Ukraine Latest: US Sees No Sign Its Weapons Are Going Astray

(Bloomberg) – Russia blamed Ukraine for drone strikes in the Krasnodar and Adygea regions near the Black Sea, but said they were repelled and damage was limited, Interfax reported.

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Ukraine has taken no responsibility for incursions deep into Russian territory, which have become more frequent with the ongoing invasion of the Kremlin. According to the state news agency Tass, explosions were reported near an oil refinery in Tuapse. Outside Moscow, a drone crashed in the Kolomna region but caused no damage, Tass said.

Pentagon investigators still have no proof that US weapons sent to Ukraine fell into the wrong hands, Defense Department inspector general Robert Storch told House lawmakers.

Big Take Podcast: How does Ukraine keep hitting back at Russia?

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

Important Developments

  • Ukraine is signaling it may be forced to cede Bakhmut to the Russians
  • According to Blinken, the US is closely monitoring sanctions evasion in Central Asia
  • Xi faces greater skepticism in China amid mounting global problems
  • Sanctions headache threatens to hurt India’s Russian oil imports
  • According to the IEA, gas consumption in China is more of a concern for the EU than Russia’s standstill

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(All times CET)

Baerbock warns China over drone exports (4:15 a.m.)

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Chinese drone exports to Russia would violate international law. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China bears a special responsibility, Baerbock told the public broadcaster ARD.

That means China “must not send drones to an aggressor, a state, a president waging a war of aggression that violates international law,” she said. “We are investigating and making it clear every day that such support is not within the scope of international law.”

Transnistria Ministry of Defense calls in reservists for training (4:15 a.m.)

According to state-run Russian media, the defense ministry of the breakaway Transnistria region in Moldova has called up reservists for a three-month training course starting March 1.

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The separatist region of Transnistria is controlled by Moscow and is home to Soviet-era Russian military units and ammunition depots. Moldova’s president has accused Russia of trying to destabilize the country and overthrow the government.

The announcement by the Transnistrian Defense Ministry indicates that participation in the exercises is voluntary. It is not yet known how many people have unsubscribed. The last time such training was conducted was in April.

US Sees No Signs of Ukrainian Weapons Falling into Wrong Hands (6:50 p.m.)

“We have not documented any such cases” of U.S. weapons going missing, Defense Department watchdog Storch told the House Armed Services Committee, adding that the Pentagon has more than 90 investigators involved in monitoring the US arms aid to Ukraine involved. He said there are 20 ongoing and planned assessments, including criminal units, focused on fraud prevention.

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The hearing of the panel overseeing military aid to Ukraine coincides with growing cleavages in Congress as it continues to pour money into crushing the Russian invasion. “We want to know that we can tell our taxpayers that their money is being spent wisely,” Republican Rep. Scott DesJarlais said during the hearing.

Though the US lacks ground forces to verify deployed weapons, Ukrainians have been provided with scanners and software to track equipment, Pentagon political chief Colin Kahl told the committee.

US Eyes Sanctions Central Asia Bypass, Says Blinken (6:17 p.m.)

The US is closing on monitoring Russia’s efforts to circumvent sanctions over Central Asia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Kazakhstan, emphasizing concerns that Russia obtains microchips and other technology through imports from its neighbors.

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The Biden government will provide an additional $25 million to help Central Asian states diversify trade ties and export routes, Blinken said in the capital Astana, the first stop on a tour of Central Asia and India. Blinken was speaking after meeting foreign ministers from the so-called C5 grouping of Central Asian states, which have long backed Russian and Chinese trade.

Kazakhstan does not want its territory to be used to circumvent sanctions, Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi said at a briefing alongside Blinken.

Read the whole story here.

OECD on Open Office in Ukraine (4:15 p.m.)

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is opening an office in Kiev, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said after meeting its secretary-general Mathias Cormann.

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In May, the multinational body, which includes nearly 40 countries, recognized Ukraine as a potential member country. The new OECD office will coordinate Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery efforts, as well as the country’s implementation of OECD instruments, standards and recommendations, Shmyhal said on Twitter.

US GOP Senator Predicts Biden Reversal at F-16 for Ukraine (3:20 p.m.)

US Senator Dan Sullivan accused President Joe Biden of blocking transfers of F-16s to Ukraine and predicted he would back down under bipartisan pressure, as he has done with other weapons systems in the past.

Sullivan, an Alaskan Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said on Twitter that he hosted Ukrainian fighter pilots in the Capitol last summer and wrote a letter to Pentagon leaders urging them to approve F-16s. Government officials have expressed concerns in the past that the planes would widen the war and unnecessarily provoke Russia.

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But Sullivan said the fighter jets were needed last year and certainly needed now. “Mark my words: as was the case during this war, Congressional pressure will continue and in two to three months the F-16s will be approved.”

Poland will not buy Russian oil in March, Premier says (1pm)

Poland plans to buy no Russian oil — or “almost none” — in February and March, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference in Warsaw, citing information he received from state-controlled refinery PKN Orlen. Since the weekend, the company has stopped receiving oil from Russia via the Druzhba pipeline. Russian oil accounted for about 10% of Poland’s supplies in recent months after the country hastily cut imports following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Ignitis Urges Sharing of ‘Additional Profits’ (12 p.m.)

Lithuania’s state-owned energy company Ignitis Grupe has written to competitors around the world, urging them to follow its example and share about 10% of last year’s “hundreds of billions of dollars in additional profits” with Ukraine to fund the country’s reconstruction energy infrastructure.

“We believe it is morally right to share profits with the country suffering the consequences of the war that led to those profits,” Chief Executive Officer Darius Maikstenas wrote in the letter to 57 companies, including Chevron Corp. , Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell Plc and BP Plc. Ignitis Grupe’s contribution would be approximately 12 million euros ($12.7 million), the company said in a statement to shareholders.

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War to Continue Through 2023: Latvia (11:30)

Russia has the necessary resources to continue its war against Ukraine this year, while the government in Kiev has “the willpower” combined with “growing Western support” to mount a successful defense, according to the Latvian Security Service.

Ukraine may also gradually recapture some occupied territories, the service said in its annual report, adding that Russia’s mobilization has still not provided enough troops to launch attacks outside the eastern Donetsk region near the border. The Kremlin is not ready for negotiations to end the war, and any signals of such an intention are a “bluff,” the report said.

Europe needs 2-3 years to replace Russian gas (11am)

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Europe still has a long way to go before it can fully replace Russian natural gas and prices could start to rise again, according to Claudio Descalzi, Chief Executive Officer of Eni SpA.

“It will take two to three years before Europe can fully replace Russian gas,” Descalzi told Bloomberg TV. Europe’s total imports of the fuel from Russia this year will be about 60 billion cubic meters less than in 2022, Descalzi said.

Listen to our special conversations from last week that marked a year of war, including our Twitter space analyzing Zelenskyi’s press conference as it took place. We also discussed the military strategies of the war, the impact on energy and the environment, the impact of sanctions, including on the wealth of Russian oligarchs, and the future of Ukrainian refugees.


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