FirstFT: Scholz to warn Putin of western resolve on Ukraine

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Olaf Scholz, German chancellor, is preparing to launch an attempt to deter Vladimir Putin from further invading Ukraine, as US officials warned that Russia was on the brink of launching an attack on its western neighbour.

Scholz will travel to Kyiv today before arriving in Moscow tomorrow, where the German leader is expected to urge Putin to de-escalate the situation.

His tour comes as western nations withdrew diplomatic and military personnel from Ukraine and airlines cancelled flights to the country, while some European countries prepared to receive a flood of refugees.

Ukraine is expecting Kremlin-backed hackers to increase cyber activity, including espionage and disinformation, in the event of a military incursion.

Scholz’s aides said the chancellor had not given up hope that diplomacy could avert a war, although they played down expectations of a breakthrough.

“I don’t assume that we’ll come out of this with some kind of concrete result,” said the official, adding that “now is not the time for resignation”. But the Russian president’s hardline strategy may have already brought him dividends.

Markets Briefing: European stocks dropped over fears of a Russian invasion.

Brussels regulators have halted an antitrust probe into QatarEnergy amid concerns that gas supplies to Europe could be disrupted.

Opinion: The Iraq war is casting a shadow over the credibility of US warnings over Ukraine, writes Gideon Rachman.

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Map showing build-up of Russian forces near the borders of Ukraine

Do you think diplomacy can stop Russia from invading Ukraine? Share your thoughts with me at [email protected] Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas — Yasemin

1. Consumer giants warn of rising input costs Some of the world’s biggest consumer brands are passing rapidly rising costs on to customers with substantial price hikes amid surging inflation.

Oil and gas: Investors are piling into US oil and gas company debt, lured by their ability to generate cash again as energy prices soar.

2. Widespread global commodity crunch Stockpiles of some of the global economy’s most important commodities are at historically low levels, as booming demand and supply shortages threaten to fuel inflationary pressures around the world.

Line chart of Bloomberg Commodity Spot index showing Shortages boost commodities

3. Kamila Valieva to compete at Beijing Winter Olympics A ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport today upheld a decision to allow the 15-year-old Russian figure skater to compete while appealing a positive doping test result. She is heavily favoured for gold in the individual women’s event, which begins tomorrow.

4. Balyasny chief pushes hedge fund deeper into private start-ups Dmitry Balyasny, head of one of the largest US hedge funds, told the Financial Times that he expected an increasing number of his peers to begin investing in private companies, despite fears of overheating in the crowded market.

5. Telecoms chiefs urge EU lawmakers to press for internet investment Europe’s largest telecoms providers have called for Big Tech groups to be compelled to contribute more to the cost of expanding internet infrastructure, accusing video streaming, gaming and social media groups of piggybacking on billions of euros of investment in an open letter in the FT.

Coronavirus digest

A Canada-US border crossing and crucial trade route has been reopened following a week-long blockade by anti-lockdown demonstrators.

US biotech company Moderna is in late-stage talks with the UK about collaborating with the NHS on clinical trials.

The peak of the influenza season may have been artificially suppressed by Covid containment measures, health experts said, raising fears of a later surge.

As employees complain about burnout and grapple with navigating hybrid work, some employers are cutting back on “meeting bloat”.

Opinion: Slower growth and higher inflation are the hallmarks of a post-Covid world, writes Ruchir Sharma, chair of Rockefeller International.

The day ahead

Opening arguments Roger Ng, the former Goldman Sachs banker charged in connection with the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal, will stand trial in New York today.

India consumer price index figures January CPI figures due today will shed light on inflation. Rising prices are a growing concern, although central bank governor Shaktikanta Das last week projected retail inflation for the coming year at 4.5 per cent, within the bank’s target range.

Corporate earnings French tyre manufacturer Michelin has results for the full year, and Brazilian energy company Raízen for the third quarter.

What else we’re reading

Jay Powell keeps options open The chair of the Federal Reserve is facing doubts about whether he is adapting quickly enough and communicating effectively on the US central bank’s response to stubbornly elevated prices.

FT Global MBA Ranking 2022 High salaries for graduates of American MBA programmes helped US business schools top the FT’s 2022 ranking after a year with strong demand for the degree amid the disruption of the pandemic. See the full ranking here.

How to help your staff love a takeover threat The collapse of SoftBank’s sale of Arm to Nvidia has ushered in a period of flux for staff of the UK-based chipmaker. Uncertainty is inevitable with takeovers, but managers can motivate their teams to see the bright side of deals, writes Andrew Hill.

Andrew Hill: ‘Dealmakers are still mostly quite bad at turning their rosy deal visions into reality’
Andrew Hill: ‘Dealmakers are still mostly quite bad at turning their rosy deal visions into reality’ © Dom Mackenzie

A welcome light on financial darkness The US Securities and Exchange Commission’s announcement of more regulation for private markets — including audits of private funds and more transparency around fees — was welcome but overdue, writes Rana Foroohar.

‘Speed dating’ with Xi More than 30 autocrats, democratic leaders and royals have met with China’s leaders on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics. Their warming ties with Beijing clash with US president Joe Biden’s aims to rebuild American partnerships in response to China’s rising military assertiveness and expanding global influence.

House & home

“I am looking for bedside tables for my new home. Any ideas?” asks a reader. Designer and FT columnist Luke Edward Hall shares his tips on how to style this overlooked essential.

The elegant London Plane Bedside designed by Beata Heuman
The elegant London Plane Bedside designed by Beata Heuman © London Plane Bedside designed by Beata Heuman

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