(Bloomberg) — The United Nations secretary-general will have meetings with both President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin next week as the world body seeks urgent steps toward peace.
With negotiations stalled, a senior Russian military officer said Moscow aimed to seize control of eastern and southern Ukraine, including critical Black Sea ports. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his top priority was to avoid a war with nuclear-armed Russia.
Russia’s central bank said the economy faces a deep and prolonged contraction, higher inflation and reduced living standards as sanctions take effect.
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Guterres to Meet Zelenskiy in Ukraine (3:10 a.m.)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres plans to meet with Zelenskiy in Ukraine next week, the UN announced on Friday. He was already scheduled to go to Moscow to see Putin and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. On the trip, Guterres and staff members plan to discuss stepping up humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians affected by the war, the UN said.
Russia Says 1 Dead, 27 Missing in Moskva Sinking (10:37 p.m.)
Russia’s Defense Ministry said one sailor died and 27 people remain missing after last week’s sinking of the Moskva, the flagship of its Black Sea fleet. Russia says the ship sank in a storm while it was being towed back to port after fires broke out on board. Ukraine’s military says the ship was hit by Neptune missiles.
Co-Heads of Russia’s Biggest Digital Lender Quit (8:58 p.m.)
The co-heads of Russia’s biggest digital lender quit to start a fintech focused on emerging markets in Southeast Asia days after the bank’s founder, sanctioned billionaire Oleg Tinkov, slammed Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as an “insane war.”
Oliver Hughes and Pavel Fedorov, the former co-chief executive officers of TCS Group Holding Plc, are currently fundraising with venture capital firms and sovereign wealth funds, with the aim of closing the round by June, Fedorov said from Abu Dhabi.
Britain Weighs Sending Tanks to Poland (8:35 p.m.)
The U.K.’s ministry of defense said it is “exploring sending British Challenger 2 tanks” to Poland, to help “bridge the gap between Poland donating tanks to Ukraine and replacements arriving.”
UN’s Guterres Will See Putin, Lavrov Next Week (6:43 p.m.)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will “be received by” Putin in Moscow on April 26 and will have a working lunch with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, according to statements from the UN and the Kremlin.
Guterres earlier this week asked for separate meetings with Putin and Zelenskiy to discuss “urgent steps” for peace.
EU Chief Sought to Confront Putin With Truths, Official Says (5:55 p.m.)
The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, told Russian President Putin what an EU official called some brutal truths about the war in Ukraine during a call Friday. Michel, who chairs EU summits, believes Putin’s entourage doesn’t brief him fully about events, according to the official, who was granted anonymity to discuss confidential talks.
Michel told Putin that the Russian leader had been wrong about his expectations that the war would last 48 hours, divide EU members and fail to trigger heavy economic sanctions. According to the Kremlin’s readout, Putin reiterated Moscow’s public line, criticizing what it called “irresponsible statements of EU officials on the need to resolve the situation in Ukraine militarily” and the bloc’s “ignoring of numerous war crimes by Ukrainian forces.”
Estonia Wards Off Cyber-Attacks With Links to Russian Hackers (5:23 p.m.)
Estonia has fended off a wave of cyber-attacks believed to be launched by a pro-Kremlin hacker group targeting Ukraine supporters. Around 700 million denial-of-service attacks mainly from outside of Europe were launched against the websites of the Estonian president, foreign ministry, police and public services agencies on Thursday and Friday, the Estonian Computer Emergency Response Team said.
The impact has so far been minimal, the authority said. The website of a NATO cybersecurity center in Estonia, which this week hosted a global exercise with 2,000 participants from 32 countries, was among the websites that were temporarily down. The pro-Kremlin hacker group Killnet has claimed to be behind the attacks, a military spokeswoman said on Friday.
Halliburton Says It Must End Some Deals in Russia by May 15 (5:13 p.m.)
Halliburton Co. said that sanctions imposed by the U.S., the EU and other nations require the company to wind down certain contracts in Russia by May 15.
The company also said that the total net book value of its assets in Russia is about $340 million, and warned the invasion of Ukraine and related sanctions could cause the company to take a charge related to those assets.
EU Suggests Companies Should Keep Paying for Russia Gas in Euros (5:03 p.m.)
The European Union has suggested that companies could keep paying for gas in euros, as it published guidance that Moscow’s decree calling for payment in rubles would violate sanctions.
The commission confirmed a preliminary assessment that t
he decree would run against European sanctions imposed on Russia. It also said the decree doesn’t automatically preclude allowing companies to continue paying in euros, and the scope for exemptions is not yet clear. The commission advised companies to seek confirmation from Moscow that this was possible.
U.S. Leaves World Bank-IMF Meeting in Protest as Russia Speaks (4:46 p.m.)
Officials representing the U.S., Germany, Japan, and other nations walked out of a joint World Bank-International Monetary Fund gathering on Friday when Russia’s envoy started speaking, the second such action at a high-profile gathering in Washington this week, people familiar with the situation said.
The representatives were attending a meeting of the institution’s development committee, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the gathering is private. The committee is a ministerial-level forum of the World Bank and the IMF for intergovernmental consensus-building on development issues and has 25 members, usually ministers of finance or development, according to its website.
Propaganda War Begins Over Mariupol (2:18 p.m.)
As the investigation of alleged atrocities showed after Russian troops withdrew from northern towns such as Bucha, near Kyiv, the possession of sites is all important. With its dominance in Mariupol, Russia now has a freer hand to try and control any findings on what happened there.
Avoiding a larger repeat of the Bucha revelations — and indeed, accusing Mariupol’s Ukrainian defenders of crimes — is now a critical focus for Russian Putin’s messaging machine at home.
Russia Faces ‘Reverse Industrialization’ Amid Sanctions (2:11 p.m.)
Russia faces a deep and prolonged economic contraction along with higher inflation and reduced living standards, as sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies sap it of vital products and technology, according to economists at the central bank.
In its most detailed public statement on the outlook since the war started, the Bank of Russia warned that “the depth of the contraction may be quite significant and exit trajectory drawn out in time” because the supply shocks triggered by sanctions are unlikely to fade quickly. It said Russia would experience “reverse industrialization” as sanctions forced it to seek lower-tech replacements for western goods that were cut off.
Michel Urges Russia to Grant Safe Passage (1:34 p.m.)
European Council President Charles Michel held a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, reiterating the bloc’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty.
He “strongly urged for immediate humanitarian access and safe passage” from Mariupol and other besieged cities, Michel said in tweets, adding that he stressed the bloc’s condemnation and sanctioning of Russia’s aggression.
Germany Faces Recession If War in Ukraine Leads to Energy Ban (12:28 p.m.)
The German economy is at risk of shrinking nearly 2% this year if the war in Ukraine escalates and an embargo on Russian coal, oil and gas leads to restrictions on power providers and industry, according to the Bundesbank.
The estimate translates into a hit to output of about 5 percentage points compared to a March baseline, Germany’s central bank said in its monthly report.
General Says Kremlin Seeks Full Control of Southern Ukraine (11:04 a.m.)
A top general said the Kremlin aims to secure control of the entire south of Ukraine as well as the eastern Donbas region, Russia’s state-run Tass and RIA Novosti reported.
Major General Rustam Minnekayev, deputy commander of Russia’s Central Military District, spoke in Ekaterinburg. It’s unclear whether his statements reflect official Kremlin objectives.
Russia wants to create a land bridge to Crimea as well to influence key aspects of Ukraine’s economy, including major Black Sea ports, he said. Ultimately the Kremlin wants access to Moldova’s pro-Russian breakaway region of Transnistria, which lies to the northwest of Odesa.
Scholz Says ‘There Can Be No Nuclear War’ While Arming Ukraine (10:32 a.m.)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged to continue shipping weapons to Ukraine, yet insisted an open conflict with Russia that could lead to nuclear war must be avoided at all costs.
“We need to do everything to avoid a direct military confrontation between NATO and a heavily armed superpower such as Russia, a nuclear power,” Scholz told Der Spiegel magazine. “I will do everything to avoid an escalation that could lead to World War III — there can be no nuclear war.”
Scholz reinforced his rejection of an EU gas embargo, saying such a move wouldn’t end the war but would trigger a “dramatic economic crisis” in Europe, leading to the loss of millions of jobs.