Moscow ‘hits’ Danube grain port; ship sets sail

US condemns Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s grain infrastructure
The United States condemns Russia’s continued attacks on Ukraine’s grain infrastructure, the State Department has said as it called for Moscow to return immediately to the grain deal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin does not care about global food security, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters after Ukraine earlier on Wednesday said Russia had attacked its grain storage facilities overnight.

US slaps sanctions on entities over alleged arms deals between North Korea, Russia
The United States has imposed sanctions on three entities it accused of being tied to arms deals between North Korea and Russia as Washington cracked down on those seeking to support Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said that Russia has increasingly been forced to turn to North Korea and other allies to sustain its war in Ukraine as it expends munitions and loses heavy equipment on the battlefield.

The action is the latest by Washington, which has imposed rafts of sanctions targeting Moscow and Russian President Vladimir Putin since the start of the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people and turned cities to rubble.Russia could reintroduce compulsory sale of FX revenues ‘at any moment’: Report
Russian authorities are discussing bringing back the compulsory sale of foreign currency revenues for exporters, five sources familiar with the matter have told the Reuters news agency, with one high-level source saying that the change could be made “at any moment”.

The need to reintroduce stringent capital controls comes as Russian authorities grapple with a sharply weakening rouble, which tumbled past 100 to the United States dollar on Monday, amid ongoing Western sanctions and war in Ukraine.

Five sources, who asked not to be identified because of the non-public nature of the talks, said authorities were discussing the forced conversion of foreign-exchange revenues by exporters.

Russia’s central bank and finance ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

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2h ago (15:45 GMT)
‘Far-fetched’ reasoning, Belarus says as Lithuania closes two border posts
Belarus has slammed Lithuania’s “unfriendly” decision to close two of its border checkpoints as tensions between Minsk and its EU neighbours intensify.

Lithuania said it was “temporarily suspending” two of its six border crossings with Belarus from Friday, citing security risks posed by Russia’s Wagner mercenary group arriving in Belarus.

“Lithuania, by taking such decisions, purposefully and deliberately creates artificial barriers on the border to serve its political ambitions,” Belarus’s border force said on social media.

It said the decision would cause traffic queues and calling the move an “unfriendly step” based on “far-fetched reasons”.

The Wagner Group’s presence in Belarus has sparked alarm among Minsk’s western and northern neighbours.

Last week, Poland said it would boost security on its eastern border with 4,000 soldiers and another 6,000 in reserve.

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2h ago (15:02 GMT)
Switzerland backs 11th package of EU sanctions
Switzerland’s government has aligned with the European Union’s 11th round of sanctions against Russia over its war in Ukraine.

The Swiss executive branch decided that the new measures adopted by the bloc would take effect later in the day.

While Switzerland is not a member of the EU, as a key trading partner, it has followed every set of its sanctions against Russian companies and individuals since the invasion.

The 11th round of EU sanctions targets loopholes so that vital goods don’t get to Russia through countries that trade with the EU and have maintained a business-as-usual relationship with Moscow.

The multiple rounds of sanctions have affected banks, companies and markets, and even parts of the energy sector.Russian rouble trades steady against the dollar
The Russian rouble traded steady against the dollar, recovering from the day before when the central bank hiked its key rate to 12 percent after an emergency meeting.

Since the start of the year, the rouble has dropped about 30 percent of its value against the dollar, as Moscow deals with falling export revenues and higher military spending due to the war in Ukraine.

After a more than 16-month low against the dollar on Monday, the central bank raised its key rate after an unscheduled meeting on Tuesday.

The rouble may continue to strengthen against other currencies during the day, analyst Bogdan Zvarich said.

“Despite the worsening situation in oil prices, the national currency will be supported by yesterday’s decision of the central bank to raise the interest rate,” he said.Germany backs out of plan to hit NATO’s two percent annual target
The German government has backed out of a plan to legally commit itself to hitting NATO’s two percent military spending target on an annual basis.

An unnamed government source told the Reuters news agency that a clause in a draft budget financing law that was passed by the cabinet was deleted at short notice.

This means Germany will be able to stick to its current pledge of meeting the two percent target on average over a five-year period.

The softer pledge follows German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s original promise in a speech where he announced a “Zeitenwende” or sea change three days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Russian FSB and defence ministry foil Ukrainian sabotage attempt: Tass
The Russian state-owned TASS news agency reports that the FSB security service, with the Ministry of Defence, thwarted a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group in the Bryansk region.

“The FSB and attached forces of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation in the border Starodubsky district of the Bryansk region thwarted an attempt to penetrate the territory of the Russian Federation by a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group. Four saboteurs were destroyed,” the defence ministry said.

The FSB added, “In addition to foreign weapons, explosive devices, communication and navigation devices, FPV drones with stickers “Property of the FSB of Russia” and Russian symbols were found at the site of the clash, which indicates the preparation of provocations and sabotage actions on Russian territory.”

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