Russia will quit international space station over sanctions

The European Union is set to propose a ban on Russian oil to come into effect by the end of the year, with restrictions introduced gradually until then, officials say.

Moscow continues to seek to protect its economy from the shock of sanctions imposed since the war began. It is looking to move away from the US dollar, Russia’s foreign minister said, and the central bank on Friday slashed interest rates.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Moscow wants to “empty” the Donbas region in the east, even as Ukrainian forces continue to slow Russian advances there.

Key Developments

  • EU to Propose Phasing Out Russian Oil by End of Year
  • Biden Seeks to Lure Putin’s Top Scientists to US.
  • Putin’s Gas-for-Rubles Gambit Hits EU Fault Lines as Stakes Rise
  • China Calls Russia Relationship a ‘New Model’ for the World
  • How a Sanctioned Russian Company Gained Access to Sudan’s Gold

All times CET:

EU to Propose Banning Russian Oil by Year-End (2:03 pm)

The EU is set to propose that Russian oil be banned by the end of the year, with restrictions on imports introduced gradually until then, according to people familiar with the matter.

The EU will also push for more banks from Russia and Belarus, including Sberbank PJSC, to be cut off from SWIFT, the international payment system, said the people.

A decision on the new sanctions, the EU’s sixth round of measures against Russia, could be made as soon as the coming week at a meeting of the bloc’s ambassadors.

Macron, Zelenskiy Speak For An Hour (1:52 pm)

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone with his Ukrainian counterpart on Saturday, according to the French leader’s office.

Macron, re-elected on Sunday to a second five-year term, who renewed his commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to the readout. He said that France will strengthen its support for Ukraine in military equipment and humanitarian aid.

Russia Says It Will Quit Space Station (12:17 pm)

The head of Russia’s space program said Moscow has decided to pull out of the International Space Station, state media reported, a move it’s blamed on sanctions imposed over the invasion of Ukraine.

“We’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice,” Roscosmos general director Dmitry Rogozin said on state television, TASS and RIA Novosti reported.

Rogozin had threatened earlier this month to end Russia’s ISS mission unless the US, Europe and Canada lifted restrictions against enterprises involved in the Russian space industry.

Spring Planting Moves Forward in Ukraine (10:52 am)

Ukraine’s farmers continue to plant spring grains and oilseeds despite Russian airstrikes on agricultural infrastructure, including grain elevators, local authorities said. Empty grain storage facilities in the Dnepropetrovsk were shelled early Saturday.

Planting is ongoing in all but one region despite fighting in the east and south, with sowing of early crops already completed in six out of 24 regions apart from annexed Crimea, Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said.

AirBaltic to Lease a Ukrainian Airlines Plane (10:47 am)

Latvian flag carrier AirBaltic agreed to lease one Ukraine International Airlines plane and provide short-term work to its crew. The Boeing 737 will perform flights within the AirBaltic network starting Sunday.

“When UIA temporarily cannot operate flights to and from Ukraine, such an act of international aviation cooperation is very symbolic and important,” Sergey Fomenko, a vice-president at the Ukrainian airline, said in an emailed statement.

Ukraine Looks to Stabilize Forex Market (10:20 am)

Ukraine’s central bank on Friday announced several restrictive measures in a bid to stabilize the domestic forex market and ease pressure on its international reserves. Among the moves, it cut allowed limits for banks on trading foreign currency.

In mid-April the central bank eased its restrictions allowing individuals to buy limited amounts of cash dollars and euros that had been prohibited since the war started.

Evacuation Buses Struck in Luhansk Region, Ukraine Says (10:15 am)

Two buses being used to evacuate civilians from the village of Popasna in Ukraine’s eastern region of Luhansk came under fire from Russian troops, said Serhii Haidai, head of the region’s government. Connection with the buses’ drivers has been lost and there’s been no word on casualties so far.

Finnish President Sees NATO Decision Mid-May (10:13 am)

Finland and Sweden will have made up their minds on whether to join NATO before an official heads of state meeting in mid-May, Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said, according to newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.

Niinisto is due to travel to Stockholm May 17-18 to meet Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, as well as policy makers and dignitaries.

Holzmann Says EU Commission to Review Gas Payments (9:16 am)

The European Commission will review whether efforts by utilities to meet Russian demands on natural gas payments are legal, ECB Governing Council member Robert Holzmann told Austrian public broadcaster ORF.

Holzman, Austria’s National Bank Governor and one of the nation’s officials responsible for upholding sanctions, said that while he’d heard that gas importers in Europe may be opening ruble accounts to make payments, it is ultimately up to the European Union’s executive to make a decision on the legality.

Russia Says Air Defenses Thwarted an Incursion (9:15 am)

Russian air defenses prevented an aircraft from entering the Bryansk region north of the Ukrainian border, said Alexander Bogomaz, governor of Bryansk.

Shelling from the incident hit parts of an oil terminal as well as the village of Zhecha, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) north of the border. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine.

Earlier this week a diesel storage facility in Bryansk was damaged by a fire. The cause of the blaze was unknown.

Ukraine Slowing Russian Attacks in the East, Think Tank Says (8:30 am)

Ukrainian forces are slowing Russian advances in eastern Ukraine, where the battle for control of Donbas continues, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

Russian troops secured only minor advances west of Severodonetsk and failed to advance on their front around Izyum over the past day, the US-based think tank said. Counterattacks by Ukraine around Kharkiv may force Russia to redeploy some units intended for the Izyum axis.

Russia continued to redeploy troops northward from Mariupol on Friday to support efforts to capture the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Zelenskiy Decries ‘Brutal Bombardments’ in Donbas (8:00 am)

Russia wants to essentially obliterate the Donbas region and its residents, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Friday in his nightly video address.

“The constant brutal bombardments, the constant Russian strikes on infrastructure and residential areas, show that Russia wants to empty this territory of all people,” he said. “Therefore, the defense of our country, the defense of our people, is literally a fight for life.”

Zelenskiy called Mariupol, the Black Sea city besieged by Moscow’s troops for over a month, a “Russian concentration camp among the ruins.”

Credit Suisse Sued Over Alleged Dealings With Russian Oligarchs (5 am)

A group of individuals and entities filed a lawsuit against Credit Suisse Group AG and some of its officers, alleging that the bank violated federal securities laws given its business dealings with Russian oligarchs, according to law firm Pomerantz LLP.

The class action, filed in a district court in New York, is on behalf of those who purchased Credit Suisse securities between March 19, 2021 and March 25, 2022, Pomerantz said in a statement.

The complaint alleges that during the period, Credit Suisse and its officers in question made materially false and misleading statements regarding the bank’s business, operations, and compliance policies, according to the statement.

Russia to Move Away from US Dollar, Lavrov Tells Xinhua (3am)

Russia is seeking to move away from the US dollar and rely less on imports while strengthening its independence in key technologies in response to sanctions over the war with Ukraine, Lavrov told China’s Xinhua news agency.

Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are taking place daily via video, as delegations of the two countries work toward a draft of possible agreements, Lavrov said, adding that Chinese diplomats have been briefed on the discussions.

In a separate interview Friday with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya, Lavrov said that a majority of Russia’s key gas customers have agreed to its terms on payments, according to Tass.

US Plans Visa Waivers for Russian Science Stars (11:49 pm)

The Biden administration has a plan to rob Vladimir Putin of some of his best innovators by waiving visa requirements for highly educated Russians, according to people familiar with the strategy.

One proposal is to drop the rule that Russian professionals applying for an employment-based visa must have a current employer. It would apply to Russian citizens who have earned master’s or doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics in the US or abroad.

Pentagon’s Spokesman Denounces Putin for ‘Depravity’ (8:50 pm)

US Defense Department spokesman John Kirby denounced Putin for the “depravity” of Russia’s tactics in Ukraine and the “bizarre” claims he has made about his reasons for waging war there.

“There’s not even an attempt by Russia to be precise in their targeting,” Kirby told reporters, pausing at times in delivering what he acknowledged was an unusually emotional broadside. “It’s just brutality of the coldest and most depraved sort.”

The Pentagon spokesman also told reporters that Ukrainians are being trained on using US-supplied weapons at three locations outside their country, including Germany, and that the “bulk of the training” was being done by members of the Florida National Guard who were withdrawn from Ukraine shortly before the invasion.

Russia Clarifies Gas-For-Rubles Rules Amid Sanctions Worries (8:41 pm)

Russia clarified the rules on how European customers are required to pay for natural gas supplies in rubles, easing the terms slightly as concerns grow the mechanism could force companies to violate European Union sanctions if they want to keep the fuel flowing.

Putin last month demanded buyers switch to paying in rubles, threatening to cut off supplies to countries that do not. But the EU said the process Russia set up for making the payments, which requires customers to open both foreign-currency and ruble accounts with state-controlled Gazprombank, was in breach of sanctions on the central bank.

Ukraine Economy Minister Calls Fuel Shortage Temporary (6:35 pm)

Ukraine’s government will be able to restore fuel supplies within a week after Russian strikes on an oil refinery and storage facilities, Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said.

Her comments came amid growing concern among Ukrainians that buying fuel will become even more difficult, at least in cities such as the capital Kyiv, where demand is rising as people return to their homes after Russian troops pulled back. Long lines of cars at filling stations have become a common occurrence.

Separately, Yuriy Vitrenko, chief executive officer of Ukraine’s state-run energy company Naftogaz, told Bloomberg Television that he expects Russian gas flows to Europe to continue.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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