Ukraine war briefing: Sanctions to strike at Putin’s oil ‘shadow fleet’ | Ukraine

  • The UK has announced dozens of new sanctions aimed at constraining Russia’s war in Ukraine, including targeting Moscow’s main stock exchange, a day after Washington announced similar measures. Washington on Wednesday unveiled a raft of sanctions, including on the Moscow exchange and several subsidiaries, that raise the stakes for foreign banks that still deal with Russia. The punishment, set to complicate billions of dollars in transactions, dramatically prompted the Moscow exchange to halt dollar and euro trades on Thursday.

  • Among the new UK sanctions are its first on vessels in Putin’s so-called shadow fleet, used by the Kremlin to circumvent western curbs on its oil exports. They also target suppliers of munitions, machine tools, microelectronics, and logistics to Russia’s military. Those suppliers include entities based in China, Israel, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey, along with ships transporting military goods from North Korea to Russia.

  • The Financial Times reports that the UK “shadow fleet” sanctions cover the large Russian insurer Ingosstrakh as well as individual tankers including one called the Canis Power. More details of the sanctions package are included in the government announcement.

  • China said it firmly opposed Britain’s decision to include five Chinese firms in the sanctions, which target China-based Hengshui Yuanchem Trading and Hong Kong-based HK Hengbangwei Electronics for allegedly being or having been involved in “destabilising Ukraine” or “undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine”.

  • Leaders of the G7 western economies have meanwhile outlined an agreement handing $50bn (£39bn) of aid to Ukraine backed by frozen Russian state assets. The loan agreement, hammered out in complex legal talks over the past three months, will see a special fund operating by the end of the year. The interest on the large loan is to be funded not by Ukraine but from the profits derived from the frozen Russian state assets.

  • The US and Ukraine have also signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement, announced as Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelenskiy met at the G7 summit in Puglia, Italy. Biden said arrangements were being made to provide Ukraine with five Patriot missile defence systems, adding: “Everything we have is going to Ukraine until its needs are met.”

  • Zelenskiy described the deal as the “strongest agreement” struck since his country’s independence in 1991, noting it would last through the war and afterwards, covering intelligence cooperation and the strengthening of Ukrainian defence industries. In addition, Ukraine and Japan signed a 20-year security agreement on the sidelines of the G7, Zelenskiy said, that envisages security and defence assistance, humanitarian aid, technical and financial cooperation.

  • On the frontlines, Ukraine said on Thursday that its forces were fighting fierce battles near Chasiv Yar, a strategic hilltop settlement whose capture would give the Russians a powerful foothold in the eastern Donetsk region. “Two combat engagements continue near Ivanivske,” the Ukrainian military said. “The situation is tense.” Ivanivske is a small town just outside Chasiv Yar.

  • Farther south in the Donetsk region, officials said one civilian was killed near Pokrovsk, another point where Russia has concentrated its firepower. A 40-year-old man was killed by Russian fire in the Kherson region, Ukrainian officials said, while Russian-installed authorities in the region meanwhile said one civilian was killed by Ukrainian forces.

  • Allies will send Ukraine about €350m worth of 152mm artillery shells, the Dutch defence ministry said on Thursday, after a two-day “Ramstein group” meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels. “In previous ammunition deliveries, Ukraine has so far received mainly 155mm shells for howitzers donated by the west. However, the country also has many 152mm guns. With the new delivery, these weapons can also be better utilised,” said the ministry.

  • Returning to the G7, Zelenskiy, at a joint press conference with Biden, said the Chinese president, Xi Jinping had assured him during a phone conversation that “he will not sell any weapon to Russia. We’ll see if he’s [a] respectable person he will not, because he gave me [his] word.” But Biden added: “China is not supplying weapons but the ability to produce those weapons and the technology available to do it, so it is in fact helping Russia.”

  • China, skipping the coming weekend’s summit on a peace plan for Ukraine, has been lobbying governments with its alternative plan, 10 diplomats have told Reuters, with one calling Beijing’s campaign a “subtle boycott” of the global meeting in Switzerland. Reuters cited Beijing-based diplomats, one of whom said China had told developing nations the Swiss meeting would prolong the war, while two diplomats with direct knowledge of the matter said China had been telling western nations that many developing countries shared its views.

  • China’s own proposal calls for an international peace conference “held at a proper time that is recognised by both Russia and Ukraine, with equal participation of all parties as well as fair discussion of all peace plans”. Zelenskiy recently accused China of trying to undermine the Swiss conference but has also encouraged Beijing to take part in find a route to peace.

  • Countries supporting Ukraine must speed up their decision making, the outgoing Dutch PM, Mark Rutte said on Thursday. Rutte, a leading candidate to become Nato’s next secretary general, was speaking at a conference in Finland.

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