(Bloomberg) -- The European Union announced a ninth package of sanctions against Russia, including restrictions on access to drones, chemicals and technologies used for military purposes.

The measures, which need the backing of all EU member states, were made public hours after President Vladimir Putin warned that the threat of nuclear war in the world is rising, and reiterated that Russia will defend itself “with all means necessary.” 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine.

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

Key Developments

  • EU Targets Russia’s Drone Access, Banks in Sanctions Package
  • EU to Target Russia’s Alleged Abductions of Ukrainian Children
  • Putin Calls Russia’s Nukes ‘Deterrent Factor’ as War Risk Rises
  • Strikes in Russia Leave Ukraine’s Allies Uneasy at Putin’s Reply
  • Airlines Urge EU to Set Terms for Return of Russia Flights
  • EU Leaders to Focus on Next Winter After Russian Gas Supply Cut

On the Ground

Russian forces shelled the town of Kurakhove in the eastern Donetsk region with multiple launch rocket systems, killing eight people and wounding five, Zelenskiy’s deputy chief of staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said on Telegram. The assault hit a local market, bus station, fuel stations and residential buildings. Kremlin forces attacked the Dnipropetrovsk region with drones and heavy artillery overnight, Governor Valentyn Reznichenko had said earlier on Telegram, adding that Ukrainian troops shot down all of the eight UAVs. 

(All times CET) 

Austin, Milley to Brief US Senate on Ukraine (8:15 p.m.)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley and Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo were set to brief the Senate on developments in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a White House national security official said.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were also due to join the briefing.

EU Targets Russia With Ninth Sanctions Package (6:10 p.m.)

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the bloc’s latest set of penalties aimed at Moscow for its war on Ukraine, saying the EU is “stepping up the pressure on Russia.” 

EU Chief Denounces Russia’s Nuclear ‘Blackmail’ (4:40 p.m.) 

European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovkis, responding to Putin’s comments on the risk of nuclear war, said the EU will not give in to Russian blackmail and manipulation. He pledged to continue to provide support to Ukraine including providing 18 billion euros ($18.9 billion) of financial assistance for the coming year.

“Ukraine needs our support and we are going to provide this support,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “We are aiming for the first disbursement in January and we are sticking with this.” 

Putin Calls Russian Nukes a Deterrent, Says War Risk Rising (4_25 p.m.)

The Russian president told a Kremlin human-rights panel that the country’s nuclear arsenal is a “deterrent factor” in conflicts, and stopped short of pledging not to be the first to use them. 

Warning that the threat of nuclear war in the world is rising, Putin reiterated that Russia will defend itself and its allies “with all the means we have if necessary,” and blamed the US and its allies for making nuclear threats.

“We won’t brandish them like a razor, running around the world, but we of course proceed from the fact they are there,” he said of Russia’s arsenal. “This is naturally a deterrent factor, not provoking expansion of conflicts but a deterrent and I hope everyone understands this.”

Putin Says No Need for Further Mobilization for Now (3:51 p.m.)

The Russian leader said there’s “no need” now to mobilize more reservists, with about half the 300,000 called up in September still in training, providing a “combat reserve.”

The last mobilization triggered a massive exodus of Russians from the country and shook confidence in the war effort, leading Kremlin officials to reiterate that there are currently no plans to repeat the move.

Putin also said achieving results from his invasion may be “a prolonged process.” But he cited the annexation of occupied territories as “a significant result for Russia.”

Time Magazine Names Zelenskiy ‘Person of the Year’ (2:42 p.m.)

Time magazine called this year’s choice of President Zelenskiy “the most clear-cut in memory” as the Ukrainian leader had galvanized the world in a way unseen in decades.  

Each year, the magazine chooses a person who has influenced the world the most for good or for ill. In 2007, Putin took the accolade. 

Sweden Says up to Ukraine to Decide on Talks (1:53 p.m.)

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom, whose country seeks to join NATO alongside Finland, pushed back against calls for Kyiv to negotiate with Moscow, saying Russia must not succeed.

“Messages from partners that Ukraine needs to engage in negotiations risk reinforcing Mr. Putin’s conviction that time is on his side and therefore prolong the war,” Billstrom said at the Atlantic Council on Wednesday. “Whether to negotiate with Russia or not — and if so, about what — is for Kyiv to decide.”

Ukraine Says 20 Vessels Being Loaded at Black Sea Ports (1:24 p.m.)

A total of 529 ships with 13.2 million tons of agricultural products have left the Black Sea ports of Odesa, Pivdennyi and Chornomorsk since the start of “grain corridor” initiative in August, the Infrastructure Ministry said. 

Currently, 20 vessels are in port being loaded with Ukrainian products, the ministry said.

Russian Damage to Ukrainian Infrastructure Worth Over $70B: Ministry (12:30 p.m.)

The amount of damage caused by Russian strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure targets and civilian residences, since the start of the invasion, has already exceeded $70 billion, deputy infrastructure minister Yuriy Vaskov said at an EBRD online conference Wednesday. That includes $30 billion in the transport sector and $39 billion in housing losses, he said. 

“We have already started the restoration of roads, bridges, railway infrastructure, built 12 module towns for those who lost their houses,” Vaskov said.

Ukraine Grapples With Power Deficit Amid Frosts, Ukrenergo Says (11:55 a.m.)

Ukraine continues to experience a significant power deficit, national grid operator Urkenergo said on Telegram. The most difficult situation is in the east of the country, where temperatures fell to -17C after Russian forces made repeated attacks on several energy facilities Tuesday evening.

Putin Discusses Oil Price Limits with UAE Counterpart (10:14 a.m.)

Putin has discussed “attempts of some western nations to introduce anti-market limits on the price of Russian crude” in a phone call with the UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

Russia is looking for ways to counter the price-cap and the decision will be taken by the end of the year, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said earlier this week. One of the potential solutions is setting a ‘price floor’ for international sales of Russian oil barrels, according to two officials familiar with the discussions.

NATO Chief on Drone Strikes: Ukraine Has Right to Defend Itself (10:06 a.m.)

Asked about recent strikes inside Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine has the right to defend itself against attacks by Russia on its cities and critical infrastructure.

The alliance chief said the conditions are currently not ripe for peace negotiations because Russia has showed “no sign of engaging in negotiations which are respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he told the Financial Times in an interview. He said that Ukraine has concerns Russia could use a pause in fighting to regroup and launch a bigger offensive later on, given that Ukraine currently has the momentum.

Stoltenberg added that NATO needs to be prepared for a difficult relationship with Russia for a long time. “When this war ends, it doesn’t mean that we go back to some good or normal relationship with Russia,” he said.

Turkey’s Karpowership in Talks to Provide Power to Ukraine: AA (10 a.m.)

Floating gas-fired power plants supplier Karpowership is in talks to provide electricity to Ukraine via Moldova and Romania, Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency cites Managing Director Zeynep Harezi as saying. The company plans to provide about 300MW to 400MW power to Ukraine from ships based in Moldova and Romania.

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