FirstFT: Biden warns of ‘response’ if Russia uses chemical weapons

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Joe Biden said the US and its allies were prepared to respond “in kind” if Russia uses chemical weapons during its invasion of Ukraine. Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, the US president added that the NATO alliance would decide how to react “at the time” if such a scenario arises.

Biden spoke after meeting with other NATO leaders to debate the appropriate response to the possible use of weapons of mass destruction by Russia, as well as military aid for Ukraine and tighter sanctions on Moscow. The US president is also trying to drum up support for a united front against China in the event that Beijing decides to assist Russia. If it does, there will be “consequences” as Biden said in his phone call to Chinese President Xi Jinping last week.

The Nato summit, called by the US president at short notice, was Biden’s first stop on a multi-day trip to Europe intended to urge the west to sustain pressure on Vladimir Putin and remain unified in its response to the war.

More news on Ukraine

Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. Send your feedback on today’s newsletter to firstft@ft.com – Sophia

1. Beijing nears security pact to allow troops in Solomon Islands A leaked security co-operation agreement has revealed that the Solomon Islands could allow Chinese soldiers and police to be deployed in the Pacific nation, giving China a military foothold in the Pacific Ocean – to the alarm of the US and its allies.

2. Tensions are rising after North Korea’s missile launch The US, Tokyo and Seoul have condemned the launch of what appears to be Pyongyang’s longest-range missile yet, which landed in the Sea of ​​Japan yesterday. South Korea’s outgoing president Moon Jae-in described the long-range missile testing as a “serious threat”.

© AFP via Getty Images

3. SMBC Nikko bankers are charged with market manipulation Tokyo prosecutors arrested the brokerage’s vice-president and brought criminal charges against the company and five bankers yesterday. The trading scandal threatens to sink SMBC Nikko’s equity division.

Exclusive: DeFi projects rife with hidden ‘risks’ The head of the global umbrella organization for securities regulators has warned that decentralized finance contains myriad hidden conflicts and risks and its explosive growth warranted “closer attention by regulators”.

5. Toshiba shareholders reject management’s plan to split company The pivotal vote hands a fresh defeat to the Japanese company which has been at loggerheads with its shareholders for four years. Shares fell as much as 5 per cent in Tokyo after the result of the vote was made public.

The days ahead

Bank of Japan board nominations Japan’s upper chamber of parliament is expected to approve two nominees today for the central bank’s board, replacing policymakers who will retire in July. (Reuters)

UK moratorium lifted on commercial eviction The government’s ban on commercial evictions ends on Friday, the same day that the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill comes into force. Restaurants could be forced to pay rent for the periods in which they were unable to open.

And the Oscar goes to. . . The ceremony for the 94th Academy Awards, the Oscars, convenes in Hollywood on Sunday. Read up on the nominees for the four main awards here.

What else we’re reading

The pressure of China’s uncertain future In today’s special edition of our Unhedged newsletter, Robert Armstrong and Ethan Wu are joined by Adam Tooze of Chartbook to debate China’s economic transformation. While the risk of an immediate 2008-style crisis in China is slight, the question still stands: Are we now about to witness a real economic uncoupling between China and the west?

New rules for foreign owners of UK property The UK’s new requirement for overseas companies to declare real estate ownership could raise tax issues for some foreigners. Catch up on our explainer of the new law to avoid any potential legal disputes.

Bar chart of Land Registry titles registered to individuals with an overseas address (England & Wales, 000s) showing Overseas buyers eye English bricks and mortar

Roman Abramovich’s yachts sail into Turkish squall The Eclipse, one of the billionaire’s superyachts, arrived in the port of Marmaris this week, epitomizing western concerns about Turkish reluctance to sign up to sweeping sanctions against Russia. Abramovich’s US holdings, such as his $ 50mn estate in Aspen, Colorado, could be seized by US authorities if the country moves to impose tighter sanctions on oligarchs.

Does office romance make you a better worker? Working It podcast host Isabel Berwick discusses the way organizations police office relationships. She is also joined by the co-founders of a business who shared a romance before sharing assets.

Remembering Madeleine Albright President Joe Biden yesterday led tributes to Madeleine Albright, who has died at the age of 84. She fled Communist rule in eastern Europe as a child and rose through the ranks of US diplomacy to become the first female secretary of state. Edward Luce has written a full appreciation of her life.

Food & drink

After one sickly encounter with a raw oyster, food and drink writer Tim Hayward spent the next 20 years unable to stomach the delicacy at all. The mental association he’d developed between oysters and the unpleasant night that followed ruined the idea of ​​eating the mollusc. In FT Magazine, Tim explores the idea that how something tastes depends so much on what happens inside the brain.

A paper collage illustration of an oyster and a lemon wedge on a plate against a purple background

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