(Bloomberg) -- The International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved $1.3 billion to help Ukraine with its financing. European Union leaders edged closer to a Russian gas-price cap as a further measure to punish President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine, as Kremlin forces intensified strikes on the southern city of Zaporizhzhia. 

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to backers of human rights in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, collectively cited by the Nobel committee for their “outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power.” But some in Ukraine made clear their chagrin at sharing the prize.

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Key Developments

  • Human Rights Champions Win Nobel Peace Prize as War Rages
  • For Europe, Biden’s ‘Armageddon’ Warning Can’t Be Dismissed
  • NATO Once Feared a Putin Victory; Now It Worries Over His Defeat
  • Russia Escalates Strike on Southeast City as Ukrainians Advance
  • Oil Poised for Biggest Weekly Rally Since March on OPEC+ Move
  • European Gas Prices Ease as Bloc Seeks to Blunt Energy Crisis

On the Ground

Moscow’s troops are likely establishing defensive positions in the upper Kherson region following the collapse of the Russian line in northeast Kherson, the US-based Institute for the Study of War said. Russian forces continued to conduct routine artillery, air and missile strikes west of Hulyaipole, and in the Dnipropetrovsk and Mykolaiv regions on Thursday. In the past 24 hours, Russia has carried out eight missile and 15 air strikes. The city of Zaporizhzhia was attacked on Thursday night by Iranian-made drones, with infrastructure damaged in two districts, according to regional governor. 

(All times CET)

IMF Approves $1.3 Billion in Assistance (2:50 a.m.)

The International Monetary Fund on Friday said its executive board had agreed to provide $1.3 billion to help with Ukraine’s balance of payment obligations.

“More than seven months after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the humanitarian and economic toll remains massive, resulting in large and urgent fiscal and external financing needs,” the organization said in a press release.

“Amid massive population displacement and destruction of housing and key infrastructure, real GDP is projected to contract by 3% in 2022 relative to 2021 and financing needs remain very large,” the IMF added. 

Zelenskiy Says Army Has Freed 96 Settlements (9:11 p.m.)

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukraine’s troops have already liberated 2,434 square kilometers (940 square miles) of territory, including 96 settlements, since the start of its active counteroffensive.

“With this war against Ukraine, against the international legal order, against our people, Russia has put itself in conditions that it is now only a matter of time -- the real liberation of everything that was once seized and is now under the control of the Kremlin,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly address.

Zelenskiy Says IMF Approved $1.3 Billion in Immediate Aid (7:45 p.m.)

Zelenskiy said on Twitter that the International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved providing about $1.3 billion in immediate aid to Ukraine under its Rapid Financing Instrument. The IMF’s press office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

Shared Nobel Peace Prize Rankles Some in Ukraine (6:28 p.m.)

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak criticized the Nobel committee for awarding its peace prize to activists from Russia and Belarus together with a rights group in his country, summing up the anger many in Ukraine expressed on social media.

Sardonically calling the peace prize “awesome,” Podolyak wrote on Twitter that “the Nobel Committee has an interesting understanding of word ‘peace’ if representatives of two countries that attacked a third one receive @NobelPrize together. Neither Russian nor Belarusian organizations were able to organize resistance to the war.”

But Olexandra Matviychuk, the head of the winning Ukrainian rights organization, praised the Russian and Belarusian winners on Facebook. “Delighted that the Center for Civil Liberties, which I lead, received the Nobel Prize today along with our friends and partners at Memorial and Viasna,” she wrote. 

Ukranian Troops Say Musk’s Starlink Devices Are Out on Front Lines (6:34 p.m.)

Ukrainian troops are reporting outages of their Starlink devices on the front lines, limiting communication efforts in recent weeks, the Financial Times reported, citing Ukrainian officials and soldiers.

But that may be because Elon Musk’s SpaceX was trying to prevent misuse of the satellite communications system by Russian forces, Roman Sinicyn a co-coordinator at the Serhiy Prytula Charity, a foundation that donates Starlink systems to the Ukrainian armed forces, told the FT.

Ukrainian Railways to Restore Connections with Izyum, Minister Says (6:15 p.m.)

Ukrainian’s state-run railway company, Ukrzaliznytsia, plans to restore connections with the liberated town of Izyum in the Kharkiv region, on Monday, Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said on Facebook.

“As soon as we get the ‘green light’ from military and pyrotechnicians, will work on connection with Kupiansk, the key railway hub of Kharkiv Region,” Kubrakov said. He said establishing contact with Izyum and other settlements will allow providing aid faster and displaced people will be able to check the homes they left behind.

EU Aims to Finish Gas Price-Cap Plan in Two Weeks (5:33 p.m.) 

The EU’s executive arm is urgently planning to prepare several different options for how to cap the price of natural gas as it tries to alleviate an energy crisis

The aim is for a proposal to be completed by the time leaders meet in Brussels for an Oct. 20-21 summit. A consensus for measures to tackle rising energy prices emerged at an EU leaders summit in Prague, as several member states warned the EU needs to act quickly or jeopardize the bloc’s solidarity as nations start go their own way.

St. Petersburg Cancels New Year Celebrations for War Effort (4:05 p.m.) 

Putin’s hometown of St. Petersburg announced Friday that it’s canceling New Year celebrations to redirect funds to the war effort in Ukraine. The money saved will be spent on equipment for Russian conscripts and volunteers fighting in the conflict, City Hall said on its website.

Some regional officials, including the governor of the Siberian region of Omsk, have complained they lack the financial means to make promised state payouts to those mobilized.

Oil Poised for Biggest Weekly Rally Since March (2:45 p.m.) 

Oil headed for the biggest weekly gain since early March as OPEC+ put the market on course for further tightening ahead of winter.

West Texas Intermediate was near $90 a barrel on Friday, with futures up almost 12% for the week. Benchmark Brent topped $95 for the first time since mid-September. Russia reiterated this week that it won’t sell oil to countries that adopt a US-led price cap, adding to supply uncertainty. 

Russia Demands Involvement in Nord Stream Leak Investigation (11:36 a.m.)

Russia sent a letter to Sweden demanding its authorities and state-owned gas company Gazprom PJSC be included in the investigation of the damage to the Nord Stream gas pipelines, newspaper Expressen reported. 

The letter comes a day after Swedish public prosecutors and the security service concluded that the two Nord Stream leaks in the country’s exclusive economic zone were caused by detonations. 

Read more: Russia Demands Involvement in Nord Stream Leak Investigation

Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Activists in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia (11 a.m.)

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 was awarded to a human rights activist from Belarus, Ales Bialiatski, who’s currently in detention, along with the Russian rights organization Memorial and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties.

“They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, head of Norway’s Nobel committee said. “Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.” 

Memorial, a group founded by Soviet-era dissidents including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, was shut down earlier this year on the grounds that it failed to identify itself as a “foreign agent” under Russian law.

 

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