Wednesday, May 25 2022

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Russia stepped up its bombardment of Ukraine’s biggest cities, firing missiles at targets in populated areas as Vladimir Putin’s forces turned to more brutal military tactics in a bid to regain momentum on the sixth day of the invasion.

Video released by Ukrainian officials showed secondary explosions near the Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial that killed at least five people, according to Volodymyr Zelensky, the country’s president. The memorial is adjacent to a wooded area where Nazi Germany troops executed tens of thousands of Jews in September 1941 before later killing Ukrainians and ethnic minorities, with the death toll between 100,000 and 150 000.

The Russian offensive in Ukraine created diplomatic, economic and humanitarian shock waves that upended the post-war European order and triggered the most sweeping sanctions regime imposed on any major world economy.

The assault on Kiev capped another mixed day for Russian forces which easily outnumbered and outnumbered the Ukrainian army but struggled to make the rapid progress expected, particularly in the north of the country.

The Pentagon said 80% of the Russian forces that had gathered on the border before the invasion had entered Ukraine. But a senior defense official said Ukrainian resistance and logistical problems, including insufficient fuel supplies, appeared to be slowing the advance towards Kiev.

  • Joe Biden: The US president is set to use his first State of the Union address to attack Vladimir Putin for misjudging Western unity in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while hailing the role of the NATO alliance.

  • Markets: US and European stocks fell, government bonds rallied and oil prices rose on Tuesday as traders weighed the global economic implications of the invasion.

  • Punishments: The Austrian operation of Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, is the first victim of the sanctions, while its Croatian and Slovenian units are transferred by the European authority responsible for the restructuring of failing banks.

  • Energy: ExxonMobil said it would pull out of a major oil and gas project and stop investing in Russia, following in the footsteps of BP, Shell and Norway’s Equinor. More information on what the war means for the energy sector here.

  • Opinion: A war of choice against the children of a peaceful democracy is not something we can afford to forget, writes Martin Wolf.

  • Anger against China: Beijing’s refusal to criticize Moscow and the glorification of Russian military power on social media give China a bad name in Ukraine.

Follow the latest developments on our live blog and Register to receive the essential newsletter from my colleague Valentina Pop, Europe Express, for the latest analyzes and reactions. Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa — George

1. Macron’s re-election chances boosted by war Emmanuel Macron is expected to confirm this week that he will be a candidate in next month’s French presidential election, with polls and political commentators suggesting the war in Ukraine has further cemented his status as a favourite.

2. Credit Suisse asks investors to destroy the documents Credit Suisse has asked investors to destroy documents relating to the yachts and private jets of its wealthiest clients, in a bid to prevent the leak of information about a bank unit that provided loans to oligarchs who were then sanctioned.

The Britannia Industries biscuit factory in New Delhi. India’s largest bread and biscuit maker by market share is seeking acquisitions © Adnan Abibi/Reuters

3. India’s biggest biscuit maker is hungry for acquisitions Britannia Industries, India’s largest bread and biscuit maker by market share, is seeking acquisitions as severe commodity inflation hits consumer goods companies.

4. Palantir technology to help reduce NHS elective care backlog Palantir, the controversial data analytics group best known for its ties to the defense and security industries, is rolling out software to the UK’s NHS to help reduce the backlog of 6 million patients in waiting for elective care.

5. Borrowed money financed stock purchases by ‘Spacking’ The loan agreements suggest that the “King of Space” Chamath Palihapitiya took more risks than usual as he built an empire. They also indicate that he put less personal money into his transactions than previously thought.

Column chart of average investor redemptions for Spac merger deals shows Spac investor redemptions are soaring

Summary of coronavirus

  • British NHS likely to take longer to recover from the pandemic than health services in many comparable countries, reflecting underfunding, high Covid-19 death tolls and lack of investment in care outside of hospitals. hospitals, suggests a report.

  • The Italian economy grew at a slightly faster-than-expected 6.6% last year, while its budget deficit was well below official targets as investment, consumption and exports rebounded from the pandemic.

  • Better UK sick pay will help us live with Covid, writes Sarah O’Connor.

The day ahead

The unemployed in Germany The Federal Statistical Office will publish February employment data. The Eurozone unemployment rate fell to a record low of 7% in December and the consensus is that the labor market will strengthen.

OPEC+ meeting The oil group is due to meet today but Saudi Arabia and others are expected to stick to planned supply increases, writes Derek Brower in the FT’s Energy Source newsletter. If they do not want to increase supply further, Western governments are prepared to do so instead.

Federal Reserve Beige Book The US central bank publishes its economic outlook. The war in Ukraine has sown uncertainty but is unlikely to derail plans to hike interest rates from March, writes the FT’s Colby Smith.

South Korea GDP data Seoul is expected to report on South Korea’s economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Canadian tariff The Bank of Canada will make a decision on interest rates, with analysts expecting a 25 basis point hike as the central bank becomes more decisive in withdrawing stimulus. (fitch ratings)

What else we read

Ukrainian Culture War For three decades he was one of the world’s most sought-after conductors. Six days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Valery Gergiev went from international celebrity to classical music pariah.

Japan is plugging into esports Gambling in Japan is only legal for a select group of activities. But a debate over esports comes from technology and the pandemic conspiring to transform the way entertainment is consumed.

Do you think Japan should legalize esports betting? Tell us in our last poll.

The rise of paternity leave It is traditionally the mothers who have to take time off work to take care of the children. But over the past two years, the pandemic has accelerated a huge shift towards many more fathers wanting to take an active role in family life.

Watch Iran’s Sanctions Experience Iran’s experience shows that asset freezes, transaction bans and fines imposed on any institution helping to evade sanctions are far more effective than banning a nation from Swift, writes Alistair Milne, payments expert at Loughborough University.

Television

Sometimes a television series manages to transcend the boundaries of the book. The screen adaptation of Elena Ferrante my brilliant friend succeeds, writes Fani Papageorgiou.

Gaia Girace plays Lila and Margherita Mazzucco portrays Elena in My Brilliant Friend

Gaia Girace, left, plays Lila and Margherita Mazzucco portrays Elena in ‘My Brilliant Friend’ © HBO

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