Ukraine Latest: Canada frees Nord Stream part; Zelenskiy firings

Canada said it’s releasing to Germany a key part for the Nord Stream 1 natural-gas pipeline that got caught up in sanctions. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dismissed Ukraine’s ambassadors to Germany and several other countries without explanation.

The US announced $368 million in humanitarian aid focused on providing food, safe drinking water and emergency health care for Ukraine. That’s on top of $400 million in additional military aid announced Friday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Group of 20 countries leaned on Russia to lift its blockade of Ukrainian grain exports. He specifically called on China to put pressure on its ally to relent.

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

Key Developments

  • Putin Is Set to Halt Gas and Germany Fears It’s Not Coming Back
  • Germany’s Uniper Seeks Bailout, Victim of Russia’s Gas Curbs
  • Blinken Blasts China’s Support for Russia, Calls Out Xi Jinping
  • Biden Lauds CIA for Punching ‘Gigantic Hole’ in Putin’s Playbook
  • Germany Sees Russian Pipeline Part Released in Gas De-Escalation
  • Yellen Heads to Asia With Russia Oil-Price-Cap Top of Mission

On the Ground

Ukrainian forces hit Russian separatist positions in the Luhansk cities of Alchevsk and Irmino with western-provided artillery rockets, according to Russian media. Russian missiles struck Kryvyi Rih in the Dnipropetrovsk region early Saturday, killing two people person and wounding three others, a regional official said. Ukrainian forces repelled attempts by Russian troops to advance in the Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk regions, according to the Ukrainian general staff. Strikes on primarily civilian targets were reported in the Donetsk region and on parts of Kharkiv and Mykolaiv. Russia is pressing an offensive west of Lysychansk — evacuated by Ukraine last week –and near Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region. Russia said it shot down a Ukrainian fighter jet and hit a US weapons cache near Chasov Yar in Donestsk.

(All times CET)

Canada Clears Pipeline Part’s Return to Germany (10:40 p.m.)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government cleared Siemens Canada to return repaired Nord Stream 1 turbines to Germany, resolving an impasse over sanctions affecting the Russian natural-gas pipeline that’s key to European energy supplies.

Canada will “grant a time-limited and revocable permit” to support Europe’s ability to access reliable and affordable energy in the transition away from Russian oil and gas, a spokesman for the Ministry of Natural Resources said in a statement.

German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck publicly pleaded with Canada for the release, saying the equipment needs to return before Nord Stream 1 maintenance begins on Monday — eliminating an excuse for Russia to keep the conduit closed.

Zelenskiy Fires Envoy to Germany, Others (6:16 p.m.)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dismissed his ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, along with ambassadors to Hungary, the Czech Republic, Norway and five Asian countries, including India, according to decrees on the presidential website.

While no reasons were provided, Melnyk has been viewed as controversial in Germany for strongly worded comments and Twitter posts aimed at politicians, including what he decried as hesitation by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government to expedite modern weapons to Ukraine.

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Israel’s embassy in Berlin recently criticized Melnyk saying he belittled the Holocaust in an interview, an accusation he called “absurd.” Melnyk also lit into a group of intellectuals who called for an immediate cease-fire in an appeal published in the German weekly Die Zeit.

Zelenskiy Meets French Senate President (4:10 p.m.)

Ukraine’s president met with Gerard Larcher, French Senate president, and a delegation of upper house lawmakers. More military aid to Ukraine and postwar reconstruction were among the topics discussed.

The French delegation attended a session of the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament.

Je me suis rendu ce matin à la Rada avec la délégation du @Senat à l’invitation du président @r_stefanchuk les députés ukrainiens ont ouvert la séance par l’hymne national, un moment de grande émotion

Sent via Twitter for iPhone.

View original tweet.

Blinken Announces $368 Million in Humanitarian Aid (2:17 p.m.)

The US will provide another $368 million in humanitarian aid to those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The funding includes nearly $288 million through the State Department and more than $80 million through the U.S. Agency for International Development, he said. The funds will provide food, safe drinking water, cash assistance, protection, accessible shelter, emergency health care, logistics, and humanitarian coordination.

The new funds take US humanitarian assistance since the war started in February to over $1.28 billion, said Blinken, who’s in Bali for the G-20 foreign ministers meeting.

Ukraine Soldiers Arrive in UK for Training (12:30 p.m.)

The first cohort of Ukrainian soldiers taking part in a UK-led training effort have arrived in the UK. As many as 10,000 troops will be take part over the coming months, the UK military said.

The training will give volunteer recruits with little to no military experience the skills to be effective in frontline combat, the UK said.

Blinken Blasts China’s Support for Russia (10:54 a.m.)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken blasted Beijing over its support of Russia after more than five hours of talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at the G-20 foreign ministers meeting in Bali.

Blinken said he told Wang that China wasn’t neutral on the Ukraine war because there’s no such thing as being neutral when there is a clear aggressor.

Russia Shells Zelenskiy’s Home Town (8:30 a.m.)

Russian troops early Saturday shelled residential areas of Kryvyi Rih, the central Ukrainian city that’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s home town. The Ukrainian president visited the area on Friday.

Ten missiles were fired with fragmentation and cluster munitions, most likely from a distance of more than 70 kilometers (44 miles), said Olexandr Vilkul, head of Kryvyi Rih military administration.

A 41-year-old woman was killed and two more civilians with shrapnel wounds were taken to hospital, he said.

Russia Reinforcing With ‘Ad Hoc Groupings,’ UK Says (7:30 a.m.)

Russia, during what some military analysts have called a pause in its eastern offensive, is moving reserve forces from across the country and assembling them for future operations, the UK defense ministry said on Twitter.

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It said many of the reinforcements “are ad hoc groupings, deploying with obsolete or inappropriate equipment.”

Many of the newly-created infantry units “are probably deploying with MT-LB armored vehicles taken from long-term storage as their primary transport,” the UK said.

UN Says Ukraine Shares Blame in Nursing Home Deaths: AP (6:17 a.m.)

A United Nations report has found that Ukraine’s armed forces bear a large, and perhaps equal, share of the blame for an attack on a nursing home in Stara Krasnyanka, Luhansk, in early March, that killed dozens of elderly and disabled patients, the Associated Press reported.

Ukrainian soldiers took up positions inside the facilities a few days before the attack by Kremlin-backed rebels, making the building a target, according to the UN.

Dozens of patients, many of them bedridden, were killed when fire swept through the nursing home after Russia’s assault started a blaze.

Biden Speaks to Sister of Former Marine Detained in Russia (2:30 a.m)

President Joe Biden spoke Friday to the sister of a former Marine detained in Russia after facing demands from advocates to do more for him and other US citizens entangled in the country’s legal system.

Paul Whelan was arrested in Moscow in 2018 and convicted of espionage in 2020. He denies the charges. The president, in a telephone call, assured his sister Elizabeth Whelan of his commitment to bringing her brother and the other detained Americans back to the US, a White House official said.

Biden Praises CIA (11:45 p.m.)

Biden praised the Central Intelligence Agency’s efforts to expose Russia’s plans to invade Ukraine, telling the staff that they had “punched a gigantic hole” in President Vladimir Putin’s objectives.

“It was thanks to the incredible work of our intelligence professionals that we were able to forewarn the world what Vladimir Putin was planning in Ukraine,” Biden said during his first visit as president to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. “We saw what he was doing. You saw it, the forces he was amassing, the plans he was making.”

In the prelude to Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine, Biden and administration officials publicized the typically secretive work of the CIA, in an effort to warn Kyiv and the rest of the world of Putin’s intentions.

US Providing High-Precision Ammo in $400 Million Package (7:30 p.m.)

The US announced an additional $400 million in military aid for Ukraine, which will include four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and high-precision ammunition allowing its forces to strike deeper and more accurately behind Russia’s front lines, according to a senior defense official. Ukraine will have a total of 12 HIMARS after the new units arrive, the official said.

The latest US aid package includes 1,000 155mm artillery rounds as well as three tactical vehicles for equipment recovery, the official said in a briefing for reporters. The official declined to say if the ammunition was GPS-guided Excalibur artillery shells.

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