Ukraine Latest: Zelenskiy Awaits EU Vote; China Buys Russian Oil


President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his nation was facing a “historic week,” as the European Union’s 27 member states decide whether to approve its bid to become a candidate.

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(Bloomberg) — President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said his nation was facing a “historic week,” as the European Union’s 27 member states decide whether to approve its bid to become a candidate.

While the French, Italian and German leaders have already given their blessing, all member states must agree. They’ll reach a decision late this week.

Russian forces are intensifying their attacks on the east and south of Ukraine, meanwhile, with street fighting taking place around the clock in Sievierodonetsk, one of Ukraine’s two remaining footholds in the Luhansk region. A fire broke out when Russian forces shelled a fiberglass plant in the city, according to the Ukrainian President’s Office. 

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China continued to snap up Russian energy products last month, including a record quantity of crude oil, lifting purchases to $7.47 billion — about $1 billion more than April and double the amount of a year ago.

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

Key Developments

  • Wartime Harvest Starts in Ukraine But Silos Are Already Stuffed
  • Germany to Bring Back Old Coal Plants as Russia Cuts Gas Supply
  • Balky Weapons Could Disarm Putin’s Arms Diplomacy: Clara Marques
  • China Buys $7.5 Billion of Russian Energy With Oil at Record
  • Ukraine Wins Initial EU Recommendation for Membership Path

(All times CET)

Poland Open to US Plan to Build Silos (8:36 a.m.)

Poland is ready to work with US to build temporary silos for Ukrainian grain with the decision expected within weeks, Rzeczpospolita newspaper reported, citing unnamed government sources. 

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The project would take three to four months to complete, it said. An area around Slawkow terminal in southern Poland is one potential site where the silos could be built given its wide-gauge track link, according to the newspaper. 

President Joe Biden said during a speech at the AFL-CIO event in Philadelphia on Tuesday that he’s working closely with EU partners to build temporary silos along the Ukraine border and some in Poland to get much needed grain out.

Ukraine Says Russia Shelling Intensifying (8:35 a.m.)

Ukraine expects Russian troops to intensify attacks on the key city of Kharkiv as they continue to focus their guns on southern and eastern regions. 

In the city of Sievierodonetsk, one of Ukraine’s two remaining footholds in the Luhansk region, a fire broke out when Russian forces shelled a fiberglass plant, according to the Ukrainian President’s Office. 

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Intense street fighting is taking place in the city, which is being shelled and bombarded by air along with nearby villages and the town of Lysychansk, according to Ukraine’s military. The majority of the residential areas in Sievierodonetsk are now controlled by Russia’s troops with fighting going almost around the clock.

Germany Brings Back Coal as Russia Cuts Gas (7:56 a.m.)

Germany plans to rely more on its legacy coal plants to keep the lights on in Europe’s largest economy after Russia cut flows of natural gas. 

A package of additional measures was announced on Sunday by Economy Minister Robert Habeck, that also included incentives for the industry to reduce consumption. The government will also offer additional credit lines by state-owned lender KfW to guarantee gas injections at storage sites. 

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Drafting in plants burning the heavily polluting fossil fuel is the latest sign of how Europe’s climate fight is taking a back seat as governments ensure there will be enough energy to meet demand during the winter. 

China Buys $7.5 Billion of Russian Energy (7:51 a.m.)

China continued to snap up Russian energy products last month, including a record quantity of crude oil, lifting purchases to $7.47 billion — about $1 billion more than April and double the amount of a year ago.

Total Chinese imports from Russia accelerated in May, surging 80% on year to $10.27 billion, as Beijing continues to offer support to an otherwise isolated government in Moscow. 

Crude imports rose 55% from a year ago to 8.42 million tons, with Russia overtaking Saudi Arabia as China’s main source of oil, according to customs data released Monday. Russian liquefied natural sales rose 54% to 397,000 tons, despite a 28% decline in China’s overall purchases of the super-chilled fuel. 

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Russian Gas via Nord Stream at 40% Capacity (7:29 a.m.)

Russian natural gas shipments via Nord Stream to Germany will remain at about 40% of capacity on Monday after Gazprom last week reduced volumes via the key export link. Flows via Ukraine are set to remain stable on Monday, based on orders. 

China’s Alumina Exports Soar to Fill Russian Shortages (5:07 a.m.)

China’s alumina exports rose again last month, as buyers in Russia sought to plug a shortfall because of war and sanctions. The 190,000 tons shipped in May brings the year-to-date figure to 380,000 tons, nearly 1,000% higher than the same period in 2021.

Zelenskiy Hails ‘Historic Week’ Ahead of EU Decision (3:55 a.m.)

The European Union will decide on Ukraine’s bid for candidacy status to join the bloc this week. While the French, Italian and German leaders have already given their blessing, all member states must agree.

“Tomorrow, a truly historic week begins,” Zelenskiy said Sunday in his nightly address. “A week when we will hear the answer from the European Union on the candidate status for Ukraine. We already have a positive decision from the European Commission, and at the end of the new week there will be a response from the European Council.”

His country, and Europe in general, should expect “greater hostile activity from Russia,” he said, as Ukraine awaits the “fateful” decision. 

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