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FirstFT: US to announce sanctions including ban on new Russia investments

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The US is poised to announce a ban on new investment in Russia while increasing sanctions on the country’s financial institutions, state-owned enterprises and government officials, people familiar with the matter said.

“These measures will degrade key instruments of Russian state power, impose acute and immediate economic harm on Russia and hold accountable the Russian kleptocracy that funds and supports Putin’s war,” one of the people said, adding that the sanctions would be unveiled on Wednesday and co-ordinated with the G7 and the EU.

Calls for additional sanctions on Moscow have multiplied in recent days in the wake of mounting evidence of war crimes in Ukraine, including a massacre of civilians in Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv. The EU this week moved to ban Russian coal and other measures to reduce its dependence on energy imports from Russia.

The US had already banned new investments in Russia’s energy sector, but the step expected on Wednesday would apply the prohibition across the Russian economy.

The latest on the war in Ukraine:

  • UN: Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that Russia must be “brought to justice” over atrocities.

  • Economy: Moscow is a step closer to default after Washington blocked it from making debt payments in dollars through US banks.

  • Sanctions: Italy and Spain led a fresh round of European expulsions of Moscow’s diplomats, while Brussels is preparing a ban on Russian coal imports.

  • Disinformation: Russian state media are bombarding citizens with alternative versions of the truth and denying accusations of war crimes in Ukraine.

  • Military briefing: Nato’s “eyes in the sky” keep watch as war rages, while the Czech Republic is sending tanks to bolster Ukraine’s forces.

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Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Gary

1. Uber adds planes and trains in ‘superapp’ push The ride-booking app is aiming to add long-distance bookings to its UK app this year, including intercity trains, coaches and flights, as it reboots chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi’s long-delayed plans to become a broader travel hub.

2. Chinese traditional medicine tycoon’s stake surges The value of the founding family’s stake in one of China’s largest traditional medicine companies has risen to $4.5bn after pro-Beijing lawmakers promoted the treatment amid Hong Kong’s worst-ever Covid-19 outbreak.

3. VW to scrap dozens of models The “people’s car” pioneer will axe dozens of petrol and diesel models by the end of the decade and prioritise more profitable, premium vehicles such as its Audi and Porsche models.

4. Expats fleeing Hong Kong greeted with resentment With Singapore the obvious choice for white-collar Hong Kong residents worn down by travel restrictions, home-schooling and lengthy quarantines, the city-state’s reputation for openness is being undermined by locals who want to clamp down on immigration.

5. Dubai lures crypto firms with tailored regulations The Gulf state is the latest jurisdiction seeking to become a haven for the global crypto industry, with companies rushing to set up shop in Dubai after it started offering virtual asset licences.

The day ahead

Axiom launch Axiom (or Ax-1), the first all-private astronaut rocket mission to the International Space Station, is due to launch from Nasa’s Kennedy space centre in Florida.

Nato foreign ministers meet Officials gather in Brussels for a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the transatlantic alliance’s main decision-making body, chaired by secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

UBS AGM Last month, the Swiss lender said its direct risk exposure to Russia was $634mn at the end of 2021, with $10mn of loans outstanding to clients targeted by western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Economic data The European Central Bank publishes quarterly financial statements, Germany releases February factory order and consumer goods statistics, Russia reports consumer price index figures and Sweden has February gross domestic product data. IHS/Markit productivity, services and construction PMIs are also out for Asia, China, the EU, France, Germany and the UK. Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March policy meeting will be released.

What else we’re reading

Rightwing immigration ‘obsession’ belies modern French reality Despite the fiery rhetoric about immigration and supposed threats to French identity, statistics disprove the negative picture painted by far-right politicians such as Marine Le Pen, but the lack of inclusion remains an issue.

The weaponisation of finance The first of a two-part series on the new era of financial warfare examines how the west unleashed “shock and awe” on Russia’s economy, and how sanctions on the country’s central bank wielded the omnipresence of the US dollar to penalise an adversary of Washington.

Carbon removal ‘unavoidable’ as climate change alarm bells ring The “unavoidable” need to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to limit global warming, starkly laid out in the latest UN climate change report, has given a boost to expensive technologies despite their shortcomings.

Australia should blame itself for Solomon Islands’ shift to China Dismay in Australia, New Zealand, the US and Japan over a planned security pact overshadows long-running problems in their approach to the Pacific, writes Kathrin Hille — and shows how despite fears of losing influence, the west is struggling to do anything about it.

Can David Solomon DJ? An investigation A chief executive’s public image can have demonstrable effects on corporate culture and share price performance. The Goldman Sachs CEO’s elevation from weekend mix-jockey to festival headliner carries a measurable risk of being considered too eccentric. So it is on behalf of stakeholders that Alphaville asks: is Solomon any good?


It’s rare to find something unprecedented on the London dining scene. But chef Daisuke Hayashi’s Roketsu in Mayfair claims to be that — the capital’s first authentic Japanese kaiseki restaurant. It is considered the highest form of Japanese cuisine.

Sashimi of Cornish sea bass, cuttlefish and Scottish langoustine, with a charcoal-grilled Scottish langoustine head and claw
Sashimi of Cornish sea bass, cuttlefish and Scottish langoustine, with a charcoal-grilled Scottish langoustine head and claw

Working It Discover what’s shaking up the world of work with our latest newsletter, Working It, from work & careers editor Isabel Berwick.

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