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FirstFT: US and UK ban Russian oil and gas imports

The UK plans to phase out Russian oil imports by the end of the year after Washington banned imports of Russian oil and gas into the US in an attempt to deprive Moscow of revenue over its invasion of Ukraine.

The announcements open a new front in efforts to isolate Moscow from the global economy following moves to impose sanctions on critical Russian banks, top government officials and oligarchs, as well as its central bank.

The EU did not follow suit and instead unveiled a plan to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds within a year. But a ban on US and UK imports will be far less disruptive to global markets than a full international embargo as only a small proportion of Russian shipments goes to those markets.

© Parliament TV/AP

More on Ukraine

  • Markets Briefing: Oil benchmarks rose and commodity prices climbed after the ban announcements. The London Metal Exchange suspended nickel trading after the price doubled. It does not expect to restart trading this week.

  • Troop movements: Russia is moving against Kyiv from a new front, according to US defence officials, as Putin seeks to “grind down” Ukraine’s military.

  • Green energy transition: The war is leading to a surge in demand for coal and a rethink on fossil fuels, complicating the shift to renewable energy.

  • Business news: McDonald’s and Starbucks are closing all their outlets in Russia. Shell has said it will withdraw from the country and stop purchases of its oil.

  • Cyber security: A secret US mission across several years may explain why Ukrainian networks have held up so far against Russian cyber attacks.

  • Geopolitics: Will Russia’s expansion turn the Baltics into the “new West Berlin”?

  • Opinion: The west should strengthen sanctions, though they may ruin Russia’s economy without changing its policy or regime, argues Martin Wolf. Helen Thomas writes that the UK’s slow progress in taking action against prominent Russians is prompting a debate about law, resources and decision-making.

Line chart of Cumulative change since Oct 1 2021 showing Sanctions have bitten the Russian economy devastatingly hard

Follow our live blog for the latest developments and the conflict explained in maps.

1. Ex-Apollo executive explores bid for Chelsea FC Josh Harris, the US billionaire and former top executive at Apollo Global Management, is exploring a bid for Chelsea football club, according to people familiar with the matter.

2. Sajid Javid: NHS on ‘unsustainable financial trajectory’ The NHS is on “an unsustainable financial trajectory” and without reforms, funding for areas such as education and infrastructure will continue to be squeezed to pay for it, the UK health secretary said yesterday.

3. Google buys cyber security company Mandiant Google has agreed to pay $5.4bn to acquire Mandiant, one of the best-known sleuths that track sophisticated cyber attacks, giving it a frontline role in the battle against cyber crime and digital warfare.

  • More on online safety: The UK is to clamp down on online scams and “unlicensed financial promotions” under the forthcoming Online Safety Bill.

  • In the world of tech: Apple yesterday announced the launch of a high-end desktop computer that would leverage its successful homegrown M1 chips.

4. Qatar mediates between Iran and US in nuclear talks Qatar has stepped up its role in mediating between the US and Iran as western powers have been striving to convince wary Iranian leaders to sign a deal to revive the 2015 nuclear accord, according to people briefed on the talks.

5. Nicolás Maduro hails ‘cordial’ talks with US Venezuela’s president described nearly two hours of talks with a US government delegation over the weekend as “respectful” and “cordial”. Washington is exploring a rapprochement with Caracas as it considers banning Russian oil imports.

Coronavirus digest

  •’s losses doubled last year as the UK online furniture retailer grappled with global supply chain disruption and rising transport costs.

  • Hong Kong residents are faced with a difficult choice: continue waiting for authorities to act — or decide to leave, writes Ravi Mattu.

  • The pandemic forced female founders of businesses to achieve more with fewer resources than many of their male counterparts.

The day ahead

IMF votes on aid package for Ukraine The proposed support package would meet the request made by Ukraine last week for $1.4bn under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument.

Russia bond ruling The Credit Derivatives Determinations Committee, a group of banks and asset managers tasked with ruling when a company or country defaults on its debts, will determine whether Moscow’s move to allow some bonds to be paid in roubles rather than other currencies would contravene other rules underpinning credit default swaps.

Corporate earnings FTSE 100 insurer Prudential will reveal its annual results, more than a month after chief executive Mike Wells announced his departure. Other companies due to publish results include Adidas, Continental, Deutsche Post and Vivendi.

Economic data Italy will publish industrial production figures for January. The UK will provide an insight into trends in living arrangements with newly released family and households data.

Join us in person and online today and tomorrow at Climate Capital Live, a platform for politicians, business leaders and financiers to evaluate the risks and opportunities they face in light of the climate crisis. Register here.

What else we’re reading

Dealers cannot sell EVs they do not have Russia’s attack on Ukraine has highlighted concerns about oil dependency and petrol prices as electric vehicle manufacturers start to make good on their promises to deliver greener cars. But there are complications ahead, warns Brooke Masters.

‘Brutal’ selling knocks Tiger Cub hedge funds Steep losses have proved “wicked punishment” in recent months for managers holding speculative US stocks, pummelling several hedge funds spawned by Julian Robertson’s investment firm Tiger Management. But the relative resilience of some companies to the “tech wreck” obscures the extent of wealth destruction.

Rewriting the contract for dual-career couples Anyone in a couple where both are pursuing careers knows well the tensions of accommodating each other’s work priorities, writes Brooke Masters. As the pandemic recedes, she warns of new opportunities and pitfalls for dual-career couples.

Did you make a career change during the pandemic? Take our poll.


Four sunny escapes for spring-summer, including the less-trod island of Syros in the Cyclades and swimming with the marine-mammalian species of Dominica, as well as the mid-century magic in Joshua Tree.

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