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March 19, 2022 – rdspinvestments

March 19, 2022

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

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World13 hours ago (Mar 19, 2022 01:11AM ET)

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Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now© Reuters. Members of the Ukrainian forces sit on a military vehicle amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the Vyshgorod region near Kyiv, Ukraine March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko

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(Reuters) – Ukraine’s President Zelenskiy called for meaningful talks with Russia to stop its invasion, as Moscow said it was “tightening the noose” around the key port of Mariupol.

DIPLOMACY

* Biden warned China’s Xi of “consequences”, which the White House said could include sanctions, if Beijing gave material support to Russia’s invasion. Both sides called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis in its fourth week.

* Ukraine expects progress on its EU membership bid within months, Zelenskiy said after a call with the head of EU executive, Ursula von der Leyen.

FIGHTING

* As the prolonged assault has reduced much of Mariupol to rubble, Ukraine’s defence ministry said it had “temporarily” lost access to the Azov Sea, which connects to the Black Sea and would be a major loss for Ukraine.

* “Russian forces have made minimal progress this week,” Britain said. It said Russian attempts to surround Kyiv and Mykolaiv have been pushed back while heavy Russian shelling of encircled cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol continued.

CIVILIAN TOLL

* The U.N. rights office reported 816 confirmed civilian deaths. Kyiv officials said 222 people had been killed in the capital, including 60 civilians and four children.

* Ukraine’s food supply chains are breaking down and the conflict is leading to “collateral hunger” around the world, the U.N. food aid agency warned.

* Border crossings from Ukraine have slowed but could rise again if conditions in the west of the country worsen, the U.N refugee agency said. The U.N. says 3.27 million have fled, with 2 million displaced inside the country.

ECONOMY AND MARKETS

* Roman Abramovich transferred a company to a director of Chelsea Football Club the day Russia invaded Ukraine, corporate filings seen by Reuters showed. It was the second time the Russian tycoon, who is trying to sell the English soccer team, moved assets to a close associate before Britain and the EU imposed sanctions on him.

* Moscow averted a debt default with interest payments on two dollar bonds but faces a busy payment schedule in coming weeks.

QUOTES

“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk… Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover,” Zelenskiy said in a video address.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

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India’s oil imports from U.S. to rise, amid criticism for Russian purchases

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Commodities22 hours ago (Mar 19, 2022 04:30AM ET)

India's oil imports from U.S. to rise, amid criticism for Russian purchases© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker holds a nozzle to pump petrol into a vehicle at a fuel station in Mumbai, India, May 21, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

By Sanjeev Miglani

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s oil imports from the United States will rise by 11% this year, officials said on Saturday, as the severely energy-deficient country looks to secure supplies from producers around the world, including heavily sanctioned Russia.

The surge in oil prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month threatens to fan Indian inflation, stretch public finances and hurt growth just when it was emerging from a pandemic-induced slowdown.

New Delhi faces criticism from the West for its long-standing political and security ties with Moscow, with some saying that engaging in business with Russia will help fund its war. India has urged an end to the violence in Ukraine but abstained from voting against Russia.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, meeting his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi during a visit on Saturday, said he will encourage a unified approach on Ukraine.

India buys most of its oil from the Middle East, but the United States has emerged as the fourth-biggest source and this year supplies will rise substantially, a government official briefed on the matter told Reuters.

Iraq supplies 23% of India’s oil, followed by Saudi Arabia at 18% and the United Arab Emirates at 11%. The U.S. share of the Indian market will rise to 8% this year, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

Russia has been a marginal player in the Indian market, but since its Feb. 24 invasion has been offering discounted oil to soften the blow of sweeping sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries.

Indian Oil Corp., the country’s top refiner, recently ordered 3 million barrels of Russian oil through a tender, while Hindustan Petroleum Corp has booked 2 million barrels for May loading.

India welcomes competing offers for oil sales including from Moscow, especially when global prices have jumped, another government official said, defending the decision to buy from Russia.

European countries continue to import Russian oil and gas, and India cannot be stopped from doing so too, the second official said.

Western sanctions have carve-outs to avoid any impact on energy imports from Moscow, and Russian banks that process payments for these sales remain on the SWIFT network, this official said.

The official said India’s legitimate energy transactions should not be politicised. “Countries with oil self-sufficiency or those importing themselves from Russia cannot credibly advocate restrictive trading.”

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

ECB’s Holzmann argues again for rate rise – paper

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Economy9 hours ago (Mar 19, 2022 05:20AM ET)

ECB's Holzmann argues again for rate rise - paper© Reuters. European Central Bank policymaker and Austrian National Bank (OeNB) Governor Robert Holzmann attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria December 2, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

ZURICH (Reuters) – European Central Bank (ECB) policymaker Robert Holzmann told an Austrian newspaper that the bank could send a clear message about fighting inflation by raising interest rates before ending its stimulus programme of bond purchases.

The ECB left rates steady this month and will be in no hurry to raise them, President Christine Lagarde said on Thursday.

Holzmann, governor of Austria’s central bank, supports the majority decision of the ECB, the Krone paper cited him as saying, but he added: “The system of bond purchases is difficult for the population to understand. An interest rate increase would have been a signal that everyone would have understood.”

Holzmann had also challenged the bank’s long-held view about the sequencing of its policy moves last month.

He said in the Krone interview published on Saturday that the euro zone economy would have been on a “wonderful growth path” if not for the war in Ukraine.

Asked if he was worried about the high level of debt in some countries, he said: “This topic is taken very seriously by the Euro Group but, as is known, there are different ways of looking at it.”

Simply cutting government spending would not be enough without structural changes as well, he said, noting the challenge of promoting growth that can create sufficient financial leeway while still combating the climate crisis.

“This transition, even more so in the middle of a crisis, costs money. A lot of money. It makes sense to develop new renewable energy sources, but it does not come for free,” he said.

The paper paraphrased Holzmann as saying he expected inflation to drop to the targeted 2% in the medium term or else appropriate interest rate steps would have to be taken.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Greek farmers on tractors protest ‘unbearable’ fuel, fertilizer costs

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Economic Indicators8 hours ago (Mar 19, 2022 06:26AM ET)

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Greek farmers on tractors protest 'unbearable' fuel, fertilizer costs© Reuters. Greek farmers hold a placard during a demonstration against fuel and fertilizer costs affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Athens, Greece, March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Louiza Vradi

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ATHENS (Reuters) – Hundreds of Greek farmers, some on tractors, protested in Athens on Friday, demanding more tax cuts and subsidies to combat high fuel and fertilizer prices which have soared since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The farmers, who staged weeks of protests over high energy prices earlier this year, say their costs are so high they will be forced to produce less and also raise prices for consumers.

The government has so far spent about 3.7 billion euros ($4.08 billion) since September to alleviate pain from soaring energy and fuel costs for farmers, households and businesses.

It cut a sales tax on fertilisers by 46% to 13% and on Thursday announced it would be lowered further, to 6%, and also announced a tax rebate on fuel for agricultural vehicles.

Farmers say the measures do not go far enough and everything has become too expensive, from fuel to animal feed.

“Our survival is really at stake this year,” said one protester, Giorgos Laoutis. “With the cost of production, electricity, agricultural supplies, fuel.”

Farmers from across Greece joined the rally. Some protesters hung black flags on shepherd’s crooks or sticks.

“The situation has become unbearable,” said another farmer, Diamanto Kritikou.

“We can’t work our fields, we can’t cultivate, we can’t put gas in our vehicles, and (we can’t buy) seeds, fertilizers… there will be a problem with food supply in the country,” she said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has driven retail gasoline and diesel prices to record highs.

Russia is also a big producer of potash-, phosphate- and nitrogen-containing fertilisers, and a leader in fertilizer exports, accounting for 13% of world output.

This month, its trade and industry ministry told the country’s fertilizer producers to temporarily halt exports.

As a result of the conflict in Ukraine, the United Nations food agency said last week that international food and feed prices could rise by up to 20%.

($1 = 0.9062 euros)

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Dead buildings tower over uncollected corpses in Mariupol, on the front line of Ukraine’s war

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World21 minutes ago (Mar 19, 2022 07:11AM ET)

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Dead buildings tower over uncollected corpses in Mariupol, on the front line of Ukraine's war© Reuters. A woman reacts while speaking near a block of flats, which was destroyed during Ukraine-Russia conflict in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine March 17, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

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MARIUPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – In Mariupol daily life is a series of harrowing escapes from bomb blasts and basic survival rituals, amid the rubble that lies everywhere.

Uncollected corpses wrapped in blankets, coats or any available covering lie in courtyards cleared of debris. Those killed are often buried in common graves.

All around are the blackened shells of the sprawling tower blocks typical of Soviet-era dwellings. Twisted metal on balconies, shattered windows, woods, metal and other wreckage scattered between buildings and in streets.

Some 400,000 people have been trapped in the strategic port city on the Sea of Azov for more than two weeks, sheltering from heavy bombardment that has severed central supplies of electricity, heating and water, according to local authorities.

Russia’s defence ministry said on Friday that its forces were “tightening the noose” around Mariupol and that fighting had reached the city centre.

With no running water or heating, women crouch around make-shift barbecues to cook whatever food they can find. As spring approaches, there is no longer any snow to melt for drinking water.

Residents say no one expected this in post-Soviet Ukraine — an unrelenting onslaught from what was once thought of as a “fraternal” Russia — though some have lived through other upheavals that jolted the country back under Soviet rule.

“She had a Russian passport, Russian citizenship, lots of medals,” said a downcast Alexander, 57, gesturing toward the place in the open where the body of his wife’s mother lies for now.

“My mother-in-law was born in 1936. She survived through the siege of Leningrad,” he said, referring to the 900-day Nazi encirclement of the city now known as St. Petersburg. “She was an honoured worker of fish farming in the Russian Federation. So that is where she is.”

Officials in Mariupol say 2,500 people have died since Russian forces poured across the Ukrainian border on Feb. 24.

Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on Friday that around 35,000 had managed to leave the city in recent days, many on foot or in convoys of private cars during the rare moments when Russian shelling subsides.

Those left occasionally verge on despair — the cold and the anxiety taking their toll.

“I feel terrible. I don’t want to blame anyone, but I’m disgusted and scared. And I’m cold,” said one woman, Olga, who wore a pink hat under a hoodie and a big coat. “I just don’t have any words. I wasn’t ready for my life to become like this.”

Russia denies targeting civilians and has accused Kyiv of using them as human shields, something Ukrainian officials deny.

Mariupol is seen as a strategic prize for the Russian invaders to create a bridge between Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, and two separatist enclaves in eastern Ukraine.

A maternity hospital was bombed last week, sending patients fleeing into the street. A theatre used to shelter families forced from their homes was also struck – despite the word “children” being written outside in letters big enough to be read by pilots.

A sense of solidarity among residents fearing for their lives has taken hold. Strangers take in other strangers.

“We spent two days in the basement. She couldn’t move. I thought she wouldn’t survive,” said one middle-aged resident, gesturing to her elderly mother.

“Then we managed to leave the basement. This is the first time I have seen these people. But they sheltered us. And here we are sitting here, covered in blankets. It’s very cold here. We just want to go home.”

Children, look on, uncomprehending.

“Don’t worry, my little darling. Everything will be all right,” said one unsmiling young mother, hugging her two school-age children.

Out in the courtyard, groups of men milled about aimlessly, surveying the shattered buildings.

And around them lay the bodies. The only identifying markers are scraps of paper, appended to makeshift crosses, each bearing a name and a date of birth and death. And no indication when they will be collected.

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Zelenskiy calls for peace talks with Moscow, urges Swiss to target oligarchs

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World18 hours ago (Mar 19, 2022 09:18PM ET)

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Zelenskiy calls for peace talks with Moscow, urges Swiss to target oligarchs© Reuters. A man walks near destroyed cars in a residential district that was damaged by shelling, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine, March 18, 2022. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

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(Updates with latest Ukraine defense ministry statement)

By Natalia Zinets and Natalie Thomas

LVIV/ODESSA, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Saturday for comprehensive peace talks with Moscow and also urged Switzerland to do more to crack down on Russian oligarchs who he said were helping wage war on his country with their money.

British intelligence warned that Russia, frustrated by its failure to achieve its objectives since it launched the invasion on Feb. 24, was now pursuing a strategy of attrition that could exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.

Russian forces have taken heavy losses and their advance has largely stalled since President Vladimir Putin launched the assault, with long columns of troops that bore down on Kyiv halted in the suburbs.

But they have laid siege to cities, blasting urban areas to rubble, and in recent days have intensified missile attacks on scattered targets in western Ukraine, away from the main battlefields.

Zelenskiy, who makes frequent impassioned appeals to foreign audiences for help for his country, told an anti-war protest in Bern that Swiss banks were where the “money of the people who unleashed this war” lay and their accounts should be frozen.

Ukrainian cities “are being destroyed on the orders of people who live in European, in beautiful Swiss towns, who enjoy property in your cities. It would really be good to strip them of this privilege,” he said in an audio address.

Neutral Switzerland, which is not a member of the European Union, has fully adopted EU sanctions against Russian individuals and entities, including orders to freeze their wealth in Swiss banks.

The EU measures are part of a wider sanctions effort by Western nations, criticized by China, aimed at squeezing Russia’s economy and starving its war machine.

In an address earlier on Saturday, Zelenskiy urged Moscow to hold peace talks now.

“I want everyone to hear me now, especially in Moscow. The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk,” he said in a video address. “The time has come to restore territorial integrity and justice for Ukraine. Otherwise, Russia’s losses will be such that it will take you several generations to recover.”

Britain’s defense attache to the United States said British intelligence believes Russia has been taken aback by the Ukrainian resistance to its assault and has so far failed to achieve its original objectives.

“Russia has been forced to change its operational approach and is now pursuing a strategy of attrition” likely to involve the “indiscriminate use of firepower resulting in increased civilian casualties,” Air Vice Marshal Mick Smeath said in a statement.

Putin, who calls the action a “special operation” aimed at demilitarizing Ukraine and purging it of what he sees as dangerous nationalists, told a rally on Friday in Moscow that all the Kremlin’s aims would be achieved.

On Saturday, Russia said its hypersonic missiles had destroyed a large underground depot for missiles and aircraft ammunition in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region. Hypersonic weapons can travel faster than five times the speed of sound, and the Interfax agency said it was the first time Russia had used them in Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force Command confirmed the attack, but said the Ukrainian side had no information on the type of missiles used.

Ukraine’s defense ministry said in its late Saturday night update that Russian forces continued their offensive in the eastern Donetsk region, but Russian troops were forced to regroup in some areas in Ukraine’s south and additional reserves were deployed there.

The ministry also said that the “moral and psychological condition of the (Russian) personnel is low and deteriorating with each passing day of hostilities.”

The Ukrainian military command in charge of forces in two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine said they had fought off 10 attacks on Saturday, destroying a total of 28 tanks, armored personnel carriers and armored cars and killing more than 100 soldiers. Reuters was unable to independently corroborate the claim.

The U.N. human rights office said at least 847 civilians had been killed and 1,399 wounded in Ukraine as of Friday, with the real figure likely much higher. The Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said 112 children were among the dead. Russia says it is not targeting civilians.

Kyiv authorities said on Saturday that 228 people had been killed in the capital since Russia’s invasion began, including four children.

A further 912 people have been wounded, the Kyiv city administration said in a statement.

Reuters has not been able to independently confirm casualty figures.

‘KNOW HOW TO FIGHT’

Ordinary Ukrainians have joined the effort to defend their country, such as at a training facility in Odessa, a picturesque, multicultural Black Sea port, where young urban professionals were learning about handling weapons and applying first aid.

“Every person should know how to fight, how to make medicine,” said 26-year-old graphic designer Olga Moroz.

More than 3.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine through its western border, with around 2 more million displaced inside the country. Ukraine has evacuated 190,000 civilians from front-line areas via humanitarian corridors, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said on Saturday.

“I’ll go (to Germany) for three weeks but I hope I can go home after that,” said Olga Pavlovska, a 28-year-old refugee in the Polish town of Przemysl, hoping Zelekskiy’s calls for comprehensive peace talks will end the invasion.

Hundreds of thousands have been trapped in the port city of Mariupol for more than two weeks with power, water and heat supplies cut off. Bodies amid the rubble are a common sight. Local officials say fighting has reached the city center and heavy shelling kept humanitarian aid from getting in.

About 600 residential buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv have been destroyed and are unfit for habitation since the start of the Russian invasion, Kharkiv’s regional governor Oleh Synyehubov said.

Rescue workers were still searching for survivors in a Mariupol theater that authorities say was flattened by Russian air strikes on Wednesday. Russia denies hitting the theater.

Interfax quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying Moscow expected its operation in Ukraine to end with a signing of a comprehensive agreement on security issues, including Ukraine’s neutral status.

Kyiv and Moscow reported some progress in talks this week toward a political formula that would guarantee Ukraine’s security, while keeping it outside NATO, though both sides accused each other of dragging things out.

China has not condemned Russia’s invasion, though it has expressed concern about the war.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said on Saturday that Western sanctions against Russia were getting “more and more outrageous.”

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Japan PM Kishida announces $42 billion investment in India

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Economy14 hours ago (Mar 19, 2022 11:35AM ET)

Japan PM Kishida announces $42 billion investment in India© Reuters. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, March 19, 2022. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

MUMBAI (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday announced a 5 trillion yen ($42 billion) investment in India over the next five years during a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

The two leaders were meeting to strengthen security amid the Ukraine crisis and improve economic ties between the two nations. Japan in recent years has supported India’s urban infrastructure development and the high-speed railway based on its bullet train technology.

In 2014, then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced 3.5 trillion yen in investment and financing over five years during a visit to India.

($1 = 119.1700 yen)

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

Western companies wrestle with Russia ‘half-exits’

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Stock Markets14 hours ago (Mar 19, 2022 12:12PM ET)

6/6

Western companies wrestle with Russia 'half-exits'© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view shows a plant of PepsiCo company in Azov in the Rostov region, Russia March 9, 2022. REUTERS/Sergey Pivovarov

2/6

(This 18 Mar story corrects paragraph 12 to show that Bayer (OTC:) does not maintain production facilities in Russia)

By Richa Naidu and Jessica DiNapoli

(Reuters) – Western companies that maintain a presence in Russia to provide essential goods such as food and medicines are trying to strike a balance between President Vladimir Putin’s government and advocates of Ukraine pulling them in opposite directions.

More than 400 companies have withdrawn from Russia since the launch of its attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to a list compiled by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management. They have left behind assets that were worth hundreds of billions of dollars in aggregate before the invasion, which Russia calls a “special military operation.”

Yet about 80 companies have retained a presence, even as they suspended new investments and business ventures. Many are consumer and pharmaceutical companies that argue that pulling out would significantly harm the Russian population. Some are also concerned about legal repercussions for their employees in the country should the Russian government retaliate.

“Companies believe they can’t easily abandon small Russian businesses and consumers that rely on them,” said Bruce Haynes, global co-chair of crisis communications at public relations firm SVC+FGH who has been advising companies on their withdrawal from Russia.

Consumer goods giants such PepsiCo Inc, Procter & Gamble (NYSE:) Co and Nestle SA (SIX:) have said they will retain a presence in Russia to provide basic items for nutrition and hygiene, such as milk and diapers.

With casualties and refugees from the conflict in Ukraine mounting, pressure is building to pull out of Russia completely.

“Barring a turnaround we don’t see right now, the pressure (to pull out) is going to grow,” said BSR Chief Executive Aron Cramer, who advises companies on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues.

Katie Denis, communications and research lead at the Consumer Brands Association, a trade group that counts Pepsico (NASDAQ:), Coca-Cola (NYSE:) and P&G among its members, said its members by-and-large did not support Russia’s actions in Ukraine, but that uninvolved Russian people should not be made to suffer for it.

Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer Inc (NYSE:), Germany’s Bayer AG (DE:) and Eli Lilly (NYSE:) have said they will halt non-essential operations in Russia but plan to continue supplying medications for diseases such as diabetes and cancer. They have noted that prescription medicines have been excluded from international sanctions because they serve an essential humanitarian need. However, in recent days, even those goods have come under scrutiny.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy this week urged pharmaceutical companies to join conglomerates withdrawing from Russia completely. Sonnenfeld, whose list has been seized on by human rights activists to pressure global companies to leave Russia, has also called for such a move.

Some drug companies have backing from their shareholders. Josh Brockwell, for example, an executive at investment firm Azzad Asset Management, said he supported Pfizer’s decision to keep supplying Russia. “I don’t think the people should suffer for the actions of the (Russian) government,” he said.

Many U.S.-based pharmaceutical companies say they do not make drugs in Russia, but some European peers, including Switzerland’s Novartis SA, maintain manufacturing plants in the country.

CARVING OUT RUSSIA PROFITS

Putin said last week Russia could seize assets of companies that abandon their operations in the country. Russian prosecutors have also warned some Western companies that their employees could face arrests if they shut down production of essential goods, a person familiar with the matter said.

British American Tobacco (NYSE:) Chief Marketing Officer Kingsley Wheaton told Reuters last week that exiting its business or stopping the sale or manufacturing of its products would be regarded as a criminal bankruptcy by Russia that could expose its staff in the country to prosecution.

Other challenges consumer companies still operating in Russia face are processing transactions under banking sanctions and securing raw materials, said Jack Martin, a fund manager at Oberon Investments, which has stakes in Unilever (NYSE:), Diageo (LON:), Burberry, GSK, Eli Lilly and Nike (NYSE:).

“The risk premium around investing in companies that do business in Russia has increased,” Martin said.

Companies are trying to come up with ways to appease all sides. Pfizer and Eli Lilly, for example, said they would set aside for humanitarian relief any profits from sales in Russia. Novartis and Bayer have each pledged millions of dollars for Ukraine relief.

Some companies are staying in Russia while seeking parties to buy or take over their local operations. British America Tobacco’s Wheaton said his company was trying to do this “rapidly.” Interested parties could include its Russian distributor of 30 years, Wheaton said.

Many companies are also concerned about what would happen to their facilities in their absence. An abandoned food plant, for example, could be repurposed by Russia to supply troops fighting in Ukraine.

Some investors want companies to consider how they may be indirectly funding the war by paying taxes. Hannah Shoesmith, director of engagement at asset manager Federated Hermes (NYSE:), told Reuters last week companies need to “think carefully” about any taxes they are paying to the Russian government and if the products and services they are providing are worth that risk.

Companies that left Russia may find it difficult to reclaim their property and assets once they are expropriated. Tiffany Compres, a partner with law firm FisherBroyles, said companies may sue Russia in international venues such as the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, but such cases can drag on for years and Russia cannot be forced to pay out.

“Even if the company wins the claim, Russia has a reputation for not paying,” Compres said.

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Russia ridicules idea that cosmonauts wore yellow in support of Ukraine

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World20 hours ago (Mar 19, 2022 03:46PM ET)

Russia ridicules idea that cosmonauts wore yellow in support of Ukraine© Reuters. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov arrive wearing yellow and blue flight suits at the International Space Station after docking their Soyuz capsule March 18, 2022 i a still image from video. Video taken March 18, 2022. NA

(Reuters) – Russia’s space agency on Saturday dismissed Western media reports suggesting Russian cosmonauts joining the International Space Station (ISS) had chosen to wear yellow suits with a blue trim in support of Ukraine.

“Sometimes yellow is just yellow,” Roscosmos’s press service said on its Telegram channel.

“The flight suits of the new crew are made in the colours of the emblem of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, which all three cosmonauts graduated from … To see the Ukrainian flag everywhere and in everything is crazy.”

Roscosmos Director-General Dmitry Rogozin was more acerbic, saying on his personal Telegram channel that Russian cosmonauts had no sympathy for Ukrainian nationalists.

In a live-streamed news conference from the ISS on Friday, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, the mission commander, was asked about the suits.

“Every crew picks a colour that looks different. It was our turn to pick a colour,” he said. “The truth is, we had accumulated a lot of yellow fabric, so we needed to use it up. That’s why we had to wear yellow flight suits.”

On Saturday evening, he was quoted on Roscosmos’s Telegram channel as saying the suits had been made six months ago, and that the three cosmonauts had chosen the colours of their alma mater.

“Colour is just colour. It has nothing to do with Ukraine,” he said. “In these days, even though we are in space, we are together with our president and people!”

Russia invaded Ukraine, which has a blue and yellow flag, on Feb. 24. The ensuing fighting has killed thousands of people, devastated parts of cities and caused millions of Ukrainians to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

Rogozin has suggested that U.S. sanctions imposed in response to the invasion could destroy ISS teamwork and lead to the space station falling out of orbit.

Officials at the U.S. space agency, NASA, have said U.S. and Russian crew members are aware of events on Earth but that their work has not been affected by geopolitical tensions.

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Stuck at Mexico border, anti-war Russians sweat their futures as Ukrainians enter U.S

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Coronavirus6 hours ago (Mar 19, 2022 03:46PM ET)

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Stuck at Mexico border, anti-war Russians sweat their futures as Ukrainians enter U.S© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Russian couple embrace as they wait for a humanitarian visa at the San Ysidro Port of Entry of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico March 15, 2022. Picture taken March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes/File Photo

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By Daina Beth Solomon

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) – Russians trying to enter the United States at the Mexican border are frustrated they are not getting in like Ukrainians are, despite leaving their homeland over the invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. officials have let dozens of Ukrainians through this week but Russians remain in limbo, prompting some to camp on the pavement alongside a barbed wire border fence, defying warnings from Mexican authorities to leave.

Irina Zolkina, a math teacher who left Moscow with her four children and her daughter’s boyfriend, burst into tears when a U.S. border agent on Thursday took one look at her stack of Russian passports and shook his head, saying they would have to wait – soon after officials ushered in six Ukrainian men.

“There are so many years of fear that we’re living in … it’s awful inside Russia too,” she told Reuters in the Mexican border city of Tijuana opposite San Diego, California.

Zolkina showed Reuters a BBC video of her arrest for attending an anti-war protest on Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine in what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” that Western allies have denounced.

She was released a few hours later and left Russia with her children the following week, she said, passing through Tashkent and Istanbul before reaching the Mexican beach resort of Cancun – a common jumping-off point for Russians heading to the U.S. border.

Over 3 million Ukrainians have become refugees, according to the United Nations, most of them in countries bordering Ukraine. Thousands of Russians have also left their country, according to media reports.

Some Ukrainians crossing in Tijuana have been granted permission to stay in the United States for a year.

When asked on Thursday about Ukrainians and Russians at the border, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the government was helping people fleeing Ukraine, and that other programs were being considered to expand humanitarian aid.

The U.S.-Mexico border has been closed to most asylum seekers under a coronavirus pandemic policy.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson, asked about current policy towards Russians, said the agency makes exceptions to the order on a case-by-case basis for “particularly vulnerable individuals.”

‘UNFAIR’

A couple of dozen other Russians have for several days wrapped themselves in thick blankets to sleep feet from the border wall, hoping U.S. officials will hear their pleas for protection.

“It’s unfair that we can’t get in,” said Mark, 32, a restaurant manager who came from Moscow with his wife, flying to Mexico via Turkey and Germany in early March.

Both were arrested for three days last year after protesting in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said Mark, who asked to withhold his last name. He said going back to Russia was not an option after new legislation that imposes up to 15 years in jail for actions found to discredit Russia’s army.

“This is our decision to be here and wait on the floor,” Mark said, seated on a blanket while watching hundreds of tourists and U.S. citizens enter San Diego. “If we leave this place, everyone will forget about this problem immediately.”

Between October 2021 and January, U.S. government data showed border officials encountered about 6,400 Russians, some of whom said they were dissidents and are now in the United States. The Russian Embassy said in a statement then that it had contacted U.S. authorities about those citizens.

In Tijuana last week, Mexican officials handed out flyers in Russian listing nearby migrant shelters and a letter saying Russians can request asylum but should not camp at the busy border.

Staying there ran “the risk of the United States deciding to close the crossing for internal security reasons,” said the letter signed by Tijuana migration director Enrique Lucero.

Mexico’s migration institute did not respond to a request for comment.

For now, the Russians are staying put.

Mikhail Shliachkov, 35, seated on a cot under a parasol to take cover from the glaring sun, said he resolved to go to Mexico with his wife the day after the invasion, fearing he would be called up to fight close relatives in Ukraine.

“I don’t want to kill my brothers, you know?” he said, showing a photo of his birth certificate that states his mother was born in Ukraine.

As the Russians wait, U.S. border officials have also turned away asylum seekers from Nigeria, Colombia, Honduras and Mexico, sparking complaints of unfair treatment.

“There’s an element of racism by U.S. authorities,” said Kevin Salgado, 19, a Mexican from the violent state of Michoacan, where he said his father and 16-year-old brother, both members of a community police, were killed.

“Why are they letting the Ukrainians pass? … Can someone explain to us?”

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Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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