Biden to unveil new Russia sanctions on Europe trip
US President Joe Biden will announce new sanctions on Russia when he travels to Brussels today to meet with European leaders and Nato officials, the White House said yesterday. The “announcement will focus not just on adding new sanctions, but on ensuring that there is joint effort to crack down on evasion,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at a briefing. The allies will also announce new action on “enhancing European energy security and reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian gas,” said Sullivan, without disclosing further details.
Intense diplomacy: Biden will join an emergency Nato summit and speak at a meeting of the European Council, before traveling to Poland for talks with the country’s president.
Ukraine wants the Pope to mediate: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a tweet that he spoke to Pope Francis about the “difficult humanitarian situation and the blocking of rescue corridors by Russian troops,” urging him to mediate in the crisis.
ON THE GROUND-
The battle for Mariupol is raging: Civilians said that Russian and Ukrainian forces were engaged in street battles in the middle of the city yesterday, signaling that Moscow could be close to taking the strategic city, according to the Wall Street Journal. Mariupol has faced heavy bombardment from Russian artillery since the start of the war, and there are reports of widespread destruction in the city.
PLANET WAR FINANCE-
Russia’s local currency bonds dropped on their first day of trading, but not by much following a nearly month-long suspension of the Moscow stock exchange, the Financial Times reports. The partial resumption of trading in government-issued bonds, which is part of a phased reopening of Russian capital markets, saw yields on the benchmark 10-year rouble bond climb 19.7% in pre-market trading before settling back to 13.9%, nearly 1.7 percentage point higher than the last trading day before suspension on 24 February, according to Refinitiv data.
This came despite Russia narrowly averting a default with two payments to bondholders made in the past couple of weeks, with both going through successfully in spite of Western sanctions that aimed to cut off the country from the global financial system. Fears of a potential Russian default have spurred outflows from emerging markets, with Bloomberg reporting this week that outflows reached USD 14.3 bn YtD.