FirstFT: Ukraine begins civilian evacuation

Ukraine began evacuating civilians from some of its hardest-hit urban areas today after tentative signs that a ceasefire with Russian forces was holding up for the first time.

After several failed attempts to allow civilians to escape frontline fighting in recent days, Russia and Ukraine said they had agreed to avoid clashes in defined areas from 9am to 9pm, including the city of Sumy.

The UN has raised its estimate of the number of people now displaced by the war to 2mn. EU officials said they expected as many as 5mn refugees, in what would be the biggest movement of people across Europe in more than half a century.

Moscow meanwhile has warned the west that bans on its energy exports would lead to a “catastrophic” rise in the oil price to $300 a barrel.

Directly addressing the potential ban by the US and its allies, Russia’s deputy prime minister Alexander Novak warned it could lead to a more than doubling of the price of oil. He also said Russia had the option of switching off gas supplies to Europe via the original Nord Stream pipeline, but had chosen not to so far because “no one will benefit”.

Oil markets were calmer today following yesterday’s extreme volatility that saw crude oil prices rise to near $140 a barrel before falling back to nearer $120, after Germany said it opposed the proposed international ban of Russian oil imports.

Crude oil, the international benchmark, is today trading up $2.46 a barrel at $125.64. WTI, the US benchmark, gained $2.16 to $121.56 a barrel.

More on Ukraine

Analysis: As the US considers banning the import of Russian oil, our economics editor Chris Giles assesses what such a move would mean for the global economy.

Military Briefing: Russia is increasingly using long-range missiles and rockets to target cities as its advance stalls, particularly in the north and north-east.

Markets Briefing: Wheat and nickel futures prices hit record highs today as the war in Ukraine leads to tumult in commodities market. The London Metal Exchange suspended nickel trading after the price doubled.

China-Russia relations: Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, China has been exceptional among leading global economies in abstaining from sanctions. Much is at stake on both sides to maintaining cordial relations.

Opinion: In all his historical musings, Putin missed one crucial recurring pattern: the role that failed wars have played in bringing about regime change in Russia, argues Gideon Rachman. There is no sustainable middle ground for UK directors on the boards of Russian companies, Helen Thomas writes.

Follow our live blog for the latest developments and the conflict in maps.

1. Nicolás Maduro hails ‘cordial’ talks with US Venezuela’s president described nearly two hours of landmark talks with a US government delegation over the weekend as “respectful” and “cordial”. Washington is exploring a rapprochement with Caracas as it considers banning Russian oil imports.

Go deeper Soaring energy prices are reviving the US shale oil industry and yesterday Whiting Petroleum and Oasis Petroleum, two US shale oil producers, agreed a $6bn merger. Meanwhile activist investor Carl Icahn sold his stake in Occidental Petroleum.

2. Crunch time for Iran nuclear deal Enrique Mora, the EU envoy co-ordinating indirect talks in Vienna between the Biden administration and the Islamic republic, has said “political decisions” to secure a deal between Iran and the US to revive the 2015 nuclear accord must be made in “days”, as western powers pressure Tehran to sign a deal.

3. Moderna vows never to enforce Covid jab patents The US company pledged never to enforce its Covid-19 vaccine patents in low- and middle-income nations following criticism that its opposition to waiving intellectual property rights threatens Africa’s access to life-saving jabs.

4. Amazon Web Services’ ‘painful’ outages The head of AWS said recent outages of its cloud computing service were “incredibly painful” but insisted that its rapid growth would not lead to wider disruption. The cloud computing infrastructure experienced two big failures late last year, including a December outage at its data centre in northern Virginia.

5. Brazil’s rainforest could pass a point of no return The Amazon rainforest is losing its ability to recover from destruction, and parts of it are approaching “a catastrophic tipping point”, warns a leading scientist after a new study using two decades of satellite data.

The day ahead

Visegrad Group UK prime minister Boris Johnson will host the leaders of the V4 countries — Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia — in London to discuss the Ukraine crisis. Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky will also speak to UK lawmakers live from Ukraine as he continues to push for more western help.

Apple event The iPhone maker is expected to launch a low-cost version of its popular iPhone with 5G, a new version of the iPad Air and a high-end Mac Mini at its annual spring event today.

Earnings Bumble Inc is expected to show a rise in fourth-quarter revenue, driven by strong growth in paying users for its dating apps.

International Women’s Day To mark International Women’s Day the FT has published a special report on Women in Business featuring experts on the finances of hybrid working and “office banter” as well as going grey.

Join us on March 10 for an hour of empowerment about money with a panel of female experts convened by the FT and its new charity, the Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign. Expect practical tips and answers to your questions about the four money issues that matter most to women of all ages. Register free today here.

What else we’re reading

Will the Ukraine war derail the green energy transition? The war in Ukraine is leading to a surge in demand for coal and a rethink on fossil fuels — complicating the shift to renewable energy and the reduction of greenhouse gasses.

Disney plans makeover for ESPN The cable sports network ESPN has been an important profit engine for The Walt Disney Co, thanks to robust subscriber growth, high advertising rates and the industry-leading fees it charges cable providers. But its subscriber numbers have been steadily shrinking as audiences have migrated to streaming services.

Getting the most out of a career change Most salaried workers share two things: a dislike for their jobs and a reluctance to leave them. Breaking through the inertia takes something big. Lucy Kellaway shares four lessons about the change and how to get the most from it.

Rewriting the post-Covid contract for dual-career couples Anyone in a couple where both are pursuing careers knows very well the tensions of accommodating each other’s work priorities, writes Brooke Masters. Now as the pandemic recedes, she warns, of new opportunities and pitfalls for dual-career couples.


Four sunny escapes for spring-summer, including the less-trod island of Syros in the Cyclades and swimming with the marine-mammalian species of Dominica, as well as the mid-century magic in Joshua Tree.

Dominica is the only place on earth where sperm whales can be found year-round

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