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U.S. Treasury sanctions Russian mining sector, goes after sanctions evasion



U.S. Treasury sanctions Russian mining sector, goes after sanctions evasion
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A bronze seal for the Department of the Treasury is shown at the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2023.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Andrea Shalal and Jonathan Landay

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday slapped new sanctions on Russian banks and targeted its mining and metals sector, while going after over 30 people and companies from Switzerland, Germany and the Middle East for helping Moscow evade earlier sanctions and keep funding its war against Ukraine.

The new measures, announced on the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion, hit over 250 individuals and entities, adding to more than 2,500 sanctions imposed over the past year. The action would further isolate Russia from the global economy, Treasury said in a statement.

The new sanctions were coordinated with other U.S. agencies, U.S. allies and the Group of Seven rich nations to limit Russia’s ability to wage the war that has killed tens of thousands, and uprooted millions of Ukrainians.

“What we’re doing today is furthering the vice around the Kremlin’s ability to fight its war in Ukraine,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told CNBC. He said the U.S. government was sending a clear signal to the world: “If you support Russia, you’re going to face being cut off from the economies, not just of the United States, but of our allies and partners.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen underscored America’s deep commitment to continue piling pressure on Russia and supporting Ukraine. “Our actions today with our G7 partners show that we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” she said.

Treasury said the latest measures were aimed at impeding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to raise capital to fund the war by targeting banks, wealth management-related firms and individuals in Russia’s financial services sector.

The action, which freezes any U.S. assets of those targeted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them, marks the latest round of U.S. sanctions on Russia.

“We’re not going to stop using every tool available to us to disrupt Russia’s ability to wage its war,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby (NYSE:) told reporters, adding that further sanctions were possible if needed. “We’re just going to keep at this, and so are our allies and partners.


In a significant widening of Russia-related sanctions, Treasury announced a new determination by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that allows sanctions on any individual or entity operating in Russia’s metals and mining sector.

On Friday, it hit four mining and metals sector companies, including TPZ-Rondol, a unit of Russia’s largest ammunition maker, for producing weapons for the Russian military, including the navy, the Treasury said.

Among other entities hit on Friday were more than a dozen Russian banks. They included the Moscow-based Credit Bank of Moscow Joint Public Stock Company, Russia’s largest non-state public bank, which the European Union fully blocked in December.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a license setting a deadline of 12:01 a.m. on May 25 for the winding down of transactions with some of the entities, the statement said.

Another bank hit was MTS Bank, which is located in Moscow and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Brian Nelson, Treasury’s top sanctions official raised concerns about UAE’s decision to license the Russian bank during a visit to the country the week of Jan. 30.

Other new targets included Walter Moretti, a Swiss-Italian business executive and a network of companies involved in secretly purchasing sensitive Western technology for Russian intelligence services and the military, Treasury said.

A German, an Italian, a Swiss Italian and four Swiss who worked with Moretti also were sanctioned, it said.

Treasury also sanctioned the founders of Russian wealth-management firm Confideri Pte Ltd, Russian-Israeli citizens Olga Borisovna Raykes and Marat Maratovich Savelov, who also own a firm in Vienna, Austria.

Also sanctioned were more Russian firms involved in providing technology and materials to Russian intelligence agencies and the military, including UMATEX Joint-Stock Company, which produces carbon fibers used in aircraft and rockets.

The firms also included some that Treasury said provided Russian intelligence with support for “malign influence operations” and databases containing the personal information of Western nationals.

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French climate investments to drive up national debt burden – think-tank




French climate investments to drive up national debt burden - think-tank
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron visits Institut Curie laboratory ahead of announcements on biomedical research in Saint-Cloud, France, May 16, 2023. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) – Investments that France needs to finance its transition to a low-carbon economy are set to add 25 percentage points to its debt burden by 2040, a report from the government-funded France Strategie think-tank said on Monday.

France will need to make additional annual investments of about 67 billion euros ($74 billion) – more than 2% of economic output – by 2030 to meet its objectives for reducing its dependence on fossil fuels, France Strategie calculated.

The think-tank, which is part of the prime minister’s office, said the financial effort would weigh heavily on public finances partly because the investments imply lower potential growth, which would cut tax revenues.

As a result, the debt burden would rise by 10 percentage points by 2030 and 25 percentage points by 2040, which France Strategie suggested might need to be financed in part by a temporary tax on wealthy households.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government has hoped to chip away in the coming years at France’s national debt, which currently stands at slightly more that 111% of gross domestic product after surging during the COVID crisis.

The report said the financial burden of investing in Europe’s energy transition also posed a risk in terms of international economic competition, as other major economies such as the United States and China were less concerned about budgetary constraints.

About 100 experts in French and European research groups as well as public French institutions participated in the report, which was led by economist Jean Pisani-Ferry, who previously helped Macron draft his economic programme.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

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Crude oil largely flat; Caution ahead of debt ceiling meeting




Crude oil largely flat; Caution ahead of debt ceiling meeting
© Reuters — Oil prices traded largely unchanged Monday, with traders cautious ahead of the resumption of U.S. debt ceiling negotiations while supply concerns add support. 

By 09:30 ET (13:30 GMT), futures traded 0.1% lower at $71.59 a barrel, while the contract fell 0.1% to $75.52 a barrel.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are set to meet later this session to try and agree on a deal to raise the more than $31 trillion debt ceiling.

Concerns that a failure to come up with an acceptable compromise have weighed heavily on the market over the recent weeks, as this would result in the U.S. defaulting on its debt obligations, likely plunging the global economy into recession.

The U.S. Treasury has warned that the government could run out of money to pay its bills as soon as June 1.

That said, both crude benchmarks managed to post gains last week, ending four straight weeks of heavy declines, helped by the U.S. starting to refill its Strategic Petroleum Reserve as well as the supply disruptions in Canada, due to early wildfires in the crude-rich Alberta province. 

Additionally, the latest data from showed the U.S. oil rig count fell by 11 over the last week, to its lowest count since June 2022.

“A slowdown in U.S. drilling activity is a concern for the oil market, which is expected to see a sizable deficit over the second half of the year,” said analysts at ING, in a note. 

“Producers appear to be responding to the weaker price environment, rather than expectations for a tighter market later in the year.”

This brings the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, firmly into focus, with its next meeting in early July. 

The cartel surprised the market with an output cut at the last meeting, which came into effect at the start of this month. However, this has done little to support crude prices, implying the members may be looking at a further reduction in production.

The fact U.S. producers are not increasing in number will be good news for OPEC+, ING added, “as it suggests that they will be able to continue supporting prices without the risk of losing market share to U.S. producers.”

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California grid operator signs off on $7.3 billion of power lines




California grid operator signs off on $7.3 billion of power lines
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman jogs by power lines, as California’s grid operator urged the state’s 40 million people to ratchet down the use of electricity in homes and businesses as a wave of extreme heat settled over much of the state, in Mountain View, Californi

(Reuters) – California’s electric grid operator has approved a plan expected to cost $7.3 billion for 45 new power transmission projects over the next decade and made it easier for new power plants in high-priority areas to connect to the grid.

The projects will support the development of more than 40 gigawatts (GW) of new generation resources, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) said on Thursday.

“With electrification increasing in other sectors of the economy, most notably transportation and the building industry, even more new power will be required in the years ahead,” the CAISO said.

The vast majority of the transmission projects will be built in California, with some in neighboring Arizona, it said.

The power lines recommended by CAISO’s 2022-2023 Transmission Plan will allow the state’s grid to add more than 17 GW of solar resources, 8 GW of wind generation, 1 GW of geothermal development, and battery storage projects.

CAISO will prioritize connecting power plants to the grid in specific geographical zones identified by its plan where developing new power lines and plants “make the most economic and operational sense.”

The grid operator also approved proposed reforms to account for “increasing levels of net load forecast uncertainty between day-ahead and real-time markets … as the generation fleet evolves towards a cleaner, but more variable, resource mix.”

It projected that its transmission plan next year could include the need to add 70 GW of new power to the grid by 2033, rising to 120 GW as the state seeks to meet its goal of a carbon-free power system by 2045.

Power supply in the U.S. West is vulnerable to extreme heat as it relies on regional energy transfers to meet demand at peak or when solar output is diminished, the North American Electric Reliability Corp (NERC) said in its summer outlook on Wednesday.

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