(Bloomberg) --

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov postponed a visit to Minsk after his Belarusian counterpart, Vladimir Makei, was reported to have died. No cause of death was given for the 64-year-old diplomat, a former chief of staff to President Alexander Lukashenko. 

Ukraine’s grid operator said power generation is running at about 80% of demand, and that consumption restrictions will continue for now. Repairs are ongoing after the latest series of Russian missile strikes on Wednesday. Kyiv is opening additional warming centers for those without power after its mayor was criticized by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. 

Republicans about to take over the US House majority say they’ll demand greater oversight of US military aid to Ukraine, though a key GOP lawmaker also backed sending long-range weapons to help defend against Russia.  

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

Key Developments

  • EU Postpones Talks on Oil Price Cap as Divisions Stick 
  • Russia Drafts Decree Banning Oil Sales to Price-Cap Participants
  • Team of ‘17 and a Dog’ Stands Between Moldova and Energy Chaos 
  • Germany Rejects Polish Call to Send Patriot Missiles to Ukraine
  • Russian Oil Is Already Trading Far Below Europe’s Proposed Cap

On the Ground

Russian forces will probably relocate some units from Belarus to Ukraine’s occupied areas, the General Staff in Kyiv said on Facebook. Two Russian missiles damaged transportation infrastructure in Kryvyi Rih, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s home town and a supply hub for Ukraine’s military. A Russian strike on the outskirts of Zaporizhzhia Saturday night caused a fire at an agricultural company, according to Telegram channel of regional governor Oleksandr Starukh. Russian forces are regrouping near Liman, Avdiivka and Novopavlivka, while Ukrainian defenders repelled local attacks in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, according to the General Staff. It says Russia plans another mobilization starting Dec. 10, something Moscow hasn’t confirmed. 

(All times CET)

Brace for More Russian Strikes, Zelenskiy Tells Citizens (9:35 p.m.)  

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Ukrainians that Russia “is preparing new strikes” in its effort to use cold winter weather as a weapon.  

“As long as they have missiles, they will not calm down,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address. “The week that is starting may be as difficult as the week that has passed.”

He said his government is working to prepare for “all scenarios, in particular with our partners.”

Ukraine Official Says Russia Taking Steps Toward Leaving Zaporizhzhia ZPP (4 p.m.)

Moscow’s troops may be making initial steps toward leaving the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant they’ve occupied since March, Petro Kotin, head of the Ukrainian atomic operator Energoatom, said in a TV interview.

Some Russian media outlets have started to suggest it would be better to pass Europe’s largest nuclear plant to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, Kotin said. For now, it’s “too early” to say when or if Russia plans to depart, he added. 

The IAEA has repeatedly urged the creation of a safety and security zone around the facility, which was damaged by shelling a week ago. Agency Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi met a Russian delegation in Istanbul on Wednesday “for consultations on operational aspects,” the IAEA said. 

Ukraine Aid to Face Scrutiny, GOP Lawmakers Say (3:45 p.m.) 

Two Republican lawmakers promised more scrutiny of US military aid for Ukraine after the party takes majority control in the House in January. “We are going to provide more oversight, transparency and accountability,” Representative Michael McCaul, who’s in line to chair the House Foreign Affairs panel, said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Representative Mike Turner, senior Republican on the Intelligence Committee, was critical that only part of a $40 billion in aid passed by the Democratic-led House in May went directly toward arming Ukraine. 

“These are American taxpayer dollars going in,” McCaul said. “Does that diminish our will to help the Ukraine people fight? No. But we’re going to do it in a responsible way.” 

Infrastructure Chief Says Russia Dragging Out Vessel Inspections (3:41 p.m.)

Oleksandr Kubrakov said Ukrainian ports involved in the Black Sea grain initiative are operating below 50% capacity because of vessel inspection backlogs in Turkey created by Russia. 

The Ukrainian infrastructure minister visited Odesa with US officials including Ambassador Bridget Brink. 

Ukrenegro Says Power Generation Running at Near 80% of Demand (1 p.m.) 

The state energy company Ukrenegro said almost 80% of Ukraine’s electricity needs were now being generated even as power demand rises due to cold weather. It urged users to use electricity “sparingly” to allow for fewer restrictions to bridge the 20% deficit. 

Power has been restored to most of Kyiv, days after extensive damage on Wednesday from Russian missile strikes on infrastructure, military officials in the capital said Sunday. 

Most electricity, water, heating and mobile phone services were running, the officials said. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy criticized Kyiv’s mayor on Friday night for being slow to set up emergency services for city residents left without power and heat.    

Lavrov Postpones Minsk Visit After Belarusian Minister Dies (10:30 a.m.) 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov postponed a two-day visit to Minsk after the death of his Belarusian counterpart, Vladimir Makei, was announced on Saturday. Details of a rescheduled trip will be announced later, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Belarusian authorities gave no cause of death for the 64-year-old in an extended tribute posted on Sunday, citing the father of three’s “sharpness of thinking and foresight, wisdom, rigor and humanity.” A memorial service is planned for Tuesday, the foreign ministry said. 

Makei had been foreign minister since 2012 and before that a chief of staff to Belarus’s strongman President Alexander Lukashenko. The Russian Foreign Ministry praised him as an “outstanding diplomat” and “true friend of Russia.”  

Russia Likely Setting Up For Another Northern Advance, UK Says (8 a.m.)

Intense combat continues around the towns of Pavlivka and Vuhledar in south-central Donetsk Oblast, though little territory has changed hands over two weeks, the UK defense ministry said. 

Russia likely assesses that “the area has potential as a launch point for a future major advance north to capture the remainder of” Ukrainian-held parts of Donetsk, the UK said. 

Ukraine Formally Launches Food Initiative for Poorest Countries (2 p.m.)

“Grain From Ukraine” aims to send grain and agrarian products to the poorest nations of Africa and Asia. It’s already attracted funding of about $150 million and support from over 20 countries.

Zelenskiy hosted an international food summit in Kyiv on Saturday attended by the prime ministers of Belgium, Lithuania and Poland, as well as the president of Hungary. Several other leaders joined via video. 

“Food security is one of the elements of the Ukrainian peace formula”, Zelenskiy said. Among the countries that will receive Ukrainian cargoes are Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Kenya and Yemen, he said, helping more than one million people. 

Russia, Ukraine Make Another Prisoner Swap (1:30 p.m.)

Another 12 Ukrainian service members were released by Russia, Andriy Yermak, a top presidential aide, said on Twitter. 

The soldiers included those who served in Mariupol, at the Chernobyl nuclear plant, and on Snake Island, he said. Over the past week, 98 Ukrainian POWs were returned, Yermak said. 

The Russian defense ministry said nine of its servicemen were released, according to Interfax. No further details were offered. 


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