Russia’s president calls for Western sanctions to be lifted. Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer caused criticism with his statement that Germany, as a mediator, should ensure that the Ukraine war is frozen. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war here in the ticker.
6:27 p.m .: During a speech in the Capitol in Washington, the Ukrainian first lady Olena Selenska urgently asked the United States for more weapons and specifically for air defense systems. In a speech to congressmen and senators on Wednesday, Zelenska accused Russia of waging a “war of terror” against her country, according to the translator. During her lecture, in which she showed pictures of murdered Ukrainian children, among other things, she thanked the USA for their support. “While Russia kills, America saves,” Zelenska said. “But unfortunately the war is not over, the terror continues.” She therefore felt compelled to ask for weapons.
“Weapons that are not used to wage war in a foreign country, but to protect one’s homeland,” said President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wife. “I ask for anti-aircraft systems so rockets don’t kill children in their prams, so rockets don’t destroy children’s rooms and kill entire families.” She appealed to the Americans: “Help us to stop this terror against the Ukrainians.”
Selenska complained that the war was depriving the Ukrainians of normality. “Will my son be able to return to his school in the fall? I don’t know, like millions of mothers in Ukraine. Will my daughter be able to go to university at the beginning of the academic year and lead a normal student life? I can’t answer that. What should Ukrainian teachers prepare for – work in classrooms or in bunkers? We would have answers if we had anti-aircraft systems.”
5.40 p.m .: The EU wants to tighten its sanctions against the largest Russian bank. According to information from the German Press Agency, Sberbank will in future be one of those financial institutions whose funds and economic resources can be frozen. In addition, no more funds or economic resources may be made available to the bank. Exceptions should only be made for transactions related to the trade in products from the agricultural and food sector.
The EU imposed the first sanctions on Sberbank in early June. At that time it was decided to exclude the bank from the financial communication network Swift. Financial data is exchanged worldwide via the messaging service for payment transactions.
The new punitive measures against Sberbank are due to come into force this Thursday as part of the seventh EU sanctions package against Russia. The committee of permanent representatives of the member states initiated the written decision-making process in Brussels on Wednesday, as confirmed by diplomats from the German Press Agency. It is considered a formality as the procedure is usually only approved when all EU capitals have cleared their objections.
5:20 p.m .: Germany and other creditors want to give Ukraine a delay in repaying debts in view of the Russian war of aggression and thereby support the country financially. As the Federal Ministry of Finance announced on Wednesday in Berlin, Germany supports a debt moratorium for Ukraine. This should apply to bilateral debts in the period from August 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023. A planned internationally coordinated suspension of debt service should give Ukraine additional financial liquidity leeway.
According to the ministry, the so-called bilateral group of creditors consists of Germany, France, Great Britain, Japan, Canada and the USA. They urged other creditors to accommodate Ukraine as well. We will continue to work closely with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Ukraine is highly indebted, almost four percent of foreign debt is due to liabilities to foreign countries.
5:00 p.m .: The EU’s new Russia sanctions are due to come into force this Thursday. The committee of permanent representatives of the member states launched the written decision-making process in Brussels on Wednesday, as confirmed by diplomats from the German Press Agency in Brussels. It is considered a formality as the procedure is usually only approved when all EU capitals have cleared their objections.
The new package of sanctions against Russia includes an import ban on Russian gold and plans to tighten export controls for cutting-edge technology and civilian goods that can be used for military purposes. Other people who support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine face having their assets frozen in the EU and barred from entering the EU. These include members of the Russian nationalist motorcycle rock group “Night Wolves” and the actor Vladimir Mashkov.
4.35 p.m .: According to the Federal Network Agency, slightly more gas than before the maintenance work is announced for the day after the scheduled end of maintenance on Nord Stream 1. In a tweet on Wednesday, the head of the Bonn authority, Klaus Müller, called 800 gigawatt hours for Thursday. According to the Nord Stream 1 website, the value in the days before the maintenance was around 700 gigawatt hours. This means that less than half of the maximum possible quantity would continue to be delivered. Most recently, the pipeline was utilized at around 40 percent. Müller pointed out that the information could change by tomorrow. So far, these are only preliminary announcements.
3:21 p.m .: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has commented on the peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. According to the “afp” news agency, the Russian foreign minister said that peace negotiations with Ukraine “wouldn’t make any sense” at the moment.
2:59 p.m .: After the regular technical checks on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline have been completed, the federal government is demanding that gas supplies from Russia be resumed. The Federal Press Office announced on Wednesday that Gazprom is expected to resume full gas flow once the maintenance period has expired. The deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann also referred to the contractual obligations of the Russian state-owned company. Routine maintenance is scheduled to end this Thursday.
A Gascade spokeswoman had previously explained that these reservations – so-called nominations – are a prerequisite for the transport of significant quantities. However, the registrations can still change until shortly before the actual delivery. Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin had already indicated deliveries after the maintenance on Wednesday night. “Gazprom fulfills its obligations, has always fulfilled them and is willing to continue to fulfill all of its obligations,” Russian agency Interfax quoted Putin as saying.
The now noted gas deliveries at least indicate that gas is flowing again at all. However, the data now available do not reveal with certainty whether and how much gas will actually come from Thursday. It can be renominated until shortly before the actual start of delivery – this means that the information can be changed.
Even before the maintenance of Nord Stream 1 began, the Russian state-owned company Gazprom had reduced deliveries through the more than 1,200-kilometer pipeline to 40 percent, citing the lack of a turbine as the reason. The Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday that this throttling should initially remain in place. The capacities should therefore continue to be used only to 40 percent.
Putin recently warned of a further reduction in the delivery volume if Russia does not receive the turbine repaired in Canada. She was held back for a long time because of Western sanctions. Canada recently decided to hand over the turbine to Germany. The federal government sees the reference to the turbine as a pretext.
Putin also revived the largely parallel Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which has been completed but is not in operation.
1:31 p.m .: Because the Russian energy company Gazprom, according to its own statements, has still not received any documents for the turbine used at Nord Stream 1, the company is questioning the safety of the pipeline operation. “To date, Gazprom has not received any official documents from the Siemens concern allowing, under the conditions of the sanctions imposed by Canada and the EU, to install the gas turbine engine in the ‘Portovaya’ compressor station,” the Russian gas company announced on its Telegram channel on Wednesday.
According to Gazprom, the guaranteed return of the turbines after their maintenance is essential for the safe operation of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. “Under these circumstances, Gazprom again asked Siemens to provide the documents.”
However, Siemens has nothing to do with the maintenance of the gas turbines. The group spun off its energy business as Siemens Energy and went public in 2020 and has only held a minority stake in the subsidiary since then. Gazprom’s press releases do not indicate which company the Russians contacted with their request.
In a statement, Siemens Energy has meanwhile described the maintenance of turbines as a “routine process”. “If politically desired and possible due to the sanctions regime, we will maintain other turbines with the usual high quality standards if we are commissioned to do so. In such cases, our goal is always to transport the turbine back to its place of use as quickly as possible “, the company announced.
The most important thing in brief: In the event of a gas emergency, EU states should be able to be forced to save gas according to the will of the European Commission. Specifically, the Brussels authority proposed on Wednesday that binding reduction targets should be possible if not enough is saved voluntarily. First of all, the EU countries should voluntarily do everything they can to reduce their consumption in the coming months by 15 percent compared to the average of the past five years.
12.35 p.m .: And that was it. The leaders of the EU have made their points clear. The task now is to save across the EU so that there are no problems in winter.
12:24 p.m .: If the EU now sticks together, Putin’s plan to weaken the EU will not work, Timmermans appeals to the member states. “We must use our strength as a Union.”
12:32 p.m .: “Our comfort has been affected a bit, but we still have our own destiny in our hands if we act now,” says the Dutchman.
12:31 p.m .: The winter after next could be even worse if you don’t act now. “We can act now instead of having to react later. We call on the member states to make voluntary waivers, but we can also make it mandatory,” warns Timmermans.
12:29 p.m .: “We have to save now so that the industry can work in winter. ‘Winter is coming’ is not a quote from Game of Thrones, but reality,” says Timmermans.
12:29 p.m .: Vice Frans Timmermans is now speaking: “Russia sees gas as a political weapon,” he says too. “We must therefore react politically. Putin is about division.
12:28 p.m .: So far, the EU has shown unity and solidarity during the pandemic and currently with the sanctions. The unity is now also necessary to cope with the gas situation.
12:27 p.m .: Some member states are more vulnerable than others, according to von der Leyen. But now you have to show solidarity. “Solidarity is a core principle”. “It’s a test, these are difficult times,” said the President of the Commission.
12:25 p.m .: Russia uses gas as a weapon, according to the Commission President. It is quite likely that there will be a gas supply stop. It was therefore suggested that the member states should reduce their gas consumption by 15 percent.
12:23 p.m .: It starts. “We have to prepare for a complete gas stop,” says Ursula von der Leyen.
11.45 a.m .: Because of the threat of gas supply stops by Russia, the EU Commission wants to present an emergency plan on Wednesday. According to a previously known draft, the member states should be able to order a reduced heating temperature of 19 degrees in many buildings in winter. In addition, private households are to be appealed to turn down their heating voluntarily. We accompany a planned statement in the live ticker.
The German government fears that Russia will stop supplying gas after maintenance work on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline is completed. Germany and the EU are therefore looking for alternative energy providers and rely on energy saving measures and the expansion of renewable energy sources.
11:25 a.m .: Russian President Vladimir Putin ties the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports to the lifting of agricultural sanctions against his country. “It should be a package solution,” Putin said late Tuesday evening during a visit to the Iranian capital, Tehran. “We will support the export of Ukrainian grain, but expect that all restrictions on the export of Russian grain will be lifted,” he said, according to the Interfax agency.
Ukraine is one of the largest grain suppliers in the world. However, their exports are blocked by the Russian war of aggression. The country also keeps ports like Odessa on the Black Sea mined to protect against Russian attacks. Representatives of the United Nations, Ukraine, Russia and Turkey have been negotiating the export of the grain in Istanbul for several days.
Putin said the US has already lifted some sanctions, most notably against Russian fertilizer exports. If Washington really wants improvements in the world market, it should also lift punitive measures against Russian grain exports. The US government emphasizes that there are no direct sanctions against Russian exports. However, there are uncertainties among the companies that are supposed to finance, insure and transport the exports. As a contribution to the Istanbul negotiations, the US Treasury Department made it clear last week that involvement in Russian fertilizer and grain exports does not mean violating sanctions.
9:23 a.m .: According to the Kremlin, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin wants to travel abroad more often in the fall. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said on Wednesday night that there would be no further foreign visits on the agenda in the near future. “But a few more visits are planned for the fall.” According to the Russian state news agency Tass, Peskov said on the sidelines of a summit in Tehran.
On the 15th/16th The G20 summit of the leading and aspiring economic powers is to take place in Bali on November. The Kremlin has so far left open the personal participation of Putin. In the West, Putin’s participation in the summit is considered problematic. Because of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Moscow is to be politically isolated.
Most recently, Russia’s chief diplomat Sergey Lavrov traveled to the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting anyway, but left the event early without listening to Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s response to his speech.
The Russian presidential adviser Yuri Ushakov did not want to comment definitively on participation in the G20 summit in Tehran either. Moscow received and accepted an invitation from host Indonesia. The decision about Putin’s personal participation will be made “immediately before the trip,” said Ushakov.
7.16 a.m .: After the statements made by Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer on the Ukraine war, the outgoing Ukrainian ambassador Andriy Melnyk sharply criticized Twitter. “We have to work to ensure that this war is frozen,” Kretschmer said, calling for Germany to play a mediating role in the war, including rethinking sanctions against Russia.
Melnyk’s sharp reply: “Ukrainians advocate sticking your head in a freezer to freeze your hot Russia fantasies,” the ambassador tweeted. “Your constant pandering to war criminal Putin is disgusting.”
6:06 a.m .: The military and security policy expert Carlo Masala expects that Russia will stop gas supplies in the fall at the earliest and that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will soon be released again. “I believe that Putin is not turning off the gas at this point in time, but is letting it continue to run at a reduced rate,” the Munich professor told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Wednesday edition). “It is more likely that Russia will stop gas supplies in the fall,” Masala warned. This could allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to put more pressure on European politics.
“By autumn, Russia could succeed in gaining military control over the entire Donbass,” said the professor at the Bundeswehr University in Munich. “Then Putin could offer a ceasefire on his terms,” Masala said. “In this mixed situation – high inflation, missing gas supplies plus the concrete offer of a ceasefire – there is a great danger that the social mood in Europe will tilt in order to make concessions to Russia,” he warned.
6:01 a.m .: According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Russian gas company Gazprom will “fully” fulfill its obligations. “Gazprom has fulfilled its obligations, is fulfilling them now and will continue to fulfill them in the future,” Putin said after a summit with Turkey and Iran in Tehran on Tuesday. Against the background of the Ukraine conflict and Western sanctions, Gazprom recently significantly reduced deliveries to Europe.
Hardly any Russian gas has flowed to Germany since July 11 because the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream 1 is out of service for maintenance work. It is feared that Gazprom could keep the gas tap closed even after the work has been completed, which Berlin estimates will take about ten days.
In Tehran, in the debate about the blockade of Ukrainian grain exports, Putin called for Western sanctions on Russian grain exports to be lifted: “We will facilitate the export of Ukrainian grain, but we assume that all restrictions related to air freight deliveries for the export of Russian grain,” he said.
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