Ukraine: U.S. Helped Ukraine Target Russia’s Moskva Flagship, Russia Can’t Find Buyers for Commodities
A convoy is headed to Mariupol to evacuate the 200 civilians who remain at the steel plant.
Only a few more days until May 9, Victory Day in Russia. The war still rages on.
We’re finding out more about America’s involvement in Ukraine, including help targeting Russia’s darling flagship, Moskva.
Russian Commodity Exports
Europe wants to stop using Russian energy sources. Now Russia cannot find buyers for those sources even though it has major plans to expand in Asia:
But in redrawing its exports map, Moscow faces significant hurdles, putting its sanctions-stricken economy further at risk.
European Union officials this week are preparing a sixth round of sanctions that aim to undercut Russia’s energy exports. Among the proposals are a phased ban on Russian oil purchases as well as sanctions on service providers, such as ship insurers, that would stifle Russian crude shipments to other parts of the world.
The new infrastructure that Russia needs to transport the exports that Europe used to buy will take years to build. It is experiencing difficulties chartering ships to transport its oil as insurers and banks fear the impact of sanctions. Major trading houses, meanwhile, are cutting their Russian business. It is also uncertain how much of Russia’s commodities big buyers such as China would be willing to buy, as Beijing looks to diversify its suppliers.
Whether Russia succeeds in rerouting its commodities flows carries high stakes for the Kremlin.
Oil-and-gas sales contributed nearly 42% of federal budget revenues in the first quarter of the year. Elevated energy prices following the invasion of Ukraine have been filling Russia’s coffers, partially compensating for the loss of customers in Europe. A long-term decline in exports, however, may make spending cuts necessary, at a time when Russia is looking to support its economy and avoid social unrest as incomes fall.
The export shake-up is also crucial for the global economy. Russia grew in recent decades into a leading exporter of a range of commodities to the world, akin to a giant gas station and mining pit for international buyers. Disruptions in the trade amid already tight global markets would further fuel inflation in the West.
UN: Evacuation Convoy Headed to Mariupol’s Steel Plant
Over 200 people are still trapped at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. The UN said an evacuation convoy is headed that way to rescue them:
An evacuation convoy should arrive by Friday at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where about 200 civilians are still trapped in underground bunkers where Ukrainian fighters report bloody battles with Russian forces, Martin Griffiths, the United Nations’ emergency relief coordinator, said on Thursday.
The convoy is the latest joint effort by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which have managed to evacuate about 100 people from the Azovstal plant in the past few days and more than 340 people from other parts of Mariupol on Wednesday.
Mr. Griffiths, speaking at a donor conference for Ukraine in Warsaw, said that the convoy would hopefully “receive those civilians remaining in that bleak hell that they have inhabited for so many weeks and months.” The city of Mariupol has been largely destroyed by shelling that began on Feb. 24, when Russia’s invasion started, and the Azovstal complex’s underground bunkers became something of a shelter of last resort as residents’ abodes and other havens were obliterated.
Mr. Griffiths said the operations had been “a herculean effort” and dangerous, but that “it would have been worth it to save one person.”
U.S. Helped Ukraine Take Out Moskva
U.S. officials said that our intelligence helped Ukraine locate Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea fleet:
The United States provided intelligence that helped Ukrainian forces locate and strike the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet last month, another sign that the administration is easing its self-imposed limitations on how far it will go in helping Ukraine fight Russia, U.S. officials said.
The targeting help, which contributed to the eventual sinking of the flagship, the Moskva, is part of a continuing classified effort by the Biden administration to provide real-time battlefield intelligence to Ukraine. That intelligence also includes sharing anticipated Russian troop movements, gleaned from a recent American assessment of Moscow’s battle plan for the fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the officials said.
The administration has sought to keep much of the battlefield and maritime intelligence it is sharing with the Ukrainians secret out of fear it will be seen as an escalation and provoke President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia into a wider war. But in recent weeks, the United States has sped heavier weapons to Ukraine and requested an extraordinary $33 billion in additional military, economic and humanitarian aid from Congress, demonstrating how quickly American restraints on support for Ukraine are shifting.
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