(Bloomberg) — Presidents or prime ministers from Poland, Lithuania, Belgium and Hungary are among the dignitaries expected to be in Kyiv on Saturday. It’s a remembrance day for the Holomodor, the anniversary of the 1932-33 famine orchestrated by Joseph Stalin that killed millions of Ukrainians.
The US and European Union announced new donations of equipment to help keep the power on in Ukraine as millions of residents cope with outages to electricity and heating. Ukraine may soon be able to provide power to most users for stretches of as long as 16 to 18 hours from systems that have weathered weeks of Russian missile and drone attacks.
But EU diplomats delayed until Monday further efforts to agree on a price cap for Russian oil exports — a ceiling that almost certainly will be above where the nation’s flagship grade is currently trading.
(See RSAN on the Bloomberg Terminal for the Russian Sanctions Dashboard.)
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On the Ground
Russia fired 11 missiles and conducted seven air strikes and multiple rounds of shelling in the past day, primarily in the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions, according to Ukraine’s General Staff. Offensive operations from Kremlin troops continue in the the vicinity of Bakhmut and Avdivka. Ukraine said its forces destroyed a Russian ammunition depot in Melitopol in the Zaporizhzhia region and two warehouses in Vasylivka. Russian forces continue to establish defenses south of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast and around critical ground lines of communication connecting Kherson to Crimea, the Institute for the Study of War.
(All times CET)
Top Officials Flock to Kyiv (9 a.m.)
The Belgian prime minister, Alexander De Croo, and Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib have arrived in Kyiv, their first visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, now into its tenth month.
They’re just the first of a stream of dignitaries expected in Ukraine’s capital on Saturday, including the presidents of Poland and Lithuania, and Hungary’s prime minister.
Saturday is Ukraine’s remembrance day for the Homodor, the brutal famine orchestrated by the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin in the 1930s.
Zelenskiy Expects ‘Quality Work’ From Kyiv Mayor’s Office (8:30 a.m.)
Ukraine’s president rapped the government in Kyiv for not doing enough to help citizens during ongoing power outages, saying that he expects “quality work from the mayor’s office.”
In a nightly video address, Zelenskiy said that “unfortunately, not in all cities the local government has done a good job. In particular, there are many complaints in Kyiv.”
So-called “points of invincibility” deployed in the capital “need to be improved, to put it mildly. Please pay attention. Kyiv residents need more protection.”
Zelenskiy Says EU Promises $500 Million Euros More (9:35 p.m.)
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address that he agreed in a conversation with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on an additional 500 million euros ($520 million) in EU aid for the remainder of this year.
He said they also discussed a support package for 2023 as well as more steps to support his country’s energy sector as it’s under attack by Russia.
Zelenskiy once again asked citizens to conserve electricitiy, saying that when the power is in, “spikes” are being recorded every evening: “Please, if you have electricity, this does not mean that you can turn on several powerful electrical appliances at once.”
Hungary’s President to Visit Zelenskiy, Website Says (9:31 p.m.)
Hungarian President Katalin Novak is on her way to visit Zelenskiy in the highest-level meeting between the two nations since Russia’s invasion in February, the Index news website reported.
Novak, who has a largely ceremonial role, is flying to Poland and then taking a train to Ukraine, Index reported on Friday, without citing anyone. The Hungarian president’s office would neither confirm nor deny the visit, the website said.
Zelenskiy has lashed out at Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for his lukewarm support of Ukraine and his backing of some of Russia’s agenda. This week, however, Orban’s government dialed back its opposition to joint EU aid for Ukraine and approved a decree that earmarks Hungary’s share of the assistance for its eastern neighbor.
EU Postpones Talks on Oil Price Cap to Monday (6:20 p.m.)
European Union diplomats won’t meet on Friday or over the weekend to discuss the oil-price cap as divisions within the bloc remain entrenched, according to people familiar with the matter.
The bloc has been locked in a fight over how strict the Group of Seven-led price cap should be. Countries like Poland objected to the EU executive arm’s proposal to set a $65 per barrel limit, saying it was too generous to Russia. Other nations, including Greece, don’t want to go below that level.
“If you put the price cap too high, it doesn’t really bite,” European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “Oil is the biggest source of revenue for Russian budget, so it’s very important get this right so it really has an impact on Russia’s ability to finance this war.”
Read more: Russian Oil Is Already Trading Far Below Europe’s Proposed Cap
More Power Equipment Pledged for Ukraine, Von Der Leyen Says (5 p.m.)
The EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Center is preparing to help Ukraine “restore and maintain power and heating,” EC President von der Leyen said in a statement after speaking with President Zelenskiy.
The latest pledges include 200 medium-sized transformers and a large autotransformer from Lithuania; a medium-sized autotransformer from Latvia; and 40 heavy generators — each capable of powering a small- to medium-sized hospital — from the rescEU reserve in Romania. The US also pledged more generators.
Ukraine continues to suffer widespread blackouts after more than a month of Russian missile attacks on critical civilian infrastructure. Zelenskiy tweeted his response to the call:
Read more: Kremlin Faces Rising Ire From Wives, Mothers of Mobilized Troops
US Steps Up Blanket Donations for Warming Centers (3 p.m.)
The US has donated 22,500 blankets for warming centers run by Ukrainian railways as millions of people continue to have only sporadic access to power and heat, US Ambassador Bridget Brink said on Twitter.
“Our 24/7 work to help Ukraine survive the cold this winter in every way possible is very important due to Russia’s brutal attacks on civilians,” Brink said.
Ukraine’s Energy System Weathered Blackouts Well, Expert Says (1:10 p.m.)
Ukraine may soon be able to provide power to most users for stretches of 16 to 18 hours as systems are repaired following the latest Russian missile attacks, Oleksandr Kharchenko, director at the Kyiv-based Energy Industry Research Center, said during an online briefing.
Automated protection systems functioned well during the blackouts, protecting the grid from greater damage, and most generating facilities can soon be restarted, Kharchenko said.
Still, a full recovery from the repeating bombing could take years, he said.
Power-Generating Equipment, Other Aid Flowing In (12:56 p.m.)
France is sending 100 high-powered generators to Ukraine, its minster for Europe and Foreign Affairs said. The Czech Republic also pledged a new aid package to include 626 heaters, 18 power generators and medical equipment in the amount of 22 million koruna ($939,000), according to Zdenek Hrib, mayor of Prague.
The German Technische Hilfswerk agency, a government body staffed mostly by volunteers, plans to send 150 generators to Ukraine in coming weeks, according to agency’s website statement, ranging from small portable units to those that can be used to power a hospital or sewage treatment plant.
US Ambassador Bridget Brink was present for the handover of 50 generators to Ukraine, the US embassy said on its Facebook page. USAID has delivered “more than 1,000 power generators to help hospitals, schools, emergency services, government agencies, and other public service providers continue working amid the war.”