Ukraine latest: Blinken says US aid ‘best way to achieve just peace’ | Daily News Byte

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A commitment by the United States to stand by the government in Kiev “for as long as necessary” is the best way to “improve the prospects for a just and lasting peace” and “really improve the prospects for meaningful diplomacy,” says Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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(Bloomberg) — The US commitment to stand with the government in Kyiv “for as long as it takes” is the best way to “improve the prospects of a just and durable peace” and “to actually advance the prospects for meaningful diplomacy,” according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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Blinken — who discussed the war Friday in a conversation with his Chinese counterpart — said work was continuing to repair and defend Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and strengthen its air defenses, including Patriot missiles.

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“We know a hard winter is ahead for Ukrainians as President Putin implements his new strategy of trying to freeze Ukrainian men, women, children, the elderly to death,” Blinken said in a statement to reporters.

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

Key developments

  • Biden targets Russian mercenaries accused of crimes in Ukraine
  • Russia could reduce daily oil production by 700,000 barrels, says Novak
  • Heat drags European gas to biggest weekly drop since September
  • Germany arrested an alleged double agent for cooperating with Russia
  • The tycoon is looking to expand into Ukraine despite being sanctioned there

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On the field

Russian forces launched limited counterattacks along the Kremen-Svatova line in the east of the country, and Ukrainian troops continued counteroffensive operations in the area, according to the latest report from the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. Russian forces also carried out further attacks around Bakhmut and near Avdiyivka near Donetsk, the institute said, adding that Ukrainian partisans continued to target Russian occupation authorities. Ukrainian troops repelled Russian attacks near 19 settlements, the country’s general staff announced on Facebook.

(All times CET)

The Netherlands allocates 2.5 billion euros of additional aid (11 hours)

The Dutch government on Friday approved 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in additional aid to Ukraine next year to help pay for military equipment and reconstruction and support the rule of law, human rights and accountability for war crimes.

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“Ukraine can rely on the Netherlands,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a tweet after talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky. The money comes on top of an 18 billion euro support package agreed by the European Union this month, Rutte’s government said in a statement.

Habeck sees a stronger Germany (10:40 a.m.)

Germany has become stronger as a nation since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and while some mistakes were made in the government’s response, they have been corrected and lessons learned, Economy Minister Robert Habeck said.

“I can’t promise you that 2023 will be an easier year,” Habeck said in a holiday message posted on Twitter. “But I would like to say that this year we have become stronger, so strong that we can promise further support to Ukraine,” he added. “And so strong that we can approach 2023 with some confidence.”

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Russian economy shrinks by 2.7% in 2023 (10:15)

Russia’s economy will contract by 2.7% next year before returning to growth and expanding by 1.6% in 2024, according to a Dec. 16-21 Bloomberg survey of 26 economists.

The central bank issued its starkest warning yet last week that the recall of people from the Kremlin, combined with a massive exodus of Russians, is leaving the economy starved of workers and could put upward pressure on inflation. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s economy is shrinking 33% this year and growing 2.8% in 2023, according to a Bloomberg survey of nine economists.

Russian shares fall for six weeks (8:45 am)

Russia’s benchmark MOEX index is on track to post six straight weeks of losses, its longest streak since 2017, as traders assess the impact of sanctions and other restrictions on the economy.

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The MOEX index fell by 0.4 percent on Friday, led by Lukoil, Sberbank and Norilsk Nickel. That extended its weekly decline to 0.8%. The index has fallen by around 44% this year.

Germany helps reduce reliance on Soviet kit (8:30am)

Germany’s defense ministry said recent exchange agreements with countries including Slovakia are helping NATO partners end their reliance on outdated Soviet-era military equipment.

According to the agreements, Germany replaces the equipment supplied by the nations to Ukraine with more modern material. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht delivered the first of 15 Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks to Slovakia this week, with the remaining 14 to follow next year.

Oil gains as Russia threatens to cut output (7:30am)

Oil headed for a significant weekly gain as Russia said it may cut crude output in response to a price cap imposed by the Group of Seven on its exports, highlighting risks to global supplies in the new year.

West Texas Intermediate climbed above $78 a barrel, set for a gain of more than 5% this week, even as concerns over short-term demand in China flared and US data boosted the prospect of more interest rate hikes. Russia could cut production by 500,000 to 700,000 barrels a day in response to the cap, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said, according to the state news service Tass.

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