Ukraine latest: Slovakia says needs years for Russian Oil ban

Finland and Sweden are getting security assurances from the US if threatened by Russia if they apply to join NATO.
Image: Liesa Koppitz-Johanssen/Bloomberg

Finland and Sweden are getting security assurances from the US if threatened by Russia if they apply to join NATO, Sweden’s foreign minister said after meetings in Washington.

Russian forces have been slowed by supply line and morale problems in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman said. Some 344 people have been evacuated in and around the besieged city of Mariupol, said Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. A daytime ceasefire is due to be in effect for three days.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in London, where they’re expected to discuss a plan to support Asian nations in diversifying away from Russian oil and gas.

Key Developments

  • EU Squeezes Hard on Russia, Sweeping In Oil, Bank, Business
  • Oil Steadies Before OPEC+ Meet After Surging on EU Russian Ban
  • ‘I Don’t Want to Sell to an Oligarch’: A CEO on Exiting Russia
  • U.S. Gives Sweden and Finland Security Promises on Road to NATO
  • Brazil’s Lula Says Zelenskiy, Biden Share Blame for War

All times CET:

Slovakia Says It Needs Through 2025 for Russia Oil Ban (8:49 a.m.)

Slovakia backs a proposed European Union embargo on Russian oil imports but needs until the end of 2025 to implement it, said Economy Minister Richard Sulik.

Sulik told German radio that the government in Bratislava, and its counterparts in the Czech Republic and Hungary, “want to maintain EU unity” but need the extra time because of their heavy reliance on Russian oil.

ECB’s Panetta Says Europe’s Economy ‘de Facto Stagnating’ (8:19 a.m.)

With war on its doorstep and energy prices high, European Central Bank Executive Board Member Fabio Panetta said economic expansion in the euro area has almost ground to a halt.

“The major economies are suffering — GDP growth has slowed in Spain, halted in France and contracted in Italy,” Panetta told La Stampa in an interview published Thursday. “In Germany growth momentum is low and has been weakening since the end of February, which is the point when everything changed.”

Shell Profits Highest in Decade Despite Russia Charge (8:17 a.m.)

The oil supermajor Shell Plc posted its highest quarterly earnings in more than a decade, as the company was buoyed by high oil and gas prices despite taking a $3.9 billion accounting charge on its planned exit from Russia.

The majors, with the exception of Chevron Corp., have written off a combined $37 billion as they sever ties with the Kremlin after its invasion of Ukraine.

Separately, BMW AG said quarterly earnings rose 12% even as the war in Ukraine and Covid-lockdowns in China disrupted the automaker’s supply chain.

US Gives Security Promises to Sweden, Finland (8:08 a.m.) 

Sweden and Finland are starting to win assurances of help if threatened by Russia in the interim period between an expected application to join defense alliance NATO and an eventual entry to the bloc.

The Nordic countries, which began to seriously consider joining NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have worried of an insecure “gray period” before full membership unlocks its security guarantees.

The U.S. is “ready to provide various forms of security assurances” to both countries, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said after talks in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Oil Advances Before OPEC+ Meet After Surging on EU Russian Ban (6:12 a.m.)

Oil steadied ahead of an OPEC+ meeting on supply after surging on the European Union’s plan for a phased ban on Russian crude.

The EU plans to ban Russian oil over the next six months and refined fuels by the end of the year, to increase pressure on Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine. The bloc is also targeting insurers in a move that could dramatically impair Moscow’s ability to ship oil around the world.

US Sent Cyber Team to Lithuania Over Threat of Russian Hacking (4:15 a.m.)

The U.S. rushed cyber forces to Lithuania to help defend against online threats that have risen since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an Army general said Wednesday.

“Our deployment in Lithuania was directly related to the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine,” Major General Joe Hartman, who commands the U.S. Cyber National Mission Force, told reporters at a roundtable interview in Nashville.

UK to Provide Aid for ‘Most Vulnerable’ (1:55 a.m.)

The UK will provide 45 million pounds to help Ukrainians most in need because of the war, the British government announced Thursday. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement that the assistance would support “the most vulnerable in Ukraine, particularly women and children, who are facing increased risk of sexual violence and exploitation.”

The money will be directed to United Nations agencies and other relief organizations working in Ukraine.

UK, Japan to Discuss Plans to Help Asia Diversify From Russian Oil (1:15 a.m.)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in London here they are expected to discuss a plan to support Asian nations to find energy supplies to diversify away from Russian oil and gas. Both leaders will also agree in principle to a new military pact for joint cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

“Bilateral meetings are expected to focus on Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and how international alliances can continue to exert maximum pressure on President Putin’s regime while supporting Ukraine and other European countries affected by the barbaric invasion,” the UK government said in a statement.

300 More Civilians Evacuated From Mariupol (12:15 a.m.)

More than 300 civilians have been evacuated from war-blasted Mariupol in a new “safe passage operation,” according to Osnat Lubrani, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine.

“Many came with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, and we will now support them during this difficult time, including with much-needed psychological support,” Lubrani said in a statement on Wednesday.

Russian Troops Bogged Down in Ukraine, Pentagon Says (10:09 p.m.)

Russian troops have not made the kind of progress in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine “that they have wanted to make,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday, citing problems with supply lines and morale.

“We don’t believe they have solved their logistics and sustainment issues” he said, adding that Russian troops are “wary” of getting out too far ahead of their supply lines. Kirby also said that their missile strikes have been off target but that the U.S. does not know whether that’s related to technical problems, Ukrainian defenses, or “incompetence” on the part of the Russians.

Russia Announces Humanitarian Corridors From Mariupol (8:47 p.m.)

Russia’s Defense Ministry said it will offer safe passage for civilians still trapped in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol on May 5 to 7, Tass reported.

The humanitarian corridors will be open from 8 a.m to 6 p.m over the three days, the ministry said. The civilians can choose whether to go to Russia or Ukrainian-controlled areas, according to Interfax.

Russia has seized control of almost all of Mariupol after a brutal weeks-long siege. The remaining defenders are holding out in the giant industrial facility, where hundreds of civilians had taken refuge and started being evacuated last weekend.

US Military Spells Out Weapons Training for Ukrainians (6:23 p.m.)

The US is training Ukrainians on new weapons systems, including artillery and drones, in Grafenwoer, Germany, according to Brigadier General Joseph Hilbert, head of the 7th Army Training Command in Europe. He told reporters that a first group of Ukrainian trainees is back in the fight in Ukraine, and a second group of about 50 to 60 is now being instructed.

“They understand how to operate it and employ it as effectively as they can on their own and in accordance with their own tactics and their own doctrine,” Hilbert said of the new equipment. “The soldiers that we are receiving here are absolutely motivated, incredibly professional.”

The US hasn’t had any problems getting the small groups of Ukrainians into Germany and back again, according to Hilbert and Lieutenant Colonel Todd Hopkins, who’s also overseeing training. The officials acknowledged challenges, including providing instruction through translators.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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