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Ukraine Latest: US Sending $2.1 Billion More in Military Aid

(Bloomberg) -- The US is sending Ukraine a new $2.1 billion weapons package, the Pentagon said Friday, including a new ground-launched, bomb-tipped rocket.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he wanted to begin accession talks to the European Union this year after meeting with the bloc’s leaders in Kyiv, urging EU member states to rapidly deliver weapons ahead of an anticipated Russian offensive.

“Our integration is irreversible and has full support of the Europeans,” Zelenskiy said at a joint news conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel Friday. The EU’s executive arm sees “no time lines” in the process, von der Leyen said.

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Key Developments

  • US Is Sending Ukraine Additional $2.1 Billion in Military Aid

  • G-7, EU Set $100 Price Cap on Russian Diesel as Import Ban Looms

  • US Raises Pressure on Turkey and UAE to Curb Russia Trade Ties

  • Don’t Limit Weapons for Ukraine, Next Czech President Says

On the Ground

Air alerts sounded in Kyiv and in many other regions, including the south and the far west. Russia conducted five air attacks over the past day and four missile strikes, two of which hit civilian infrastructure in the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, Ukraine’s General Staff said on Facebook. Ukrainian troops repelled assaults near 10 settlements in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east. Civilian targets in the southern Kherson and Mykolaiv regions were shelled from multiple launch rocket systems, according to the General Staff.

(All times CET)

Latest US Weapons Package Includes New Hybrid Rocket/Bomb (7 p.m.)

The US is sending Ukraine a new $2.1 billion weapons package, the Pentagon said, including a new ground-launched, bomb-tipped rocket.

The latest aid includes $425 million in equipment drawn from existing US stockpiles and $1.75 billion in contracts to the defense industry, Brigadier General Pat Ryder, a Defense Department spokesman, told reporters at the Pentagon.

The new rocket from Boeing Co. combines two proven devices: an Air Force Small-Diameter Bomb guided by GPS satellites that’s currently in wide use and an Army rocket already being operated by Ukraine’s forces. An industry official said it would take about nine months for the first deliveries once the Air Force issues a contract.

EU Backs $100 Price Cap for Russian Diesel as Import Ban Looms (6:20 p.m.)

European Union member states agreed to impose a cap of $100 per barrel on sales of Russian diesel to third countries as part of an effort to limit Moscow’s revenues, according to people familiar with matter.

The price cap mechanism is tied to an EU ban on seaborne imports of Russian refined fuels that kicks in Sunday. The bloc agreed to the $100 level for petroleum products that trade at a premium, including diesel. It backed a cap of $45 for those that sell at a discount, such as fuel oil and some types of naphtha.

France and Italy to Provide Their Air-Defense System (6:10 p.m.)

France and Italy plan to deliver the SAMP/T air defense system, also known as MAMBA, to Ukraine in the spring, the French defense ministry said in a statement after the French and Italian ministers spoke by phone.

MAMBA is the first long-range anti-missile system made by French and Italian companies and will help Ukraine to defend itself against drone, missile and jet attacks, the statement said.

Ukraine Gathers War-Seasoned Volunteers to Spearhead Future Offensive (5:32 p.m.)

Ukraine began to assemble a network of eight brigades tasked with leading the future effort to liberate all of the country’s territory from Russian occupiers. Regional authorities and police chiefs started a nationwide call-up for volunteers with combat experience, including men and women, to join the so-called Guard of the Offensive.

Reporting to the Interior Ministry, the units will be preparing to liberate the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhanks as well as occupied territories, including Crimea, according to a statement on the campaign’s website.

Zelenskiy Calls for Fast Path to EU as Russia Plans Offensive (3:12 p.m.)

The Ukrainian leader urged deeper integration into the European Union as he tries to rally his country to face an anticipated military offensive from Russia.

Zelenskiy and his government held two days of talks with von der Leyen and her commissioners, who traveled to Kyiv to deliver a strong signal that Europe will stand up for Ukraine, but made no promises on the next steps for the country’s efforts to join the EU.

Read More: Zelenskiy Calls for Fast Path to EU as Russia Plans Offensive

Estonia Calls on IOC to Ban Russians Over Invasion (2:38 p.m.)

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas urged the International Olympics Committee to reconsider its position on allowing athletes from Russia and Belarus to participate in the 2024 games in Paris.

“Russia has killed hundreds of Ukrainian athletes, including Olympic champions and world champions,” Kallas said at a news conference with the prime ministers of Latvia and Lithuania in Tallinn. She added that one in three members of the Russian team at the Beijing Winter Olympics served in the Russian military.

US Raises Pressure on Turkey and UAE to Curb Russia Trade Ties (1:52 p.m.)

The US has told the United Arab Emirates and Turkey that their economic and financial ties to Russia are hampering efforts to curb Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Brian Nelson, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the US Treasury, met with Turkish officials on Thursday and Friday to discuss US concerns about the rising exports that include US goods, according to people with knowledge of the matter. It was part of a regional tour that included the UAE earlier this week.

Read More: US Raises Pressure on Turkey and UAE to Curb Russia Trade Ties

Floating Power Plant for Ukraine to Arrive in Next 2-3 Months (1:13 p.m.)

A floating power plant will be installed in the Moldovan port of Giurgiulesti and connected to Ukraine’s network in the next two to three months, Zeynep Harezi, chief commercial officer of Turkey’s Karpowership, said in an interview.

The company’s specialized vessel will have capacity to generate 200 megawatts of electricity and will initially operate on liquid fuels before a gas pipeline has been completed. Karpowership aims to eventually plug the entire power deficit in Ukraine, now estimated at 1,000 megawatts, by installing more ships also in other neighboring nations such as Romania, she said.

Ukraine Continues Crackdown on Military-Related Graft (12:11 p.m.)

With talks underway focused on Ukraine’s potential accession to the European Union, Kyiv continues to announce crackdowns on potential corruption.

Ukraine suspects two executives from private companies it didn’t identify of mismanaging nearly 120 million hryvnia ($3.2 million) allocated for food procurement for the army, according to statements on Telegram from the Security Service of Ukraine and Prosecutor General’s Office. Officials are also looking into whether defense ministry officials were involved.

In a separate case, the deputy chief of the country’s top military medical commission is being investigated for allegedly taking bribes from military-age men in return for providing them with documents exempting them from the draft. More than 5 million hryvnia ($135,000) were confiscated from his office and home, the Security Service said.

Germany Approves Leopard 1 Tanks for Ukraine (12 p.m.)

Germany has given the green light to ship Leopard 1 main battle tanks to Ukraine, government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said at a news conference in Berlin.

The tanks will be sourced from German industry and will come in addition to deliveries of more modern Leopard 2s taken from the country’s military stocks that have already been announced and approved.

The news was reported earlier by Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The Leopard 1, no longer in production, was West Germany’s primary MBT in the 1960s and 1970s until it was supplanted by the Leopard 2.

Germany, Sweden in Talks Over Anti-Missile Systems for Ukraine (11:46 a.m.)

Germany and Sweden are in talks over a new weapons package for Ukraine which would see Stockholm provide air defense missiles and launchers for Germany’s IRIS-T systems, said people familiar with the matter.

The discussions would also make available more ammunition that can be used for Germany’s IRIS-T systems sent to Kyiv, according to people familiar with the matter.

Read more: Germany, Sweden in Talks Over Anti-Missile Systems for Ukraine

Druzhba Oil Link Operating Normally (11:41 a.m.)

Russia’s Druzhba oil-export link to eastern Europe is operating normally, said Igor Dyomin, spokesman for the nation’s oil-pipeline operator Transneft PJSC.

Earlier on Friday, Telegram channels reported that the link had allegedly been targeted by Ukrainian missiles, but the attack was repelled by Russian anti-missile forces with no damage to infrastructure. Transneft is unaware of any attacks on the pipeline today, Dyomin said.

On Thursday, pumping station Novozybkov of the Druzhba link’s infrastructure near Russia’s border with Belarus and Ukraine was shelled, but no injuries were reported and oil flows continued normally.

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