FirstFT: Belarus says Russian troops will stay indefinitely
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Belarus has said 30,000 Russian troops taking part in joint exercises will remain in the country indefinitely, as Western leaders launched a new effort to maintain dialogue with Vladimir Putin in a bid to deter an attack on Ukraine.
Belarus’ announcement came on the day joint military exercises were due to end and added to Western fears that Russia is considering an invasion of Ukraine.
As the world waits to see how the Russian threat to Ukraine plays out, the three Baltic states are focusing on what Moscow’s presence in Belarus means for their security.
Moscow has massed up to 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, including those taking part in drills in Belarus, despite previously promising to return to base.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, spoke with Putin yesterday, in what a French official described as “part of the last possible and necessary efforts to avoid a major conflict”.
So far, NATO members have refrained from providing offensive military support to Ukraine for fear of provoking Russia. That may be about to change.
On the ground: On Ukraine’s eastern frontlines, an FT reporter heard heavy shelling of Ukrainian army positions in the eastern town of Novoluhanske.
Maintenance: Germany’s finance minister said he fears Russia will retaliate to Western sanctions by cutting gas supplies.
Opinion: Western officials believe that if the Russian military attacks or surrounds Kiev, it will likely use the brutal tactics Putin has deployed in Chechnya and Syria. How did we come here? asks Gideon Rachman.
Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. What questions do you have about the crisis in Ukraine? Share your questions with us at [email protected] – Emily
Five other stories in the news
1. Carl Icahn appoints directors to McDonald’s board The activist investor has named two candidates to the fast food chain’s board to compel it to ensure more humane conditions for pigs in the company’s supply chain.
2. A Chinese navy ship points a laser at an Australian surveillance plane Canberra has accused Beijing of an unprovoked “act of intimidation” after the Chinese navy pointed a laser at an Australian surveillance plane off the country’s northern coast.
3. Queen Elizabeth tests positive for Covid-19 Queen Elizabeth II has tested positive for Covid-19 and is experiencing “mild cold symptoms”, Buckingham Palace confirmed yesterday. The 95-year-old monarch had been in contact with her son and heir to the throne, the Prince of Wales, who tested positive on February 10 two days after meeting his mother.
4. The Beijing Games close after a fortnight of competition and controversy
The Beijing Winter Olympics ended yesterday, capping two weeks under a strict ‘closed loop’ system put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Geopolitical tensions simmered throughout the event and the IOC was caught up in handling a doping scandal centered on Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva.
5. UAE and India sign free trade agreement The two nations have signed a free trade agreement that is expected to double bilateral non-oil trade to $100 billion within five years as the Gulf state strengthens its economic partnership with its second-largest trading partner.
Summary of coronavirus
Boris Johnson said England must move away from the “state mandate” of coronavirus restrictions ahead of the expected announcement of the removal of Covid-19 measures.
One of the largest police operations in Canada’His story ended a three-week occupation of the country’s capital by anti-vaccine protesters.
Chinese authorities are fighting an unexpected threat to their “zero-Covid” policy: illegal border crossings as people flee an epidemic in hong kong.
Prudential fears Covid curbs will force next chef to work outdoors hong kongwhile Omicron’s surge exposes the tension at the heart of the city’s viral strategy.
The day ahead
Australia opens up to tourism The nation braces for a wave of tourism when it welcomes doubly vaccinated foreign visitors today.
Decision on interest rates in China Economists appear split on whether the People’s Bank of China should cut interest rates for a second consecutive month, according to a recent poll. (Bloomberg)
US markets closed It will be a quiet day on Wall Street with US markets closed for the Presidents Day holiday.
What else we read
India’s NSE yogi scandal sheds light on mystical advisers A recent order by the country’s securities watchdog accusing a former stock exchange executive of ‘bizarre misconduct’ for sharing confidential information with an alleged yogi in the Himalayas has drawn the curtain back on the role of mystical advisers .
European companies languish in the slow lane Europe’s fragmented single market is like an obstacle course, relegating the region’s businesses to second place in the global race for growth. The failure to harmonize rules within the trading bloc has allowed US companies to take the lead on growth issues, say some of the continent’s leading industrialists.
Green investing: the risk of a new mis-selling scandal ESG funds are popular, but research has found the sector is plagued by greenwashing. Lawyers warn a judgment is coming as they say terms widely used in the labeling and marketing of ESG funds may carry more legal weight than many companies realize.
The Premier League at 30, an English success story? Thirty years ago this week, England’s Premier League clubs left the Football League to create the Premier League. Their creation became the world’s most-watched league in sports history.
Bonus survey season 2022: will you invest, save or spend? This year should be exceptional for bonuses, due to the strong profits generated in finance over the last 12 months. But those lucky enough to receive one are weighing the impact of rising taxes, rising inflation and interest rates as they plan to deploy their money.
From Paris to Kyoto, discover these clever getaways that won’t break the bank. Explore our list of five chic city breaks for £200 or less.
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