FirstFT: Russia will ‘never’ prevail, says Joe Biden

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Joe Biden heaped blame on Vladimir Putin for waging a war of “choice” in Ukraine that Russia will “never” win, as the US president sought to rally the west for a long and bloody campaign to defend democracy in Kyiv.

Speaking against the backdrop of Warsaw’s Royal Castle, Biden delivered a keynote speech that directly challenged claims of US belligerence made by Russia’s president earlier on Tuesday.

In his own televised address, Vladimir Putin said Russia would suspend its remaining nuclear weapons treaty with the US, a move western officials said spelt the end of the post-cold war arms control regime.

“The west was not plotting to attack Russia, as Putin said today . . . this war was never a necessity, it’s a tragedy,” Biden said. “Every day the war continues is his choice.”

Meanwhile, China warned western countries against “adding fuel to the fire” in Ukraine and reiterated calls for peace talks ahead of an expected visit to Moscow by Beijing’s most senior diplomat Wang Yi.

The FT will hold an exclusive webinar this Thursday for subscribers to discuss the future of Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine with FT correspondents and special guests. Register here for free.

1. US stocks record worst day in two months Investors were unnerved on Tuesday by economic data suggesting interest rates have further to rise after months of increases by the Federal Reserve. The blue-chip S&P 500 index ended down 2 per cent, with declines in every sector. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slid 2.5 per cent. Both indices had their steepest daily losses since December 15.

2. HSBC boosts dividend to counter Ping An break-up pressure HSBC raised its dividend to the highest level in four years and said it might make a special payout next year, as it seeks to fend off break-up calls from its largest shareholder Ping An. The moves came as the UK and Hong Kong-listed bank reported fourth-quarter pre-tax profits almost doubled to $5.2bn.

3. Vanguard chief defends pulling out of climate alliance Tim Buckley of Vanguard has defended his decision to pull the world’s second largest asset manager out of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, a coalition of 301 asset managers committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying the group’s “voice was being drowned out”.

4. Israeli MPs vote through judicial reforms despite protests Israel’s parliament has voted to advance a bitterly contested judicial overhaul that has sparked mass protests across the country and drawn concern from US officials. Tens of thousands of Israelis rallied outside the parliament against the plans ahead of the vote, which finally took place yesterday.

5. Hong Kong unveils plans to let retail investors trade crypto The territory has pushed ahead with plans to let retail investors trade cryptocurrencies as it vies with Singapore for supremacy as a digital assets hub. Under plans launched by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, the industry’s two largest crypto tokens would be opened up to retail customers.

Do you think Hong Kong should let retail investors trade cryptocurrencies? Tell us in our poll below.

The day ahead

G20 finance summit Finance ministers of G20 countries and their central bank chiefs will begin a summit in Bengaluru today until Saturday.

China foreign minister in Indonesia Qin Gang is set to hold meetings in Jakarta today for his first foreign visit since taking his post. (Jakarta Post)

Federal Reserve minutes Investors will watch the release today of the Federal Reserve’s minutes from its February meeting for insight into how much dissent there was over the latest decision to slow the pace of interest rate increases.

Earnings Results are expected from Lloyds, Nvidia, Stellantis, Baidu, Danone, Ebay and Rio Tinto.

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What else we’re reading

How long can Russia keep waging its war? To assess how long Russia can sustain its war against Ukraine, the FT examines four areas: the forces on the battlefield, Russia’s stock of munitions, the Kremlin’s economic war chest and ordinary Russians’ feelings about the war.

Singapore’s soaring rents dent finance hub ambitions Residential rents in the city-state have reached their highest on record, as a wave of new arrivals have pushed up prices on a limited supply of housing. The situation underscores the cost of Singapore’s campaign to replace Hong Kong as the Asian destination for money and investment.

How likely is a human bird flu pandemic? Though bird flu has infected relatively few humans, its fatality rate is about 50 per cent, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Now, scientists are urging more vigorous action to reduce circulation of highly contagious H5N1 strain.

China no longer viable as world’s factory, says Kyocera US curbs on China’s access to advanced technology are killing its viability as a manufacturing base for exports, according to the head of Japan’s Kyocera, as one of the world’s largest makers of chip components shifts its production elsewhere and invests heavily in facilities at home.

World Bank prepares for greener mission With the departure of Donald Trump appointee David Malpass, shareholders expect the World Bank to put climate at its centre. Less wealthy nations have been pushing for better lending terms and other support to help them adapt to extreme weather. Some fear the new mission might distract from the bank’s traditional development mandate.

Take a break from the news

Hong Kong might not be at the forefront of environmental friendliness, but some of its leading chefs are seeking to redress that — to delicious effect. Check out five of the city’s best sustainable restaurants.

Chef Michael Smith of Hong Kong’s Moxie restaurant  © Mike Pickles | Chef Michael Smith of Hong Kong’s Moxie restaurant

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