As things stand, the decision of the countries gathered here was that they will attend,” Scholz said at a news conference. Both Putin and Zelenskiy have accepted invitations to the meeting in Bali from G-20 presidency Indonesia, though it’s not clear if they will attend in person. Putin has declined to meet Zelenskiy, who has said it’s the only way to end the war.

Johnson Appears to Rule Out Defense Spending Boost (1:30 p.m.)

The British premier appeared to rule out boosting the UK’s defense budget after his defense secretary, Ben Wallace, called for a 20% increase in spending over five years  — and General Patrick Sanders, the UK army chief, said Britain and its NATO allies must be “unequivocally prepared to fight” if Russia attacks any of their territory.

Speaking as he was set to depart Germany after the G-7 meeting, Johnson told reporters the UK has “more than met our pledge” to spend 2% of national income on defense and last year was the third-biggest spender on defense in the world.

NATO to Label China ‘Systemic Challenge’ (2:26 a.m.)

NATO is set to label China a “systemic challenge” when it outlines its new policy guidelines this week, while also highlighting Beijing’s deepening partnership with Russia, according to people familiar with the matter.

The “Strategic Concept” document will outline the alliance’s priorities for the coming decade and is due to be signed off by NATO leaders at a summit in Madrid this week. The previous version, published in 2010, made no mention of China and referred to Russia as a partner, wording that is set to be scrapped.

© 2022 Bloomberg


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