FirstFT: Biden says Putin will ‘pay the price’ of Ukraine invasion


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Joe Biden said Vladimir Putin would would “pay the price” for his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine while praising the resistance shown by Ukrainians and the west’s unity in the face of Europe’s worst security crisis since the second world war.

The US president said the Russian “dictator” had badly miscalculated the west’s resolve as he announced tougher measures to isolate Russia further from the global economy, including shutting off its flights from US airspace.

“When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger,” Biden said a State of the Union address that was applauded by lawmakers from both sides of Congress.

The first section of the speech was dedicated to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but Biden spent the rest of the time touting his domestic policies ahead of the November midterm elections.

Meanwhile, in Kharkiv a Russian missile struck a police headquarters this morning as the aerial bombardment of Ukraine’s second largest city continued. The regional governor said at least 21 people had been killed and 112 wounded over the past 24 hours.

In Kyiv, residential areas in the east and west of the city were shelled overnight as a full-scale siege of Ukraine’s two biggest cities now appeared to be under way.

The human cost of the war is growing rapidly. According to the UN, 660,000 people have already fled Ukraine as the number of civilian casualties grows and Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis this century.

In other developments:

  • Energy: Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil markets, surged to more than $112 a barrel and European natural gas prices hit an all-time high. US oil major ExxonMobil said it would exit a major oil and gas project and cease investing in Russia, following in the footsteps of BP, Shell and Norway’s Equinor.

  • Business: Apple suspended the sales of its products in Russia and Boeing said it would halt major operations as the exodus of western businesses from the country increased.

  • China: Beijing signalled it was ready to play a role in finding a ceasefire in Ukraine as it “deplored” the outbreak of conflict in its strongest comments yet on the war.

  • Cryptocurrency: Trading between the Russian rouble and crypto assets such as bitcoin and tether has doubled since the assault on Ukraine began, leading Ukraine’s vice prime minister to call on crypto exchanges to block transactions from Russia.

  • Opinion: A war of choice on the children of a peaceful democracy is not an action we can allow ourselves to forget, writes Martin Wolf.

Follow the latest developments on our live blog and you can also follow the conflict in maps. Sign up to receive my colleague Valentina Pop’s essential newsletter, Europe Express, for the latest analysis and reaction.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas and here is the rest of the day’s news — Gordon

1. Ericsson’s Iraq crisis deepens The world’s largest telecoms equipment maker said the US Department of Justice had told it that disclosures about its internal investigation into Iraq were “insufficient” ahead of a 2019 $1bn settlement over corruption.

2. Credit Suisse asks investors to destroy documents Credit Suisse has asked investors to destroy documents relating to its richest clients’ yachts and private jets, in an attempt to stop information leaking about a unit of the bank that has made loans to oligarchs who were later sanctioned.

3. Palantir technology to help cut NHS elective care backlog Palantir, the controversial data analytics group best known for its ties to the defence and security industries, is rolling out software across the UK’s NHS to help reduce the backlog of 6mn patients waiting for elective care.

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

5. Target delivers upbeat outlook The Minneapolis-based retailer forecast low- to mid-single digit revenue growth in fiscal 2022, compared with analysts’ expectations of about 2.2 per cent, and said that supply chain bottlenecks would gradually ease.

The day ahead

Opec+ meeting Saudi Arabia and others are likely to stick with planned supply increases when the oil cartel meets today. The meeting comes a day after the US and other big energy consuming nations agreed to tap 60mn barrels of oil from their emergency stockpiles to address fears of depleted supplies. The Energy Source newsletter has more on how the Ukraine war is impacting global oil supplies.

Jay Powell testimony The chair of the Federal Reserve testifies before Congress in what are likely to be his final public remarks on monetary policy before the US central bank begins raising interest rates to fight decades-high inflation. Separately, the Fed issues its latest economic outlook.

Canada rate decision The Bank of Canada will make an interest rate decision, with analysts expecting a 25 basis points rise as the central bank becomes more decisive in withdrawing policy stimulus. (Fitch Ratings)

What else we’re reading

Political risks upturn commodity markets The Russian invasion of Ukraine has pushed up the prices of everything from oil to wheat and aluminium and highlighted the threat of raw materials becoming a foreign policy weapon. And the political risks keep mounting.

Will Japan bet on esport? Gambling in Japan is legal only for a select group of activities. But a debate on esports comes from technology and the pandemic conspiring to transform how entertainment is consumed.

Is paternity leave the key to workplace equality? It has traditionally been mothers who have had to take time off work to look after children. But in the past two years the pandemic has accelerated a huge shift towards many more fathers wanting to play an active role in family life.

Travel

Can you be an explorer in the 21st century? For Benedict Allen, a lifetime of travel has not been about planting flags and staking claims but about leaving his own culture behind.

Benedict Allen taking part in a Vodou ritual in Haiti in 2004 © Benedict Allen

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