Live blog | First Russian soldier in court, Russians call for Kramatorsk evacuation

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has now lasted for 78 days. In this liveblog you can read the latest news about the war and its consequences.

Aziz Karimov / SOPA Images / Sipa USA

European gas more expensive again after concerns about delivery from Russia

09:08 | The price of European gas rose sharply again on Thursday. Concerns about the supply of Russian gas via Ukraine caused a price increase to 11 percent shortly after the opening of the leading gas exchange in Amsterdam. Around 08.30 a megawatt-hour gas was worth 100 euros, still 6.4 per cent more than the day before.

The cause of the concerns is a growing quarrel between Russia and the Ukrainian gas network operator. He indicated that even less Russian gas will pass through pipelines through Ukrainian territory. On Wednesday, Ukraine refused to allow Russian gas through one of its two main points of entry. The network operator stated that it was force majeure because he was unable to exercise control over important infrastructure due to the war in the country. Russian troops in Ukraine are also said to be illegally tapping gas.

Gazprom already announced at the time that it would not be able to divert all the gas. The Russian state gas company, meanwhile, took steps against Gazprom Germania, which has been temporarily taken over by Germany, and Wingas. The latter company is also a German gas supplier to Gazprom. It is no longer permitted to trade with any of the companies. It was not immediately clear what the consequences would be for the gas supply.

The Russian move appears to be a response to the many sanctions the West has imposed on Russia. A spokeswoman for the German economy minister said she was “evaluating the announcements”. According to her, there is no problem with security of supply, but it is monitored on an ongoing basis.

Siemens turns its back on Russia after nearly 170 years

08:12 | Siemens is leaving Russia due to the war in Ukraine after being active in the country for almost 170 years. The sanctions against Russia already caused the German industrial group an economic blow of around 600 million euros last quarter.

After the outbreak of the war, Siemens already stopped all new contracts and international deliveries to Russia and Belarus. Combined with the sanctions, it put a lot of pressure on the results. The branch dealing with railways, trains and maintenance activities was particularly affected by the situation.

It was not an easy decision to turn our backs on Russia, according to CEO Roland Busch. The company has about 3000 employees and has a long history in the country. In the nineteenth century, Carl von Siemens, brother of the company’s founder, even settled permanently in Russia. He was also knighted by the Russian Tsar.

It is not yet entirely clear how the departure from Russia will take shape. Siemens chooses an ‘orderly process’ when the activities are to be phased out, Busch says. This process is also said to have already started. “We are evaluating the impact on our people and we will continue to support them as best we can.”

Sif sees greater demand for wind energy due to the Ukraine war

08:08 | The builder of foundations for wind turbines Sif sees a greater demand for offshore wind energy due to the war in Ukraine and countries’ desire to move away from Russian fossil fuels. It writes the company in a preliminary trading report for the first quarter.

Sif’s CEO Fred van Beers states in a justification that several countries have increased their targets for offshore wind energy production in the longer term, including countries outside Europe. As a result, the number of offshore wind projects is increasing. The company also says more exploration and production work is being done in the oil and gas sector to counter Russia’s dependence. This offers new opportunities for the products that Sif supplies to oil and gas companies.

The listed company also reports that the war has caused energy and steel prices to rise. The company says it has enough steel to continue production. Sif has been able to compensate for the higher prices by working more efficiently.

Minister: Germany can get through the winter without Russian gas

07:43 | Germany may already be able to do without Russian gas this winter, but it will not be without a fight. “If we have full gas storage facilities and two of the four liquid LNG plants we have leased are connected and we make enough energy savings, we can cope with the winter,” Economy Minister Robert Habeck told business magazine WirtschaftsWoche.

Germany has been working for some time to become less dependent on Russian gas. The country is doing this, among other things, by building more terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG). Like the Netherlands, the company has also leased a number of liquid terminals where the liquefied gas is returned to gaseous form because they can be supplied quickly. Nevertheless, so far Germany has always mentioned 2024 as the moment when it could do without Russian gas.

Habeck’s reservations show that Germany would notice if no more Russian gas was supplied this winter. Everyone, companies and consumers, should then save energy, the minister believes. ‘Energy saving is the core.’ According to Habeck, a disaster can be avoided if 10 percent less energy is used. But gas prices will rise further, he warned.

Germany is one of the largest buyers of Russian gas and last year bought 55 percent of its gas from that country. A sudden stop in deliveries could trigger a recession in Europe’s largest economy comparable to 2009 and 2020, if not worse, the research institute IMK said last week.

Russia: killed in Belgorod shelling by Ukraine

06:33 | Russia again accuses Ukraine of shelling the Russian city of Belgorod. According to Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, the shelling also claimed victims for the first time on Wednesday, reports The Kyiv Independent. One person was killed and six people were injured, the governor said.

The Ukrainian military has not confirmed the attack. Belgorod is not far from Kharkov in eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian army has launched a counter-offensive there. Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky said on Tuesday that Russian troops would be “gradually” driven out of the area.

In recent weeks, Russia has repeatedly accused Ukraine of attacking targets in and near Belgorod.

The first Russian soldier is on trial in Ukraine

04:50 | A 21-year-old Russian sergeant has been indicted in Ukraine for war crimes. Ukraine’s Chief Prosecutor Irina Venediktova said on Wednesday that he is the first Russian soldier to appear in court. The sergeant is in Ukrainian custody.

According to the indictment, he shot and killed a 62-year-old man on a bicycle from a driving car on February 28, four days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This happened in the village of Chupahivka in the border region of Sumi. The sergeant was on the run from the Ukrainian army along with four other Russian soldiers. They had stolen the car they were driving. If the sergeant is convicted, he risks 10 to 15 years in prison.

Last month, Venice announced that Ukraine is investigating 500 people for possible involvement in more than 5,600 Russian war crimes in the country. Ukraine receives assistance from, among others, the Netherlands and Britain to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity.

HRW asks Russia and Ukraine to stop cluster munitions

03:06 | Both Russia and Ukraine must immediately stop using cluster munitions on the battlefield. It called on the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday in a report on the consequences of the use of cluster bombs in Ukraine.

Russian troops have used the cluster bombs several times during the war in Ukraine, according to HRW, including in the cities of Chernihiv, Kharkov, Mykolaiv and Vuhledar. Ukraine would have used the ammunition banned by many countries during this conflict at least once, reports the human rights organization.

Cluster bombs break down into many small bombs when used. According to HRW, unexploded ordnance clusters regularly cause deaths for years after conflicts. The victims are often playful children who confuse the colorful bombs with toys. Many countries have banned cluster munitions and see their use as a war crime.

According to HRW, the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine has already killed hundreds of civilians. It also damaged schools, hospitals and homes. The organization does not have exact figures.

Moscow is urging citizens to evacuate from two Ukrainian cities

02:05 | The Russian army is calling on aid organizations to evacuate civilians from two cities in eastern Ukraine, which are in the hands of the Ukrainian army, as soon as possible. A spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense told the state news agency Interfax on Wednesday that “a catastrophic humanitarian situation” would otherwise threaten the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloyansk.

According to the spokesman, there are still about 90,000 civilians in both cities. This information can not be independently verified. The Ukrainian troops defending the cities are using the civilians as human shields, he said. This is a standard Russian indictment.

Kramatorsk and Slovyansk are located in the Donetsk region, where the Russian army has launched a major offensive. The evacuation warning may be a sign that the Russian army is preparing new attacks.

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