German and French electricity prices hit new records due to tight supplies of Russian gas, putting pressure on European consumers and industry. At the same time, international concern remains high over the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest nuclear power facility, which has been hit by shelling in recent weeks.
(See RSAN on Bloomberg Terminal for a Russian sanctions dashboard.)
on the ground
Russian forces opened fire overnight in four districts of Dnipropetrovsk, local officials said in a telegram, while Interfax-Ukraine said several explosions were heard in the Kiev region overnight. Russia shelled the central city of Krivi Rih with Tornado MLRS, according to Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the city’s military administration. Russia had deployed more than 400 fighter jets and 360 helicopters along Ukraine’s border, according to Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat, who said in an online briefing that Russia had carried out more than 200 airstrikes on Wednesday, according to the number of airstrike alarms across Ukraine. .
(All times CET)
Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant cut off from Ukraine’s grid (5:30 pm)
Two operating units of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were disconnected from Ukraine’s grid due to a fire near them, according to its state-owned operator Energoatom, the first such incident in the plant’s operational history.
Fires at an ash dump from the Zaporizhia thermal power plant cut the last transmission line connecting the Russian-captured nuclear plant to Ukraine’s power system twice. Earlier, three other transmission lines were damaged by Russian shelling.
While the plant is still operated by Ukrainian technicians, startup operations are underway to connect one of its power units to the grid, Energoatom said. There are no concerns about the functioning of automation and security systems at the plant, it said.
Russians face travel barriers as EU mulls sanctions (3:30 pm)
Russians traveling to the EU will have to pay more to get short-term visas and face more bureaucracy, according to a deal aimed at easing member states’ disagreements over how far sanctions should go.
The Czech government, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, will present a proposal to completely suspend visa facilitation agreements with Russia and Belarus at a meeting of foreign ministers in Prague next week, according to Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky.
France warns on sanctions (3:15 pm)
French Transport Minister Clement Beaune urged companies to ensure they do not violate sanctions against Russia, with newspaper Le Monde alleging that Total Energy SE may be indirectly supplying jet fuel to the Kremlin’s air force.
Read more: France warns on sanctions after Russian bombers allegations
The French oil and gas giant denied it was in any way supporting Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. Le Monde published an article on Wednesday, saying that the Russian company, which is 49% owned by Total Energy, is producing gas condensate that could eventually be processed into kerosene for Moscow’s bombers.
Putin orders army to add 1,37,000 troops, RIA says (3pm)
Russian men are required to serve a year in the armed forces, while the Kremlin has avoided mass mobilization to bolster its forces in Ukraine and has not officially declared war, labeling the conflict a “special military operation.”
However, the high toll of the conflict suggests that the government may seek to draft more soldiers. Colin Kahl, the US secretary of defense for policy, said this month that 80,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in Ukraine in less than six months.
Russia signs South Korea deal for Egypt nuclear project (3pm)
Russia’s state-owned Rosatom has signed a $2.2 billion deal with South Korea. Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. will supply buildings, equipment and materials for Egypt’s El Daba project, according to a statement from South Korea’s energy ministry. Rosatom last month began construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, 300 kilometers (186 miles) northwest of Cairo.
Read more: Korea signs $2.2 billion deal with Russia for Egypt nuclear plant
According to Yonhap news agency, South Korean Vice Trade Minister Park Il-joon told reporters on Thursday that Seoul had consulted closely with the US about the deal. Rosatom, a major global supplier to the nuclear industry, is one of the few large Russian state companies not subject to sanctions imposed by the US and its allies over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Russia ‘could shut off gas to Europe for a year’ (3pm)
According to Capital Economics, Russia can cut all gas exports to the EU “for more than a year without adverse consequences for the economy”.
As long as oil prices and export levels remain at current high levels, Russia’s current account surplus will be enough to sustain it despite cutoffs in its main gas market, according to Liam Peach, one of the consulting economists. Rising gas prices in Europe mean Russia could earn $20 billion a quarter from gas exports, albeit at a lower volume, he added.
How Europe Became So Dependent on Putin for Its Gas: QuickTech
“Whether or not Russia shuts off the taps entirely will be a political decision and the length of any cuts will depend on the size of offsetting oil revenues,” Peach wrote. European leaders have accused Russia of using its vast energy resources as a weapon, a charge the Kremlin denies. But ongoing problems with the main pipeline have reduced deliveries and pushed up prices.
Citigroup to wind down Russia consumer unit (2pm)
Citigroup Inc. will close its consumer and commercial banking operations in Russia after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine complicated the sale of the business.
The company will incur $170 million in costs associated with the wind-down, mostly linked to restructuring costs and vendor termination fees, according to a statement Thursday. Citigroup will continue to try to sell certain consumer-banking portfolios in the region.
Read more: Citigroup to cut Russia consumer unit after sales stall
Russia says missile that hit train was military (12:10 pm)
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in Russian that the train that hit Chaplino was a military target. An Iskander missile attack on a military train at Chaplyno station destroyed more than 200 Ukrainian reserve troops and 10 pieces of military equipment, Interfax quoted the ministry. No reference was made to the citizen.
Russia has previously said that it has attacked military targets, killing civilians. Among them, more than 20 people, including children, died in a July strike in the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia.
Frontex details Ukrainian entries into the EU since February (12 p.m.).
The European Border and Coast Guard Agency, known as Frontex, said in a tweet that a total of 9.5 million people from Ukraine and Moldova had entered the EU since February.
UK raises concerns over Ukraine nuclear plant (10:30 am)
The UK Ministry of Defense has expressed concern over the Russian-held Zaporizhia nuclear plant in its latest defense intelligence. briefingWarnings of operational risks from “interruption of the reactor’s cooling system, damage to its back-up power supply, or errors by pressurized workers”.
The plant, seized by Russian forces in early March, was the subject of talks between Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev and International Atomic Energy Agency Secretary-General Rafael Mariano Grossi in Istanbul on Wednesday. The IAEA is preparing a visit to the plant.
Read this exclusive story about how nuclear inspectors will be given wider powers than initially sought to investigate attacks against the plant.
Estonia steps up pressure on Russian visas (9:50 am)
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kalas focused on the issue of Russian tourists traveling to the European Union, highlighting the “burden and seriousness of the situation” in a tweet.
Lithuania’s president, fellow Baltic leader Gitanas Nausėda, said Wednesday he supports a proposal to ban visas for Russian tourists and said the war in Ukraine is widely supported by the Russian public. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is among those who reject such a ban. If the EU fails to achieve a unified response to sanctions, a regional solution could be sought in which the Baltic states and other countries are geographically closer to Russia, Nouseda said.
Japanese firms stay on Russia LNG project (9:45 am)
Japanese business houses will stay on a major Russian LNG export project, highlighting how the Asian nation is prioritizing its energy security despite rising tensions over the war in Ukraine.
Both Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co. said Thursday they have decided to stay on the Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas project after Moscow moved to tighten control of the facility under a new Russian operator. The companies will formally seek permission from the Russian government to acquire a stake in the operator, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said in a separate press briefing.
Death toll rises in train attack (8:15 am)
The death toll since the attack on Chaplyne has risen to 25, including two children, Kirill Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential office, said in a telegram. 31 people were injured.
Overnight, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Russian missile attack on a Ukrainian train station “fits the pattern of atrocities”. European Council President Charles Michel expressed his grief over the attack, tweeting that “war crimes will not go unpunished”.
Russia only hit military targets, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Kremlin forces deliberately delayed their attacks to limit civilian casualties.
Kremlin Blocks Annexation Votes, Vedomosti Says (8 p.m.)
The Kremlin is likely to delay a vote on Ukrainian regions to join Russia, aiming to wait for further progress on the battlefield, Vedomosti newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.
Moscow had hoped to hold a “referendum” as soon as September 11, when regular regional elections are scheduled in Russia. They covered Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia regions. But since its forces do not control all of those areas, especially Donetsk, which Putin has publicly announced as the target of his offensive, the Kremlin has decided to wait, Vedomosti said.
Although the votes are seen as illegitimate and will not be recognized internationally, the Kremlin views them as a way to symbolically cement its control and signal its exit from the region in any peace talks. Ukraine and its allies call this unacceptable.