- China says that it does not rule out using the ruble in trade deals with Russia.
- Russia Union of Grain Exporters wants to sell its grain in rubles. Among the largest purchasers of Russian grain are Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and several African and Middle Eastern countries.
- Russia partially lifts some restrictions on its stock market. Feeling more confident about its economy, I assume?
- Putin clarified to Scholz that payments would still be made to Gazprom Bank in euros, which is not being sanctioned, but it would then be converted into rubles. Russia blinks - sort of. But maybe not really, as nakedcapitalism explains. I’ll link the article in a comment below.
- India allows Russia to invest and borrow in its domestic market. Reminder - they are also working on a rupee-ruble scheme to allow them to avoid trade in dollars and continue purchasing Russian exports.
- Russia allows piracy. Of the internet kind.
- The IMF says that sanctions against Russia could weaken the US dollar’s global dominance. No shit.
- Gazprom’s offices in Germany are searched, after Germany accuses it of deliberately stopping booking more natural gas when supplies in EU were running low last autumn.
- Austria follows Germany’s lead in declaring an energy emergency regarding the potentially short supply of Russian natural gas.
- Russian imports of oil into the US have increased by 43% last week compared to the previous week, in the wake of Biden’s deadline on Russian energy imports of April 22nd.
- Ruble-to-dollar hits a new high of 82 from 84 yesterday.
- The war in Ukraine has led to an increase in shipping transit fees, says Osama Rabie, the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority.
- Europe must stop buying oil and gas from Russia and should apply new sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Lithuania’s president has said.
- US President Joe Biden is preparing to order the release of up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve, according to AP.
- Putin recognizes the plight of Europe: “The US is trying to transfer Europe to expensive American LNG, thereby undermining the competitiveness of European companies, Europe is threatened with large-scale deindustrialization and job loss due to US actions.”
- According to Russian telegram, Putin has instructed to sharply raise the share of domestic equipment in the civil aviation fleet, and also promised support for airlines, including through new air ticket price compensation programs.
- Putin has said Moscow will provide domestic airlines with 100 billion roubles ($1.25 billion) in support to help them deal with the consequences of international sanctions.
- Putin said that he had signed a decree saying foreign buyers must pay in rubles for Russian gas from April 1, and contracts would be halted if these payments were not made. Unfriendly countries must open ruble accounts in Russian banks to buy natural gas.
- Rejection of Russian gas for Austria is now impossible, - the head of the Austrian oil company OMV
- Zelenskyy has denounced Belgium’s diamond trade with Russia in an address to the Federal Parliament in Brussels. “I think that peace has much more worth than diamonds, than the deals with Russia, than the Russian boats in the ports, more than the Russian oil and gas. So help us,” he said.
- AP: “US seeks new lithium sources as demand for batteries grows” Protect yourself, Evo!
- The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury recently published a new general license dated March 24, which effectively removed restrictions on the import of Russian fertilizers.
- Due to the crisis, oil prices have increased to their highest level since 2014 for a month. However, oil-producing countries other than Russia (mainly Saudi Arabia and the UAE) haven’t caved in to Western pressure to increase production, and they’re quite enjoying the high oil prices.
- The US president warned the oil industry not “to sit on record profits” during the current price surge, adding that he wanted “to lay a new foundation for true and lasting American energy independence.”
- Diplomatic talks between Russia and Ukraine continue tomorrow, online rather than in person.
- Lavrov accredits first diplomat sent by Afghanistan. He also urged the world to work more closely with the new Afghan government, which could lead to the government being recognized by the UN.
- Lavrov says that any NATO or US military presence in Central Asia - bases, troops, anything - is unacceptable, and goes against the security interest of Russia.
- South Ossetia will do its referendum and, if it gets enough pro-votes, will join Russia within 5 weeks.
- Zelensky recalls ambassadors from Morocco and Georgia, because they couldn’t get either country to give them aid, lethal or otherwise, nor sanction Russia or Russian businesses (I assume).
- Ukraine is concerned that Russia is creating new authorities in and around Kherson (north of Crimea) and occupied areas and thinks they may be trying to create a referendum for the “Kherson People’s Republic”.
- The head of the DPR ordered the creation of the administration of Mariupol.
- Twitter deletes over 100 pro-Russian Indian accounts.
- African leaders at a conference yesterday say that they’re giving diplomacy a chance in the Ukraine crisis rather than declaring sanction war on Russia, and also they’re more focussed on their own economic and political futures in this radically changing world order. They note the massively increasing prices of food, fertilizr, and steel.
- EU leaders are being urged to tell China it will face sanctions if it offers military aid to Russia for the war in Ukraine, amid concerns about a deepening authoritarian alliance that threatens the rules-based international order. You’ll never guess what ethnic group in China they mention in this Guardian article!
- “In order to protect the sovereignty, security and interests of the People’s Republic of China as well as the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, … China has decided to impose retaliatory visa restrictions on US officials who spread lies on the issue of human rights and harm China’s interests,”
- Putin told Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that conditions were not yet in place for a ceasefire in Ukraine
Ukraine in general:
- Russia continues to strike fuel depots
- Footage captured of Ukrainian forces using Red Cross vehicles to move their troops.
- Russia has “practically destroyed” almost all of Ukraine’s defence industry, an adviser to Zelensky has said.
- US says that Russian forces are pulling out of Chernobyl - no confirmation yet from Russia.
- Russian forces in Ukraine are not withdrawing but regrouping, NATO’s secretary-general has said in response to Moscow’s announcements about a scaling down of military operations around Kyiv and Chernihiv.
- LPR artillery fires upon targets in the direction of Popasna, a significant city in that area.
- Russian army reports destroying many tanks and other armored vehicles near Kharkov.
- Russian forces are reportedly “moving to the front line” (I assume at the Donbass front).
- Attacks on the objects of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Kharkiv. Eyewitnesses report already more than 10 explosions.
- Kadyrov says that over 90% of the city is captured, and that “Life is gradually returning to the free city.” Most of the remaining Azov forces are hiding in the Azovstal metallurgical plant.
- A brief ceasefire in Mariupol and Zaporozhye today to allow civilians to evacuate. Ukrainian military will not be allowed to leave, and foreign fighters will be arrested and brought to trial.
- Residents of Mariupol are confirming that the Russian military is giving the people of Mariupol food. They also say that the Ukrainian forces indiscriminately shelled residential buildings which set fire to them.
- DPR is reporting that Azov had to leave so fast that they left behind many documents.
- Apparently there were actually two Ukrainian helicopters shot down.
- Reports of Russia shelling a hospital with a Red Cross sign on it in Mariupol. The building has been empty of people and equipment since March 15th, however, so I imagine Azov did its typical strategy of hiding inside and then accusing the Russians of being meganazis when they destroyed it.
- There are reportedly 17 people on board the downed Ukrainian helicopter near Mariupol, with two survivors. Presumably Azov or Azov-adjacent.
Dipshittery and Cope:
- Western media is reporting that Putin’s conscription of 134,000 troops is a sign of the failed invasion effort. However, the Russian president is actually required by law to sign a decree at the end of March setting the draft goals for the annual conscription campaign. This happens every year, and the number is unchanged since last year.
- Bloomberg Opinion: “China’s addiction to oil will have repercussions for the world”
- Biden has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be “isolated” and could have placed some of his advisors under “house arrest.” In response to this, and the previous statements about how Putin might be surrounded by yes-men who are misleading him, the Kremlin has said: “As it turns out, neither the State Department nor the Pentagon have the real information of what is going on in the Kremlin. They simply don’t understand President Putin, don’t understand the decision-making mechanism, and don’t understand the work we do … It’s not only regrettable, but also raises concerns because such lack of understanding leads to wrong, rash decisions with bad consequences.”
- WaPo: “How Ukraine could lose land but still win the war with Russia.”