Following Russia’s heinous attacks on Ukrainian civilians in places such as Bucha, the US and European Community are set to announce further sanctions. Some analysts are considering whether the US will sanction Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank. This comes as pressure rises on countries including Germany and Austria to place embargos on Russian energy, although this is easier said than done given their apparent reliance on it. Of course, Brussels have already indicated that they will make Europe independent from Russian energy before the end of the decade.Indeed, in the UK, Sberbank’s British arm (although not sanctioned) is facing collapse given that its parent company (Sberbank) is not able to clear sterling payments through the UK. Accordingly, it looks as though Sberbank CIB U.K. Ltd will wind up operations, to avoid its impending collapse. Over in Europe, at the beginning of March, the ECB ordered Sberbank’s European arm to cease operations which had the effect of reducing its share price by 95% on when trading commenced on the LSE on 2nd March.
The further restrictions expected today also include sanctioning Putin’s two daughters who will be subject to asset freezes and travel bans. Meanwhile the Europeans are expected to announce sanctions on imports of Russian cement, liquor, vodka and caviar as well as exports to Russia including quantum computers, advanced semiconductors, and some transport equipment. This follows the news yesterday that the EU is proposing a ban on coal imports from Russia – which are worth some $4.4bn.
On the subject of sanctions and European energy more generally, the President of the European Council Charles Michel tweeted yesterday that “I think that measures on oil, and even gas, will also be needed sooner or later.”
NATO foreign ministers will today gather in Brussels for two days of meetings which will primarily focus on how the organisation ought to support Ukraine as the conflict continues. This comes after NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, said that Russia was aiming to capture the whole of the Donbas region of Ukraine which comprises of Donetsk and Luhansk – where it is believed they intend to create a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula. Geographically speaking, such a corridor would involve taking the port city of Mariupol which has been subjected to fierce Russian bombardments. Indeed the mayor of the city told a press conference yesterday that 90% of the city has been decimated.
Sticking with NATO, Stockholm and Helsinki are weighing up whether to join the organisation as their close proximity to Russia raises national security concerns. Indeed in a recent opinion poll, a Swedish TV station suggested that 59% of the population would want to join NATO if Finland does so while a Finish poll indicated that 62% of the population are in support of joining. This would mark a considerable foreign policy change for both countries given their neutral stance.
As the UK looks for alternative energy sources, the government has provided £400m in government-backed loans to the Johnson Matthey in order to boost its development of hydrogen technology. This follows Johnson Matthey’s decision to switch focus away from battery technology and towards hydrogen. Hydrogen is seen as a possible carbon-zero alternative to powering HGVs and trains in addition to providing a source of energy used in steel making and an alternative to methane and coal. The technology – which is hopped will be much lighter than batteries – harvests energy by uses electrolysers to split water molecules and given the government’s Net Zero plans is seen as a possible route for alternative clean energy sources.
Bank of England Changes its Logo
A freedom of information request from The Telegraph has revealed that the Bank of England has spent £50,000 of public money on rebranding its logo. While Britannia still features, her shield no longer has St. Georges Cross but instead has the British Union flag.
In the Markets
In the markets, Chinese services PMI has slipped to its lowest level in over two years as Shanghai’s population is still under lockdown and covid cases rise. Meanwhile, Indian services PMI hit three-month highs as covid restrictions relax. In the Eurozone construction growth is at a five-month low, demonstrating the impact that the war in Ukraine has had on investment into construction and concerns over growth more generally.
Elsewhere Oil prices have risen slightly with crude up over 1% as the prospect of further sanctions on Russia continues as natural gas is up 1.5%.
Have a great day.