Ukraine Latest: British Guard Who Spied for Russia Jailed in UK

(Bloomberg) — A few days before Russia’s invasion hits the one-year mark, Ukraine’s growing need for fresh military equipment and ammunition is dominating the conversation as world leaders gathered at the Munich Security Conference.

Most Read from Bloomberg

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on NATO allies to speed up weapons deliveries in anticipation of an expanded Russian Russian offensive in the spring. Germany and France indicated they’re ready to dig in for a long war.

The UK estimated that some 175,000 to 200,000 Russian forces have been killed or wounded since the invasion, with the death toll as high as 60,000. Russia’s refineries, shrugging off the impact of Western sanctions, are processing more oil — but Moscow’s economy overall is under pressure.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

Key Developments

  • The Post-Cold War Era Is Gone. A New Arms Race Has Arrived

  • Ukraine’s Allies Brace for Long War as Zelenskiy Calls for Speed

  • Putin’s War to Lop $190 Billion Off Economy in Delayed Reckoning

  • Russian Refineries Process More Oil Despite New Sanctions

  • Russian Shadow Fleet Emerges From Data on Empty Oil Tankers

On the Ground

Russia launched 41 missiles at Ukraine over the past day, including five on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Facebook, adding that 16 rockets were shot down. Five civilians died and nine were injured on Thursday in Bakhmut, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Telegram, calling for the 6,000 people who remain in the eastern town to evacuate immediately.

(All times CET)

Scholz, Macron Reinforce Pledges of Support (4:57 p.m.)

Germany and France warned that Russia’s war could drag on well into the future as the leaders reinforced their support for Kyiv, while Ukraine’s leader made a plea for speeding up weapons deliveries.

“It is wise to prepare for a long war,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at the Munich Security Conference. France’s Emmanuel Macron drove home the point, saying he’s prepared to intensify aid, but stressed that “we are ready to withstand a longer conflict.”

Ukraine Seizes Rusal Alumina Plant, Deripaska-Linked Assets (3:20 p.m.)

Ukraine is confiscating a key alumina plant linked to United Co. Rusal International PJSC and other assets it says are owned by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, under sanctions the government imposed after Russia’s invasion last year.

Read more: Ukraine Seizes Rusal Alumina Plant, Deripaska-Linked Assets

Russian Refineries Process More Oil Despite New Sanctions (4:20 p.m.)

Russian refineries have slightly raised crude-processing rates so far this month, signaling that the European import ban and western price caps have yet to significantly impact the nation’s industry.

Read more: Russian Refineries Process More Oil Despite New Sanctions

Dombrovskis Says EU Should Confiscate Sanctioned Russian Assets (4 p.m.)

The European Union should seize sanctioned Russian assets and use the funds to help with the reconstruction of Ukraine, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

Dombrovskis said the EU is looking at ways to require banks and other institutions to report any Russian central bank assets they hold, confirming an earlier report by Bloomberg.

Wagner Mercenaries Plead for Ammunition (3:30 p.m.)

Wagner Group mercenaries fighting in Ukraine appealed to Russia’s defense ministry to supply them with ammunition, with members of one artillery squad saying in a video posted online that they had completely run out of shells.

In another video posted on the Telegram channel of Wagner’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, a soldier in a white protective suit says “hundreds of our guys” are dying every day because “military bureaucrats” are failing to supply them with ammunition in time. The grisly video then pans round to show a room full of corpses lying on plastic body bags.

People’s Party Cancels Italy Gathering After Berlusconi Remarks (3:25 a.m.)

The European Peoples Party canceled an upcoming meeting of conservative politicians in Naples after recent comments about Ukraine by former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. EPP President Manfred Weber announced the decision on Twitter, saying support for Ukraine “is not optional.”

The leader of Italy’s EPP member Forza Italia, Berlusconi, who’d been expected to attend the gathering, said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was to blame for Russia’s invasion.

“If he had not attacked the two autonomous republics of Donbas this would have not happened,” the Ansa newswire cited Berlusconi as saying, referring to areas of eastern Ukraine controlled in recent years by Russian-backed separatists. “I have a very negative view of his behavior.”

Retail Chain Auchan Supplied Russian Army: The Insider (2:30 p.m.)

The Russian branch of the French retail chain Auchan has been supplying goods to the Russian military in occupied regions of Ukraine, investigative website The Insider said in a special report done in partnership with Le Monde and Bellingcat.

Auchan sent goods to troops as “humanitarian aid” from its Russian warehouses, along with supplies collected by volunteers in the chain’s stores across the country, according to the report, which also said that it helped Russia’s military register and recruit its own employees for the war mobilization effort.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who was among officials calling to boycott Auchan for its refusal to leave the Russian market in 2022, said he would raise the allegations with his French counterpart.

Scholz Once Again Presses on Battle Tanks (2:28 p.m.)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged other nations to send battle tanks to Ukraine following Germany’s decision to send 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks.

“Everyone who is able to deliver such battle tanks should also do that now,” Scholz said in his opening speech at the Munich Security Conference. At the same moment he reaffirmed his government’s commitment to raise Germany’s defense spending up to 2% of its national product.

Finland Preparing to Send Heavy Weapons (2:25 p.m.)

Finland is preparing its 13th package of military aid to Ukraine, which will be “extensive” in scope and contain heavy weapons, Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters in Vienna. Finland has a 1,300-kilometer (800-mile) border with Russia.

“On a general level, it seems it’s gone somewhat unnoticed that Finland’s military aid to Ukraine is, per capita, significantly larger than Germany’s and, per capita, similar to the volumes donated by Poland,” President Sauli Niinisto said at the Munich Security Conference.

Zelenskiy Bracing for Intensified Attacks (2:11 p.m.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on NATO allies to speed up weapons deliveries as Russian attacks intensify, telling delegates at the Munich Security Conference that there is “no alternative” to Ukrainian victory for global security.

“We need to hurry up, we need the speed of our agreements, speed of our delivery,” Zelenskiy in a virtual address.

Belarus Hopes to Produce Russian-Type Fighter Jets (1:40 p.m.)

Belarus is ready to start producing Su-25 fighter attack aircraft with technological assistance from Russia, President Alexander Lukashenko told Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Moscow, according to state news agency Belta.

Belarus is fulfilling 100% of its defense and security obligations to Russia, said Lukashenko, who allowed the nation to be a staging ground for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago. Russian troops have been training in Belarus for months.

British Embassy Guard Who Spied for Russia Jailed in UK (12:36 p.m.)

A British security guard who spied for Russia at the country’s embassy in Berlin was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison on Friday.

David Smith, who collected a range of highly sensitive information from and about the embassy with the intention of supplying it to Russia, pleaded guilty to multiple breaches of the UK’s Official Secrets Act.

Read more: British Embassy Guard Who Spied for Russia Jailed in UK

Poland Ready to Offer MiG-29 Jets to Ukraine (12:30 p.m.)

Poland is ready to talk about handing over its MiG-29 to Ukraine “even today,” as such post-Soviet aircraft can be taken to fight immediately, with no special training for Ukrainian pilots, President Andrzej Duda speaks in interview with Polish public TV.

He said also that while Poland is ready to train Ukrainian pilots to prepare them to fly F-16 jets, he is cautious about ideas to transfer Polish F-16 jets to Ukraine, as Poland has only 48 such machines. Duda said expects brigade of Leopard tanks that Poland helped to organize should be ready to operate in Ukraine in a month.

Germany Disappointed by Lack of Tank Commitments (12 p.m.)

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said the government in Berlin was surprised and disappointed by the “reticence” shown by some allies in contributing to an effort to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks.

“The pledges did not come in the magnitude we had hoped for” at a meeting of defense ministers in Ramstein last month, Pistorius said in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine. Only Germany and Portugal have so far committed to sending the more modern A6 version of the Leopard 2, while Poland is leading efforts to put together a battalion of the older A4s, equivalent to 31 machines. Germany is at the forefront of efforts to arm the government in Kyiv, Pistorius told reporters at the Munich Security Conference.

Ukraine to Receive Fewer Battle Tanks From Allies Than Promised

Finnish MPs Set to Wrap Up Domestic NATO Process (12 p.m.)

Finland’s parliament is moving ahead with the domestic process to ratify the Nordic country’s accession to NATO, even as approval from Turkey and Hungary has yet to be received. Lawmakers are tentatively set to vote on the bill Feb. 28, according to Jussi Halla-aho, chairman of the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

Lawmakers in Helsinki are moving ahead now to ensure the process is completed before they go on a break ahead of the April 2 general election, Halla-aho said at a news conference in Helsinki. After the parliament’s plenary votes on approving the bill, President Sauli Niinisto has three months to sign the document, and membership in the alliance begins when all ratifications are completed and the document is deposited in Washington.

Finnish Lawmakers to Wrap Up NATO Entry as Holdouts Remain

European Gas Falls Below €50 (8:30 a.m.)

European natural gas futures slumped below €50 ($53.21) for the first time in 17 months, as the region’s worst energy crisis in decades recedes. Prices have plunged by more than 80% from their August peak when Russia’s gas cuts hit Europe with about $1 trillion in costs.

European Gas Falls Below €50 as Historic Energy Crisis Recedes

Ukraine’s Economy May Climb 2% In 2023, Official Says (8 a.m.)

Ukraine’s gross domestic product may grow by 2% this year, if the nation makes more progress in fighting against Russia’s invasion, according to the country’s Economy Ministry. After Ukraine’s economy shrank by slightly more than 30% in 2022, a marginal rebound this year is still possible, but that will depend on military developments, Oleksandr Gryban, Ukraine’s deputy economy minister said.

Germany’s Uniper Says It Will Overcome Russia Gas Issues By 2024 (7:30 a.m.)

Germany utility Uniper SE said it will overcome the problems generated by Russian gas cuts by 2024 at the latest.

The company — which was nationalized by the German government last year after the energy crisis put it on the brink of collapse — said it will continue to face high gas replacement costs in the next years, according to an earnings report released Friday.

Putin’s War to Lop $190 Billion Off Economy (6 a.m.)

Russia’s economy is on a path to lose $190 billion in gross domestic product by 2026 relative to its prewar trajectory, according to Bloomberg Economics, roughly the equivalent of the entire annual GDP of countries like Hungary or Kuwait.

But even as Russia logged its third straight quarter of contraction to end 2022, its downturn for the whole year was a fraction of the almost 10% collapse that was predicted a month after the invasion. The central bank has put last year’s drop at 2.5% and projects growth may resume already this year.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.

Read More

Bloomberg News