Reuters.com: Wednesday Briefing

Russia and Ukraine work on compromise as peace talks set to resume.

Views expressed in this geopolitical news summary are those of the reporters and correspondents.

Accessed on 16 March 2022, 1950 UTC.

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Russ Roberts (https://www.hawaiigeopoliticalnews.com).

Reuters
The Reuters Daily Briefing

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

by Linda Noakes

Hello

Here's what you need to know.

The Kremlin says a neutral Ukraine is a possible compromise, Russia teeters on the brink of a historic default, and LME nickel trading is halted in a chaotic market resumption

Today's biggest stories

Rescuers work in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 16, 2022. REUTERS/Vitalii Hnidyi

RUSSIA AND UKRAINE AT WAR

Russia and Ukraine both emphasized new-found scope for compromise as peace talks were set to resume three weeks into a Russian assault that has so far failed to topple the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the talks were becoming "more realistic", while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there was "some hope for compromise", with neutral status for Ukraine - a major Russian demand - now on the table.

Russian state TV protester Marina Ovsyannikova told Reuters that she was extremely concerned about her safety and hoped that her protest against the war in Ukraine was not in vain and that Russians would open their eyes to propaganda.

Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra 'Sasha' Kuvshynova were killed in Ukraine after the vehicle in which they were traveling was struck by incoming fire, the U.S. network said.

Ukrainian nurse Oksana Martynenko and her colleagues have 21 babies to look after at a makeshift clinic in a residential basement on the outskirts of Kyiv - all of them surrogates whose parents cannot come to collect them because of the war.

After bolting to Ukraine to escape political persecution in her native Belarus, Olympic swimmer Aliaksandra Herasimenia never thought she would again be forced to flee, this time to save her family from Russian attack.

Here's what you need to know about the conflict right now

A church is reflected in a window of a closed Louis Vuitton boutique in the GUM department store in Moscow, March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

MARKETS

The economic cost of Russia's assault on Ukraine was fully exposed as Vladimir Putin's sanctions-ravaged government teetered on the brink of its first international debt default since the Bolshevik revolution.

Hong Kong stocks jumped 9% to mark their best day since 2008, after China's top policymaker assured markets of stability and support and helped put a floor under sectors hurt by a regulatory crackdown. China’s finance technocrats have grabbed back the mic, say Breakingviews columnists Pete Sweeney and Robyn Mak.

The Federal Reserve will today close the door on its ultra-easy pandemic-era monetary policy and step up the fight against stubbornly high inflation with the first in what is likely to be a series of interest rate hikes this year.

The London Metal Exchange halted nickel trading on its electronic system shortly after it reopened after technical issues allowed a small number of trades to be executed below the new daily price limit. The nickel market was suspended on March 8 after China's Tsingshan Holding Group bought large amounts of nickel to reverse bets on lower prices.

SPACs are turning to costly new tactics to keep investors from jumping ship as market confidence wanes in the once red-hot alternative to IPOs. Blank-check acquisition firms and the companies they acquire are having to hand over bigger stakes in the ventures to investors in some cases, often at big discounts.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects a housing construction site in this undated photo released on March 16, 2022 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency

WORLD

North Korea launched a suspected missile that appeared to explode shortly after liftoff in the skies over Pyongyang, South Korea's military said, amid reports that the nuclear-armed North was seeking to test-fire its largest missile yet. We look at how North Korea is courting disaster with a plan for missile tests from its international airport.

China's Jilin province was "in a last-ditch battle" against COVID, according to a senior Communist Party official, as the northeastern region bordering North Korea and Russia accounted for three-quarters of China's total new cases. China's COVID governance is under pressure as Omicron spreads.

Taiwan held live fire drills in its northernmost territory, putting the spotlight on a remote island that is strategically located at a chokepoint near China - and potentially vulnerable to attack.

British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been handed over to a British team at Iran's Imam Khomeini Airport and is leaving Iran after London paid its $530 million debt to Tehran, Iranian state media reported.

Hardline Hindu groups are demanding restrictions on wearing the hijab in classrooms in more Indian states after a court upheld a ban on the traditional Islamic head-scarf in Karnataka state, worrying Muslim students who had protested against the ban.

U.S.


The U.S. Senate passed legislation that would make daylight saving time permanent starting in 2023, ending the twice-annual changing of clocks in a move promoted by supporters advocating brighter afternoons and more economic activity.

The Senate voted 57 to 40 to overturn a 13-month-old public health order requiring masks on airplanes and other forms of public transportation, drawing a quick veto threat from President Joe Biden.

Republican lawmakers in Georgia advanced a bill expanding law enforcement's power to investigate election fraud, adding to the push by conservatives for more restrictive voting laws after former President Donald Trump's false claims that the 2020 election was rigged. We look at how House Republicans who challenged Biden's win are losing lots of corporate cash.

Sarah Bloom Raskin withdrew as Biden's nominee to become the top bank regulator at the Federal Reserve, one day after a key Democratic senator and moderate Republicans said they would not back her, leaving no path to confirmation by the full Senate. Raskin's withdrawal spells more delays for rule changes.

The Ever Forward container ship is currently grounded in the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, nearly a year after another ship run by the same company blocked the Suez Canal for six days.

Quote of the day

"While Ukraine understandably and rightly requires our urgent attention and focus right now, we cannot drop the ball on other crises"

U.N. seeks over $4 billion for Yemen to avert mass starvation

Video of the day

Wounded Ukrainian soldiers tell their stories

Ukrainian soldiers wounded at the front line are being treated in hospital in the southern city of Mykolayiv. They spoke to us about their experiences.

And finally…

Ancient sarcophagus found under Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

Archaeologists said the lead sarcophagus probably belonged to a high dignitary and said it could date back to the 14th century, which - if confirmed - would make it a spectacular find.

More from Reuters

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