We’ve summarised the top stories of the last week into an easily digestible briefing, so that you can stay up to date on what’s happening around the world. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week.
Business & Economics
- The Russian ruble fell by as much as 40% against the US dollar as Western governments sanctioned the Central Bank of Russia (CBR). In response to the sanctions, the CBR has raised its base rate from 9.5% to 20% to “compensate citizens for increased inflationary risks”.
- Energy prices in the eurozone are 31.7% higher than a year ago: the EU relies on Russia for 35% of its natural gas supply. This came as the eurozone’s inflation rate rose to 5.8% in February, a fourth consecutive record.
- Despite a collective 60 million barrel release from the likes of the USA, global oil prices soared. OPEC+ (which includes Russia) decided to counter this attempt of subduing prices by maintaining their production levels.
- Even with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the US’ Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, has maintained that they plan to rise monetary policy interest rates this month. This may reduce the effect of the energy price crisis on the already high CPI inflation of 7.5% in January 2022.
- Many Western companies have withdrawn their interests from Russia following the US and UK’s sanctions: Apple has stopped selling iPhones in Russia and, after 30 years in the country, BP is winding down its stake in Rosneft (the energy giant that is Russia’s third largest corporation).
- The UK has sanctioned billionaire oligarchs Alisher Usmanov, who has had links to Everton and Arsenal football clubs, and Igor Shuvalov, former Russian deputy PM, among others. The threat of sanctions is serious: Roman Abramovich has put Chelsea up for sale along with his UK properties, including one on prestigious London road Kensington Palace Gardens for a reported £150 million.
- Over a third of the world’s wheat supply is controlled by Ukraine and Russia. Since the outbreak of Russia’s assault on Ukraine, shipments on the Black Sea have ceased. Wheat prices have already surpassed the record heights of 2007-2008.
- On day 11 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed more support with US president Joe Biden as Russia’s attacks on Ukraine intensified. Zelensky also spoke to SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, announcing that the country will receive more of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet terminals this coming week.
- The strength of Ukraine’s resistance “continues to surprise Russia,” a British intelligence report has said, despite attempts by invading troops to break Ukrainian morale by targeting populated areas. The Ukrainian military said its forces had been “fighting fierce battles to maintain certain borders” in its daily operational report. It claimed that Russian troops had been “demoralised” and were in an “extremely low morale and psychological state” due to the resistance of the Ukrainian people, the general staff of the armed forces said.
- Great Britain’s Neil Simpson won Paralympic gold in the men’s visually impaired super-G skiing event in Beijing. The 19-year-old Scot, guided by his brother Andrew, became GB’s third-ever Winter Games gold medallist and the first ever male to achieve the feat.
- Legendary Australian cricketer Shane Warne died of a suspected heart attack in Thailand on Friday, aged 52. Flowers, beer, and photographs have been left at Warne’s statue at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as fans paid tribute. Warne took 708 wickets (the second most of all time) in 145 Tests across a 15-year international career.
- The UAE is placed on the Financial Action Task Force’s money laundering ‘gray list’. This is not as severe as the ‘black list’, which includes North Korea and Iran. The UAE is home to numerous multinational headquarters and is the financial hub of the Middle East.
- Chinese defence spending is set to rise by 7.1% this year to a total of 1.45 trillion yuan. This is the largest increase since 2019, and total government expenditure is set to rise by 14.3% to 13.4 trillion yuan this year.
- The South Korean election is occurring on March 9th. A conservative victory could see the country adopt a rigid stance on North Korea and China, potentially igniting fresh tensions in the Asia-Pacific. With each candidate holding diverging views on relations with North Korea, China and the United States, there is a lot at stake for South Korea’s geopolitical fate.
- In India, a rising number of politicians have been accused of crimes including kidnap and murder. One opposition candidate, Yogesh Verma, has faced 32 criminal cases, while the three other candidates challenging the seat he is contesting also face charges. This trend is partially fuelled by vigilante justice in more remote areas.
Written by Aaryan Haria and Rohan Battula