(Bloomberg) -- The Biden administration will announce another $1 billion in security aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, say two people familiar with the matter. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the disruption of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline as “sabotage” on Tuesday, and warned of “the strongest possible response.” Officials of US, Germany and Poland cited the prospect of sabotage by Russia after Swedish scientists said they had detected two powerful underwater explosions near enormous leaks coming from the pipeline system that usually supplies Europe. The prime ministers of Denmark and Sweden said the leaks were no accident.
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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia was “extremely concerned” about the reports of leaks, which prompted a surge in gas prices even though flows through the pipeline have been halted for months.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the current focus of the war is Donetsk, describing the heavily industrial eastern region as the “primary target” for both Ukraine and invading Russian forces. He also urged the international community to step up pressure on Russia with sanctions.
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On the Ground
Russian forces hit Kryvyi Rih airport in the Ukraine’s central Dnipropetrovsk region with a missile, rendering it inoperable, local authorities said late Monday. Russian rockets also struck the city of Zaporizhzhia. Ukraine’s General Staff reported that the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant remains tense, with staff reluctant to work with Russians and trying to flee occupied territories. In the south, Russia attacked the Odesa region with drones, all three of which were shot down by air-defense forces, while the city of Mykolaiv was heavily shelled overnight, local authorities said. Ukrainian forces continued to make advances north of Lyman and on the eastern bank of the Oskil River, according to the latest report by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
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US to Provide Another $1 Billion in Security Aid (1:30 a.m.)
The Biden administration was set to announce another $1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The money, provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, will allow Ukraine to buy weapons and equipment from US defense contractors, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a plan that wasn’t yet public.
The assistance, to be announced Wednesday, will bring total US security aid to Ukraine to more than $16 billion since January 2021, the vast majority coming since Russia invaded on Feb 24. Ukraine has repeatedly asked the US for more powerful weapons as it seeks to maintain momentum in its counteroffensive against in the east. In an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Zelenskiy said the US had agreed to provide Ukraine with Nasams air defense systems, and US officials say they’re reviewing requests for other weapons as well.
Von Der Leyen Calls for Investigation of Pipeline ‘Incidents’ (12:08 a.m.)
Von der Leyen said she had spoken to Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen about the “sabotage action” on the Nord Stream pipeline.
“Paramount to now investigate the incidents, get full clarity on events & why,” she tweeted on Tuesday. Von der Leyen added that “Any deliberate disruption of active European energy infrastructure is unacceptable & will lead to the strongest possible response.”
Denmark, Sweden Say Nord Stream Leaks Caused Deliberately (9:37 p.m.)
Danish and Swedish governments both concluded that the leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines were the result of deliberate actions.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters late Tuesday in Copenhagen that “several explosions have occurred” and they’re “not an accident,” though her government wouldn’t speculate on who’s responsible. Sweden’s cabinet, which held an emergency meeting on Tuesday, is treating the events in the Baltic Sea as “suspected sabotage,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told reporters.
Both premiers said the incident can’t be seen as an attack against their nations because it occurred in the Nordic countries’ exclusive economic zones, which are in international waters and not part of their territories.
EU Eyes Ban on Work in Top Jobs at Russia State Enterprises (9:31 p.m.)
The European Union is considering a German proposal to ban EU nationals from holding high-paying roles in Russian state-owned companies, according to people familiar with the matter.
The proposal, if formally presented by the European Commission and backed by all member states, would cast a wide net over EU nationals. As a result, it would be likely to scoop up former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, said the people who declined to be named on confidential talks.
According to German media, Schroeder is the chairman of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG, a joint project to transport Russian gas via pipeline, which is majority-owned by the energy giant Gazprom PJSC.
Read the full story here.
NATO Monitoring Nord Stream Leaks, Stoltenberg Says (7:13 p.m.)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance was closely monitoring the reports of the Nord Stream leakages, adding NATO was in close contact with the allies involved.
“This is something that is extremely important to get all the facts on the table. and therefore this is something we’ll look closely into in the coming hours and days,” he said.
Blinken Says Reports Indicate Nord Stream Leaks Were Sabotage (6:37 p.m.)
Leaks in the Nord Stream pipeline are under investigation and initial reports indicate they may have been the result of sabotage, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“There are initial reports indicating that this may be the result of an attack or some kind of sabotage, but these are initial reports and we haven’t confirmed that yet,” Blinken told a news conference in Washington.
Blinken said the US and its allies were “working day in, day out” to address Europe’s energy security, and “the leaks will not have a significant impact on Europe’s energy resilience.”
Russia Prepares to Declare Staged Annexation Votes Passed (6:22 p.m.)
Occupation authorities in Russian-held parts of Ukraine reported as many as 90% of those voting favored joining their eastern neighbor in initial returns from “referendums,” as officials in Moscow said they plan to move quickly to formalize the annexation.
The United Nations, as well as Ukraine and its allies in the US and Europe, have denounced the votes, conducted largely in an active war zone, as illegal and illegitimate.
Gazprom Warns of Sanctions Risk to Ukraine Gas Flows (5:30 p.m.)
Russia’s Gazprom PJSC warned there’s a risk Moscow will sanction Ukraine’s Naftogaz, which would prevent it from being able to pay transit fees, and therefore put at risk gas flows to Europe via Ukraine.
If supplies through Ukraine are shut down, it would leave Gazprom sending gas only via the TurkStream pipeline to Turkey and a handful of European countries that didn’t sever business ties with Russia.
Gas prices were up as much as 22% as traders factored in the prospect that Europe will have to live without Russian gas this winter -- and beyond.
Read more: After Nord Stream Hit, Gazprom Warns on Ukraine Flows
Ukraine Demands EU Add New Russia Sanctions (5:25 p.m.)
Ukraine seeks a clear signal on a new sanctions package in reaction on sham referendums being held on its territory by Russia, Zelenskiy said during a meeting with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. “We expect clear sanctions -- both in the 8th package and separate signals of what will happen if Russia recognizes sham referendums,” Zelenskiy added.
Russia Senate May Vote to Annex Ukraine Lands Next Week: Tass (4:10 p.m.)
The upper house of Russia’s parliament isn’t currently planning a special session to vote to annex occupied territories in Ukraine and may discuss the issue at its next regular session on Oct. 4, Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said, according to Tass.
The Kremlin has pushed through “referendums” on annexation in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions and local occupation officials are already reporting initial results showing 90%-plus voting in favor. The United Nations has condemned the “referendums” as illegal, as have Kyiv and its allies in the US and Europe.
Sweden Detected Underwater Blasts Near Nord Stream Leak (4 p.m.)
Two powerful underwater explosions were detected on Monday in the same area of sea as the Nord Stream gas leaks, according to the Swedish National Seismic Network.
The monitoring network said the first explosion occurred on Monday at 2:03 a.m. Swedish time with a magnitude of 1.9 on the Richter scale, followed by a second at 7:04 p.m. on the same day with a magnitude of 2.3.
“It’s clear that there has been some kind of explosions, and the coordinates match the leaks,” Peter Schmidt, a seismologist who works with the group, said by phone.
Danish Video Shows Extent of Pipeline Damage (3:20 p.m.)
The leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines are forming an area of natural gas bubbles about 1 kilometer (1,090 yards) in diameter in the Baltic Sea, a video released by the Danish army showed.
Another smaller area with gas bubbles measured about 200 meters in diameter, according to the footage, which the Danish Defense shared on its website and via its Twitter account.
UN Recorded Near 6,000 Civilian Deaths in Ukraine (3 p.m.)
United Nations specialists recorded 5,996 civilians being killed in Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion, including 382 children, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said in a new report.
The mission reported 8,848 corroborated civilian injuries, noting that actual figures may be much higher as hostilities severely hinder information gathering and verification.
Most of civilian casualties were due to the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The UN also recorded willful killings and numerous cases of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, as well as conflict-related sexual violence, mostly in the territories controlled by Russian armed forces or affiliated groups.
Meta Blocks Propaganda Accounts From Russia (2:45 p.m.)
Meta Platforms Inc. has blocked thousands of “inauthentic” accounts, pages and groups from Facebook and Instagram that originated in Russia and spread propaganda about that country’s invasion of Ukraine.
The group behind the accounts created 60 websites “carefully impersonating legitimate news organizations in Europe,” Meta said.
Russian Billionaire Fights UK Sanctions Probe (2:40 p.m.)
Russian billionaire Petr Aven, fighting a UK investigation for evading sanctions, used companies supposed to manage his luxury mansion as a personal “piggy bank,” according to British authorities.
The investigation has focused on around 3.7 million euros ($3.6 million) routed to the UK from an Austrian trust in the hours before European sanctions were imposed.
Read more: Billionaire Without a Bank Account Fights UK Sanctions Probe
Denmark Says Pipeline Sabotage Can’t be Ruled Out (12:50 p.m.)
Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, echoed Peskov is saying that sabotage cannot be ruled out as the cause of damage to Nord Stream infrastructure off the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea.
“It’s hard to imagine that these are coincidences,” the prime minister said in an interview with broadcaster TV2 from Poland, where she’s attending the opening ceremony of Baltic Pipe, a separate gas link between Norway and Poland.
Ukraine Slams Lufthansa Over Stake in Russian Airline Caterer (12:15 p.m.)
Ukraine’s foreign minister accused airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG of taking “blood money” and damaging Germany’s reputation over its minority stake in Russian airline caterer Aeromar.
“I urge the company’s management to immediately withdraw from Aeromar and stop supporting Russia’s war crimes,” Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF. Responding to ZDF’s inquiry about the Aeromar stake, Lufthansa said it’s not in breach of European Union sanctions on Russia and as a minority shareholder had no influence over a decision to establish a facility in Russian-annexed Crimea, the broadcaster said.
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