FirstFT: Vladimir Putin orders full-scale invasion of Ukraine

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Vladimir Putin said he ordered a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine and demanded that Kiev’s army lay down its arms, sparking what could be Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II.

In an address broadcast on Russian state television shortly before 6 a.m. today, the Russian president said he had no plans to occupy Ukraine, but vowed that Moscow would punish anyone who stood up on his way.

“The goal is to defend people who have been victims of abuse and genocide at the hands of the Kiev regime. And we will strive to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine. We will also bring to justice all those who have committed bloody crimes against civilians, including Russian citizens” — Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, rose 3.3% to over $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, while futures pointed to heavy losses for European stocks following its comments.

The Kremlin previously said that two Ukrainian separatist territories backed by Moscow had asked it to “repel the aggression of the Ukrainian regime”.

Ukraine’s parliament last night approved a decree calling for a ‘state of emergency’ with 335 MPs voting in favour, more than a constitutional majority.

Sanctions banning trading in new Russian bonds could increase Moscow’s borrowing costs and prefigure restrictions that would shut Western investors out of the country’s debt market, fund managers said.

FT.com has the recent news on the Ukrainian conflict.

  • How to have Ordinary Ukrainians prepared for a Russian invasion? These photographs relate paramilitary schools and weekend workshops.

  • Explanation: Diplomats claim that Emmanuel Macron’s policy attempt dissuading Vladimir Putin was a high-risk move with little chance of success – but it was essential to try.

  • Opinion: The weak initial response from the UK risks emboldening Putin, writes our editorial board. Russian banks are faring slightly, according to our Lex column.

  • Germany’s decision to to suspend the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project will not deal an immediate economic blow to Russia, writes Alan Beattie in Trade Secrets. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

Thank you for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. What questions do you have about the crisis in Ukraine? Share them with us on [email protected] — Jennifer

1. English graduates will pay more Hundreds of pounds a year will be cut from graduate take-home pay following a government decision to lower the reimbursement threshold for student loans in England, hitting middle-income people the most while benefiting those on higher wages.

2. The world’s first quantum gravity sensor Researchers from the University of Birmingham and their industrial partners have demonstrated what they say is the first quantum gravity sensor that works reliably, detecting subterranean structures outside of laboratory conditions. Construction and infrastructure projects could be a crucial application of the technology.

3. JPMorgan ‘grossly negligent’ in Nigerian bank transfers US bank showed ‘gross negligence’ in paying nearly $900m to company controlled by former Nigerian minister convicted of money laundering, despite numerous ‘red flags’ over transactions, court says British.

4. Rio Tinto will pay a final dividend of $7.7 billion Since the start of the pandemic, the mining sector has become the dividend-paying engine of the London stock market, bringing in huge sums of money thanks to record commodity prices.

5. Turkey to ban German and US public broadcasters Two international public broadcasters face an impending ban in Turkey after defying a request by authorities they called “censorship”.

Summary of coronavirus

  • Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline will seek regulatory approval for their vaccine as a primary and booster shot after reporting an effectiveness rate of 57.9%.

  • Companies spend billions on commercial buildings with everything from kennels to climbing walls. But it’s not clear how many workers will return.

  • Opinion: A premature withdrawal of monetary easing by the European Central Bank could kill the post-pandemic recovery, writes Megan Greene.

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The day ahead

EU summit in Brussels EU leaders plan to discuss the escalating crisis in Ukraine. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said he wanted to meet to “define together our approach and our collective actions”.

But Conference Rishi Sunak will position himself as Thatcherite chancellor in a lunchtime speech at the annual event, as he outlines his vision for lower taxes, fiscal responsibility and more strong focus on the UK private sector to support improved economic performance. It comes on the same day as England lifts all remaining coronavirus restrictions.

Join Financial Times reporters and leading experts on February 25 at 1:00 p.m. GMT for an unmissable virtual briefing, Russia-Ukraine Conflict: What Next? Register for free here.

What else we read

The Italian public debt dilemma The country’s public debt is extremely high. There are two ways to look at this: one is to say that he will threaten the stability of the euro zone, the other is to say that what matters is the cost of his service. What is clear is that growth, reform and the support of the European Central Bank are essential for sustainability, writes Tony Barber.

Line graph of gross government debt as a % of GDP showing that Italy's outstanding government debt has exceeded its annual output throughout the euro era

Internet law needs ministers to act fast If the past two years have shown anything, it’s that in a choice between security and civil rights, Britons will choose the former. But on public order and security, the Conservatives are less liberal than they think, writes Robert Shrimsley.

VW complex plans Porsche IPO The German group’s board of directors had no control over the timing of the confirmation that it planned to put some of its crown jewel, Porsche, up for sale. Instead, the drip of rumors forced the automaker to rush into a statement. But investors fear the proposed €20 billion listing will lead to a repeat of past mistakes.

Why a Tribal Work Life Could Be Good As we return to the office, it is worth considering how the Covid-19 lockdowns have increased our tendency to be tribal beings. Although companies don’t like to admit it, small teams tend to be more effective than unstructured groups, writes Gillian Tett.

The rise of “well-being” apartments For some, “wellness” isn’t just an ill-defined buzzword, it’s a way of life. And property developers rushed to cash in. According to one estimate, there are more than 2,300 “residential wellness projects” worldwide. But buyers face high premiums.

Television

Conflicts come to a head in the latest round of Peaky Blinders, which begins on BBC1 this weekend. Reviewer Dan Einav gives it four stars in his review.

Cillian Murphy

Cillian Murphy returns as the more composed Tommy © BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions

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