(Bloomberg) -- Biden administration officials are trying to reassure oil market participants that the newly agreed $60 price cap on Russian crude won’t trigger supply disruptions and price volatility after it kicks in Monday. The Group of Seven is set to impose the cap, which is well above where Russian oil now trades.

Vladimir Putin’s government said he remains open to negotiations over the war after President Joe Biden raised the prospect of talks if the Russian leader is committed to end it. Still, the Kremlin said Putin had no plans to end Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, and a White House spokesman said conditions weren’t right for direct talks under those circumstances.

Nuclear monitors are closing in on an agreement between Ukraine and Russia that would set up a security zone around Europe’s largest atomic energy plant, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency told Bloomberg Television. 

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Key Developments

  • US Seeks to Reassure Oil Market Before Russian Price Cap Hits
  • The G-7 Oil Price Cap Looks Set to Keep Russian Oil Flowing
  • Russian Tourists Turn to Chartered Flights in Return to Thailand
  • Ukraine Touts International Tribunal for Russia’s Crimes
  • Putin Won’t Stop Fighting in Ukraine, Remains Open to Talks
  • Biden Open to Talks With Putin If He’s Serious About Ending War

On the Ground

Ukrainian troops continue to stem Russian attacks along the front line in the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions, while the main effort of the Kremlin’s troops remains centered on trying to advance in the Bakhmut area, according to Ukraine’s General Staff. Russian forces launched five rocket attacks against civilian infrastructure in the eastern Kharkiv and Donetsk regions over the past 24 hours, as well as 30 air strikes on troop positions and more than 35 assaults with multiple launch rocket systems on populated areas. Russian forces shelled the city of Zaporizhzhia overnight, causing a fire at an industrial facility, regional Governor Oleksandr Starukh said on Telegram. 

(All times CET)

US Seeks to Ease Oil Market Jitters on Price Cap (12:40 a.m.)

Those who watch the oil price cap issue carefully have raised the risk of “over-compliance,” in which companies not prohibited by law from working in a given area nevertheless exit entirely because of concerns about violating US policies, or for other reasons like reputation risks.

A senior Treasury official acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the price cap during a call with reporters on Friday, but said the US has tried to counter that by engaging extensively with industry players before the implementation. The countries in the price cap coalition have tried to make the policy as easy as possible to follow, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the talks.

Ukraine Gets $1.5 Billion US Grant Through World Bank (7:43 p.m.)

Ukraine has received a $1.5 billion grant from the US via the World Bank to be used for pensions and other social payments, the country’s Finance Ministry said on its website.

It’s the first installment of $4.5 billion pledged by the US to help with budget spending and to maintain governance amid the war. 

EU Agrees to Set $60 Price Cap Level for Russian Oil Exports (7:10 p.m.)

The Group of Seven is set to impose a price cap on Russian oil that’s well above where it now trades. If there was any doubt what the premise of the cap was, it’s now clear: the US and its allies want Russia’s crude to keep flowing.

European Union ambassadors backed limiting the price of Russian oil, a key source of income for President Putin’s war machine, at $60 a barrel after fraught talks that dragged into the night more than once. Crucially, that’s above the $50 that Russia’s flagship Urals grade already trades at, according to data from Argus Media.

“We don’t care what the price cap will be. We’ll negotiate with our partners directly,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday. “And partners who continue working with us won’t look at those caps.” WTI crude futures shrugged off news that the EU finally agreed on a price cap.

Read more here.

White House Says Now Isn’t the Time for Biden-Putin Talks (7:04 p.m.)

The White House said Friday that conditions weren’t ripe for direct talks between Biden and Putin because the Kremlin has shown no indication of willingness to end the conflict in Ukraine.

“We’re just not at a point right now where talks seem to be a fruitful avenue to approach right now,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, adding that the White House’s focus remains sending security assistance and other aide to Ukraine.

The US also would consider talks only if they were endorsed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Kirby said. Biden said in a news conference on Thursday he would be willing to meet with Putin if the Russian leader were serious about ending the conflict, and after consultation with NATO partners.

Monitors Closer on Nuclear Safety Zone in Ukraine, IAEA Says (5:50 p.m.) 

International monitors are getting closer to an agreement between Ukraine and Russia that would set up a security zone around Europe’s largest nuclear energy plant, potentially easing concerns about an accident. Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Bloomberg TV that the sides are nearing a deal. 

IAEA monitors are at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, whose six reactors are shut down after months of attack, while Grossi tries to persuade Kyiv and Moscow to cease military activities around the facility. 

“We are getting closer to something that could be acceptable,” Grossi said in an interview. The Argentine diplomat said he expects to sit down separately with Zelenskiy and Putin in the near future to push negotiations forward.

Erdogan, UK’s Sunak Speak on Boosting Ties (5 p.m.) 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by phone on Friday with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, mostly about steps to improve bilateral relations, Turkish media reported. 

The discussion also touched on the war in Ukraine. Erdogan also said it was in the region’s best interest to re-establish grounds for negotiation between Moscow and Kyiv. 

Ukraine Touts International Tribunal for Russia’s Crimes (2:24 p.m.)

Ukraine’s government is holding special road-shows in Europe and the US to garner support for a special international tribunal for Russia’s crimes of aggression after Kremlin-led forces invaded in February.

Meetings are planned for Berlin, Washington and London and have already taken place in Paris, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office. A special working group, led by his chief of staff Andriy Yermak, is doing the groundwork on a legal and political basis for the tribunal. 

The International Criminal Court, founded in 2002, lacks the necessary powers and investigates specific war crimes, allowing punishment of direct perpetrators and possibly their direct commanders, but not high officials.

Read more: Ukraine Touts International Tribunal for Russia’s Crimes

Russia’s Crude Below Proposed Cap for Tenth Day (2:56 p.m.)

Russia’s flagship crude oil rallied to just above $50 a barrel on Thursday, but remained well below the level at which the European Union may soon try to cap it.

European Union negotiators are closing in on setting a maximum price of $60 a barrel for companies that want to access the bloc’s vital shipping and services including insurance. Urals has been below that level for 10 days.  

Putin, Scholz Hold Hour-Long Call on Ukraine (12:30 p.m.) 

Putin discussed the situation in Ukraine on Friday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the Kremlin said. Germany said Scholz “pushed for a diplomatic solution” in the hour-long call. 

The discussion was initiated by Germany, according to the Kremlin. Putin decried what he termed “the destructive policy” of western countries, including Germany, by supplying weapons to and training the Ukrainian military.

The pair also discussed the Black Sea grain initiative and unblocking exports of food and fertilizers from Russia. 

Germany to Send More Anti-Aircraft Systems to Ukraine (12:27 p.m.)

Germany plans to send seven more Gepard mobile anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine, Arne Collatz, a Defense Ministry spokesman, told reporters. The additional units come on top of the 30 Gepard tanks that Germany has already sent to Ukraine. 

The government is also in talks with defense companies about making more ammunition available for the systems, he said.   

Ukrainian Embassies Receiving Blood-Stained Mail, Ministry Says (11:24 a.m.) 

Ukrainian embassies and consulates across Europe are receiving blood-stained packages containing ”animal eyes,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said on the ministry website.

Such packages arrived in Ukrainian diplomatic missions in Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Croatia. The entrance of the Ukrainian embassy at the Vatican was vandalized, while the embassy in Kazakhstan received a fake bomb threat.

“We have reasons to believe that a well-planned campaign of terror and intimidation against embassies and consulates of Ukraine is under way,” Nikolenko wrote.

Putin Remains Open for Talks With US, Kremlin Says (11 a.m.)

While military operations continue, Putin “was and remains open for contacts for negotiations”, Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, said after President Biden’s remarks.

“Of course, the best way to achieve our interests would be through peaceful, diplomatic means,” he told reporters. 

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