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Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Russia ready to compromise in today’s peace talks with Ukraine, says FT

Is Russia ready to make compromises ahead of today’s peace talks? Moscow has relaxed some of its key demands ahead of a new round of peace talks that will begin today in Istanbul. Four people familiar with the plans tell the Financial Times that Russia will no longer insist on the denazification of the country and may even allow the country to join the European Union provided that it does not join Nato.

The two sides are discussing the possibility of a ceasefire as part of the agreement, according to the FT, a point that Ukrainian negotiators said yesterday would be their priority in the talks. The draft document doesn’t make any mention of three of Russia’s main demands: “denazification,” “demilitarization” and protection of the Russian language in Ukraine.

Ukraine willing to discuss neutrality, territory: Ukraine reiterated on Sunday that it was ready to discuss the country’s neutrality and the status of the territories seized by Russia back in 2014. Crucially, any agreement would have to be put to the Ukrainian people via a referendum, President Volodymyr Zelensky said.

Turkey will mediate the talks, which will be the first face-to-face negotiations between the two sides in two weeks. Ankara initially suggested that the talks would start Monday but the Kremlin said yesterday that they wouldn’t begin until at least Tuesday.


Europe rejects Russia gas ultimatum: G7 countries have rejected Russian demands that “unfriendly” countries purchase its gas in RUB rather than EUR, Reuters reports. “All G7 ministers have agreed that this is a unilateral and clear breach of existing contracts," German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck said at a presser yesterday.

But after 31 March, no RUB may mean no gas: Putin has ordered the government and central bank to prepare to switch to RUB payments by 31 March.

It puts Europe in a difficult position: By purchasing Russian gas with RUB European countries would help to prop up a currency their sanctions are aimed at undermining. Transacting in RUB would also force buyers to go through Russian banks, protecting some of its financial institutions from sanctions. Europe imports 40% of its gas from Russia.


EXODUS-

UAE takes step away from neutrality: Abu Dhabi sovereign fund Mubadala has pressed pause on its investments in Russia, Bloomberg quotes co-CEO Khaldoon Al Mubarak as saying. “Obviously, in this environment, we have to pause investment in this market in Russia,” he told an investment conference in Dubai. “Pause and wait to see how the situation settles.”

The move makes Mubadala the first fund in the Middle East to take public action against Russia since the start of the war, and marks the first time the UAE has shed its neutrality since the conflict began. The wealth fund currently has 50 investments in Russia worth over USD 3.6 bn in infrastructure, real estate, commodities, banking and technology, as well as a partnership in place with the state-run Russian Direct Investment Fund. A fund spokesperson said its Russian assets account for less than 1% of its USD 243 bn portfolio.

It’s dasvidaniya to Heineken and Carlsberg in Russia after the Dutch brewing giant yesterday announced its exit from the country, saying that the business “is no longer sustainable nor viable in the current environment.”

BUT- Russia’s political entanglements aren’t going to affect how OPEC+ does its business. That’s the key takeaway from oil cartel members Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are resisting Western pressure to push Moscow out of the alliance.

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