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FirstFT: US says China signalled openness to aid Russia

Good morning. The US has told allies that China signalled its willingness to provide military assistance after Russia requested equipment including surface-to-air missiles to support its invasion of Ukraine, according to officials familiar with American diplomatic cables on the exchange.

Two officials familiar with the content of the cables said Washington had told allies that Russia had asked China for five types of equipment, including the surface-to-air missiles. The other categories were drones, intelligence-related equipment, armoured vehicles, and vehicles used for logistics and support.

The cables, which were sent by the US state department to allies in Europe and Asia, were not specific about the level or timing of any assistance that may be provided to Moscow by Beijing.

The Russian request and Chinese response have sounded alarm bells in the White House. US officials believe China is trying to help Russia while its top officials publicly call for a diplomatic solution to the war.

Meanwhile, Jake Sullivan, US national security adviser, met in Rome on Monday with Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy official, which another senior US official described as “an intense seven-hour session reflecting the gravity of the moment”.

Tensions have only deepened as Chinese diplomats and prominent state media have repeated Russian disinformation reports about US-run biological laboratories in Ukraine.

More on Ukraine

  • Latest from Ukraine: Russian forces allowed some trapped in Mariupol to leave as officials from Moscow and Kyiv held the fourth round of negotiations. A pregnant woman caught in last week’s Russian air strike that hit a Mariupol children’s hospital and maternity ward has died along with her baby.

  • Markets: Some of the few Russian shares still trading on a global exchange are changing hands at a blistering pace in Hong Kong, but US banks refuse to touch them.

  • Protests: A state television employee burst on to Russia’s main state television evening news broadcast on Monday to protest against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the most public sign yet of simmering domestic discontent.

  • Sanctions: The UK government is preparing to sanction hundreds of individuals linked to Vladimir Putin as parliament fast-tracks legislation to crack down on the flow of “dirty money” into the country.

  • Business: Bayer has threatened to suspend crop supply sales to Russia next year unless the country stops its attacks on Ukraine. Across the globe, the war is impacting US farmers’ spring planting plans.

  • Free to read: Volunteer soldiers prepare to make their stand on battle-scarred suburban streets.

  • Opinion: It is often assumed that China will be the senior partner in the “no limits” partnership with Russia but Xi’s decision to embrace Putin now looks likes a miscalculation, writes Gideon Rachman.

Follow our live blog and updated maps for the latest on the conflict.

Coronavirus digest

Line chart of Hang Seng China Enterprises index showing Investors dump China stocks as Omicron tests 'zero-Covid' strategy

1. Chinese metals group wins respite from banks on nickel bet Chinese metals group Tsingshan has reached a deal with its bank counterparties to resolve a bet on nickel that plunged the market into turmoil, paving the way for trading to resume on Wednesday at the London Metal Exchange.

2. Hong Kong threatens British campaigner with national security law
Benedict Rogers, head of Hong Kong Watch, has been ordered to shut down the website of the organisation he leads or face imprisonment by Hong Kong’s police in a rare extrajudicial use of Beijing’s national security law.

3. Former Wirecard chief executive charged with fraud Markus Braun has been formally charged by Munich public prosecutors with fraud, breach of trust and accounting manipulation after a 21-month criminal investigation into the collapse of the German payments group.

4. SoftBank-backed Paytm shares tumble 13% Shares in Paytm fell more than 13 per cent yesterday after India’s central bank barred a division of the payment group from signing up new customers in the latest setback for the company following its blockbuster initial public offering last year.

5. ENRC drops lawsuit against FT and journalist Tom Burgis A Kazakh mining group has dropped a libel claim against the Financial Times and one of its journalists over a book detailing the influx of “dirty money” into the west’s financial system.

The day ahead

Japan balance of trade data Figures for February are set to be released today. In January, Japan’s trade deficit hit an eight-year high. (Reuters)

Opec monthly oil market report The group is set to release its monthly data today as UK prime minister Boris Johnson appeals to Saudi Arabia to increase production. Sign up here to receive our Energy Source newsletter.

Are you involved with training at your organisation? The FT wants to hear from chief learning officers, heads of leadership development and other executives involved in the development of middle and senior managers. Results of the survey will be published in the FT Executive Education report in May 2022.

What else we’re reading

What you need to know about South Korea’s new president South Korea’s new conservative president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, a former chief prosecutor, has no foreign policy experience and has never held office. Elected last week by a margin of less than 1 per cent, Yoon will take charge when he assumes office in May. Read up on his policy positions.

Economic pressures squeeze Iran as nuclear talks stall Farmers, teachers, pensioners, sugar industry workers, oil sector labourers and others have all taken part in protests over the past 12 months. Each outburst of anger underlines what Tehran is grappling with as it battles to revive its heavily sanctioned economy and keep a lid on simmering discontent.

What does it mean to say you are Ukrainian? All of us are “Ukrainians” but when people use that word they don’t mean the same thing — just as when people say they are British they don’t all mean the same thing, writes author Marina Lewycka. But only one kind has been treated as truly Ukrainian by the west.

We need a grand bargain on energy Within the current crisis, there is opportunity: namely, the possibility of an US-EU grand bargain on energy security and climate change. It should not be missed, writes Rana Foroohar. Read more from Rana on this topic in her Swamp Notes newsletter.

Modi’s wins show how the power of his personal story endures The repeated embrace of autocratic candidates with democratic roots suggests that the well-worn story of democracy’s retreat in India is more complicated than it appears from afar, writes Ruchir Sharma.


The art market is feverish for non-fungibles. So how come they’re all so ugly? Talk to many art insiders and — if only privately — they’ll express horror at the stuff which is, apparently, a hot commodity.

“XYZ 0868 (Chinoiserie)” NFT, 2012-21, by Lucas Samaras © Lucas Samaras/Courtesy of Pace Gallery

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