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Civilians shelter in chemical plant as Russian artillery pounds Sievierodonetsk

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© Reuters. A local resident looks at grass that is on fire after a shelling, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region Ukraine June 12, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

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By Natalia Zinets and Abdelaziz Boumzar

KYIV/BAKHMUT, Ukraine (Reuters) -Russian forces pushed into the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk and pounded a zone where hundreds of civilians were sheltering, a Ukrainian official said on Monday – a scene that echoed Moscow’s assault on Mariupol last month.

Pro-Moscow separatists said the last bridge out of Sievierodonetsk had been destroyed, cutting off the defenders’ escape route. Ukraine said there was still another way out, although that route was severely damaged.

Ukraine has issued increasingly urgent calls for more Western heavy weapons to help defend Sievierodonetsk, which Kyiv says could hold the key to the battle for the eastern Donbas region and the course of the war, now in its fourth month.

“Apart from constant artillery, aircraft and rocket bombing, there is a real risk that the defenders in Sievierodonetsk might be cut off from Lysychansk if the third bridge linking the two cities is destroyed,” said Damien Magrou, spokesperson for the International Legion for the Defence of Ukraine that has had forces in Sievierodonetsk.

“And then you’re potentially looking at a situation comparable with that of Mariupol with a large pocket of Ukrainian defenders cut off from the rest of the Ukrainian troops. This is one of the reasons why it is so important that our Western partners deliver long range artillery as fast as possible.”

Regional governor Sergei Gaidai said on social media that Russian forces now controlled about 70% of Sievierodonetsk, and were destroying it “quarter by quarter”.

“The battles are so fierce that fighting for not just a street but for a single high-rise building can last for days,” said Gaidai, who is governor of the Luhansk region that includes Sievierodonetsk.

Russian artillery fire pummelled the Azot chemical plant, where hundred of civilians were sheltering, he said.

“About 500 civilians remain on the grounds of the Azot plant in Sievierodonetsk, 40 of them are children. Sometimes the military manages to evacuate someone,” he said.

‘SURRENDER OR DIE’

Russia’s RIA news agency quoted a pro-Moscow separatist spokesperson, Eduard Basurin, as saying the last bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river linking Sievierodonetsk and its Ukrainian-held twin city Lysychansk had been destroyed on Sunday. Ukrainian troops were effectively blockaded in Sievierodonetsk and should surrender or die, he said.

Ukraine’s account of civilians trapped in an industrial plant echoed the fall of Mariupol last month, where hundreds of civilians and badly wounded Ukrainian soldiers were trapped for weeks in the Azovstal steelworks.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to restore Russian security and “denazify” its neighbour. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a baseless pretext for an invasion which has killed thousands of civilians and raised fears of wider conflict in Europe.

More than 5 million people have fled the assault and millions more are threatened by a global energy and food crisis due to disrupted gas, oil and grain supplies from Russia and Ukraine. Western nations are divided over how best to end it.

Gaidai said a six-year-old child was among those killed in the latest shelling of Lysychansk. The news agency of the Russian-backed separatist-controlled Donetsk region said at least three people, including a child, were killed by Ukrainian shelling that hit a market in Donetsk city. Reuters could not verify either report.

BURNING CROPS

After failing to take the capital Kyiv following the Feb. 24 invasion, Moscow focused on expanding control in the Donbas, which comprise Luhansk and neighbouring Donetsk and where pro-Russian separatists have held territory since 2014, while also trying to capture more of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast.

Along the front line in the Donbas, the fighting poses a new threat as the weather warms, with shelling and rocket fire setting fields on fire and destroying ripening crops.

Lyuba, a resident in the Ukrainian-held pocket of the Donbas near the front, watched a fire blazing along the fields but said she was not planning to leave. “Where can I go? Who is waiting for me there?” she said. “It’s scary. But it is what it is.”

Ukrainian Presidential Adviser Mykhailo Podolyak listed equipment he said was needed for heavy weapons parity, including 1,000 howitzers, 500 tanks and 1,000 drones.

“We are waiting for a decision,” he said, adding that Western defence ministers would meet on Wednesday in Brussels.

Russia issued the latest of several recent reports saying it had destroyed U.S. and European arms and equipment, hoping to send the message that delivering more would be futile.

The defence ministry said high-precision air-based missiles had struck near the railway station in Udachne northwest of Donetsk, hitting equipment that had been delivered to Ukrainian forces. There was no immediate word from the Ukrainian side.

Moscow has criticised the United States and other nations for sending Ukraine weapons, threatening to strike new targets if the West supplied long-range missiles.

Commodities

The U.S. has decided to produce crude oil in Venezuela

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crude oil in Venezuela

The U.S. wants to give the U.S. Chevron Corp., one of the largest oil companies in the country, a license to produce crude oil in Venezuela, according to The Wall Street Journal.

There will be new American oil executives in Venezuela. This is a signal of easing sanctions against the country, the newspaper said. Chevron has decided to regain partial control over oil production in Venezuela’s fields, in which the company paid a share due to joint ventures with Petroleos de Venezuela SA.

Talk of new investment is not yetunderway, because the debts to Chevron are not repaid. This may take several years, the sources say.

In July, Diosdado Cabello, leader of the parliamentary faction and vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), accused the U.S. of attacks on the country’s oil facilities. Venezuela has been under U.S. oil sanctions since 2019. In June of this year, the State Department allowed Italian Eni and Spanish Repsol to supply oil from Venezuela to Europe.

Earlier we reported that more than 50% of Germans said they refused to buy new clothes and electronics.

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Bloomberg: UAE to boost oil production beyond plan by 2025

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UAE to boost oil production

UAE to boost oil production. One of Russia’s main competitors for oil exports plans to reach five million barrels per day by 2025. The Middle Eastern country was initially expected to reach this level only by 2030, Bloomberg reported, citing sources.

“Energy concern Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (Adnoc), which produces almost all of the UAE’s oil, wants to be able to produce 5 million barrels a day by 2025. The company planned to reach such a level only by 2030,” – says the material.

But a crude oil production boost will be difficult without additional financing for expenses for the project. Adnoc explained the acceleration of production increase by the policy of the leading countries of the world on accelerated energy transition to renewable energy sources (RES).

“As we embrace the energy transition and focus our business on the future, we will continue to explore potential opportunities that can further add value, free up capital and improve profitability,” the Arab oil company said.

To realize the goal, Adnoc has asked international companies that are partners in its oil fields to increase long-term crude production by 10% or more, sources said. In the case of positive results of the negotiations, the UAE will be able to significantly increase the volume of oil production by 2025, concludes Bloomberg.

On September 19, the Times of India, citing sources in the Indian Ministry of Commerce, reported that the Asian country has saved since February 2022, $439.7 million on imports from Russia of oil at a discount. A total of about 62.5 million barrels of Russian crude were purchased by Indian state and private companies over the last six months. Moreover, volumes of imports have increased many times over as compared to 2021.

Earlier, we reported that Nigeria stopped benefiting from the sale of Nigerian oil due to the lack of dollars.

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FT: Nigeria stopped benefiting from Nigeria crude oil sales due to lack of dollars

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nigeria crude oil sales

Nigeria’s crude oil sales used to grow steadily. But now the country, which is considered one of the world’s largest oil exporters, is facing a crisis. The country is short of dollars, and the factor of “massive theft” has only exacerbated the problems of the African state, reports the Financial Times.

“Since the beginning of the year, Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen by 5%, to $38 billion. Restrictions on the purchase of dollars and the resulting deficit has led to the emergence of a black currency market. $1 is worth 420 naira at the official exchange rate and 700 naira on the black market,” the paper said.

Because of increasing corruption in the country, Nigeria, the world’s tenth largest oil exporter, can no longer increase production of crude oil. Nigerian crude oil buyers are not happy with this fact. The African state exports a little more than half of the established OPEC quota – 1.1 million barrels per day, instead of the required 1.8 million.

Despite all the difficulties going on in Nigeria’s economy, Timipre Silva, the African country’s Minister of State for Petroleum, announced plans to increase liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe by the coming winter. According to him, to realize this goal, it is necessary to improve safety in Nigeria’s fields and infrastructure.

Earlier we reported that coffee stocks in Brazil in six months will approach a record low level

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