FirstFT: Biden imposes sanctions on Russia for Ukraine ‘invasion’

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Joe Biden announced new sanctions on Russia as he accused Vladimir Putin of beginning an “invasion” of Ukraine, and warned that Washington was prepared to take further action if Moscow escalates its assault on Ukrainian territory.

Biden unveiled measures targeting two of Russia’s largest financial institutions, VEB and its military bank, as well as targeting Russian elites and their family members. Sanctions would also be aimed at preventing the Russian state from accessing US capital and financial markets, said Biden.

“That means we’ve cut off Russia’s government from Western financing,” Biden said. “It can no longer raise money from the west and cannot trade in its new debt on our markets or European markets either.” Biden said Washington was prepared to go further if Russia continued its invasion.

Despite tougher than expected sanctions, Vladimir Putin has endorsed the claims of Russian-backed separatists to the entire Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, taking the countries closer to full-blown conflict.

The move came hours after Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz halted the approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which connects Russia directly with Germany, scuppering Europe’s most controversial energy project.

FT.com has the latest news on the Ukraine conflict.

  • Explainer: After recognizing breakaway regions in Ukraine, here is a look at Putin’s next options.

  • Interview: Ukraine must be allowed to retain the option of NATO membership, Finland’s foreign minister has said, warning that Moscow’s open aggression seemed to be based on a “concept of the past and rebuilding the Soviet Union”.

  • Markets: US stocks fell, with the S&P 500 index dropping into a correction, while oil prices neared $ 100 a barrel on Tuesday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. What questions do you have about the crisis in Ukraine? Share them with us at firstft@ft.com – Emily

1. New Oriental posts $ 876mn loss after Beijing clampdown The Chinese online tutoring company posted heavy losses yesterday in its first results since Beijing banned the $ 100bn-a-year private education industry from making a profit.

2. Volkswagen in advanced talks on listing Porsche brand The world’s second-largest carmaker by volume has taken the first step towards a € 20bn initial public offering of its Porsche brand, in what would be one of Germany’s biggest listings in years.

HSBC takes charge on Chinese real estate HSBC set aside $ 451mn as it braced for more defaults in the troubled Chinese real estate sector and warned of a slowdown in wealth management because of Hong Kong’s restrictive “zero covid” strategy, marring otherwise positive fourth-quarter earnings.

4. EU targets Myanmar’s lucrative energy sector in latest sanctions The EU has imposed sanctions against almost two dozen Myanmar government and military officials as well as a state-backed oil and gas group, in the first measures targeting the country’s lucrative energy operator in the wake of last year’s coup.

Crypto pushes into regulated derivatives markets Volumes in cryptocurrency derivatives registered almost $ 3tn last month, accounting for more than 60 per cent of crypto trading, as companies sought to meet demand from retail traders for supercharged bets on digital assets.

Column chart of Monthly trading volumes ($ tn) showing derivatives make up greater share of crypto market

Coronavirus digest

The day ahead

Hong Kong budget Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po will deliver Hong Kong’s 2022-2023 budget, which will reportedly include higher taxes on pricey properties. (SCMP)

Reserve Bank of New Zealand monetary policy statement New Zealand’s central bank is set to meet, and policymakers are expected to raise interest rates for the third time in a row. (Reuters)

Bailey testifies before UK Treasury Committee The recently under-fire Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey will appear before the Treasury Committee to discuss the UK central bank’s quarterly Monetary Policy Report. Inflation is set to be a key topic.

Earnings: Results are expected from companies including Barclays, Petrobras, Danone, Heathrow Airport Holdings, Metro Bank, Rio Tinto, Aston Martin Lagonda and eBay.

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What else we’re reading

How Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade went global Since coming to power in 2012, the Chinese leader has targeted both “tigers and flies”, or high and low-ranking government officials, with a clear purpose: to eliminate corruption and eviscerate political rivals. A decade later, there is no end in sight and the hunt for fugitives overseas has accelerated.

Toronto bakery is burnt by a cultural appropriation feud The Jellybean Cake & Dessert shop in Toronto is an unlikely battleground for East Asia’s online history wars. But when the Korean bakery in Canada’s largest city wished its customers a “Happy Korean New Year” on Instagram this month, it found itself at the heart of a bitter series of disputes that have marred South Korea’s relations with China.

A woman wearing a traditional Korean ‘hanbok’, second from right, during a parade of China’s ethnic minorities at the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, sparked outrage in South Korea © Lim Hwa-young / Yonhap / AP

Silicon Valley has learned little from Elizabeth Holmes While Holmes awaits sentencing and her business partner waits for his own trial, venture capital money continues to flow into wild start-up ideas. No broader reckoning has been linked to her story. Instead of seeing the case as a spur to toughen up due diligence, the tech sector is choosing to dismiss it as an outlier, writes Elaine Moore.

‘Little tech’ can be dangerous at work too A faulty computer system has been blamed for wrongly prosecuting hundreds of people running UK post offices for false accounting and theft. The case is an example of just one of many companies that are in danger of believing computers over humans, writes Sarah O’Connor.

Peloton’s plan to conceal rust Last autumn, the home fitness company was confronted with a crisis: the paint was flaking off some of its exercise machines. Instead of returning the bikes to the manufacturer, executives hatched a plan, dubbed “Project Tinman”, to conceal the corrosion and send the machines to customers.

Gardens

Do you keep a gardening diary? It is one of those good intentions which seldom translate into reality. A look at Robert Darwin’s garden diary brings us closer to the Victorians – and to the formative years of a boy who would go on to change the world.

Some of the research material Susan Campbell worked with for 'The Garden Diary of Doctor Darwin'

Some of the research material Susan Campbell worked with for ‘The Garden Diary of Doctor Darwin’ © Emily Jagger

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