Ukraine Latest: Western Officials See War at Near Standstill | Bloomberg

by UKCHP_Admin

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is at a near-operational standstill, with neither side currently able to launch an offensive that would materially affect the course of the conflict, Western officials said.

In Moscow, Gazprom announced that it will stop delivering natural gas to Europe through its main pipeline for three days to perform maintenance, further squeezing energy supplies just as Germany is trying to build up stocks for the winter. European benchmark futures soared as much as 9%.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron by phone and said he was willing to assist an inspection mission to the Zaporizhzhie nuclear power plant. Putin is also slated to attend November’s Group of 20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, which may become a showdown between him and US President Joe Biden.  

Key Developments

On the Ground

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nears the six-month mark, explosions were reported at an ammunition depot in the Belgorod region of southwest Russia late Thursday. Ukraine’s air defense systems worked overnight in Kerch, close to key bridge between Crimea and Russia. A drone was shot down around Belbek Airbase, near Sevastopol in Crimea, Russian occupation authorities said. There were no claimed or assessed Russian territorial gains in Ukraine on Aug. 18, for the first time since July 6, the Institute for the Study of War said. Russian forces continued offensive operations north, west, and southwest of Donetsk City. The number of casualties after shelling of Kharkiv residential areas over the past two days rose to 20, Interfax reported, citing regional police.

Zelenskiy Accuses Russiaof Nuclear Blackmail, Warns of Tragedy (10:58 p.m.)

This summer may become the most tragic in the history of Europe history if Russia continues its nuclear blackmail at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address.

“Ukrainian diplomats, our partners, the UN and the IAEA specialists are elaborating the details of the mission to be sent to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” Zelenskyi said. He said the mission will restore “full security” at the plant.

Zelenskyi also stressed that gas is another “energy weapon” of Russia.

Gazprom to Shut Pipeline for Three Days in New Shock to Europe (8:25 p.m.)

Gazprom PJSC will stop delivering natural gas to Europe through its main pipeline for three days, further squeezing energy supplies just as Germany is trying to build up stocks for the winter.

European benchmark futures soared as much as 9% after the Russian producer said it won’t ship any gas to Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline from Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 because of maintenance. The work will involve the only functioning turbine that can pump gas into the link.

The European gas market has been on edge for months as Russia progressively cut deliveries through the pipeline, most recently to just 20% of capacity. Gazprom has cited issues with turbines, but European politicians insist the curbs are politically motivated as Russia retaliates against sanctions imposed after it invaded Ukraine.

U.S. Will Supply Ukraine $775 Million in Drones, Humvees, Artillery (8:06 p.m.)

The Biden administration plans to supply Ukraine 50 armed Humvees and 40 mine-clearance vehicles along with Howitzers, drones and other weaponry as part of a $775 million package of military assistance, the Pentagon said.

With the latest package, the US will have committed more than $10 billion in military assistance to Ukraine.

The latest assistance will include more HIMARS rocket systems, 16 105mm Howitzers and 36,000 shells, 15 Scan Eagle drones for reconnaissance, and more air-to-ground anti-radar missiles, the official said. The package marks the 19th drawdown of Defense Department inventories for Ukraine.

“As President Biden has made clear, we will support Ukraine as they defend their democracy for as long as it takes,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The United States will continue to work with its Allies and partners to provide Ukraine with key capabilities to meet Ukraine’s evolving battlefield requirements.”

Macron, Putin Hold Call to Discuss Nuclear Inspector Visit (5:59 p.m.)

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who initiated the call, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin said Russia is ready to assist an IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhie nuclear power plant. Putin warned of the risk of a “large-scale catastrophe” at the plant, which Russian troops seized in March.

Macron stressed concern about the risks to nuclear safety and security of the power station, voicing support for sending an IAEA mission to the site, according to a readout from Paris.

Ukrainian CDS Contracts to Pay Out after Restructuring (5:41 p.m.)

The Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee said a restructuring-credit event occurred with respect to Ukraine, triggering the payout of credit-default swap contracts.

Around $2.4 billion worth of Ukrainian debt was protected by CDS contracts on a gross basis as of last month, according to data from the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation. The maximum net payout would be around $220.7 million, it said.

Ukraine won approval for a debt-payment freeze from the holders of its international bonds, gaining relief for a budget wrecked by Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine Plans to Allow Men To Leave Country for Short-Term Trips (5:34 p.m.)

The government in Kyiv will allow men of conscription age to make short-term business trips abroad from Sept. 1, news service Interfax reported, citing Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko.

Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 who aren’t exempt for military service have been forbidden to cross the border since the war began under the country’s martial law regime.

Putin’s War in Ukraine at a Standstill, Western Officials Say (4:35 p.m.)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is at a near-operational standstill, Western officials said.

With both sides more conscious that they face a marathon rather than a sprint in a war already close to six months old, the tempo of the conflict has slowed, the officials said on condition of anonymity. They said the question now is whether Ukraine can generate a credible counter attack in the fall.

The assessment comes after a period in which officials in Kyiv had been talking up the possibility of an imminent counter offensive to retake Kherson, a river port city of some 290,000 that Russian forces captured as they swept through the south of the country at the start of the war.

Kremlin May Delay Annexation Votes as Advance Stalls (4:14 p.m.)

The Kremlin is considering the possibility of putting off votes to annex territories it’s taken in southern and eastern Ukraine as its military advances in the regions have stalled, a potential setback to Russia’s drive to cement its gains.

The referendums, originally targeted for next month, may be held as late as December or January because Russian troops haven’t yet been able to take full control of the areas the Kremlin seeks to claim as its own, according to people familiar with the discussions.



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