Ukraine Latest: Orban’s Warning; EU Considers War Crimes Office
Hungary’s prime minister warned that Western allies have become “part of the war” by sending “ever more modern” weaponry to Kyiv.
(Bloomberg) -- With Russia’s invasion into its 11th month, the International Monetary Fund is exploring a loan of as much as $16 billion to support Ukraine’s economy. It comes a week before an EU-Ukraine summit, and as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces prepare for a new, lengthy offensive.
Hungary’s prime minister warned that Western allies have become “part of the war” by sending “ever more modern” weaponry to Kyiv. Poland will send 60 PT-91 Twardy main battle tanks to Ukraine in addition to 14 previously announced German-made Leopard 2 tanks and more than 200 other tanks provided in 2022.
The EU is exploring ways to create a special prosecution office to help probe Russian war crimes in Ukraine. It also announced that economic sanctions against Russia will remain in place until July 31.
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- Putin Braces for Long War as He Plans New Offensive in Ukraine
- IMF Weighs Ukraine Aid Package Worth as Much as $16 Billion
- Yellen Positive on Cap Talks After EU Floats Russia Diesel Price
- EU Proposes New Sanctions on Belarus, Targeting Energy, Tech
- EU Weighs Prosecution Office to Help Punish Russian War Crimes
- Ex-NATO General Vies With Billionaire for Czech Presidency
On the Ground
Russian forces delivered 44 aviation strikes on Thursday including 18 Shahed drones, all of which were downed, General Staff said on Facebook. In the recent 24 hours Russia used 70 missiles against Ukraine of which 47 were shot down. The attacks caused civilian casualties and infrastructure damage. Russia continues to build up its aviation in Belarus. Ukrainian army repelled Russian attacks near three settlements in Luhansk region and eight settlements in Donetsk region, including Bakhmut and Vuhledar.
(All times CET)
EU Weighs Prosecution Office to Help Punish Russian War Crimes (12:14 p.m.)
The European Union is exploring ways to create a special prosecution office to help probe Russian war crimes in Ukraine while separate talks on a special international tribunal to punish crimes of aggression continue to be mired in legal wrangling.
Moves to set up the office, which would initially be tasked with helping Ukraine collect evidence about Russian violence, gained broad support from EU nations this week, said people familiar with the talks.
Read more: EU Weighs Prosecution Office to Help Punish Russian War Crimes
Orban Laments Allies’ ‘Drift’ Deeper Into War (11:50 a.m.)
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Ukraine’s allies have become part of the war through their expanding military support for Kyiv. Hungary, by contrast, “has avoided drifting into the war” by not directly supplying weapons, even though Budapest has provided financial assistance and failed to veto financing of EU weapons purchases for Kyiv.
“If you send weapons and finance the full-year’s budget of one of the warring parties and you mull sending more arms, ever more modern ones, then you can say what you want, you’re part of the war,” Orban told state radio on Friday, calling instead for “peace talks.”
“It started with the Germans saying they were willing to send helmets,” Orban said. “Now, we’re at battle tanks, and they’re already talking about planes.”
Putin Demands Russia Oil Levy Rejig as Budget Deficit Widens (11:16 a.m.)
Putin demanded his government to come up with a plan for re-jigging Russia’s oil levies in a move to offset the effects from western energy sanctions on the nation’s budget revenues.
Officials were asked to prepare suggestions for a new method of assessing prices of Russian crude oil and products by March 1. The monthly price assessments are used to determine the level of oil taxes.
Read more: Putin Demands Russia Oil Levy Rejig as Budget Deficit Widens
Majority of German Voters Backs Tanks Decision (9:15 a.m.)
A majority of German voters, or 54%, support the government’s decision this week to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks, while 38% are against, according to a poll for public broadcaster ZDF.
The 1,345 voters polled by phone Jan. 24-26 were split on whether the move would prompt Russian retaliation against Western allies, with 48% saying they thought it would and the same percentage saying they weren’t concerned about such an outcome.
Poland to Give More Tanks to Ukraine (9:05 a.m.)
Poland will send 60 PT-91 Twardy main battle tanks to Ukraine in addition to 14 previously announced German-made Leopard 2 tanks, Andriy Yermak, chief of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s staff, said on Telegram.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Canada’s CTV News that Poland already sent 250 or more tanks to Ukraine last year. Most were T-72 tanks in various configurations, according to recent reports.
Italy’s Salvini Opposes Zelenskiy Address (8:31 a.m.)
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini wants Volodymyr Zelenskiy to stay away from Italy’s main song festival, to be held in Sanremo from Feb. 7.
The Ukrainian president regularly addresses popular cultural events, including music and film festivals, around the world to remind the public about Russia’s invasion.
Salvini, a long-time Putin admirer, said Sanremo should remain a place “for Italian songs” and that he won’t watch Zelenskiy’s address. His League party, despite being part of Giorgia Meloni’s majority, has criticized Italy’s plans to send new military aid to Ukraine in coming weeks.
Putin Braces for Long War as He Readies New Offensive (8:10 a.m.)
Nearly a year into an invasion that was supposed to take weeks, Vladimir Putin is preparing a new offensive in Ukraine, at the same time steeling his country for a conflict with the US and its allies that he expects to last for years.
The Kremlin aims to demonstrate that its forces can regain the initiative after months of losing ground, putting pressure on Kyiv and its backers to agree to some kind of truce that leaves Russia in control of the territory it now occupies, according to officials, advisers and others familiar with the situation.
EU Proposes Sweeping New Sanctions on Belarus (8 a.m.)
The European Union has proposed a fresh round of sweeping sanctions targeting Belarus for its role in supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.
The proposed measures would align Minsk to many of the sanction packages the EU has previously imposed on Russia, including restrictions on key technologies and the country’s energy sector.
Read more: EU Proposes New Sanctions on Belarus, Targeting Energy, Tech
IMF Weighs Ukraine Aid Package Worth Up to $16 Billion (3 a.m.)
The International Monetary Fund is exploring a loan for Ukraine worth as much as $16 billion to help cover the country’s needs and provide a catalyst for more international funding, according to people familiar with the matter.
The program hinges on conditions including endorsement from Group of Seven nations, and Ukraine’s donors and creditors ensuring the sustainability of the country’s debt, said the people. If approved, it would likely involve a disbursement of as much as $7 billion in the first year. There’s hope the plan will be agreed on by the end of March, with the first tranche coming as early as April.
US Sanctions China Imagery Firm Over Russia Ties (2:50 a.m.)
The US unveiled new sanctions Thursday intended to blunt Russia’s ability to wage war in Ukraine, including by targeting a Chinese company that allegedly provided satellite imagery to Wagner Group mercenaries.
The Treasury Department singled out Spacety China and its Luxembourg subsidiary for providing “satellite imagery orders over locations in Ukraine” to a Russian technology company, enabling Wagner combat operations. Wagner, a pro-Kremlin paramilitary organization, has sent thousands of its own fighters as well as ex-prisoners, to Ukraine.
Canada to Send at Least Four Tanks to Ukraine (7:20 p.m.)
Canada will send four of its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, joining allies including the US and Germany. Defense Minister Anita Anand said the government may send more tanks in future, depending on talks with its NATO partners.
The four tanks are “combat-ready and will be deployed over the coming weeks,” Anand said. The initial donation will include spare parts, ammunition and an unspecified number of Canadian soldiers to help train Ukrainians on the equipment, she said.
Ukraine Says Number of Grain Vessels Falls (5:34 p.m.)
The average number of vessels carrying Ukrainian grain via the Bosporus has dropped to 2.5 per day, the slowest pace since the grain corridor initiative unblocked such exports via three Black Sea ports in July, the Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry said on its website.
Intentional delays by Russian inspectors have caused the slowdown, the ministry said. Outbound grain shipments have so far totaled 2.4 million tons in January , compared with more than 4 million tons in September and October.
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