EconomyFirstFT: Ukraine rejects Russian demand to surrender Mariupol

FirstFT: Ukraine rejects Russian demand to surrender Mariupol


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Ukraine has rejected Russia’s ultimatum to surrender Mariupol, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents trapped in the besieged port city.

Russia’s military gave fighters in the southern city until 5am to lay down their arms and warned local officials they would face “military tribunals” if they resisted.

The strategically important city on the Sea of Azov, with a prewar population of 460,000, has been the subject of a brutal aerial assault for the past three weeks that has left residents without water, electricity, gas or food.

Witnesses who have escaped talk of post-apocalyptic scenes of stray dogs eating the remains of bombing victims that lay unburied on the street. “It is hell on earth,” said one former resident.

The city’s theatre was bombed last week, where hundreds of women and children were suspected to be hiding, and it remains unclear how many people were killed or injured in the attack. On Sunday a school was bombed where 400 residents were believed to be sheltering.

Ukraine’s defence minister today praised the fighters in Mariupol and said their defence was helping to slow the Russian advance to other parts of the country.

Russia “no longer dreams of capturing Kyiv”, Oleksii Reznikov said in a statement. The UK Ministry of Defence said Russia had been forced to “change its operational approach and is now pursuing a strategy of attrition” after failing to make any sizeable gains in the in the first month of the military campaign.

Capturing Mariupol would give the Russians control of the whole northern coast of the Sea of Azov, cutting Ukraine off from a crucial conduit to the Black Sea and enabling Moscow to form a land corridor to Crimea, the peninsula it illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

In other developments:

  • As many as 10mn people have fled the fighting in Ukraine, the UN refugee agency said in its latest estimate. More than 3.2mn refugees have been forced to escape Ukraine, while an additional 6.5mn people have been displaced internally.

  • China’s ambassador to Washington said yesterday that Beijing “will do everything” to de-escalate the war in Ukraine but stopped short of condemning Russia. Joe Biden on Friday warned his counterpart Xi Jinping there would be “consequences” if Beijing provided military aid to the Kremlin.

  • Businesses that have announced their withdrawal from Russia face dilemmas about their people, assets and liabilities as well as their short- and long-term options in the country.

  • The conflict has exposed the heavy bet Germany, Italy and other European countries made on Russian oil and gas. Can they now wean themselves off it?

  • Countries across the Arab world, dependent on Russia and Ukraine for grains and vegetable oil, are fearing food insecurity and political instability.

  • America’s Ukraine diaspora is mobilising with packages and prayers. The war has been a call to action for communities across the country.

  • Opinion: The former head of the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency argues that as Russia’s economy deteriorates, its cyber checks and balances may evaporate.

Keep up with the latest developments from Ukraine on our live blog and follow Russia’s invasion in maps. Send your feedback on this newsletter to firstft@ft.com. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Gordon

1. Berkshire Hathaway to pay $12bn for Alleghany Warren Buffett has dipped into Berkshire Hathaway’s $150bn cash pile with a $12bn deal for Alleghany, an insurance-to-toy manufacturing conglomerate.

2. Passenger plane crashes in southern China China Eastern Airlines’ flight MU5735, with 132 people on board, has crashed in southern China in what threatens to be the country’s worst air disaster in recent years. The flight was travelling from Kunming to Guangzhou and the plane was a Boeing 737-800, according to flight tracking websites.

2. Hong Kong suspends trading in Evergrande Shares in the world’s most indebted property developer were suspended today pending the release of “inside information”. The company borrowed more than $20bn in dollar-denominated bonds

3. Hong Kong eases travel curbs Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader, said she would lift a flight ban from nine countries, including the US and UK, for Hong Kong residents and allow those travellers to quarantine in a hotel for seven rather than 14 days.

5. Bill Gross warns Fed rate rises will ‘crack the US economy’ The founder of investment house Pimco told the Financial Times he believes inflation is approaching troubling levels but that the US central bank will not be able to implement higher policy rates to contain it.

The day ahead

EU foreign and defence ministers meet The group of EU foreign and defence ministers will discuss deploying further sanctions against Russia when they meet in Brussels today with their Ukrainian and Moldovan counterparts. Valentina Pop, editor of Europe Express, has more.

Monetary policy Jay Powell, US Federal Reserve chair, is due to speak at a National Association for Business Economics conference on “sustainable and inclusive growth”, where he is expected to comment on interest rates and inflation.

US stock set to flatline After recording their biggest weekly advances since November 2020, stocks today are due to open little changed. The rally which was driven by signs of peace talk progress between Russia and Ukraine has faded in the first trading session of the week.

Biden’s Supreme Court nominee faces confirmation hearing Ketanji Brown Jackson will be questioned by the 22 members of the Senate judiciary committee as the hearing begins to vet the appeals court judge who could become the first black woman to sit on America’s highest court.

What else we’re reading

The global economy’s growing risks This was supposed to be the year the world economy recovered from the shock of Covid-19. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and new outbreaks of coronavirus in China are threatening the expected rebound.

How Big Tech lost the antitrust battle with Europe Brussels is set to finalise stringent legislation targeting Silicon Valley giants, disabling their strategy to dominate markets and capture billions of euros in revenues, despite desperate lobbying that has fallen on deaf ears.

Will AI turbocharge the hunt for new drugs? Artificial intelligence has been primarily used as a tool to save scientists’ time, accelerating this notoriously slow discovery process. But advocates of AI say its wider use during the crisis is just the start of a revolution in drug discovery.

Citi recruits’ future of work trade-off A new hub for fledgling investment bankers that Citigroup is setting up in Málaga is innovative — and its progress will be keenly watched. But ensuring it thrives will require some serious management effort.

The strange death of the salutation If the opening salutation is fading, it is probably no surprise after two harried pandemic years, followed by headlines of a third world war. Firing off an email without an opening greeting is becoming more common but is still unwise, writes Pilita Clark.

Television

Our critic’s selection of the latest in home viewing includes the Apple TV Plus series that recounts the rise and almost-fall of WeWork and a documentary about the collapse of the planned European Super League.

Thank you for reading and remember you can add FirstFT to myFT. You can also elect to receive a FirstFT push notification every morning on the app. Send your recommendations and feedback to firstft@ft.com

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