FirstFT: US denies it is seeking regime change in Moscow

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The US has denied that it is seeking to overturn Vladimir Putin’s regime after Joe Biden appeared to call for the ousting of his Russian counterpart during his speech in Warsaw on Saturday, saying “For God’s sake, this man can not remain in power”.

“We do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia – or anywhere else,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken the following morning, as European leaders stressed the importance of avoiding an escalation of geopolitical tensions. Blinken was in damage control mode after Biden’s increasingly vitriolic descriptions of Putin, which raise concerns that Washington is losing control of its message.

Biden also warned transatlantic democracies to steal themselves for a “long fight ahead” to protect freedom in Europe during his speech in Poland. Blinken added that “the president, the White House, made the point last night that, quite simply, President Putin cannot be empowered to wage war or engage in aggression against Ukraine or anyone else”.

In other developments:

Up to 10mn people have fled their homes due to the conflict in Ukraine;  6.5mn are displaced inside the country

Are you personally affected by the war in Ukraine? We want to hear from you.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. Here’s the rest of today’s news – Sophia.

1. The rise in Russian espionage is alarming Europe Dozens of Russian agents and diplomats have been expelled from eastern European countries this month, with dozens more still active across the continent. Russia’s covert operations had been expanding, leaving counter-espionage efforts to play catch-up with Moscow’s undercover activity.

2. China points to ‘Indo-Pacific Nato’ to justify their support of Russia Chinese diplomats have gone on a rhetorical offensive, arguing that Joe Biden’s “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy – which binds the US, Japan, Australia and India – is a threat to them. This could ultimately force China to decouple from the west and achieve self-sufficiency in everything from food to semiconductors.

3. Nuclear deal with Iran stalls over terrorist designation Tehran has demanded that Washington delists the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s most powerful military force, from its designation as a terrorist organization. After 12 months of indirect talks to secure an agreement, a senior US official warns that the deal is not necessarily inevitable.

4. Chinese developers are locked out of the global debt market The crisis at Evergrande is bleeding more widely across the market, as soaring borrowing costs and a drought in issuance cause deals to grind to a standstill for Chinese property developers.

North Korea claims its ‘monster missile’ was a success The country said its nuclear forces were ready to “thoroughly contain any dangerous [US] military attempts ”, but some observers cast doubt on the North Korean version of events. NK Pro senior analyst Colin Zwirko points to a swath of visual evidence suggesting that the launch was not as successful as North Korea claims.

The day ahead

Shanghai goes on lockdown A four-day lockdown of Shanghai’s financial district and nine other areas begins today, as the city attempts to rein in the latest Covid outbreak.

Europe works on a plan for refugees EU interior ministers meet in Brussels today to discuss the refugee crisis resulting from the Ukraine invasion.

Japan releases an economic relief plan Komeito party leader Natsuo Yamaguchi says the package will include proposals for an expanded gas subsidy and other steps to ease the pain of soaring costs. (Reuters)

What else we’re reading

Russia, Ukraine and Europe’s 200-year quest for peace As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its second month, we find ourselves in a world many Europeans thought they had left forever – one of annexation and partition. What can today’s negotiators learn from centuries of statecraft?

Rallying Chinese markets will not be a quick fix Although there was a positive response to the reassurances that Liu He, a top economic official, made last week indicating China would introduce market-friendly policies, there are several obstacles ahead. Alicia García-Herrero explains the thorniest issues with He’s pitch.

Japanese broker scandal exposes trading floor bravado As the investigation into SMBC Nikko continues, prosecutors have amassed a deep archive of callous internal communications which, regardless of proving guilt, will sound damning when read aloud in court.

Venture capitalists choose crypto deals over board seats Something unusual is happening in the freewheeling world of cryptocurrencies: prospective investors are not being offered company board seats as founders of digital asset groups aim to avoid oversight.

Fertilize inflation could spark global food supply crisis Until recently, Russia was the second largest foreign exporter of fertilizer to the US and lack of competition in the industry is one of many factors that have caused prices to more than double since last year.

A tractor rides down a field, with green crops on one side and a barren plot of land on the other.

© Matt Kenyon


Bridgerton, the steamy Shonda Rhimes-produced period drama, returned for its second series this weekend featuring a south Asian family at the heart of the storyline. “Making sure that [south Asian women with darker skin] were represented on screen authentically feels like something that we have not seen nearly enough of, ”Rhimes said in pre-launch publicity for Netflix. Kate Finnigan explores how the beauty of the south Asian aesthetic is reflected in the show’s resplendent costume.

Sisters Edwina (Charithra Chandran) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) are the new stars of Bridgerton

Sisters Edwina (Charithra Chandran) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley) are the new stars of Bridgerton © Liam Daniel / Netflix

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