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Ukraine Latest: Russia Launches New Drone Attacks in South, East

(Bloomberg) — Fresh drone attacks occurred in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions on Wednesday.

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Gazprom PJSC’s exports to its key foreign markets declined by almost half this year as the Russian natural gas giant’s flows to Europe were slashed following President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had discussed the postwar rebuilding effort with BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink as his government prepares to participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos next month. He didn’t say whether he would attend the Jan. 16-20 forum in person or participate virtually.

Addressing lawmakers in Kyiv, Zelenskiy called for the Ukrainian energy system, which has been targeted by multiple Russian bombardments in the last few months, to be decentralized, saying it’s dangerous when cities depend on several big plants.

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

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On the Ground

Russia hit the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine with single-use drones Wednesday night. Dnipro regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said on Telegram that Ukrainian Air Defense shot down five drones in the region. Ukrainian air-defense forces have downed 420 Russian rockets and 430 drones since September, spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said on television earlier, adding that the military was ready for more potential strikes. Zelenskiy and other officials have warned that Russia may stage a new attack during the New Year holidays.

(All times CET)

French Armed Forces Minister Meets With Zelenskiy (12 a.m.)

Sebastien Lecornu, France’s minister of armed forces, arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday and met with Zelenskiy and other top Ukrainian officials.

“We discussed further steps to strengthen the defense capabilities of our country with the support of France”, Zelenskiy said on Telegram, adding that he was grateful to France for the “already provided military assistance aimed at protecting the Ukrainian sky and strengthening the capabilities of the defense forces.”

Russian Ministry Calls for Military Courses in Universities (7:03 p.m.)

Russia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education is calling for universities to include courses on the main elements of military preparation in programs for the academic year starting Sept. 1, the state-run Tass news service reported.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered Tuesday that military centers attached to state universities be set up in 16 regions, according to Tass.

Zelenskiy Calls for Overhaul of Ukraine’s Energy System (5:11 p.m.)

Ukraine should use green energy in the future to build a decentralized energy system that can’t be destroyed by missile strikes, Zelenskiy said in the aftermath of Russian attacks against critical infrastructure.

The president also pledged during his end-of-year address to parliament to boost the number of Starlink satellite antennas operating in Ukraine to more than 30,000, as well as to complete the “total digitalization” of government services. Mykhailo Fedorov, deputy prime minister and minister for digital transformation, said earlier this month that Ukraine had received about 22,000 of the devices since the war began in February.

Russian Gas Giant’s Exports at Lowest This Century (3:33 p.m.)

Gazprom sent 100.9 billion cubic meters of natural gas to countries outside the former Soviet Union this year, Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said Wednesday, according to a transcript of his comments on the company’s Telegram channel.

While that figure represents a 46% drop from 2021, the company has been gradually increasing supplies to China, with daily volumes in December topping contractual levels and on some days reaching records.

Russia Flagship Crude Exports Drop 16% from November (3:28 p.m.)

Russia cut shipments of Urals oil from its three main western ports sharply this month, signaling the nation has had difficulty in replacing European buyers bound by sanctions. Urals exports dropped to 6.7 million tons, or 1.58 million barrels a day, in December, according to loading programs compiled by port agents.

Russia Expels Lithuanian Diplomat (2:38 p.m.)

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it’s expelling a Lithuanian diplomat in retaliation for a similar step by the government in Vilnius.

Lithuania ordered out a Russian diplomat for “activities inconsistent with diplomatic status” on Dec. 1. Russia and the US and its European allies have each expelled scores of diplomats in tit-for-tat moves since the Kremlin invaded Ukraine in February.

Ukraine Says Ferrexpo Owner Zhevago Detained in France (2:04 p.m.)

Ukrainian investigators said that Kostyantin Zhevago, the billionaire chief of iron-ore miner Ferrexpo Plc, had been detained in France on suspicion of money laundering and embezzling funds linked to his banking business.

Zhevago was detained at a hotel in the French ski resort of Courchevel on Tuesday by French police, the Ukrainian State Bureau of Investigation said in a statement. The necessary documents for his extradition are being prepared, the bureau said. Ukraine put him on the international wanted list in 2019.

Ports Damage Seen at Almost $400 Million: Official (12 p.m.)

Russian shelling has caused damage to port facilities in Greater Odesa and Mykolaiv worth at least $380 million, Ukrainian Sea Ports Administration chief Oleksii Vostrikov said in an interview published on the agency’s Facebook page.

Cargo volumes at Ukrainian ports slumped to 50.8 million tons in 2022, three times less than the previous year, according to Vostrikov. The total volume of grain shipped through Ukrainian ports will amount to some 15-16 million tons by the end of the year, Vostrikov predicted.

Russian Billionaire Warns on Fertilizer Snarl (11:15 a.m.)

Russian fertilizer billionaire Andrey Melnichenko is lobbying politicians in Africa to pressure the European Union into finding a solution to what he says are sanctions-related disruptions choking flows of food and vital crop nutrients.

While EU sanctions on Russia don’t target agricultural products or fertilizers, trade is still being affected. That’s curbed fertilizer shipments by about 9 million tons so far this year, said Melnichenko, the founder of EuroChem Group AG.

(An item on fertilizers in a previous version of this story was corrected to remove a reference to self-sanctioning.)

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