THIS EVENING: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is officially underway + NATO tries to present united front
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. On a rather quiet Thursday here on the homefront, the global press is working overtime to keep up with the only thing there really is to talk about:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is officially underway, in what the West has said is a “dark day.” Russia’s military has attacked Ukraine in multiple locations, with air strikes and ground operations, including from Belarus. Explosions have so far been reported in the west, south, and east of Ukraine, as well as in the capital city, Kyiv.
Some 40 deaths have been reported so far in Ukraine, including three border guards and 18 people killed in a missile attack in Odessa in the country’s south-west region. Russia has reportedly carried out 203 strikes so far, says Ukraine’s national police service, according to Sky News live blog.
Moscow claims self-defense: In a televised address, Russia’s Vladimir Putin justified the attack by pulling the self-defense card and pointing a finger at the west for turning Ukraine into a “hostile, anti-Russia” run by Nazis, according to the Financial Times. The speech indicated that Russia has its eyes firmly set on creating Moscow-backed states in the south-east of Ukraine as well as a full regime change in Kyiv.
Kyiv’s response: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking to Russians in Russian, denied all assertions that his country was run by Nazis (Zelenksy is himself Jewish) and vowed that his country would not surrender its independence, calling on the people of Russia to stop the war. Zelensky at the same time urged his own citizens to volunteer in the fight against Russia, saying that the government would provide weapons to anybody who needs them.
And Belarus is apparently having some Soviet Union nostalgia, offering its own troops to support Russia in military operations against Ukraine.
Airspace closures + flights suspended: Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights today and imposed martial law as Russian tanks began rolling into Ukraine, reports Reuters. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency warned against flying within 100 nautical miles in bordering areas of Russia and Belarus, reporting that Russia’s defense ministry warned Ukraine of a high risk to flight safety. Russia suspended domestic flights to and from three airports near the border with Ukraine until 2 March.
Egypt’s embassy in Kyiv also urged Egyptian citizens to stay at home and wait for further instructions from Ukrainian authorities, according to a statement.
There’s a lot more sanctions coming: US President Joe Biden is set to meet with the rest of the G7 today to discuss “severe” sanctions to impose on Moscow, according to the Financial Times, while the EU is expected to impose its own sanctions, including freezing assets and cutting off Russian banks’ access to European markets, at a meeting this evening, according to Reuters. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also lay out new sanctions against Russia at the House of Commons later today, BBC reports. The UK, US, and Germany had already begun introducing “phase one” sanctions before the Russian tanks started rolling, but they could impose a real chokehold on Russia by sanctioning the country’s largest banks, which “facilitate the transactions with Russia for global trade,” the FT says.
And humanitarian + financial aid is also going to be rolled out for Ukraine, which the European Council will decide on when it meets this evening, European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a presser that wrapped just a few minutes ago (watch, runtime: 14:50).
Brent crude is now officially trading at above the USD 100 per barrel mark, surging to the highest level since 2014. Brent futures contracts for April delivery are trading at USD 104.82 as of dispatch time, rising 7.98%. Head of global energy strategy at JPMorgan predicts that Brent could rise to USD 125/bbl in 2Q2022, reports the Financial Times.
Natural gas prices are also on the rise, with Nymex futures for April delivery rising 4.9% as of dispatch to USD 4.85 per MMBTU.
Global stock markets (unsurprisingly) plunged today: European, Asian, and US equities all fell today, with London’s FTSE falling 3%, the Stoxx Europe 600 falling more than 4%, Germany’s Dax dropping 5%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index recording its biggest daily drop in five months, shedding 3.2%. Japan’s Nikkei also fell 1.8%, while China’s Shanghai Composite fell 1.7%. US futures across the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq all fell more than 2% each today as of dispatch.
RUB tumbles: The Moscow Exchange plunged nearly 50% in intra-day trading before recouping some of its losses to close down 29%. The RUB also crashed earlier in the day, falling nearly 10% against the USD.
Closer to home the picture isn’t much better: Dubai’s DFM closed down 1.8% today, while the ADX shed 0.3% and the Tadawul fell 1.8%. The EGX30, meanwhile, closed down 3.6% today.
THE BIG STORY AT HOME- 11 companies are reportedly bidding on USD 2.8 bn worth of desalination projects, reports Al Borsa. Among the companies reportedly bidding are the familiar faces of Mettito, Acwa, Al Noweis, Schneider Electric and Orascom Construction. The companies have reportedly reached preliminary agreements to secure funding from the International Finance Corporation, European Investment Bank, the EBRD, GIZ, The Export-Import Bank of China and Credit Agricole among others.
^^We’ll have more on this and other stories in Sunday’s EnterpriseAM.
** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:
- Egypt has reportedly appointed six international banks to manage its maiden USD 2 bn sovereign sukuk issuance, which is reportedly set to go to market in 2Q2022.
- Bigger penalties for improperly licensed pharmacies: The Madbouly Cabinet approved yesterday proposed amendments to the Pharmacists Act that would impose more stringent penalties or jail time on those who set up pharmacies by “borrowing” another pharmacist’s name and license.
- Gas supplies to Lebanon waiting on “final” US approval + World Bank financing: Cairo is “waiting for the final green light” from Washington, as well as a funding commitment between Beirut and the World Bank, before it goes ahead with plans to ship natural gas to Lebanon via Syria.
🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
Consoleya is holding its second Women Meet-up to discuss topics such as inclusivity in investment and offer women a platform to network and celebrate their achievements. The program will include a panel discussion on Gender Lens Funding in Egypt: Why Inclusive Investing Matter” with Lotus Capital Managing Partner Amal Enan, Mezzan Founding Partner Minoush Abdelmeguid, Avanz Capital Egypt Managing Director Hany Assaad, and Shorooq Partners Partner Tamer Azer. The pandel will be moderated by Rula El Kaliouby, founder of Intuition Consultancy. The day will also see a keynote by Ola Al Dajani, Steering Committee Member at Tiye Angels — Egypt’s first women’s Angel Investment Network.
ARE YOU BUILDING A FINTECH STARTUP? You might want to apply for Visa’s global startup competition, the Visa Everywhere Initiative, the payments firm said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. In collaboration with the Central Bank of Egypt’s new Fintech Egypt project, the local contest will see Egyptian fintech players go head-to-head for a monetary award and the chance to advance to the regional and global finals. On offer: EGP 500k for the first-place finisher and a place in the Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) regional finals in June.
What you need to know: A full breakdown on the entry criteria, the application process, and the schedule is available online here. The deadline for applications in Egypt is 20 March.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.
☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Expect the weekend to cool down as the mercury looks set to hit 18°C tomorrow and 19°C on Saturday, our favorite weather app tells us. At night, temperatures will fall between 10-11°C.