Ukraine Latest: Zelenskiy Discusses Support With World Bank

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy discussed financing from donors for projects to rebuild the country with a World Bank delegation visiting Kyiv.

(Bloomberg) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy discussed financing from donors for projects to rebuild the country with a World Bank delegation visiting Kyiv.

South Africa’s government is taking legal advice on how to handle an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the event he attends a BRICS summit in August.

China urged Europe to support its proposal for talks on Russia’s war in Ukraine, although the US has said Beijing’s outline would freeze the Kremlin’s territorial gains. President Xi Jinping is set to meet with more dignitaries, including the leaders of Brazil and Spain, in a bid to build momentum for the blueprint.

Key Developments

  • Ukraine Official Creditors Extend Freeze to 2027 Amid IMF Loan
  • Russia Seeks 400,000 More Recruits as Latest Ukraine Push Stalls
  • Credit Suisse, UBS Among Banks in DOJ Russia-Sanctions Probe 
  • Xi’s Diplomatic Push Picks Up Following Moscow Visit: Next China
  • Putin Arrest Warrant Prompts South Africa to Seek Legal Advice
  • Denmark Salvaging Unknown Object in Nord Stream Blast Probe 

(All times CET)

Ukraine Creditors Extend Freeze to 2027 (12:30 a.m.)

Ukraine’s group of official creditors have extended a debt repayment standstill until 2027, while the war-ravaged country receives an emergency aid program under the International Monetary Fund.

The agreement came among other financing assurances given Thursday by the group, a key step to unlocking billions of dollars the nation needs to weather Russia’s invasion, now in its second year. 

The creditor plan follows an IMF staff-level agreement secured earlier this week for a $15.6 billion package, setting up the first loan to a nation at war in the institution’s 77-year history. 

Ukraine Approves Program to Boost Drone Production (5:20 p.m.)

Having already adopted fast-track procedures for drone imports, the authorities now plan to simplify procedures on admitting locally made drones for military use, as well as to improve conditions for their producers, the government said on its website.

Ukrainian producers have already submitted applications for 75 different drone types, including for artillery fire adjustment, evacuation of injured people and fighter drones, according to the statement.

Zelenskiy Meets With World Bank Delegation (5:09 p.m.)

Zelenskiy met with a World Bank delegation headed by Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Anna Bjerde, thanking the institution for its support during the invasion. This week the World Bank increased its estimate of how much Ukraine will need for its recovery and reconstruction to at least $411 billion.

According to a statement on the president’s website, the participants at today’s meeting discussed the provision of financing by donors under the coordination of the World Bank for projects to restore the country, primarily in the areas of transport infrastructure, electricity and healthcare.

Russia Seeks 400,000 More Recruits (4:45 p.m.)

The Kremlin has dialed back plans for a further offensive in Ukraine this spring after failing to gain much ground and will focus on blunting a new push by Kyiv’s forces expected to begin soon. 

The Kremlin is seeking to sign up as many as 400,000 contract soldiers this year to replenish its ranks, according to people familiar with the planning who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that aren’t public. 

Read more: Russia Seeks 400,000 More Recruits as Latest Ukraine Push Stalls

Germany Delivers to Ukraine Engineering Vehicles, Machine Guns (3:55 p.m.)

Germany delivered three DACHS armored engineering vehicles, as well as dozens of MG3 machine guns, drone sensors, and spare parts for Leopard 2 tanks and Marder infantry vehicles, according to an updated list of supplies posted on the government’s website.

French Chain to Sell Russia Operations to Local Teams (1:42 pm.)

French home-improvement chain Leroy Merlin will sell its Russia operations to local management, subject to Russian regulatory approval, according to holding company Adeo.

Leroy Merlin, Auchan and Decathlon, all controlled by France’s Mulliez family, had around 77,500 workers in the country as of a year ago.

Read more: Leroy Merlin to Sell Russia Operations to Local Teams

Ukrainian Energy Plants Remain Damaged After Attacks (1:32 p.m.)

More than 20 thermal plant and eight hydroelectric plant units with 5 gigawatts of energy capacity remain damaged after Russian missile and drones attacks, Interfax-Ukraina reported, citing Ukrainian First Deputy Energy Minister Yuriy Vlasenko. 

According to the official, most units have been hit many times since last October and others, including five thermal stations and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, are under Russian occupation. 

South Africa Seeks Legal Advice on Putin ICC Warrant (11:52 a.m.)

The ICC issued the warrant against Putin for war crimes related to the alleged abduction of children from Ukraine. South Africa is a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, and because of that may be obliged to execute the arrest order. 

In 2015 South Africa refused to execute an ICC warrant for then-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir while he was attending an African Union summit in the country.

Read more: Could Putin Really Be Prosecuted for War Crimes?: QuickTake  

Denmark Salvaging Unknown Object in Nord Stream Blast Probe (11:26 a.m.)

Denmark is salvaging an unidentified object found next to the Nord Stream 2 undersea gas pipeline that was damaged in a blast in September, as investigators continue to seek who was behind the attack.  

The operation comes two weeks after German authorities said they searched a vessel that may have transported explosives used in the attack on the Russian pipelines. 


Spain Urges LNG Importers to Turn Away From Russia (11:18 a.m.)

Spain, the biggest European buyer of liquefied natural gas from Russia, urged importers not to sign new contracts with Moscow. 

LNG importers received a letter from the government recommending that companies don’t sign up to new purchases from Russia, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The letter, seen by Bloomberg News, doesn’t explicitly mention spot contracts but makes a general plea to step up efforts to find non-Russian supplies of LNG. 

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