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Ukraine Latest: Russia Ramps Up and Braces for Counterattacks

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(Bloomberg) —

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(Bloomberg) —

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Russia’s defense minister instructed military units in Ukraine to “further intensify” combat activity at a time the arrival of advanced Western weapons is boosting Kyiv’s counterattack capabilities. Airstrikes continued in north, south and central areas, often focused on civilian targets. 

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy vowed to gradually liberate occupied areas. The EU foreign policy chief urged “strategic patience” on economic sanctions taken against Russia, saying they may take a long time to work. 

Moscow plans to reject requests from foreign banks to sell their units in the country while sanctioned Russian banks are unable to sell their business abroad.

(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)

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Key Developments

  • Russian Assets Barely Touched Across EU With $14 Billion Seized
  • Naftogaz CEO Says Ukraine Pushed It to Delay Bond Payments 
  • Russia Visited Iran to View Drone Capabilities, US Official Says 

On the Ground

Approaching the war’s five-month mark, Russia’s most recent operational phase has been concluded, with increased offensive measures “in all operational areas” ordered by Russia’s defense minister likely to fluctuate over the coming days, according to the Institute for the Study of War, US-based military analysts. While ground assaults in the east were slower on Saturday, Russia continues rocket and missile attacks on cities far from the Donbas. Those strikes have killed dozens of people over the past week. Ukraine has used Western rocket launch systems to strike Russian ammunition depots and other infrastructure in recent weeks. This has “likely degraded Russian forces’ ability to sustain high volumes of artillery fire along front lines,” ISW said. Russia is shoring up units for a new push toward Sloviansk in eastern Donetsk, Ukraine’s said.  

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(All times CET)

Russia Braces for Counterattacks in South, UK Says (7:22 a.m.)

Moscow is reinforcing its defensive positions across occupied areas in Ukraine’s south, likely in response to anticipated counteroffensives, the UK defence ministry said on Twitter.  

That includes the movement of manpower, equipment and defensive stores between Mariupol and Zaporizhia, and in Kherson, as well as increased security measures in Melitopol. 

Canada Tells Putin’s Technocrats They’re Liable for War Crimes (11 p.m.)

Canada warned a Russian delegation participating in a meeting of Group of 20 finance chiefs in recent days that it views President Vladimir Putin’s economic advisers as personally responsible for aiding war crimes.

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“Russia’s economic technocrats, who work to fund Putin’s war machine, are personally complicit in Russia’s war crimes, just as Putin’s generals are,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she told the group.

Zelenskiy Vows to Retake Territory (10:33 p.m.)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine will gradually liberate the occupied areas of the country. 

“It is obvious that any missiles and artillery of Russia will not succeed in breaking our unity and knocking us off our path,” Zelenskiy said Saturday in his nightly video address, marking the anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of sovereignty from the then Soviet Union in 1990.

“It should be equally obvious that Ukrainian unity cannot be broken by lies or intimidation, fake information or conspiracy theories,” he said.

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EU’s Borrell Urges ‘Strategic Patience’ on Sanctions (4:20 p.m.)

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said it “may take a long time” for sanctions on Russia to have an impact. 

“Even if sanctions do not change the Russian trajectory in the short-term, that does not mean they are useless, for they do affect sheer amount of resources it has to wage its war,” Borrell said in a blog post on the six packages of EU sanctions against Moscow.  

Russia’s Shoigu Orders Intensified Combat Activity (10:42 a.m.)

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered Russian military units to intensify their action across Ukraine, Interfax reported, a sign Moscow intends to step up its campaign. 

Shoigu told Russian army generals in Ukraine “to further increase activity in all operational areas.” The rationale offered was to stop Kyiv launching “rocket and artillery strikes on civilian infrastructure and residents of settlements in Donbas,” according to Interfax. 

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The ministry released a video of Shoigu, in fatigues, making just his second visit to the conflict zone. It was unclear when or where the visit took place.  

Russian Assets Barely Touched Across EU (10 a.m.)

Germany, France, Ireland and three other European Union nations account for almost all of 13.9 billion euros in Russian assets that have been frozen in the 27-nation EU since the invasion of Ukraine, according to the bloc’s justice chief.

Read more: Russian Assets Barely Touched Across EU With $14 Billion Seized

Russia Viewed Iran’s Drone Capabilities, US Says (8:14 a.m.)

Satellite images show a Russian delegation visiting Iran to view weapons-capable drones that could be purchased for use in the war in Ukraine, a senior US official said Saturday.

The disclosure by the US is intended to bolster the assertion by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan — made without details of the underlying intelligence — that Russia was seeking to purchase hundreds of unmanned aerial vehicles to help its campaign in Ukraine.  

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