FirstFT: Western leaders unite ahead of Biden-Putin call

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Western powers have presented a united front on the eve of a phone call between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, when the US president is expected to detail punitive measures that would inflict “serious” damage to the Russian economy if the country invades Russia. Ukraine.

The US president last night held talks with leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Britain, during which they discussed strengthening economic sanctions against the Kremlin in the event of an invasion of Ukraine, according to House officials. White.

However, officials said the Biden administration did not provide for “the direct use of US military force” in the event of a Russian invasion.

Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State, also spoke with Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, yesterday and reiterated Washington’s “unwavering support for Ukrainian sovereignty”.

The Biden administration has warned its Western allies that Russia may launch a military invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, amid a potential escalation of a conflict that began with Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Moscow blamed the West for stoking tensions by funding the modernization of the Ukrainian military and accused NATO of provoking it by adding new member states closer to Russia’s borders. He wants a legally binding commitment that Ukraine will not join NATO – a guarantee the United States refuses to give.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” said Samuel Charap, an expert on Russia at the Rand Corporation, a US-based think tank, before the Biden-Putin call.

Read more

Opinion: Putin insists Ukraine is a failed state misled by scheming foreigners, writes Gideon Rachman.

The FT view: Biden must show that further aggression against Ukraine would face sanctions that impose an intolerable cost on Russia.

Global overview: Russia sends new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz with his first foreign policy test, writes Ben Hall.

Do you fear a possible invasion of Ukraine by Russia? Write to me at [email protected]. Thanks for reading FirstFT Americas. Here’s the rest of today’s news – Gordon

1. US regulators investigate Donald Trump’s Spac deal on social media The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank check company about to merge with Donald Trump’s social media startup, looking for information on the exchanges ahead of the announcement of the agreement as well as on the relations between the two groups.

2. Evergrande approaches a formal defect Evergrande investors in China said they had not received any crucial bonds after a 30-day grace period expired yesterday. The company, which has delayed several international bond payments, had $ 82.5 million in coupons owed on Monday – days after it signaled the need to restructure its debt.

3. Samsung launches a managerial reshuffle Four months after being released from prison, Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong has reshuffled his leadership as the group ramps up efforts in memoryless chips and artificial intelligence. The reshuffle included the merger of the group’s consumer electronics and mobile divisions to take on rival Apple.

4. Saudi Aramco warns of “social unrest” if fossil fuels are ditched The chief executive of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, called on world leaders to continue investing in fossil fuels or run the risk of soaring inflation and “social unrest”. Amin Nasser’s comments come amid increasing pressure from investors and society for fossil fuel companies to green their operations.

4. The Growing Influence of Wall Street Traders in the Bitcoin Market Bitcoin’s eventful weekend marked one of the first times that a storm in traditional financial assets sparked big waves in cryptocurrencies, underscoring how big investors are playing an increasingly important role. in digital asset markets.

5. China denounces US boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics China’s Foreign Ministry has denounced the Biden administration’s decision to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics, which begin in February. A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the crimes committed by the United States against Native Americans and not China’s persecution of Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang “constitute the true genocide.”

Coronavirus digest

  • Foreign embassies in Seoul, including those of the United States and the United Kingdom, have called the South Korean government to grant “urgent recognition” to foreign nationals vaccinated abroad against Covid-19.

  • European Central Bank Policymakers are reassessing their commitment to further stimulus measures, reflecting growing doubts about how quickly inflation will come down as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus fuels concerns over further price hikes.

  • The first data from a hospital in South Africa showed that on December 2, only nine of 42 patients in the Covid-19 ward were being treated and needed oxygen, suggesting that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus could lead to less severe illness.

  • New York City will demand that all workers in the private sector be vaccinated – the strictest vaccination mandate in the United States.

The day to come

Economic data The US trade deficit in goods and services is expected to narrow to $ 66.8 billion in October, from a record $ 80.9 billion the previous month, thanks to a sharp increase in exports, according to the Commerce Department.

Holmes returns to the helm Elizabeth Holmes’ criminal fraud trial set to resume, Theranos founder set to return to the stand for cross-examination. Holmes faces 11 counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, each carrying a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

EU publishes rules for odd-job economy Companies in the gig economy will be forced to prove their workforce for the first time as independent contractors, not employees under a new bill to be released by the European Commission .

UK travel restrictions All newcomers to the UK, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test prior to departure from today.

Pearl Harbor Anniversary Today, 80 years have passed since the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan. Expect a substantial analysis of relations between the countries, which have improved dramatically since Shinzo Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to visit the site five years ago.

What else do we read

The next quantum revolution Business credit has been largely spared by computerized commerce. But a new generation of fund managers are hoping to shake up the market by using processing power, models, algorithms and big data to systematically take money out of price anomalies.

La Niña will intensify extreme weather conditions The climate regime, which has developed for the second year in a row, is expected to intensify rainfall as well as droughts around the world, with a continuing effect on agriculture and water supply.

Honduras is the new front in the US-Chinese struggle against Taiwan As Taipei celebrates support from Japan and the West, Taiwanese diplomats are concerned about the allegiance of Honduras, one of the few countries with which they have diplomatic relations. A standoff between the United States and China for influence in Central America hangs over the development of relations.

The electric race A transformation is underway in the automotive industry as batteries replace the internal combustion engine. At the wheel of the latest models, FT journalists talk about the cars, the technology, the companies and the countries that will win.

Video: Cars, companies, countries: the race for electricity


As part of the FT campaign for financial literacy and inclusion, musician Courtney Love shares her story of making and losing a fortune: “My family has been the victim of every financial crime that exists,” she writes.

Illustration by Celina Pereira

© Célina Pereira

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