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Putin Scraps Visit as Border ‘Attack’ Cited

(Bloomberg) — President Vladimir Putin ditched a planned visit to southern Russia as the Kremlin cited an “attack” on the border with Ukraine. The Federal Security Service said earlier its forces, together with the military, were repelling what it said was an attack by “armed Ukrainian nationalists” in a border area of ​​the Bryansk Region.

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A Russian missile strike hit a residential building in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia overnight, killing four people, police said. More than 10 apartments were destroyed.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned China not to arm Russia in its war on Ukraine and expressed disappointment that Beijing has rowed back on its condemnation of the Kremlin’s aggression.

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

Key Developments

  • Putin Cancels Domestic Trip Amid Reports of Border Attack

  • Scholz Warns China Not to Supply Russia With Weapons

  • China, Belarus Issue Vague Call for Bringing Peace to Ukraine

  • India Buying Russian Oil Below Western Cap, US Officials Say

(All times CET)

Putin’s Domestic Trip Canceled Amid Reports of Border Attack (12:10 pm)

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the president was receiving regular reports on the events from top security officials. Russian state news agencies offered conflicting accounts of the events in the border area near Ukraine on Thursday, with some reporting casualties among civilians blamed on unidentified attackers, who numbered in the dozens.

Ukraine dismissed the claims as a Russian “provocation” aimed at building public support for the invasion. Ukraine’s Northern Military Command warned Feb. 23 that intelligence reports showed sightings of troops without insignia and wearing uniforms similar to Ukrainian ones in Russia’s Bryansk region close to the border.

Poland’s Orlen Won’t Terminate Russian Oil Contract, CEO Says (12:05 pm)

PKN Orlen SA, Poland’s largest oil company, won’t terminate a supply contract with a Russian exporter after shipments via the Druzhba pipeline were halted last week, Chief Executive Officer Daniel Obajtek told PAP newswire.

State-controlled Orlen has argued that it needed the European Union sanctions to be able to terminate the Russian contract, which accounts for 10% of the country’s oil usage, without being exposed to contractual penalties. The company is yet to comment whether it expects the oil flows to resume. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said earlier this week that Orlen wouldn’t get any Russian oil in February and March.

Russia May Run Out of Money in 2024, Deripaska Warns (10:55 am)

Billionaire Oleg Deripaska said Russia could find its coffers empty already next year and needs investment from “friendly” countries to break the hold of sanctions on the economy. “There will be no money already next year,” Deripaska said at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum in Siberia. “We will need foreign investors.”

Funds are now running low and “that’s why they’ve already started to shake us down,” said Deripaska, founder of United Co, Rusal International PJSC, the biggest aluminum producer outside China. His comments are among the most outspoken by a prominent business leader as the government looks to turn the screws on large companies after ending last year with a record fiscal deficit and the budget is still deep in the red to start 2023.

Billionaire Deripaska Warns Russia May Run Out of Money in 2024

Zelenskiy’s Aide Says Ukraine Under No Pressure to Compromise: HVG (10:40 am)

Ukraine’s partners understand that Russia will remain a threat unless it loses the war and all those responsible for it are prosecuted, Zelenskiy’s aide Mykhaylo Podolyak told news website hvg.hu. There is “wide international consensus” behind Zelenskiy’s point of view. “We know that if we don’t win the war then Ukraine will cease to exist,” Podolyak said.

Moldova’s New Premier Sees No Risk of Military Escalation From Russia (10:10 am)

Moldova’s new Prime Minister Dorin Recean said Russia does not have the necessary resources to escalate its military conflict and invade the tiny nation, because of the distances involved and Ukrainian forces separating it from Moscow’s armed units.

The nation bordering Ukraine has enough capacity to handle a potential escalation from the breakaway region of Transnistria, which hosts Russian military units, but which is now “very much aligned with” the Moldovan government’s peace and security goals, Recean told Romanian state television late Wednesday .

Moldova has come under rising pressure from Russia over the past year, with missiles aimed at Ukraine crossing its airspace, domestic protests, and accusations that Moscow seeks to overthrow its pro-European government.

Scholz Cautions China Against Giving Arms to Russia (9.35 am)

Scholz told the lower house of parliament in Berlin that he is frustrated that China has dropped what he called “a clear condemnation of the Russian attack” agreed by leaders at a Group of 20 summit in Bali last year. “My message to Beijing is clear: Use your influence in Moscow to press for the withdrawal of Russian troops,” Scholz said. “And,” he added, “do not supply weapons to the aggressor Russia.”

The US has warned China not to help arm Russia and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said last week that any weapons support to Moscow would come with “real costs.”

Ukraine Repays One-Year War Bonds (9:30 am)

The Finance Ministry repaid war bonds to over 27 billion hryvnia ($730 million) issued on March 1, 2022, as Ukraine was raising money for its armed forces and civilians soon after Russia invaded. The government raised over 200 billion hryvnia in war bonds last year and around 25 billion hryvnia in 2023, the Ministry said on its website.

Dutch Minister Warns China of ‘Consequences’ If It Arms Russia (8:45 am)

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said China would face consequences if it were to consider shipping weapons to Russia for its war in Ukraine amid broader US warnings that Beijing may begin offering Moscow military aid.

“What I will convey to each of the colleagues, including my Chinese colleague here, is that the truth here is not somewhere in the middle, there is only one country responsible and that is Russia,” Hoekstra told reporters on the sidelines of the G -20 foreign ministers’ meeting in New Delhi. Helping Moscow militarily “will have consequences. If countries crossed that line, in my opinion.”

China Will Face Consequences If It Arms Russia, Hoekstra Warns

Russia Hits Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia with Missiles (8:10 am)

Russia launched missiles at the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, hitting a residential four-storey building in the city center at night, police said. Four people were killed and six wounded by a Russian S-300 missile, the prosecutor general’s office said, citing preliminary information. Five people, including a child, were still missing.

More than 10 apartments were destroyed, the police said. “The terrorist state wants to turn every day for our people into a day of terror,” Zelenskiy said in a statement on Telegram addressing the attack.

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