Ukraine latest: UN’s chief blasts ‘immoral’ oil and gas profits

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for nations to impose excess profit taxes.
Image: Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres skewered global energy companies, saying it’s “immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis” spawned by the war in Ukraine. He called for nations to impose excess profit taxes.

Romania’s prime minister warned NATO allies that they will have to maintain an expanded troop presence on their eastern flank for at least the medium term as Russia appears intent on creating a buffer between itself and the western military alliance.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz blamed Moscow for a delay in shipping a turbine for Gazprom PJSC’s Nord Stream 1 pipeline that’s at the heart of Europe’s gas crisis. The Kremlin responded by saying that the component, which is at a facility in Germany after undergoing routine maintenance in Canada, lacks documentation proving that it isn’t subject to sanctions.

Key developments

  • Don’t Expect Nord Stream Gas Revival as Turbine Blaming Drags On
  • Oil Plunges to Lowest Since February as US Gasoline Demand Drops
  • Putin’s Courting of Israel Fades as Ties Turn Bitter on Ukraine
  • World’s Food Supply Faces New Threat as India Rice Crop Falters

On the ground

The southern port of Mykolaiv and the city of Kharkiv in the northeast were shelled again overnight, local authorities said. In the Donetsk region, Russian forces are concentrating attacks toward Bakhmut to the north of the regional capital, Ukraine’s general staff reported. Russian forces launched two assaults in northern Kherson region and are continuing to redeploy troops to the south, according to the latest assessment from the Institute for the Study of War.

(All times CET)

Senate Ratifies NATO Membership for Finland, Sweden (6:40 a.m.)

The US Senate ratified adding Sweden and Finland to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a move intended to bolster the military alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The vote was 95-1, far exceeding the two-thirds majority required for the approval of treaties. If the ascension wins approval from all current members of the alliance, Finland will join Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as NATO countries that share a land border with Russia.

Russia Embarks on New Propaganda Wave, Zelenskiy Says (12:25 a.m.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of generating a fresh round of propaganda as it begins to realize the legal consequences of its invasion of his country. He discounted remarks by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that the Kremlin is open to talks to end the war. Schroeder, in an interview with the German magazine Stern published on Wednesday, said he had met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week. Schroeder has been widely condemned over his relationship with Putin.

“If Russia really wants to end up the war, it would not withdraw its reserves to the south of Ukraine and would not produce mass graves of murdered innocent people on Ukrainian territory,” Zelenskiy said in a Wednesday evening address. “It is disgusting when former leaders of powerful European states with European values work for Russia, which is fighting against those values.”

Ukraine Says More Grain Ships Ready to Depart (7:27 p.m.)

More ships loaded with grain are ready to depart from Ukraine’s seaports following the vessel Razoni, which arrived in Turkey Tuesday, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said without elaborating, according to the Interfax news service.

“We hope everything will work and the Russian Federation won’t make any steps that would ruin these agreements that have been so difficultly achieved via brokerage from the UN and Turkey,” Kuleba said in a news conference in Kyiv, according to Interfax.

UN Chief Blasts ‘Immoral’ Oil and Gas Company Profits (6:22 p.m.)

Guterres, the UN secretary-general, tore into global energy companies, saying it’s “immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the backs of the poorest people and communities, at a massive cost to the climate.”

Saying that the largest energy companies together tallied first-quarter profits of “close to $100 billion” amid the turmoil of the war in Ukraine, the secretary-general urged countries “to tax these excessive profits, and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times.”

In remarks to the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, Guterres repeated his calls for a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine, which he said has caused not only suffering in that country, but a global “threefold crisis of access to food, energy and finance.”

Switzerland Makes Oil Payment Exemptions From Sanctions (6:06 p.m.)

The Swiss government said it will match European Union sanctions on Russia and allow for some exemptions in respect to oil payments. The EU introduced measures last month allowing for transactions with some sanctioned entities if they’re deemed essential to supplies of food, agricultural goods and oil to third countries.

The package also includes measures targeting gold, which primarily included a ban on buying importing or transporting gold and gold products from Russia. It also includes services in connection with those goods.

Russia Finds New Route to Oil Market Via a Tiny Egyptian Port (4:33 p.m.) 

As western sanctions on Russian oil loom, a cargo of about 700,000 barrels of Russian oil was delivered to Egypt’s El Hamra oil terminal on its Mediterranean coast early on July 24. A few hours later, another vessel collected a consignment from the port — which may have included some or all of the Russian barrels — according to vessel-tracking data monitored by Bloomberg.

The unusual move makes the cargo’s ultimate destination harder to track, adding to a trend of Russian oil shipments becoming increasingly obscured since European buyers began to shun them following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.

US Still Seeking Support for Russian Oil Price Cap (4:33 p.m.)

The US is still trying to muster global support for a price cap on Russian oil to curtail energy revenue funding Russia’s war in Ukraine, a senior Biden administration official said.

“We’ve worked with the G-7 allies, we were in Europe last week discussing it with some countries as well, and we continue those discussions,” Amos Hochstein, senior adviser for energy security at the State Department, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

US officials have struggled for traction on the price cap plan at a time when the Russian invasion has caused global energy and food prices to spike, while China and India continue to buy discounted Russian crude. Asked about the Chinese and Indian purchases, Hochstein said, “As far as other countries joining, I think we’re still putting the mechanism together and discussing it with other countries.”

Ukraine Grain Ship Reaches Bosphorus Strait (1 p.m.)

The first grain ship to sail from Ukraine’s ports since Russia’s invasion passed an inspection and will continue through the Bosphorus Strait to its destination in Lebanon, Turkish and Ukrainian authorities said. The Razoni is loaded with 26,527 tons of corn and reached the Black Sea entrance to the strait on Tuesday after leaving Odesa Monday.

A deal on restarting grain exports reached by Russia and Ukraine last month provided for monitoring of vessels by a joint coordination center in Istanbul staffed by representatives of the two countries along with Turkish and United Nations officials. Ukraine has laid out plans to cautiously ramp up grain exports after the first ship sailed, but said the first two weeks will be treated as a trial period.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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