Polish PM Says Appetite for New Sanctions Waning

(Bloomberg) – Volodymyr Zelenskyy discussed donor funding for projects to rebuild the country with a World Bank delegation visiting Kyiv. Official creditors have extended Ukraine’s debt moratorium until 2027 while the war-ravaged country receives an emergency aid program from the International Monetary Fund.

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Ukraine’s president told Japan’s largest newspaper that delays in donating weapons are hampering Kiev’s ability to launch a counter-offensive in the east. The Kremlin, meanwhile, has rolled back plans for another offensive this spring and is preparing for a long battle by trying to enlist up to 400,000 contract soldiers to fill its ranks, according to people familiar with the plans.

Poland’s prime minister said appetite for an 11th round of EU sanctions was waning in some European capitals, which he did not name, despite Ukraine’s repeated pushes for more action.

Important Developments

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  • Biden downplays the importance of deepening Russia-China ties

(All times CET)

Polish PM says appetite for new sanctions is waning (10:46 am)

Mateusz Morawiecki said appetite for an 11th round of EU sanctions against Russia is waning in some European capitals as the focus shifts to full implementation of the measures imposed in the previous 10 rounds.

Still, the Polish prime minister told Radio RMF that an 11th round of anti-Moscow measures within two months was still possible and that he was “optimistic” the bloc would step up them.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly called for further sanctions against Russia, including Thursday during a speech to an EU leader via video link. “The delay with new European sanctions packages will be unpleasant,” said Zelenskyj.

Ukraine plans to double oil transit fee, Kommersant reports (9:30 a.m.)

Ukraine plans to double its transit fee for Russian oil flowing through its territory in the Druzhba pipeline to Eastern Europe, Kommersant reported, citing unidentified sources.

The proposal would raise the tariff to €27.20 per tonne ($29.30) from April 1 through the southern branch of the pipeline, which will deliver oil to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the newspaper reported. Ukrtransnafta JSC blamed the increase on the cost of repairing infrastructure damaged by Russian missile strikes, sources said.

Russian attack on Bakhmut ‘largely stalled’, UK says (8am)

The Kremlin’s month-long attack on Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine “has largely stalled” because Russian forces there are “extremely worn down”, the UK MoD said, adding that Kiev’s forces had also suffered heavy casualties.

The situation was also likely exacerbated by tensions between the Russian Defense Ministry and the Wagner mercenary group, both of which troops are contributing to efforts to take the city of Donestsk, the ministry said in a Twitter thread.

Russia has likely shifted its focus to Avdiivka south of Bakhmut and to the Kremina-Svatove sector in the north, mainly to stabilize its front line, the UK said. The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank, said Russian forces carried out limited attacks along the Kupyansk-Svatove-Kremina line on Friday.

Zelenskyy Says Counteroffensive Timing Depends on Gun Donations (7am)

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The Ukrainian army is unable to launch a new offensive against Russia in the east of the country because it lacks the necessary weapons, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Japan’s largest newspaper.

“We can’t start [a counteroffensive] still. Without tanks, artillery and HIMARS, we cannot send our brave soldiers to the front,” Zelenskyy told Yomiuri Shinbun, according to Russian news agency Tass.

He also again pointed to the lack of ammunition in Ukraine, hammering out a point that has been repeatedly made.

Ukraine creditors extend freeze until 2027 (00:30)

Ukraine’s official creditor group has extended a debt moratorium until 2027 while the war-torn country receives an emergency aid program from the International Monetary Fund.

The agreement came along with other funding pledges the group made on Thursday, an important step in freeing up billions of dollars the nation needs to weather the Russian invasion, now in its second year.

The creditor plan follows an IMF staff-level agreement concluded earlier this week on a $15.6 billion package that marks the first loan to a nation at war in the institution’s 77-year history.

Read more: Ukraine’s official creditors extend freeze to 2027 amid IMF loan

Biden Downplays Importance of Deepening Russia-China Relations (10:25 p.m.)

President Joe Biden said he “does not take lightly” the prospect of a growing China-Russia alliance, but countered that the US is making progress in strengthening international opposition to Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

“We have significantly expanded our alliances. I haven’t seen that happen with China and Russia, or anyone in the world,” Biden said Friday, days after Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Putin in Moscow, during which the two nations pledged to deepen ties.

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Ukraine Approves Program to Increase Drone Production (5:20 p.m.)

Having already introduced expedited procedures for drone imports, authorities now plan to simplify procedures for approving locally made drones for military use and improve conditions for their manufacturers, the government said on its website.

According to the announcement, Ukrainian manufacturers have already submitted applications for 75 different types of drones, including artillery fire, evacuation of the injured and combat drones.

Zelenskyy meets with World Bank delegation (5:09 p.m.)

Zelenskyi met with a World Bank delegation led by Vice President for Europe and Central Asia Anna Bjerde and thanked the institution for its support during the invasion. This week, the World Bank increased its estimate of how much Ukraine will need to recover and rebuild to at least $411 billion.

According to a statement on the president’s website, participants at today’s meeting discussed the provision of donor financing, under the coordination of the World Bank, for projects to rebuild the country, particularly in the areas of transport infrastructure, electricity and health care.

Russia is looking for 400,000 more recruits (4:45 p.m.)

The Kremlin has rolled back plans for another offensive in Ukraine this spring after not gaining much ground and will focus on repelling a fresh push by Kiev forces that is expected to begin soon.

The Kremlin is aiming to enlist up to 400,000 contract soldiers this year to fill out its ranks, according to people familiar with the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss matters that are not public.

Read more: Russia seeks 400,000 more recruits as latest Ukraine push stalls

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