Economic and political impact of Ukraine-Russia crisis

October 1, 2023 | 10:08am
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Economic and political impact of Ukraine-Russia crisis
October 1, 2023

US President Joe Biden welcomes a deal to avert a government shutdown but calls for Congress to swiftly approve aid to Ukraine after it was left out of the agreement.

"We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted," Biden says in a statement.

"I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment," he adds, referring to Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy. — AFP

September 28, 2023

The Ukrainian military on Thursday says that Russia had launched a "massive" drone attack overnight and that it had destroyed 31 out of the 39 aircraft.

Russian unmanned aerial vehicles were intercepted over Black Sea coastal regions and further inland, says Nataliya Gumenyuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian southern military command.

Russia "does not stop the pressure and searching for new tactics: namely, with the use of mass attacks", Gumenyuk says on the messaging platform Telegram. — AFP

July 28, 2023

Japan dials up sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, announcing an expanded list on Friday that included an export ban on electric vehicles.

Russia was hit with a wave of sanctions after it sent forces into Ukraine in February last year, but calls have grown from Kyiv and its allies for tougher action against Moscow.

Tokyo has already frozen assets of Russian individuals and groups, and banned the export of goods to Russia's military-related organisations, as well as the export of construction and engineering services. — AFP

July 26, 2023

Biden administration announces additional security assistance for Ukraine for its critical security and defense needs.

The United States Department of Defense says that the commitment to security assistance is valued at up to $400 million.

This includes additional air defense munitions, artillery and other ammunition, armored vehicles, anti-armor weapons, and other equipment to help Ukraine counter Russia’s ongoing war of aggression.


July 18, 2023

The Kremlin on Tuesday issues a veiled warning over the future of grain exports from Ukraine following Moscow's exit from a landmark deal allowing passage for cargo ships from three Ukraine ports.  

Kyiv had said it was prepared to continue grain exports despite the Russian withdrawal, which sparked outrage from the United Nations and the West. 

"Without appropriate security guarantees, certain risks arise here. If (a future agreement) is formalised without Russia, then these risks should be taken into account," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says. — AFP 

July 2, 2023

Russia's war in Ukraine has had a "corrosive" effect on Russian President Vladimir Putin, CIA Director William Burns said Saturday, with discontent over the conflict creating a "once-in-a generation opportunity" for the spy agency.

Speaking at the Ditchley Foundation in the UK, Burns called Putin's invasion of Ukraine "the most immediate and acute geopolitical challenge to international order today."

The address came one week after the head of Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin led his forces in a brief mutiny against Russia's military command. — AFP

June 21, 2023

The EU on Wednesday agreed to add 3.5 billion euros ($3.8 billion) to a fund used to pay for weapons for Ukraine, as the bloc looks to keep up support for Kyiv. 

Sweden, which holds the EU's rotating presidency, said the green light had been given to bolster the European Peace Facility at a meeting in Brussels. 

The EU's 27 countries have already burnt through some 5.5 billion euros of the joint fund  -- set up in 2021 to support partner countries around the globe -- to help arm Ukraine.

That includes 3.6 billion euros to reimburse EU member states for weapons they supply to Ukraine and 2 billion euros dedicated to a programme to send ammunition to Kyiv. 

EU leaders already topped up the fund, which is meant to run to 2027, by 2 billion euros late last year and gave their agreement in principle for adding the latest 3.5 billion. — AFP

June 20, 2023

The EU will on Tuesday detail the economic security risks facing the bloc and new tools Brussels can use as it seeks to muscle up against rivals Russia and China.

The bloc wants to learn lessons from the aftermath of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine last year when Brussels realised too late how over-reliant the EU had become on Russian energy and had to scramble to find new resources.

It has already sought to bring more production nearer to or into Europe after the devastating supply chain shocks during the coronavirus pandemic. — AFP

May 26, 2023

Japan announces fresh sanctions against Russia on Friday over its invasion of Ukraine, targeting its military as well as the construction and engineering sectors.

Russia was hit with a wave of sanctions after it sent forces into Ukraine in February last year, but calls have grown from Kyiv and its allies for tougher action against Moscow.

The latest embargo by Tokyo follows the Group of Seven summit Japan hosted last week in Hiroshima, where the bloc's leaders agreed to "starve Russia of G7 technology, industrial equipment and services that support its war machine". — AFP

May 19, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is poised for a first post-invasion trip to the Asia-Pacific, meeting allies at a G7 summit in Hiroshima as the bloc hit Russia's "war machine" with further sanctions.

The previously unannounced visit was revealed by officials Friday -- a rare long-haul foray for the war-time president and an opportunity to huddle with leaders of seven wealthy democracies that bankroll his country's stoic defence.

The visit comes at a potentially pivotal time in the 15-month-old conflict, as Ukranian troops push back against Russian gains at Bakhmut and ready a long-awaited spring offensive. — AFP

May 19, 2023

The United States and its G7 allies roll out new sanctions against Russia's "war machine" Friday, targeting Moscow's lucrative diamond trade and more entities linked to the invasion of Ukraine.

Leaders from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies are meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, with Russia's $4-5 billion annual trade in diamonds in the crosshairs.

Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine 15 months ago has prompted waves of sanctions that have helped plunge his country into recession and drained the Kremlin's war chest.

The G7 is now looking to tighten the screws further, strengthening existing sanctions, closing loopholes and subjecting more Russian firms and their international partners to punitive restrictions.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to address the summit over the weekend by videolink, with hosts Japan tamping down speculation he could make a last-minute, in-person appearance. — AFP

May 16, 2023

Russia's oil exports rose in April to the highest level since its invasion of Ukraine, boosting revenues by $1.7 billion despite Western sanctions, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

The Paris-based organisation said Russian exports increased by 50,000 barrels per day to 8.3 million bpd last month, estimating that the country did not fully deliver on a threat to cut production sharply.

"Indeed, Russia may be boosting volumes to make up for lost revenue," the IEA said in its monthly oil market report.

The country's oil export revenues rose by $1.7 billion to $15 billion in April. — AFP

May 3, 2023

A senior US envoy calls in Brazil for robust support for Ukraine against "bully" Russia, renewing concern over remarks by Brazil's leader who partly blamed the West for the war.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, met Brazil's foreign minister and the wife of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, although not the leftist leader himself.

Speaking to international relations students at the University of Brasilia, the US envoy said that Ukraine's struggle was about defending democracy.

"They are fighting against a bully that thought that it was OK to invade a country, take their territory and kill their people and rape their women," she says.

"What's the next country — what other bully will think that they can do the same thing? 

"We can't let Russia win in Ukraine, because Ukraine is fighting for the rights of people all over the world," she says. — AFP

May 2, 2023

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday discussed long-term defense cooperation, the two leaders said.

"For as long as it takes. That's how long we're going to provide Ukraine with support," Trudeau tweeted, following a phone call with Zelensky.

"You have my word," he told the Ukraine leader. "Canada will continue to be there with military, humanitarian, and financial aid."

Zelensky, also in a tweet, said they had discussed "the program of long-term defense cooperation".

Last month Canada sent eight Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to help the war-torn country fend off Russia's invasion. — AFP

April 26, 2023

The Russian incarnation of KFC opens its first restaurant in Moscow after the American fast food chain exited the country over the Kremlin's offensive in Ukraine. 

The new owners of the US giant's former restaurants across Russia are resuscitating Rostic's, a brand that appeared in the tumultuous early years of post-Soviet Russia. 

At the launch in central Moscow, Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of the KFC chain, was absent from the logo, but the new colour scheme still featured its signature red and white. — AFP

April 13, 2023

The source behind a leak of highly sensitive US government documents is a young gun enthusiast who first shared them on social media, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The breach -- which has sparked a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice — includes classified information about Ukraine's battle against invading Russian forces, as well as secret assessments of US allies.

Two members of a group on online social platform Discord told The Post that hundreds of pages of material had been posted there by a man who told them he worked on a US military base and brought the documents home with him.

The man, who went by the nickname "OG", regularly posted documents on the group for months, the group members told The Post, speaking on condition of anonymity. — AFP

April 4, 2023

French President Emmanuel Macron will visit China from Wednesday, hoping to dissuade Beijing from supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine but without alienating a crucial trade and geopolitical player.

"China is the only country in the world capable of having an immediate and radical impact on the conflict, in one direction or the other," an official from Macron's office told reporters Friday on condition of anonymity.

Macron will look to stand firm towards President Xi Jinping on Ukraine while taking "another path" from the directly confrontational tone often heard from Washington, the official added.

The French leader's aims include preserving and rebalancing China's trade ties with Europe as well as safeguarding French interests in the Asia-Pacific region — where Paris sees itself as a player thanks to its overseas territories and military deployments.

That Macron's visit will have an impact beyond France and affect the entire 27-nation European Union is clear from that presence on the trip of European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen. — AFP

March 22, 2023

The International Monetary Fund says it has reached agreement with Ukrainian authorities on a loan package worth around $15.6 billion, to support the conflict-hit country's economic recovery.

The European country has been locked in a deadly war with Russian troops since they invaded the country in February last year.

“In addition to the horrific humanitarian toll, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to have a devastating impact on the economy," IMF Ukraine mission chief Gavin Gray says, according to the statement. — AFP

March 21, 2023

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is en route to Ukraine for a surprise visit after pressure to travel there as this year's host of the Group of Seven summit.

National broadcaster NHK, along with outlets including the Kyodo news agency cited an unnamed government source as saying Kishida would arrive in Ukraine on Tuesday after talks in India. — AFP

March 12, 2023

Saudi Aramco reports that profits jumped 46 percent last year, highlighting how a surge in oil prices after Russia invaded Ukraine spurred growth in the world's biggest crude exporter. 

The mostly state-owned energy giant, the world's second most valuable company behind Apple, says in a filing with the Saudi stock market that net income for 2022 was $161.07 billion, up from $110 billion in 2021.

The increase was "predominantly due to the impact of higher crude oil prices and volumes sold, and stronger refining margins," it says. 

Aramco's results are consistent with record profits for 2022 reported by the five oil majors –- Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP and TotalEnergies -- which surpassed $150 billion and would have been closer to $200 billion without costly withdrawals from Russia. — AFP

March 9, 2023

A year after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the oil market has become more fragmented and uncertain, a dynamic expected to boost crude prices over the long term.

Condemnation of Russia by Western governments has essentially severed Europe from Russian supplies, leaving it more reliant on the Middle East and the United States.

That shift means cheaper Russian energy imports for China and India, while countries that refuse to buy Russian crude must pay a premium to import from other suppliers.

The oil market "is radically different in some ways than it was before the invasion of Ukraine," said Jim Burkhard, head of research for oil markets, energy and mobility at S&P Global Commodity Insights.

A "true global market" with open competition "doesn't exist anymore," said Burkhard, who calls the current state of the market "partitioned." — AFP

March 5, 2023

Estonians begin voting to elect a new parliament in a poll that could bolster far-right nationalists, who have campaigned on opposing further arms deliveries to Ukraine. 

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas's centre-right Reform Party is set to win, according to opinion polls, but will likely have to form a coalition to stay in power.

The party is expected to garner 28.7 percent of votes, according to a February survey by Kantar Emor that put the far-right EKRE in second place with 18.2.

The February poll placed the Centre Party on 13.4 percent, Estonia 200 on 13.4 percent, the Social Democrats on 10.1 and Isamaa (Fatherland) on 8.5. — AFP

February 23, 2023

Group of Seven finance ministers were due to discuss on Thursday possible fresh sanctions against Moscow and more support for Ukraine, a day ahead of the first anniversary of the Russian invasion.

The measures imposed have so far succeeded in practically halving Russia's oil revenues, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said ahead of the talks in Bengaluru, India.

They have "totally disorganised value chains in Russia, notably in industries as strategic as aeronautics and automobiles", Le Maire told reporters.

He said the meeting involving US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen should also discuss a fresh $16 billion International Monetary Fund package for Ukraine over four years. — AFP

January 27, 2023

H&M reports a big drop in profits in 2022, with an unexpected loss in the fourth quarter as the Swedish fashion retailer exited Russia and faced soaring production costs.

H&M was among a slew of foreign companies that shipped out of Russia last year after Moscow invaded Ukraine and Western nations imposed sweeping sanctions on the country.

"Our decision to wind down the business in Russia, which was an important and profitable market, has had a significant negative impact on our results," chief executive Helena Helmersson says in a results statement.

The company was also hit by a historically strong dollar and increases in the costs of freight and raw materials.

"Rather than passing on the full cost to our customers, we chose to strengthen our market position further," Helmersson says. — AFP

January 27, 2023

H&M reports on Friday a big drop in profits in 2022, with an unexpected loss in the fourth quarter as the Swedish fashion retailer exited Russia and faced soaring production costs.

H&M was among a slew of foreign companies that shipped out of Russia last year after Moscow invaded Ukraine and Western nations imposed sweeping sanctions on the country.

"Our decision to wind down the business in Russia, which was an important and profitable market, has had a significant negative impact on our results," chief executive Helena Helmersson says in a results statement. — AFP

January 23, 2023

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron seek to underline the importance of their nations' postwar alliance, despite strains created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

With pressure growing on Berlin to supply Ukraine with highly regarded German Leopard tanks, Scholz stopped short of any pledge, instead insisting all allies must work together.

But Macron, whose country is already sending light tanks to Ukraine, made clear "nothing is excluded" regarding the possible delivery of French-made Leclerc heavy tanks.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock however later made clear that Germany would not block Poland from sending Leopard tanks from Polish stocks. — AFP

January 16, 2023

The Kremlin said on Monday that British tanks promised to Ukraine will "burn" on the battlefield.  

"The special military operation will continue. These tanks are burning and will burn," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, using Moscow's term for the Ukraine offensive.

He added that plans by some Western countries — like the UK and Poland — to send tanks to Ukraine will "not change the situation on the ground. It will only prolong this story." 

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised last week to provide British Challenger 2 tanks to Kyiv. — AFP

December 28, 2022

Russia bans oil sales to countries and companies that comply with a price cap agreed by Western nations, briefly helping to lift crude prices.

"The supply of Russian oil and oil products to foreign legal entities and individuals is prohibited if the contracts for these supplies directly or indirectly" are using a price cap, a presidential decree says.

The decree will be in effect from February 1 until July 1. — AFP

December 24, 2022

Ukraine estimates its grain harvest fell by around 40% year on year due to the Russian invasion, a representative for the country's industry tells AFP.

"We expect a grain harvest of 65-66 million tonnes" by the end of the year, the head of the Ukrainian Grain Association Sergiy Ivashchenko says, following a record harvest of 106 million tons last year.

"The main reason is the war," which immediately led to fuel shortages and hindered sowing, Ivashchenko says.  

December 23, 2022

A Russian deputy prime minister says Moscow could cut oil production by up to 7% in early 2023 following an oil price cap agreed by Western countries.

"At the start of next year, we could make a reduction of 500,000-700,000 barrels per day. For us, that's around 5-7 percent," Alexander Novak, who is in charge of Moscow's energy policy, says according to Russian news agencies.

He says Russia will not supply oil to countries that are enforcing a price cap -- a part of punitive measures on Moscow following its offensive in Ukraine. — AFP

December 20, 2022

The IMF says it had approved an economic monitoring program for Ukraine which could help Kyiv secure funding from donors, with the war-torn country needing more than $40 billion this year.

The monitoring program "is designed to help Ukraine maintain stability and catalyze donor financing amid very large balance of payment needs and exceptionally high risks," following the Russian invasion, the International Monetary Fund said in a statement.

Ukrainian authorities are committed to economic and financial reforms, concerning in particular tax collection, the domestic debt market, transparency and the independence of the central bank, the IMF said.

They have four months to prove their progress as per the Program Monitoring with Board involvement (PMB) scheme, the statement said.

The framework of measures monitored by the IMF aims to pave the way for financing, which can "come from many sources," said Gavin Gray, the IMF's head of mission for Ukraine. -- AFP

December 13, 2022

The world must "rethink nuclear safety" after Russia's seizure of Europe's largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, Ukrainian energy minister German Galushchenko told AFP ahead of a Tuesday conference in Paris.

The international gathering hosted by France aims to raise funds to repair Ukraine's damaged infrastructure as well as highlight the country's support for Kyiv in its fight against Russia. 

With at least 40 percent of Ukraine's energy infrastructure demolished in the past two months, Galushchenko will join the conference to ask for materials and funds to get Ukrainians through the winter. 

Speaking to AFP on Monday, he said Russia's war in Ukraine "completely changes our understanding of nuclear security", pointing to the capture of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant as a turning point. — AFP

December 6, 2022

The energy crisis is fuelling an acceleration of the rollout of renewable power, raising hopes for efforts to meet ambitious targets against global warming, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

Total renewables capacity worldwide is set to almost double in the next five years and overtake coal as the largest source of electricity generation by 2025, the IEA said in a report.

The 2,400-gigawatt growth between 2022-2027 is almost a third higher than last year's IEA forecast, according to the Paris-based agency, which advises developed nations.

This would help "keep alive the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 (degrees Celsius)", the IEA said, referring to the preferrable target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement to prevent a climate catastrophe.

The invasion of Ukraine by major oil and gas exporter Russia has triggered an energy crunch and prompted countries in Europe, which were highly dependent on Russian deliveries, to diversify their supplies. -- AFP

December 4, 2022

On the roads leading to the front in Ukraine's war-torn east, every morning begins with a familiar scene -- soldiers filling up trucks, sipping steaming coffee and catching up between bites of fresh hot dogs.

Wrapped in buns, toasted and served with an array of condiments, the spirit-raising snack is served at petrol stations, kiosks, and bakeries across the country. 

Near the front, some petrol stations offer them free to men in uniform, often resulting in long queues and sold-out stock. 

"It's like a tradition to come here for a short pit stop to drink a cup of good coffee and eat a nice hot dog," said a 57-year-old soldier fighting in the Donbas region, who uses the name Casper. 

"My wife says this is not food," he grinned. "I used to eat home-cooked food... now you see I eat hot dogs, but she doesn't know about it." -- AFP

December 3, 2022

Ukraine's presidency says a $60 price cap on Russian oil agreed by the EU, G7 and Australia "will destroy" Russia's economy.

"We always achieve our goal and Russia's economy will be destroyed, and it will pay and be responsible for all its crimes," Ukraine's presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak says on Telegram. But a cap of "$30 would have destroyed it more quickly", he adds. — AFP

December 2, 2022

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin offers a "brutally honest" assessment of Europe's capabilities in the wake of Russia's war on Ukraine, stating bluntly that "we're not strong enough" to stand up to Moscow alone.

Visiting Australia, the leader of the pending NATO member says Vladimir Putin's invasion and occupation of neighboring Ukraine had exposed both European weaknesses and strategic blunders in dealing with Russia. 

"I must be very honest, brutally honest with you, Europe isn't strong enough right now. We would be in trouble without the United States," she tells Sydney's Lowy Institute think tank. — AFP

November 23, 2022

Singapore warns on Wednesday that economic growth could slow to a trickle next year owing to weakness in key export markets including the United States, Europe and China, as rising interest rates and the Ukraine war cause headwinds.

The city-state's economic performance is often seen as a useful barometer of the global environment because of its reliance on trade with the rest of the world.

The trade ministry says it expected growth to come in at 3.5% this year -- inside its forecasts for 3-4% -- but then drop sharply in 2023 to just 0.5-2.5% as weaker global demand offsets a strong recovery in air travel after the pandemic. — AFP

November 18, 2022

The UN nuclear watchdog's board of governors passed a resolution on Thursday expressing "grave concern" that Russia had not heeded calls to cease actions against nuclear facilities in war-torn Ukraine.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors urged Moscow  "to abandon its baseless claims of ownership of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant".

The IAEA statement also called on Moscow to "immediately withdraw its military and other personnel from the plant, and to cease all actions against, and at, the plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine".

The resolution, brought by Canada and Finland, was approved by 24 of the agency's 35 board members, two diplomats told AFP. Russia and China voted against. — AFP

November 15, 2022

The Group of 20, including Russia, will deplore the economic impact of the Ukraine conflict, according to a draft communique Tuesday, with most members also condemning the war.

The draft statement, seen by AFP during a summit in Bali, Indonesia, will also call for the extension of a deal with Russia expiring on Saturday that allows the export of Ukrainian grain.

"This year, we have also witnessed the war in Ukraine further adversely impact the global economy," the draft reads.

Countries "reiterated our national positions" and "most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine", it adds.

"It is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy." — AFP

November 14, 2022

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen heaps pressure on Russia ahead of the G20 summit in Indonesia, saying the best way to end world economic tumult was to stop the Ukraine war.

"Ending Russia's war is a moral imperative and the single best thing we can do for the global economy," Yellen tells reporters as she met French counterpart Bruno Le Maire in Nusa Dua, on the resort island of Bali. 

High fuel and food prices are among the top issues set to be discussed at the summit and few G20 countries have escaped the economic pain.

Yellen will hope to build diplomatic pressure for an end to the war by blaming Russia. — AFP

November 11, 2022

The United States says it is revoking Russia's market economy status in anti-dumping proceedings, a move that could open doors to tougher trade actions amid tense relations between Moscow and Washington.

The move comes after Western nations imposed unprecedented sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February, while authorities in Moscow scrambled to shore up its economy and the ruble.

"This decision gives the United States the ability to apply the full force of the (anti-dumping) law to address the market distortions caused by increasing interference from the Russian government in their economy," the Commerce Department says in a statement.

Dumping takes place when a foreign producer sells products in the US at a price below that in its home market, or lower than its cost of production.

The department's analysis found that "extensive government involvement in the economy" has led to distorted prices and costs in Russia, it says. — AFP

October 30, 2022

Russia on Saturday suspended its participation in a landmark agreement that allowed vital grain exports from Ukraine, blaming drone attacks on Russian ships in Crimea.

Russia made the announcement after its army accused Kyiv earlier Saturday of a "massive" drone attack on its Black Sea fleet, which Ukraine labelled a "false pretext" and the UN urged the deal's preservation.

US President Joe Biden called the move "purely outrageous" and said it would only serve to "increase starvation".

The July deal to unlock grain exports signed between Russia and Ukraine and brokered by Turkey and the UN, is critical to easing the global food crisis caused by the conflict.

The agreement already allowed more than nine million tons of Ukrainian grain to be exported and was due to be renewed on November 19. — AFP

October 26, 2022

German carmaker Mercedes-Benz is expected to sell its Russian assets to a local investor, the Russian ministry of industry and trade said Wednesday, becoming the latest automaker to exit since Moscow sent troops to Ukraine.

"Mercedes-Benz intends to sell its shares in Russian subsidiaries to a local investor," Avtodom, the ministry said in a Telegram statement. — AFP

October 17, 2022

A senior Ukrainian official calls for Russia to be excluded from the G20, which is to hold a summit in a month, following drone strikes on Kyiv.

"Those who give orders to attack critical infrastructure, to freeze civilians and organize total mobilisation to cover the frontline with corpses, cannot sit at the same table with leaders of (the) G20 for sure ... (Russia) must be expelled from all platforms," senior presidential aide Mykhaylo Podolyak says in a statement on social media. — AFP

October 17, 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the resulting economic fallout have thrown four million children into poverty across eastern Europe and Central Asia, the UN children's agency said Monday.

"Children are bearing the heaviest burden of the economic crisis caused by the war in Ukraine," UNICEF said.

The conflict "and rising inflation have driven an additional four million children across eastern Europe and Central Asia into poverty, a 19 percent increase since 2021", it said.

UNICEF drew its conclusions from a study of data from 22 countries.

Russian and Ukrainian children have been most affected since Moscow's attack on its neighbor in February.  -- AFP

October 11, 2022

Billionaire Silicon Valley investor Yuri Milner says he had renounced his Russian citizenship.

"My family and I left Russia for good in 2014, after the Russian annexation of Crimea. And this summer, we officially completed the process of renouncing our Russian citizenship," the Moscow-born Milner tweets.

Milner, founder of the internet investment firm DST Global and one of the original investors in Facebook, has been an Israeli citizen since 1999, DST Global said in a fact sheet on its website.

The venture capitalist and physicist has no assets in Russia and 97 percent of his wealth was created elsewhere, it said.

"Yuri has never met Vladimir Putin, either individually or in a group," it says. — AFP

October 5, 2022

The EU has agreed a new round of sanctions against Russia after Moscow's annexation of four regions in Ukraine, the Czech presidency of the bloc said Wednesday.

The latest package — the eighth since Russia's invasion in February — is now going through a final approval procedure which, if no objections emerge, will be published and come into effect on Thursday, the Czech Republic's EU ambassador said on Twitter.

"We have just reached a political agreement on new sanctions against Russia — a strong EU response to Putin's illegal annexation of territories," ambassador Edita Hrda said.

The details of the sanctions package were not given, but EU ambassadors discussing potential measures over the past few days have focused on seeking to impose a price cap on Russian oil transported around the world. — AFP

September 27, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday his country expected a record-high grain harvest in 2022 as Moscow blames Western sanctions over Ukraine for preventing its exports, especially to poor countries. 

"The preliminary estimate (for 2022) already stands at 150 million tonnes, including around 100 million tonnes of wheat. This will be a record in the history of Russia," Putin said in televised meeting on agriculture. 

According to Putin, "138.7 million tonnes of grain have already been harvested". 

Russia has for several weeks accused Western countries of hindering its exports of agricultural products, insisting the situation creates a risk for global food security. 

"The delivery of our grain and our fertiliser abroad unfortunately remains... difficult," Putin said. 

"Sanctions against Russia risk leading to a further deterioration of the situation, to a global food crisis," he added. -- AFP

September 26, 2022

The United States has warned Russia privately of "catastrophic" consequences if it uses nuclear weapons as part of the Ukraine invasion, top US officials say.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made a thinly veiled threat to use nuclear arms in a speech Wednesday in which he announced the mobilization of reservists following Ukrainian gains on the ground.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in an interview broadcast Sunday, confirmed reports that the United States has sent private warnings to Russia to steer clear of nuclear war.

"We have been very clear with the Russians publicly, and, as well as privately, to stop the loose talk about nuclear weapons," Blinken tells the CBS News program "60 Minutes" in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

"It's very important that Moscow hear from us and know from us that the consequences would be horrific. And we've made that very clear," Blinken says. — AFP

September 22, 2022

British Prime Minister Liz Truss vows before the United Nations to keep up military aid to war-ravaged Ukraine until it triumphs against Russia.

Truss became the latest Western leader at the UN General Assembly in New York to rail against Russian President Vladimir Putin, who hours earlier mobilized reservists in a clear sign he is in no rush to end the conflict.

Putin's move only highlights the "catastrophic failure" of Russia's invasion of its neighbor, and reinforced the resolve of Western allies to back Kyiv, she says.

"We will not rest until Ukraine prevails," Truss tells the UN General Assembly on her first trip since taking office, noting that "new UK weapons are arriving in Ukraine as I speak."

"At this crucial moment in the conflict, I pledge that we will sustain or increase our military support to Ukraine for as long as it takes." — AFP

September 21, 2022

Global leaders call for urgent efforts to address global food insecurity amid fears of disastrous harvests next year, as Ukraine's president blames Russia for the crisis and sought the world's "toughest reaction" against Moscow.

On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, ministers from the European Union, United States, African Union and Spain met on food shortages which are seen as a key factor in conflicts and instability.

Appearing by video link was Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky, who directly accused Moscow of willingly triggering a food crisis.

"Any state that provokes famine, that tries to make access to food a privilege, that tries to make the protection of nations from famine dependent on... the mercy of some dictator -- such a state must get the toughest reaction from the world," Zelensky says.

He blamed Russian blockades and other "immoral actions" for slashing exports from Ukraine, a major agricultural producer.

"Russia must bear responsibility for this," he says. — AFP

September 19, 2022

US President Joe Biden says he warned his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping of damage to the investment climate if Beijing violated sanctions imposed by a coalition of countries against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

In an excerpt of an interview with CBS due to air Sunday, Biden said he told Xi that violating the sanctions would be a "gigantic mistake," but said that so far there is no indication that China has actively supported the Russian war effort with weapons sales.

Biden said he delivered the warning in a phone call shortly after Xi met with Putin at the Beijing Winter Olympics on February 4 and expressed support for the Kremlin leader.

"I called President Xi -- not to threaten at all, just to say to him... that if you think Americans and others will continue to invest in China, based on your violating the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia, I think you're making a gigantic mistake," Biden said. — AFP

"Thus far, there's no indication they put forward weapons or other things that Russia has wanted," Biden said. 

September 13, 2022

Ukraine has been a very effective proving ground for the use of contemporary information technology in war, from satellite dishes to smartphone apps, Eric Schmidt, the former Google chief executive, says.

Schmidt, now a US government consultant on artificial intelligence, tells reporters after a 36-hour visit to the country that the civilian tech sector has been crucial to Kyiv's defense.

The proof came the day after Russian troops invaded on February 24. 

After a long stall, Ukraine's legislature came together to agree on a crucial step to protect all the government's data from Russian hackers and strikes.

"In one day, they had a meeting of the parliament and changed that law... they moved all their data from government servers in Kyiv to the cloud," Schmidt says. — AFP

September 9, 2022

The national air carrier of ex-Soviet Moldova announced Friday that it will resume flights to Russia after services were halted for several months due to Moscow's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

"The airline Air Moldova will resume the operation of flights to Moscow starting October 1, after their interruption from February 2022," the airline said in a statement.

The decision comes following "countless requests from citizens of the Republic of Moldova" living in Russia and "passengers' requests to use tickets purchased during the pandemic", it added.

Before the Russian invasion, Air Moldova ran routes to Russia's capital Moscow, its second city Saint Petersburg and the city of Krasnodar in the south. 

The company did not specify whether flights would be resuming to the two other airports. -- AFP

September 9, 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that Russia's war in Ukraine presented Europe with the opportunity to finally end its dependence on Russian energy.

Blinken made the comments after a surprise visit to Ukraine while en route to Brussels where he said he would be discussing energy security at a meeting with NATO representatives.

"There's also a tremendous opportunity … finally once and for all, to move away from this dependence on Russia, to get rid of the chokehold that Russia has on Europe, using energy as a weapon, and to diversify supply, diversify routes," Blinken says. — AFP

September 9, 2022

EU energy ministers will attempt to forge a united response to the energy shock from Russia's war on Ukraine that has sent prices for electricity and heating skyrocketing.

Moscow's invasion has seen the price of natural gas hit record levels, throwing the EU economy into deep uncertainty with all eyes on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will cut off the energy flow entirely.

Before the war, 40 percent of the EU's gas imports came from Russia, with most of the supply going to Germany, the bloc's economic powerhouse that is now scrambling to come up with new ways to heat homes and power factories.

The European Commission, the EU's executive, will ask the ministers meeting in Brussels to consider a series of highly complex proposals designed to ease the burden. — AFP

September 9, 2022

The United States places sanctions on an Iranian company that helped to ship drones to Russia for use in Ukraine, and warns non-Iranian firms against becoming involved in the trade.

The US Treasury says it had placed Tehran-based Safiran Airport Services on its sanctions blacklist, two months after the White House divulged intelligence that Russia was seeking Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for its war on Ukraine.

The Treasury says Safiran has coordinated Russian military flights between Iran and Russia, including those that carried the UAVs, personnel and related equipment. — AFP

September 6, 2022

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday blamed Europe's energy crisis on sanctions it imposed on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine -- a line taken by the Kremlin itself.

Erdogan has maintained good working relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin while trying to stay neutral in the conflict and supplying Ukraine with Turkish weapons and combat drones.

He told reporters before departing for a three-nation swing through the Balkans that European nations were "harvesting what they sowed" by imposing economic restrictions on Russia.

"Europe's attitude towards Mr Putin, its sanctions, brought Mr Putin — willingly or not — to the point of saying: 'If you do this, I will do that,'" Erdogan said.

"He is using all his means and weapons. Natural gas, unfortunately, is one of them."

Erdogan's comments echo those expressed by the Kremlin this week. — AFP

September 6, 2022

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed Europe's energy crisis on sanctions it imposed on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine -- a line taken by the Kremlin itself.

Erdogan has maintained good working relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin while trying to stay neutral in the conflict and supplying Ukraine with Turkish weapons and combat drones.

He tells reporters before departing for a three-nation swing through the Balkans that European nations were "harvesting what they sowed" by imposing economic restrictions on Russia.

"Europe's attitude towards Mr Putin, its sanctions, brought Mr Putin -- willingly or not -- to the point of saying: 'If you do this, I will do that,'" Erdogan says.

"He is using all his means and weapons. Natural gas, unfortunately, is one of them." – AFP

September 6, 2022

Russia has raked in a whopping 158 billion euros ($158 billion) in energy exports in the six months following its invasion of Ukraine, with the EU accounting for more than half, a think tank says.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air called for more effective sanctions against Moscow after the invasion sent oil, gas and coal prices soaring.

"Surging fossil fuel prices mean that Russia's current revenue is far above previous years' level, despite the reductions in this year's export volumes," says the Finland-based organisation.

Natural gas prices have recently soared to record levels in Europe as Russia chokes off supplies. Crude oil prices also jumped following the invasion, although they have since pulled back.

"Fossil fuel exports have contributed approximately 43 billion euros to Russia's federal budget since the start of the invasion, helping fund war crimes in Ukraine," says CREA. — AFP

September 5, 2022

The German government unveils a new multi-billion-euro plan to help households cope with soaring prices, and says it was eyeing windfall profits from energy companies to help fund the relief.

German businesses and consumers are feeling the pain from sky-high energy prices, as Europe's biggest economy seeks to extricate itself from reliance on Russian supplies in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Rapid measures to prepare for the coming cold season will ensure that Germany would "get through this winter", Chancellor Olaf Scholz says at the unveiling of the 65-billion-euro ($65-billion) package. 

The latest agreement, which brings total relief to almost 100 billion euros since the start of the Ukraine war, was hammered out overnight into Sunday by Germany's three-way ruling coalition of Scholz's Social Democrats, the Greens, and the liberal FDP. — AFP

August 28, 2022

An economic crisis spurred by the Ukraine war is casting darkness upon Egypt's streets, as the government dims lights to free up energy for export and bolster hard currency reserves.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine had an immediate impact on Egypt, the world's biggest wheat importer which has relied on the ex-Soviet states for over 80 percent of its grain.

Egypt, which turned to the International Monetary Fund for a loan after the war erupted, is pumping more natural gas abroad to increase its foreign currency reserves -- a move that has come in for criticism. -- AFP

August 26, 2022

European natural gas prices climbed Thursday towards a record peak on heightened fears over Russian supplies, while equities rose on the eve of a key speech from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

Europe's benchmark Dutch TTF gas contract advanced to 322 euros per megawatt hour, not far from the record high 345 euros struck in March shortly after key gas producer Russia invaded Ukraine.

Prices have spiked in recent days as a three-day halt in Russian deliveries to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline approaches amid fears that Moscow will not turn the taps back on afterwards.

At the same time, one-year forward contracts for electricity prices in both France and Germany surged on Thursday to record pinnacles on worries over a winter energy crunch. — AFP

August 23, 2022

Porsches, Bentleys and other luxury cars with Russian licence plates are filling up the parking garage at Helsinki's airport as Finland becomes an important transit country for Russian tourists flying to Europe.

The European Union shut its airspace to Russian planes after Moscow invaded Ukraine, forcing anyone who wants to travel to Europe to drive across the border or take a circuitous route using non-Western airlines.

Since Russia's Covid-19 restrictions expired in July, there has been a boom in Russian travellers and a rising backlash in Europe against allowing in Russian tourists while the war continues.

A quick stroll through the carpark at the Helsinki airport revealed dozens if not hundreds of high-end cars with Russian licence plates, including a new Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan and Porsche 911 Turbo S.

"It boggles me," Finnish traveller Jussi Hirvonen said after leaving the garage. "I wish they weren't here before Ukraine's situation is solved." 

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told AFP that the Nordic nation has become a "transit country" for Russian tourists.

"Helsinki airport is seeing a lot of Russian tourism at the moment." -- AFP

August 16, 2022

Finland will limit Russian tourist visas to 10 percent of current volumes as of September 1 due to rising discontent over Russian tourism amid the war in Ukraine, the government said Tuesday.

"Tourist visas will not stop completely, but their number will be significantly reduced," Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters in Helsinki.

Tourist visas from neighbouring Russia will be limited by restricting the allotted opening hours for tourism visa applications, as an outright ban based on nationality is not possible, Haavisto said.

"This means that other types of visas -- visits to relatives, family contacts, work, study -- will be given preference and more time," the minister explained.

Currently, Finland processes around 1,000 Russian visa applications a day, Haavisto told public broadcaster Yle separately. -- AFP

August 10, 2022

The Philippines has scrapped an order for 16 Russian military helicopters, an official confirmed Wednesday, following reports former president Rodrigo Duterte decided to cancel it due to US sanctions on Moscow. 

Manila -- a longtime Washington ally -- agreed in November to pay 12.7 billion pesos ($228 million) for the Mi-17 helicopters, as it seeks to modernise its military hardware.

The United States and its allies imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Moscow in the wake of its assault on Ukraine in February.

They are aimed at cutting off Russia from the global financial system and choking off funds available to Moscow to finance the war.

The Philippine defence department was "formalizing the termination" of the contract, spokesman Arsenio Andolong says. — AFP

August 3, 2022

The situation is "volatile" at Europe's largest nuclear power plant, which fell under Russian control in March during Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, the head of the international nuclear agency says.

Located on the Dnipro river in southeastern Ukraine, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has been under Russian control since the early weeks of Moscow's invasion, though it is still being operated by Ukrainian staff.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been trying to send a mission there.

"The situation is really a volatile one," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi tells a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York, where a conference of the 191 signatories of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is being held. — AFP

August 1, 2022

The European Union on Monday welcomed the departure of a grain shipment from Ukraine as a "first step" towards mitigating the food crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of its neighbour.

But EU spokesman Peter Stano said Brussels still expects the "implementation of the whole deal and resumption of Ukrainian exports to the customers around the world." — AFP

August 1, 2022

The OPEC+ group of oil exporters are set to hammer out a new strategy at their meeting Wednesday, with all eyes on how they will react to soaring crude prices.

The 13 core members of OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, and the 10 further states in OPEC+ -- chief among them Russia -- find themselves at a crossroads.

After the drastic output cuts they agreed to in spring 2020 in reaction to the plunge in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the member states of the alliance are once again producing at pre-virus levels -- at least on paper.

In normal times they would perhaps have stopped at that but faced with runaway prices and pressure from Washington, this scenario is viewed as unlikely. — AFP

July 27, 2022

Despite damaging Western sanctions imposed on Moscow in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, Russia's economy appears to be weathering the storm better than expected as it benefits from high energy prices, the IMF says.

The sanctions were meant to sever Russia from the global financial system and choke off funds available to Moscow to finance the war.

But the International Monetary Fund's latest World Economic Outlook upgraded Russia's GDP estimate for this year by a remarkable 2.5 percentage points, although its economy is still expected to contract by six percent.

"That's still a fairly sizable recession in Russia in 2022," IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas tells AFP in an interview. — AFP

July 21, 2022

Swiss-Swedish engineering giant ABB says it will quit Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine and the related international sanctions against Moscow. 

Russia accounts for only one or two percent of ABB's overall annual turnover and the decision to pull out will have an estimated financial impact in the second quarter of around $57 million, the group calculated. 

"ABB has decided to exit the Russian market due to the ongoing war in Ukraine and impact of related international sanctions," the group says in a statement. — AFP

July 20, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the West must remove restrictions on exports of Russian grain.

"We will facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain, but we are proceeding from the fact that all restrictions related to air deliveries for the export of Russian grain will be lifted," Putin tells reporters in Tehran after talks with the presidents of Iran and Turkey.

Russia's military intervention in Ukraine has hampered shipments from one of the world's biggest exporters of wheat and other grain, sparking fears of global food shortages. — AFP

July 19, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin vows to overcome the "colossal" high-tech problems his country is facing due to the onset of unprecedented Western sanctions over Ukraine.

The Kremlin chief says the West had deployed sanctions to cut off Russia from high-tech products in order to contain the country's development.

He says that Russia would overcome "any difficulties" if it makes high tech a major focus of its development. — AFP

July 18, 2022

Russia's blockade of Ukrainian ports threatens grain supplies to tens of thousands of people vulnerable to starvation and must end, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned Monday.

"It's an issue of life and death for many human beings. And the question is that Russia has to de-block and allow Ukrainian grain to be exported," Borrell told reporters.

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators will meet UN and Turkish diplomats in Istanbul on Wednesday to discuss a possible agreement to end the months-long blockade of Ukraine's ports.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February and has captured some Black Sea ports and bombarded others, including the key grain exporting outlet in the city of Odessa.

Ukraine has also mined the approaches to some of its ports to protect them from Russian assault.

But Ukraine's farms are a major source of grain for the world market, in particular in the Middle East and Africa, where food supplies are critically tight.

"The most worrisome thing is the lack of food in many countries around the world, and there is not food because Russia is blocking the export of Ukrainian grain," Borrell said. -- AFP

July 13, 2022

The world's largest toymaker, Denmark's Lego, says it would stop all its Russian operations, ending the employment of its Moscow staff and a partnership with a company operating 81 stores in Russia.

A Lego spokeswoman says the company had decided to "indefinitely cease commercial operations in Russia given the continued extensive disruption in the operating environment". 

This included terminating the employment of most of the Moscow-based team and a partnership with Inventive Retail Group which "operated 81 stores on the brand's behalf", the spokeswoman adds. — AFP 

July 13, 2022

South Korea's central bank delivers a historic half-point interest rate hike to tame fast-growing inflation, particularly soaring energy costs linked to the war in Ukraine.

The Bank of Korea (BOK) raised its benchmark policy rate by 50 basis points to 2.25 percent, it said in a tweet, the largest increase since its current framework was implemented in 1999.

The decision comes as Asia's fourth-biggest economy recovers from a Covid-induced slowdown while struggling with rising fuel and raw material prices. — AFP

July 13, 2022

Russian and Ukrainian officials are to hold talks in Istanbul on Wednesday over stalled grain deliveries that have pushed global food prices skywards, while Kyiv said it had destroyed a Russian arms depot as the war rages on.

Ukraine is one of the world's biggest exporters of wheat and other grain, but shipments have been blocked by both Russian warships and mines that Kyiv has laid across the Black Sea.

Turkey, which has spearheaded efforts to resume the essential grain trade, will host the talks, which will also be attended by a UN delegation. — AFP

July 9, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin warns of possible "catastrophic consequences" of Western sanctions on the global energy market. 

"Sanctions restrictions on Russia will bring far bigger losses for the countries that impose them," Putin tells a televised government meeting -- an argument he often uses. 

"Continuing to use the politics of sanctions can lead to even more serious, without exaggeration -- catastrophic -- consequences on the world energy market." — AFP

July 8, 2022

The Group of 20 will meet in Bali Friday with the United States pushing the world's top economies to pressure Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, as Washington and Moscow's top diplomats prepare for their first showdown since the war began.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also seek to reopen dialogue with Beijing in talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, the first in months after tensions strained over issues including Taiwan.

But Blinken will shun a direct meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, instead pointing the finger at Moscow for triggering global food and energy crises and calling on G20 members to back a UN initiative to re-open sea lanes blocked by the war. — AFP

July 8, 2022

The Group of 20 will meet in Bali Friday with the United States pushing the world's top economies to pressure Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, as Washington and Moscow's top diplomats prepare for their first showdown since the war began.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also seek to reopen dialogue with Beijing in talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, the first in months after tensions strained over issues including Taiwan.

But Blinken will shun a direct meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, instead pointing the finger at Moscow for triggering global food and energy crises and calling on G20 members to back a UN initiative to re-open sea lanes blocked by the war. — AFP

July 5, 2022

Ukraine tells an international conference Monday that it will cost an estimated $750 billion to rebuild the war-shattered country, a task President Volodymyr Zelensky says was the shared duty of the democratic world.

Speaking at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland, the Ukrainian president and a long line of government ministers describe the massive destruction and towering needs since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24.

"Reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local task of a single nation," Zelesnky says via video message.

"It is a common task of the whole democratic world," he says, insisting that "reconstruction of Ukraine is the biggest contribution to the support of global peace". — AFP

July 1, 2022

The United States blocked a US-based company worth more than $1 billion linked to Russian oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, saying the ally of President Vladimir Putin used it to funnel and invest shadowy funds.

The Treasury Department says that Kerimov, a billionaire active in Russian politics, secretly managed the Delaware-based Heritage Trust which put its money into a number of large public companies. 

Heritage Trust, set up in 2017, brought money into the United States through shell companies and under-the-radar foundations established in Europe, Treasury Department officials say. — AFP

June 28, 2022

US President Joe Biden and his peers from the Group of Seven rich nations are seeking to tighten the economic screws on Moscow, even as soaring energy and food prices drive up global inflation.

"We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military and diplomatic support and stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes," the G7 say in a statement on the summit's second day. — AFP

June 27, 2022

The war in Ukraine could allow illegal drug production to flourish, while the opium market's future hinges on the fate of crisis-wracked Afghanistan, the United Nations warns.

Previous experience from the Middle East and Southeast Asia suggests conflict zones can act as a "magnet" for making synthetic drugs, which can be manufactured anywhere, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says in its annual report.

The UNODC said the number of dismantled amphetamine laboratories in Ukraine rose from 17 in 2019 to 79 in 2020, the highest number of seized laboratories reported in any country in 2020. — AFP

June 26, 2022

Consumers should start cutting back on their energy use immediately, the bosses of France's three big energy companies urged Sunday, warning of social tensions next winter unless reserves are replenished.

"The effort has to be immediate, collective and massive," Patrick Pouyanne of TotalEnergies, Jean-Bernard Levy of EDF and Catherine MacGregor of ENGIE wrote in an op-ed piece in the JDD weekly.

The call came after the French government said this week it aimed to have its natural gas reserves at full capacity by autumn as European countries brace for supply cuts from major supplier Russia with the Ukraine war dragging on, and would build a floating terminal to receive more gas supplies by ship.

The three energy bosses said in the article that European energy production was further hampered by hydro-electric production suffering from drought. — AFP

June 23, 2022

The European Union's major institutions have banned lobbyists working for Russian interests from their premises in the latest measure against Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine, officials said on Thursday. 

The 705-member European Parliament made the move already in early June and the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, as well as the Council, which represents member states, have followed suit.

"We have been instructed that we should no longer receive people who represent a Russian interest," an EU official said on Thursday shortly before the start of an EU summit on aid to Ukraine. 

The decision concerns all Russian interest representatives who are registered to have access to the premises of the institutions to meet with commissioners, their staff and elected MEPs. 

The decision is part of the implementation of the sixth set of sanctions adopted by the European Union, which bans all business and public relations consultancy services.  — AFP

June 23, 2022

Leaders at the upcoming G7 summit in Germany will announce new measures aimed at pressuring Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, a senior US official says.

"We will roll out a concrete set of proposals to increase pressure on Russia," the official says. US President Joe Biden flies Saturday to join the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan at the summit in Bavaria. — AFP

June 21, 2022

China's imports of oil from Russia rose 55 percent in May, customs data showed on Monday, with the West sanctioning fuel imports from Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

The world's second-biggest economy imported around 8.42 million tonnes of oil from Russia last month, surpassing its shipments from Saudi Arabia, as Beijing refuses to condemn Moscow's war.

Last week, President Xi Jinping assured Vladimir Putin of China's support on Russian "sovereignty and security," and Beijing has also been accused of providing diplomatic cover for Moscow by blasting Western sanctions and arms sales to Kyiv.

The customs data comes four months into the war, with other buyers avoiding Russian energy imports.

The number was also a spike from the 5.44 million tonnes China imported in May 2021, according to figures from the Customs Administration, and helped Russia overtake Saudi Arabia as China's main source of oil.

Earlier this month, Chinese state media said Beijing was willing to "intensify strategic coordination between the two countries". — AFP

June 15, 2022

Washington says  it will continue to allow payments to Russia for energy products through December 5, to give European countries time to prepare for a near-total oil embargo in retaliation for Moscow's war on Ukraine.

The exemption from devastating US financial sanctions, which effectively severed Russia from most of the global financial system, was due to expire June 24.

The renewed carve-out will "align our regulations with the implementation timing of the European Union's ban on crude oil" from Russia, a Treasury spokesperson tells AFP. 

"This license will provide for an orderly transition to help our broad coalition of partners reduce their dependence on Russian energy as we work to restrict the Kremlin's revenue sources." — AFP

June 9, 2022

Ukraine says that Moscow's invasion was responsible for a global grain crisis, dismissing Russian claims that Western sanctions on Moscow had sent prices soaring.

"We have been actively communicating, the president and myself, about the true cause of this crisis: it is Russian aggression, not sanctions," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says during a briefing with Ukrainian journalists released on social media. — AFP

June 7, 2022

A Fiji court on Tuesday handed a Russian superyacht to US authorities and said it can be removed from the Pacific nation, ending a contested eight-week stay.

The $300 million Amadea, linked by the United States to billionaire Russian politician Suleiman Kerimov, a target of sanctions, was impounded on arrival in Fiji in April at Washington's request.

Supreme Court President and Chief Justice Kamal Kumar on Tuesday dismissed an application lodged last week by the vessel's registered owners, Millemarin Investments, to delay execution of the court order.

Director of Public Prosecutions Christopher Pryde said the judge's ruling meant a US Justice Department warrant to seize the boat had been accepted.

"The decision acknowledges Fiji's commitment to respecting international mutual assistance requests and Fiji's international obligations," Pryde said in a statement. — AFP

June 7, 2022

Argentina's president vows to pursue a special tax on company profits boosted by the war in Ukraine, a phenomenon he described as an "immorality" given the inflationary pressure on poor households.

While millions were feeling the pain of rising food prices, the war also "benefits the few... who are gaining a lot," Alberto Fernandez says in an address.

"This is an immorality, an indecency, which as the State we cannot allow," he said, repeating his plan for a once-off special tax in 2022 on some companies with taxable profits of more than a billion pesos (some $8 million.) — Agence France Presse

May 31, 2022

Russia's Gazprom says Tuesday it had halted gas supplies to the Netherlands after Dutch energy firm GasTerra refused to pay in rubles following the Russian military offensive in Ukraine.

"Gazprom has completely stopped gas supplies to GasTerra due to non-payment in rubles," the Russian gas giant says in a statement. — AFP

May 30, 2022

Russian subscribers have lost access to streaming giant Netflix in the latest pullout of a Western company over the conflict in Ukraine.

The Netflix site and apps were no longer available from Friday and a Netflix spokesperson confirmed that subscribers no longer had access.

"This is the fulfilment of the withdrawal from the Russian market" announced in March, a Netflix spokesperson told AFP on Monday. — AFP

May 29, 2022

With a looming global food crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, Putin says Moscow is "ready" to look for ways to ship grain stuck in Ukrainian ports, but demands the West lift sanctions.

"Russia is ready to help find options for the unhindered export of grain, including the export of Ukrainian grain from the Black Sea ports," Putin tells Macron and Scholz, the Kremlin says.

Putin says the difficulties in supplying grain to world markets were the result of "erroneous economic and financial policies of Western countries". — AFP

May 23, 2022

Austrian ex-foreign minister Karin Kneissl, who once danced with Russian President Vladimir Putin at her wedding, has quit a board position at Russian oil giant Rosneft, the company said Monday.

Kneissl has submitted a letter of resignation effective from Friday, Rosneft said in a statement.

The 57-year-old made headlines when she invited Putin to her wedding in 2018 and was photographed dancing with him during the event. 

She left the Austrian government the following year and joined the board of Rosneft as an independent director in June last year. 

Her resignation comes after Rosneft announced Friday that German ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was leaving the board after five years, a day after Germany stripped him of official perks over ties with Russia.

On Friday, Kneissl told AFP that she intended to stay on for her one-year mandate but had told Rosneft in March that she would not seek a further term on the board.

Kneissl's personal website includes several interviews to RT, a Russian state-funded news organisation, the latest two days before Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine on February 24. — AFP 

May 6, 2022

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban blasts European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen for "attacking" EU unity with a plan to ban Russian oil, saying it crosses a red line and has been sent back.

"The European Commission president, intentionally or unintentionally, has attacked the European unity that had been worked out," Orban says on state radio. 

"From the first moment we made clear that there will be a red line... they have crossed this red line." — AFP

May 5, 2022

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says he is seeking talks to get Ukraine and Russian agriculture and fertilizer production back into world markets to help end a "three-dimensional" crisis the Ukraine invasion is causing for developing nations.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine and economic sanctions on Moscow have disrupted supplies of wheat and other food supplies from both countries and pushed up fuel and diesel prices to impact inflation, especially in developing nations.

Russia and Ukraine are top exporters of wheat, maize, rapeseed and sunflower oil while Russia is the world's top supplier of key fertilizers and gas.

"There is really no true solution to the problem of global food security without bringing back the agriculture production of Ukraine and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus into world market despite the war," Guterres said in a visit with Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari in the capital Abuja. — AFP

May 4, 2022

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday says the EU would impose a gradual Russian oil ban, as Brussels unveiled new sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine.

"We will make sure that we phase out Russian oil in an orderly fashion," the EU chief tells a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

"This is why we will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year," she adds. — AFP

May 4, 2022

EU officials late Tuesday handed over a draft plan to member states on a new package of sanctions to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but some members are jockeying to opt out of an oil embargo.

Several EU officials and European diplomats in Brussels told AFP there were divisions over the plan.

It was only adopted late at night due to the stance of one of the member states. — AFP

May 3, 2022

A fresh European Union sanctions package over Russia's invasion of Ukraine is set to include "more Russian banks" being pushed out of the global SWIFT network, the bloc's top diplomat Josep Borrell said Monday.

"In the banking sector, there will be more Russian banks that will leave SWIFT," the global banking communications system, Borrell said during a visit to Panama. — AFP

May 2, 2022

The EU will propose a phased out ban on Russian oil imports as part of a fresh round of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, sources said on Sunday.

The European Commission, which draws up sanctions for the bloc, is currently preparing a text that could be put to the 27 member states as early as Wednesday, diplomats said.

Several diplomats said the ban on oil was made possible after a U-turn by Germany, which had said the measure would do too much harm to its economy. — AFP

April 27, 2022

The world's largest drone maker DJI has said it will suspend all business operations in Russia and Ukraine, in a rare public move by a Chinese firm since Moscow's invasion of its neighbour.

"DJI is internally reassessing compliance requirements in various jurisdictions," the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Pending the current review, DJI will temporarily suspend all business activities in Russia and Ukraine." — AFP

April 26, 2022

Asian nations, like the rest of the world, are being battered by countervailing forces such as the war in Ukraine that are raising prices while holding back growth, the IMF said Monday.

"The region faces a stagflationary outlook, with growth being lower than previously expected, and inflation being higher," said Anne-Marie Gulde-Wolf, acting director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific Department.

The regional outlook, which follows the World Economic Outlook released last week, shows the growth forecast for Asia was cut to 4.9 percent, impacted by the slowdown in China, which is having ripple effects on other closely-linked economies.

Inflation is now expected to rise 3.2 percent this year, a full point higher than expected in January, she said. — AFP

April 22, 2022

Russia slaps travel bans on US Vice President Kamala Harris, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and dozens of prominent Americans and Canadians in retaliation for sanctions imposed over Ukraine.

The Russian foreign ministry said the travel restrictions on 29 Americans and 61 Canadians — which also includes defence officials, business leaders and journalists from both countries — would remain in effect indefinitely.

The foreign ministry said the list was comprised of people responsible for the two countries' "Russophobic" policies. — AFP

April 22, 2022

Ukraine needs $7 billion a month to function amid the devastating "economic losses" inflicted by Russia, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday.

That is an increase from Kyiv's previous estimate of $5 billion in monthly needs, and Zelensky told the leaders of the IMF and World Bank via video link, the "Russian military are aimed at destroying all objects in Ukraine that can serve as an economic base for life. That includes railroad stations, food warehouses, oil, refineries." — AFP

April 19, 2022

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week will call on her counterparts to ramp up the economic pain on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, an official says.

The conflict "has demonstrated the need for the world's largest economies to stand together to defend international order and protect peace and prosperity," the Treasury official tells reporters. — AFP

April 11, 2022

French banking group Societe Generale said Monday it was ceasing its activities in Russia and selling its stake in Russia's Rosbank, joining a Western corporate exodus following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Societe Generale said in a statement that its withdrawal from Russia would cost it 3.1 billion euros ($3.4 billion). -- AFP

April 8, 2022

The European Union says it had approved an embargo on Russian coal and the closing of the bloc's ports to Russian vessels over the Ukraine war.

An official from the French presidency of the European Council said the moves spearhead a "very substantial" fifth round of sanctions against Moscow.

That package also includes a 10 billion euro ($10.9 billion) ban on exports to Russia, including high-tech goods, and the freezing of several Russian banks' assets. — AFP

April 8, 2022

The United Nations suspends Russia from the Human Rights Council, as US President Joe Biden called the atrocities continuing to emerge in Ukraine an "outrage" to humanity.

The diplomatic rebuke came as the G7, the European Union and Washington further tightened the economic screws on Moscow, spurred by the horrific images emerging in recent days from now-infamous towns like Bucha and Mariupol.

"Russia's lies are no match for the undeniable evidence of what is happening in Ukraine," Biden said in a statement, as he hailed Moscow's expulsion from the rights council.  — AFP

April 7, 2022

British energy giant Shell warned Thursday that it would write off up to $5 billion (4.6 billion euros) on its exit from Russia, following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Impairment from assets and additional charges relating to Russia activities were expected to be between $4 billion and $5 billion in the first quarter of this year, Shell said in a statement after the group had signalled its gradual withdrawal last month. -- AFP

April 6, 2022

The EU must impose oil and gas sanctions on Russia "sooner or later", European Council chief Charles Michel told the European Parliament on Wednesday.

He urged the measures on Russia's key exports after saying the deaths of civilians in parts of Ukraine were "war crimes" and "yet more proof that Russian brutality against the people of Ukraine has no limits". — AFP

April 6, 2022

The United States, in coordination with the G7 and European Union, will ban "all" new investments in Russia on Wednesday in its latest round of sanctions, a source says.

The joint measures, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and alleged carrying out of atrocities, "will include a ban on all new investment in Russia, increased sanctions on financial institutions and state owned enterprises in Russia, and sanctions on Russian government officials and their family members," the source familiar with the sanctions tells AFP Tuesday.

Sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, say the latest punishment of Russia's economy has been triggered by alleged evidence of executions and other atrocities committed against civilians in areas recently abandoned by Russian troops in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

"We had already concluded that Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine, and the information from Bucha appears to show further evidence of war crimes," a source says. — AFP

April 2, 2022

China says it was not doing anything "to circumvent" sanctions imposed on Russia, following warnings from EU officials that any attempt to aid Moscow's war in Ukraine could damage economic ties.

In the clearest indication yet of Beijing's position on the matter, a foreign ministry official tells reporters: "We are not doing anything deliberately to circumvent sanctions imposed on Russia by Americans and Europeans."

But the statement, delivered after virtual talks between top EU and Chinese leaders on Friday, comes as Beijing holds to its stance of refusing to condemn the invasion by its ally Russia. — AFP

April 1, 2022

The United States hit a series of Russian tech firms with sanctions Thursday, including the nation's largest chip maker, in the latest punitive move against Vladimir Putin's "war machine."

The US Treasury said the sanctions targeted networks and technology companies that were "instrumental" to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Mikron, the largest Russian manufacturer and exporter of microelectronics, was among 21 entities and 13 individuals listed for penalties, including the blocking of any property in the United States. — AFP

March 28, 2022

Dutch brewer Heineken announces on Monday it is pulling out of Russia, becoming the latest Western firm to exit the country in the wake of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The beer company had already halted the sale and production of its Heineken brand in Russia, as well as suspended new investments and exports to the country earlier this month.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened to watch the war in Ukraine continue to unfold and intensify," Heineken says in a statement.

"Following the previously announced strategic review of our operations, we have concluded that Heineken's ownership of the business in Russia is no longer sustainable nor viable in the current environment," the statement says. — AFP

March 23, 2022

EU member states are given the greenlight by Brussels to offer limited subsidies and cheap loans to companies impacted by the war in Ukraine and the wave of sanctions against Russia.

"We need to mitigate the economic impact of this war and to support severely impacted companies and sectors," EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager says. — AFP

March 20, 2022

Australia announced more sanctions against Russia over the invasion of Ukraine Sunday, immediately banning all exports of alumina and bauxite while pledging more weapons and humanitarian assistance.

The export ban aims to impact aluminium production in Russia, which relies on Australia for 20 percent of its alumina.

It comes just days after Canberra sanctioned oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who owns a stake in Queensland Alumina Limited -- a joint venture between Russian aluminium company Rusal and mining giant Rio Tinto, which has vowed to sever all business ties with Russia.

A Rio Tinto spokesperson said the company "notes the government's announcement today regarding export sanctions" and it was still in the process of "terminating all commercial relationships it has with any Russian business".

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday his government was working with partners to "put the maximum cost, the maximum pressure on the Putin regime to withdraw from Ukraine".

Morrison said Australia had levelled 476 sanctions against Russian individuals and institutions since the invasion began.

He announced Australia would donate 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to Ukraine, following a request from the besieged nation.

"We understand that it can power up to one million homes," he said. — AFP

March 17, 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine will have a heavy impact on the German economy, with growth reaching just 2.1 percent rather than the previously expected 4.0 percent for 2022, economic institute IfW says Thursday.

"The Ukraine shock will delay the return to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels in the second half," says the institute, the first to issue a forecast since Russia's assault began on February 24. — AFP

March 16, 2022

The International Energy Agency cut its world oil demand forecast for 2022 on Wednesday, warning that sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine could spark a global supply "shock".

"Faced with what could turn into the biggest supply crisis in decades, global energy markets are at a crossroads," the IEA said in a monthly report, warning that "the implications of a potential loss of Russian oil exports to global markets cannot be understated." — AFP

March 16, 2022

The UK adds over 370 more prominent Russians and entities to its sanctions list and hiked tariffs on a swathe of imports from vodka to steel, and banned exports of luxury goods in retaliation for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

The government announces a new wave of asset freezes and travel bans for 350 people and 23 Russian entities. The oligarchs sanctioned on Tuesday have a combined fortune of over 100 billion pounds (120 billion euros). 

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says the earlier the sanctions now extended to 51 oligarchs and their families, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin's "political allies and propagandists". — AFP

March 15, 2022

The government in Kyiv continues to function, the banking system is stable and debt payments are viable in the short term, but the Russian invasion could plunge Ukraine into a devastating recession, the IMF says.

The Washington-based crisis lender also warned the war could have broader repercussions, including by threatening global food security by causing prices to rise and hampering the planting of crops, especially wheat.

At a minimum, the country would see "output falling 10 percent this year, assuming a prompt resolution of the war," the IMF says in an analysis of the economy in the wake of the Russian invasion. — AFP/Delphine Touitou

March 14, 2022

Asian markets mostly fell Monday as traders track developments in the Ukraine war and diplomatic efforts to bring the crisis to an end, while this week's Federal Reserve meeting is in focus as it prepares to start lifting interest rates.

Oil prices dropped, providing some respite after they soared to a near 14-year high last week, though the commodity remains elevated around $110 and keeping upward pressure on inflation.

Trading floors continue to be flooded with uncertainty as Russia's war in Ukraine rages, with comments from Vladimir Putin that there were "positive developments" in talks with Kyiv unable to provide much support. — AFP

March 12, 2022

Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank says it was following other international companies in shutting down its operations in Russia in protest of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"Like some international peers and in line with our legal and regulatory obligations, we are in the process of winding down our remaining business in Russia while we help our non-Russian multinational clients in reducing their operations. There won't be any new business in Russia," the bank says in a statement.

"We condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the strongest possible terms and support the German government and its allies in defending our democracy and freedom." — AFP

March 12, 2022

The United States announces a ban on exports of American luxury goods to Russia and Belarus, including jewelry, clothing, and vehicles, as Washington increased its pressure on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.

The ban extends to "certain Russian and Belarusian oligarchs and malign actors located worldwide," a statement from the Commerce Department says, adding that such controls had previously applied only to North Korea. — AFP

March 12, 2022

The United States and its allies move to end normal trade relations with Russia, as President Joe Biden vows the West would make Vladimir Putin "pay the price" for his invasion of Ukraine.

Biden announces the new step, which would enable Western nations to inflict steep tariff hikes on Russian goods, in coordination with NATO allies, the Group of Seven and the European Union.

Washington and Brussels also say they would cut off exports of luxury goods to Russia in what EU chief Ursula von der Leyen described as a "direct blow to the Russian elite." — AFP

March 10, 2022

Casual wear giant Uniqlo will suspend operations in Russia, parent company Fast Retailing says, days after its president defended staying open in the country following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"Uniqlo has made everyday clothing available to the general public in Russia too, as part of our mission," the Japanese firm says in a statement.

"However, we have recently faced a number of difficulties, including operational challenges and the worsening of the conflict situation. — AFP 

Follow this page for updates on the economic and political consequences of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Photo courtesy of AFP/Stefani Reynolds

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