(Bloomberg) — The US Congress passed and sent to President Joe Biden a sweeping government funding bill that includes $47 billion for Ukraine.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US commitment to stand with the government in Kyiv “for as long as it takes” is the best way to “improve the prospects of a just and durable peace” and “to actually advance the prospects for meaningful diplomacy.”
Blinken — who discussed the war Friday in a call with his Chinese counterpart — said work is continuing to repair Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and bolster its air defenses, including with Patriot missiles.
Russia’s economy is forecast to contract by 2.7% next year on the heels of the 2022 3.3% decline, before potentially expanding in 2024, according to a survey of economists.
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On the Ground
Russian forces conducted limited counterattacks along the Kreminna-Svatove line in the east of the country and Ukrainian troops continued counteroffensive operations in the area, according to the latest report from the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. Russian forces also mounted further attacks around Bakhmut and near Avdiivka close to Donetsk, the institute said, adding that Ukrainian partisans continued to target Russian occupation authorities. Russia struck the city of Kherson on Friday, killing two people and damaging residences and critical infrastructure, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office said on Telegram.
(All times CET)
Pelosi Praises $47 Billion in Assistance (11 p.m.)
Passage of the spending $1.7 trillion spending measure by the House funnels $47 billion toward the effort to help Ukraine’s defense against Russia. It came two days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed both houses of Congress in his first trip outside his war-torn homeland since the invasion began in February.
“As the president of Ukraine said the other night, it isn’t about charity. It is about security,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her last floor speech as speaker.
The measure adds to the more than $65 billion already appropriated this year to address the conflict.
IAEA’s Grossi Had ‘Hours-Long’ Talks in Moscow (3:37 p.m.)
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, had a lengthy meeting in Moscow on Thursday on his proposal to create a safety and security zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is occupied by Russian forces.
Grossi met with officials including Alexey Likhachev, director general of Russian state nuclear company Rosatom, after several recent meetings with Ukrainian officials in Kyiv. Discussions will continue, the IAEA said in a statement on its website.
“It’s key that the zone focuses solely on preventing a nuclear accident,” Grossi said. “The plant is located on an active frontline in the middle of a large-scale war. The situation remains extremely precarious.”
Ukraine Has Imported Half a Million Generators (2:25 p.m.)
Ukraine’s citizens and business have imported some 500,000 generators of varying capacity to meet energy needs amid fears of permanent power cuts, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at cabinet meeting.
“Our partners also provide large generating sets capable of powering important facilities – hospitals or water supply pumping station,” Shmyhal said. “More than 200 cargoes with energy equipment have already arrived in Ukraine.”
Ukrainian Railways Says It Restructured Eurobond Payments (1:50 p.m.)
The state-owned railway company successfully restructured $895 million in eurobond payments, CEO Alexander Kamyshin said on Twitter, calling it “the first successful SOE restructuring without state guarantees.”
The company was advised by JP Morgan and Kyiv-based Dragon Capital, Kamyshin said.
Ukraine Aims For First Sea Port Privatization (1:20 p.m.)
The Ukrainian State Property Fund is preparing to auction the Ust-Dunaisk seaport in the Odesa region in January, the agency said on its website.
The port, located at the mouth of the Danube River on the Black Sea, was blocked at the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February and resumed work in April, becoming one of the first to export Ukrainian grain.
“This will be the first sale of a seaport since Ukraine gained independence,” the agency said, adding that the starting price of the auction is expected to be $1.64 million.
Air Raid Sirens Briefly Sound in Kyiv, Much of Ukraine’s East (1:30 p.m.)
Air alarms sounded in Kyiv and in many of Ukraine’s central and eastern regions in early afternoon before being lifted without incident.
Canada to Provide Funds for Kyiv’s Power Grid (1 p.m.)
Canada will provide $115 million in revenues it collected from tariffs on Russian and Belarusian goods to help rebuild Kyiv’s power grid, said Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Alleged German Spy Had Access to NSA Material: Report (1 p.m.)
A member of Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service detained this week, who allegedly spied for Russia, may have had access to information shared by the US National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ, Focus magazine reported, citing security sources in Berlin it didn’t identify.
Read more: German Allegedly Spying for Moscow Used NSA Material
The BND is concerned that the man, a German citizen identified only as Carsten L., may have passed some of the US and British material to Russia, the magazine said.
Power Deficit in Ukraine Shrinks: Ukrenergo (12 p.m.)
Ukraine’s power deficit narrowed slightly, though it remains significant as the transmission network has been severely damaged by Russian missile and drones attacks, grid operator Ukrenergo said on Telegram.
“Repairs at energy infrastructure facilities continue around the clock,” the company said, adding that all nine nuclear facilities are working at full capacity.
Netherlands Allocates €2.5 Billion in Additional Aid (11 a.m.)
The Dutch cabinet on Friday approved €2.5 billion ($2.7 billion) in additional aid for Ukraine next year to help pay for military equipment and reconstruction and provide support for the rule of law, human rights and war-crimes accountability.
“Ukraine can rely on the Netherlands,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a tweet following a call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The money comes on top of a support package worth €18 billion agreed this month by the European Union, Rutte’s government said in a statement.
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