FirstFT: Ukraine rejects Russian demand to surrender Mariupol

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Ukraine has refused a Russian demand to surrender control of the besieged city of Mariupol, the scene of some of the heaviest fighting since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine more than three weeks ago.

In a statement carried by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, Moscow’s defense ministry said it was opening humanitarian corridors out of Mariupol from 10am local time today and told Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms and leave. It demanded Kyiv respond in writing by 5am.

Russia – which has framed its invasion as a “special operation” to “liberate” Ukraine – claimed Kyiv was using “Nazis”, “foreign mercenaries” and “bandits” to hold up to 130,000 civilians hostage.

The ultimatum came as fierce fighting engulfed Mariupol yesterday, with Russian forces bombing a school where about 400 residents were sheltering. Electricity, gas and water have been cut off and trapped residents are without food. People are so hungry they are killing stray dogs for food, FT’s Guy Chazan reported.

More from Ukraine:

  • Explainer: Here are the key questions facing multinationals as they decide whether to leave Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

  • Economic impact: Milk prices are soaring on the expectation that a tight market will be hit by disruption to fertilizer and feed supplies. UK consumers will face shortages and higher bills unless ministers help the industry control costs, writes Karen Betts, the chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation.

  • Nuclear threat: Brussels has accelerated plans designed to improve the EU’s health response in case of a nuclear incident following the invasion.

  • Energy: Germany said it had sealed an agreement with Qatar for liquefied natural gas as Berlin seeks alternative energy suppliers to Russia. But ending Europe’s reliance on one energy supplier will involve painful adjustments.

  • Private equity: The critical relationships that firms have forged around the world in difficult places like Russia may not look good under this harsher light.

  • Opinion: While Rishi Sunak, the UK chancellor, is dealing with huge pressures including the war, he must look to the long term, writes Martin Wolf. 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.

Explore our interactive map that shows how Russia’s mistakes and Ukrainian resistance altered Putin’s war. Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe / Africa. Send your feedback on this newsletter to firstft@ft.com. Here’s the rest of today’s news – Jennifer

1. UK plans North Sea oil and gas licensing The UK’s North Sea regulator plans to hold the first oil and gas licensing round since 2020 this year, as the country races to secure more domestic energy supplies.

2. UK regulation architects warn against scrapping ‘ringfencing’ Two architects of the post-crisis financial regulation have warned against the “reckless” abandonment of rules forcing the separation of big banks’ retail and trading divisions.

Anger over treatment of P & O’s owner Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday sparked anger from unions after he signaled that ministers will allow P&O Ferries’ Dubai-based owner to continue to invest in freeports in the UK even after the firing of hundreds of staff.

4. CVC plans Amsterdam listing Europe’s biggest private equity group is planning to shun London and take its multi-billion-euro initial public offering to Amsterdam’s Euronext exchange.

5. Japanese start-up develops real-life metaverse pain H2L, a Sony-backed company founded a decade ago, is banking on being able to deliver physical pain to people in the metaverse, one of a number of companies vying to profit by providing real-life human experiences in virtual worlds.

Coronavirus digest

  • Chipmakers’ expansion plans will be constrained by a shortage of equipment over the next two years as the supply chain struggles to step up production.

  • GPs in the UK are concerned they will be unable to provide safe care as they face a workforce crisis and a backlog of care, the profession’s leader has said.

  • Samsung Biologics is seeking to build its first plants in the US and Europe as it rebalances its global supply chains.

Column chart of By product type ($ tn) showing Global pharma revenue

The day ahead

EU foreign affairs council meeting The group will gather in Brussels for discussions including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Agricultural ministers will also meet to discuss short-term measures to alleviate the risk of shortages and price rises as the war disrupts imports.

UK nuclear power push Boris Johnson will outline to industry bosses what a minister called his “gung ho” approach to boosting the country’s sector.

Economic indicators Germany will have February producer price index figures for industrial products. 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. (FT, WSJ)

What else we’re reading

How Big Tech lost the antitrust battle in the EU Brussels is set to finalize 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.

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 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, especially in Europe.

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.

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.

Fashion

French president Emmanuel Macron’s choice of outfit, a hoodie with his face unshaven, seems preposterous. But it has become a way for leaders to semaphore their sympathies, writes Jo Ellison.

Jo Ellison: 'Zelensky cosplay' screamed the internet

Jo Ellison: ‘Zelensky cosplay’ screamed the internet © Soazig de la Moissonnière

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