Blinken denounces Moscow for its access to the reporter

(Bloomberg) — Hungary’s top diplomat struck energy deals in Moscow during a rare visit by an official from an EU member state, underlining Budapest’s split with the rest of the bloc over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Russia has expanded penalties for draft evaders as part of a new package of legal changes that critics said could herald more calls to war for President Vladimir Putin.

US Vice President Kamala Harris will meet Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Tuesday to discuss the war.

Major developments

  • Austin says the US is ‘turning over every rock’ to track down the leaked papers

  • Russia’s opaque measures keep its oil flowing despite sanctions

  • The International Monetary Fund tracks only JPMorgan in the most optimistic view of the Russian economy

  • Russian windfall drops $51 billion as energy cash dries up

  • The Hungarian envoy hammers out energy deals in Moscow, defying the EU’s stance

  • At least seven were killed in a new clash on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia

(All times are Central European Time)

Blinken blasts Russia over access to detained reporter (12 a.m.)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russian officials have not yet granted US diplomats access to detained Wall Street Journal reporter Ivan Gershkovich, a breach of diplomatic norms he said would further erode Russia’s international reputation after its invasion of Ukraine.

“I think it sends a very strong message to people all over the world to be careful not to set foot there, lest they be subjected to arbitrary detention,” Blinken said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

Austin Vows to Find Source of Leaked Documents (12 a.m.)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States will not stop until it finds out how a trove of classified documents belonging to Ukraine, Israel and other countries appeared online, in his first public comments about the embarrassing leak.

“We take this very seriously,” Austin told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday. “And we will continue to investigate, turning over every rock, until we find the source of this and the extent of it.”

Austin said he was first briefed on April 6 about what he called “reports of unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and confidential materials” that had been collected by the Department of Defense. In the days that followed, the Justice Department opened an investigation and the United States sought to reassure allies about its ability to keep secrets safe.

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Trudeau meets with his Ukrainian counterpart, who gives thanks (7:40 p.m.)

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa on Tuesday, thanking Canada for the help including a C$2.4 billion ($1.8 billion) loan to Ukraine announced in Trudeau’s federal budget last month.

During Shmyhal’s visit, Ukraine’s state-owned Energoatom completed a nuclear fuel supply contract with Canada-based Cameco until 2035, a deal first announced in February. Trudeau also said that Canada is in the process of implementing a new round of sanctions targeting the Wagner Mercenary Group, the Russian aviation industry and the Belarusian financial sector.

The highest level of steel production in Ukraine since the beginning of the war (6:07 p.m.)

Ukrainian steel production has reached its highest level in 13 months, in the first sign of the industry’s recovery after a major downturn caused by the Russian invasion, according to data provided by Kiev-based Sense Bank.

Average daily steel production in the country rose 13% from the previous month and more than doubled from a year earlier in March. The Ukrainian steel industry was hit hard, including the destruction of the Azovstal plant located in occupied Mariupol.

Russia’s current account surplus narrows as energy cash dries up (6:04 p.m.)

Russia’s current account surplus shrank in the fourth quarter by more than $51 billion from a year earlier, as sanctions increasingly deprive the government of what has been an important source of hard currency since the invasion of Ukraine.

The current account surplus — roughly the difference between exports and imports — fell to $18.6 billion in the first three months of the year, according to preliminary central bank data.

Ukraine’s richest man is suing Russia (4:57 p.m.)

Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov has launched arbitration proceedings against Russia for confiscating assets belonging to the SCM group in the occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, according to a statement that did not specify the court in which the case is being pursued.

Assets seized or destroyed in Ukraine’s eastern regions from 2014-2017 include metals and mining companies, energy infrastructure, real estate and the headquarters and stadium of the Donetsk-based football team Shakhtar Donetsk, which cost more than $400 million. He said.

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“We will seek justice using all available legal means with every possible agency and court, because Russia’s crimes against Ukraine and Ukrainians committed since 2014 must be punished,” Akhmetov said. He indicated that he intends to invest any compensation to rebuild and contribute to economic growth.

Russian companies move to Astana to continue international trade (4:31 p.m.)

Kazakh capital may become the main stock exchange for Russian companies seeking to keep their shares traded by international investors, since they are forced to leave London and New York after the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia’s largest gold miner, Polyus PJSC, is considering whether to list its GDRs on the Astana International Stock Exchange. Another gold miner, Polymetal International Plc, is considering re-registration in Kazakhstan, while GDRs may trade in Abu Dhabi. Russia’s Ros Agro Plc listed its GDRs in the Kazakh capital in March, moving from London.

The IMF trails only JPMorgan in the most optimistic view of the Russian economy (4:29 p.m.)

The International Monetary Fund is taking one of the most optimistic views on the Russian economy this year despite the toll of sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

The upgrade to 0.7% in the IMF’s latest forecast means that Russia saw one of the largest upward revisions among major economies from the Fund’s forecast in January, when it expected GDP to expand 0.3% in 2023.

“They’ve been able to maintain quite a bit of momentum in the economy by taking very aggressive fiscal measures, for example,” IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gournchas told reporters in Washington.

Hungarian envoy signs energy deals in Moscow (3:55 p.m.)

Hungary’s top diplomat has reached a deal to expand gas flows from Russia and renew a financing deal for a nuclear power plant, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban moves to boost his country’s reliance on Russian oil, gas and nuclear supplies.

Hungary will now have the option to get more natural gas from Russia in addition to an existing long-term agreement ahead of the winter storage season. Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto also agreed to secure more crude supplies through the Druzhba pipeline through Ukraine.

Ukraine calls for closer relations with India (3:30 pm)

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First Deputy Foreign Minister Emin Dzhabarova said during a visit to New Delhi that Ukraine wants closer relations with India.

On the first visit by a Kiev representative to India since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Dzhabarova said Ukraine is carefully watching Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s frequent trips to Russia.

Russia expands penalties for draft evaders (2:49 p.m.)

The changes are part of a raft of measures aimed at tightening rules as Russia moves to expand its armed forces by nearly 50% to 1.5 million people over several years. It was designed to correct problems revealed last year to mobilize 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine, to widespread public discontent.

Under the plan, contained in hastily proposed amendments and approved unanimously by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, those potentially summoned who did not respond to electronically sent notices would be barred from leaving the country, obtaining driver’s licenses, and buying and selling. property and take out loans.

The changes also remove the requirement to hand in draft notices in person, which has long benefited those seeking to avoid the service, and replace it with an online system. The Kremlin reiterated on Tuesday that no further waves of mobilization are currently planned.

Ukraine clears mines from 2,323 hectares of farmland (1:35 p.m.)

Economy Minister Yulia Svirenko said in a statement that more than 12,000 hectares of farmland have been inspected by units of Ukraine’s emergency service, military and non-state operators.

A senior Hungarian diplomat visits Moscow in defiance of the EU position (11:26 a.m.)

Foreign Minister Peter Szyjjarto’s meetings with two energy officials are part of efforts by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to maintain his country’s dependence on Russian oil, gas and nuclear supplies even as EU partners move to liberalize.

After visiting Belarus in February on another rare trip to an ally of Moscow under Western sanctions, Szyggarto met Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Alexander Novak and CEO of state nuclear company Rosatom Alexei Likhachev.

(See RSAN on Bloomberg for the Russia Sanctions Dashboard.)

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