Zelenskiy Meets BlackRock Executives in Kyiv

(Bloomberg) – Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Russian Wagner mercenary group, has again threatened to withdraw his forces from the battlefield near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine due to a lack of ammunition.

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The target of Prigozhin’s anger, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, later ordered commanders to visit the Southern Military District to secure supplies of arms and ammunition for the campaign.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with BlackRock Inc. executives in Kyiv to discuss setting up a fund to support his country’s recovery.

Important Developments

  • Binance is facing a US investigation into possible violations of Russian sanctions

  • Data on Russian pipelines offers little evidence of oil production cuts

  • Russia’s next confrontation with the West takes place in the oil-rich Arctic

  • Wheat for first weekly gain in three years on trade concerns in Ukraine

  • Russia says it has billions of Indian rupees it cannot use

(All times CET)

Binance Faces Investigation into Potential Sanctions Violations (4am)

According to people familiar with the matter, the Justice Department is investigating whether Binance Holdings Ltd. was illegally used to help Russians circumvent US sanctions and move funds through the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

The investigation by the Department of Justice’s national security branch is looking into whether Binance or company officials violated sanctions related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to five people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named to discuss one discuss confidential investigation.

Zelenskyy meets BlackRock executives in Kyiv (9:29 p.m.)

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with BlackRock Inc. executives in Kyiv, including Philipp Hildebrand, Vice Chairman and member of the global executive committee of the asset management company.

BlackRock Financial Market Advisory will provide services to the fund, Zelenskyy’s office said in an emailed statement. The fund will seek private and public capital for projects in Ukraine after active hostilities have ended.

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“We can offer interesting projects for investments in energy, agriculture, logistics, infrastructure, IT and many other sectors,” said Zelenskyy. “‘We want global partners who can provide us with large investments.”

Chechen leader says he would replace Wagner group if possible (6:44 p.m.)

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said on Telegram that Chechen soldiers are ready to replace Wagner Group fighters in Bakhmut if Prigozhin follows his threat to withdraw his mercenary force.

Despite this, Kadyrov praised Prigozhin, calling him his “elder brother”. Kadyrov urged Prigozhin and the Russian military leaders to agree on arms deliveries and not to quarrel publicly.

UN Says No New Ships Allowed for Ukraine Grain Corridor (6:39 p.m.)

The Istanbul-based Joint Coordination Center failed to reach an agreement on Friday to allow new ships to participate in the Black Sea Grains Initiative, said Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General.

Daily inspection work on previously approved vessels will continue, he said. Ship traffic through Ukraine’s grain export corridor has been repeatedly disrupted in recent weeks. The current contract expires on April 18.

Ukraine Praises Approval of €1 Billion Ammunition Tranche (6:01 p.m.)

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba welcomed the approval of a €1 billion ($1.1 billion) European tranche for joint procurement of ammunition for his country.

Businesses Targeted by Strikes Says Governor (5:35 p.m.)

Industrial companies in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk have been targeted by rocket attacks, although no casualties have been reported, Donetsk regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Facebook.

Buildings have been damaged by S-300 missiles, but all valuable equipment has already been evacuated to safer regions of Ukraine, he said.

Raiffeisen is aiming for the separation of the Russian entity by October (3:39 p.m.).

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Raiffeisen Bank International AG hopes to complete the spin-off of its Russian subsidiary by the end of the third quarter.

The Austrian lender announced in March that it plans to sell or spin off its Russian subsidiary amid mounting pressure from regulators and governments. A final decision has not yet been made, and both results could ultimately fail if the costs prove too high, said CEO Johann Strobl on Friday.

Russia to Relocate Residents in Zaporozhye Towns Amid Fighting (15:24)

Russian occupation authorities said they would “temporarily relocate” about 70,000 civilians from 18 towns and villages in the Zaporizhia region, including Enerhodar, where a large nuclear power plant is located, amid mounting fighting in the region, Tass said.

Evgeny Balitsky, the Russia-appointed governor, said the order primarily applied to women, children and the elderly. He said they were being taken away from the front lines elsewhere in the region.

The fighting over the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar has raised fears that the plant could be damaged for months. The International Atomic Energy Agency is negotiating to establish a safe zone around them, but so far without success.

NATO Intensifies Submarine Surveillance (2:37 p.m.)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is stepping up surveillance of submarines after the defense coalition warned that Moscow was mapping critical European Union and US underwater assets.

In an exercise that began April 24 and ends Friday, 12 NATO allies have joined their naval patrol planes, surface ships and friendly submarines in a search for a submarine with very little information.

The “Dynamic Mongoose” exercise took place in the so-called Greenland-Island-UK gap, which Russian ships have to pass through to gain access to the Atlantic.

Read more: NATO exercises hone submarine-hunting skills in Russia’s backyard

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Zelenskyy meets with Bahrain Foreign Minister (1:21 p.m.)

During a meeting with Bahrain’s foreign minister, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the Persian Gulf nation for its respect for his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

At the event in Kiev, Zelenskyy presented Ukraine’s “peace formula” with Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani and invited Bahrain to participate in a peace summit that is being organised.

According to Zelenskiy’s office, the issue of returning Ukrainian children home and the country’s recovery needs were also discussed.

Wheat Prices For Weekly Gain On Trade Worries In Ukraine (12:17 p.m.)

Chicago wheat futures headed for their first weekly gain since mid-April amid concerns over the outlook for Ukraine’s grain trade.

Tensions in the region escalated this week after Russia claimed the US was behind a drone attack on the Kremlin, which it blamed on Ukraine, but provided no evidence. The rift comes at a crucial time for negotiations on the Black Sea Crop Export Agreement. According to Turkish media reports, a meeting of deputy defense ministers was postponed from Friday to next week.

Russia’s large rupee surplus with India a problem, says Lavrov (11am)

Russia’s large trade surplus in rupees has “become a problem” because Moscow has billions of Indian currency it cannot use, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

“We have accumulated billions of rupees in Indian bank accounts and we must use this money. But for now, these rupees need to be transferred in another currency and this is being discussed with India,” Lavrov said after talks with officials in Goa.

Russian energy exports to India have skyrocketed since the Kremlin invasion of Ukraine, but restrictions on the rupee’s convertibility make it difficult for Moscow to spend the proceeds.

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