Ban Russian energy to make sanctions count -Zelensky
Ukraine wants its allies to hit Russia where it really hurts — in the energy sector. Ukrainian President Vlodomyr Zelensky called on Western nations to stop dragging their feet and quickly agree on a complete ban on Russian oil, as well as cut off Russian banks from the international system entirely. “Some politicians are still unable to decide how to limit the flow of petrodollars and oileuros to Russia so as not to put their own economies at risk,” he said. The EU has signaled it will look to ban Russian coal and oil, though members are divided on all-important gas.
Chinese state refiners tread carefully with Russian oil: Chinese state-owned firms — including Sinopec, CNOOC and PetroChina — aren’t making new purchases of Russian oil despite cheap prices, sources told Reuters. China has so far refrained from condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has made a diplomatic show of its friendship with Russia, but is nevertheless wary of being caught in the sanctions crossfire.
Russia inched closer to a default on its international debt as Moscow said it would be forced by US sanctions to pay holders of USD-denominated bonds in RUB, the Financial Times reports. The move would amount to a default or “default-like” situation, analysts say. “I think it’s a default if the bondholders are not paid in USD,” one EM debt expert told the salmon-coloured paper.
But the RUB has staged a comeback, defying sanctions: Russia’s currency has staged a surprising recovery to pre-war levels, Bloomberg reports. The RUB closed at 79.7 to the USD on Wednesday — signaling that waves of measures against Russian banks, businesses and individuals are “largely toothless” as long as Europe and others continue to spend massive sums on Russian energy imports, the business information service says.
Sanctions get personal: The latest package of US sanctions, triggered by the Bucha atrocities, target President Vladimir Putin’s two daughters as well as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s wife and daughter, according to a statement. Major Russian banks Sberbank and Alfa Bank will also be completely blocked.
Surprisingly, it doesn’t look like the AL will be brokering peace in Ukraine: An Arab League delegation reiterated its call for a ceasefire and said it stands ready to support direct negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, after meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Warsaw on Tuesday, according to a statement. The delegation, which includes Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, had offered to mediate ceasefire negotiations earlier in the week in Moscow, following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.