FirstFT: Russian Foreign Minister stresses diplomatic ‘way forward’ in Ukraine crisis


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Russia has signaled its readiness to continue talking to the West about its security concerns, raising hopes that it wants to defuse a Ukraine crisis that has raised the prospect of war in Europe.

In a televised one-on-one meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said diplomatic engagement with the West must continue and he could see a way to advance the talks.

Asked by Putin about the likelihood of a security deal with the West over Ukraine and NATO, Lavrov replied: “There is always a chance.”

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Lavrov’s comments “seem to indicate that [Putin] still think there is oxygen here for diplomacy. We would welcome a continuation of this path by the Russians. But he said Putin was continuing to “advance his preparation” and “could act with little or no warning”.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed in an appeal that “there remains a crucial window for diplomacy and for Russia to withdraw from its threats to Ukraine”.

Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor who is due to meet Putin for talks in Moscow on Tuesday, stressed that Ukraine’s NATO membership was “not on the agenda” – a message that could be considered as an attempt to address Russia’s security concerns.

  • Markets: US and European stocks fell in volatile trading as investors spooked by fears of an imminent Russian attack on Ukraine.

  • In-depth news: Putin’s hardline strategy may have already paid off for Russia’s isolated president.

  • Opinion: The war in Iraq casts a shadow over the credibility of US warnings of a Russian invasion of Ukraine amid eroding public trust in politicians, writes Gideon Rachman.

Share your thoughts on the Ukraine-Russia conflict with me on I will perhaps present them in a future edition of the newsletter. Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia — Emily

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2. Ex-Goldman banker accused of pocketing millions in 1MDB scandal Prosecutors have accused Roger Ng of pocketing millions in bribes in the multi-billion dollar 1MDB scandal, as a criminal trial for the former Goldman Sachs banker opens yesterday in New York.

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5. Kamila Valieva will compete in the Beijing Winter Olympics A ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the decision to allow the 15-year-old Russian figure skater to compete while appealing a positive doping test result. She is heavily favored for gold in the women’s individual event, which begins on Tuesday.

Kamila Valieva trains Monday in Beijing © Bernat Armangue/AP

Summary of coronavirus

  • the Canadian province of Ontario will end its requirement to present proof of Covid-19 inoculation in public places, as anti-vaccine mandate protests continued in the nation’s capital.

  • In hong kongThousands of Covid-19 patients are waiting to be admitted to hospital as pressure mounts on the Chinese territory’s healthcare system.

  • Taiwan is easing strict border controls that have helped it prevent a large-scale outbreak of Covid-19 as the country seeks to reopen its economy.

  • The top of the flu the season may have been artificially suppressed by Covid containment measures, health experts have said, raising concerns about a subsequent surge.

  • Opinion: Slower growth and higher inflation are hallmarks of a post-Covid world, writes Ruchir Sharma, chairman of Rockefeller International.

The day ahead

chinese lantern festival Tuesday’s festival marks the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations. Last month, writer Fuchsia Dunlop shared her tantalizing master plan for a happy Chinese New Year.

Hong Kong’s “Patriots Only” Legislature The group will meet for the first time on Tuesday. On the agenda: Carrie Lam’s administration is seeking a HK$27 billion ($3.5 billion) Covid-19 relief fund.

Industrial production figures in Japan December data is expected to be released on Tuesday.

What else we read

‘Speed ​​dating’ with Xi More than 30 autocrats, democratic leaders and royals met with Chinese leaders on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics. Their warming ties with Beijing clash with US President Joe Biden’s goals of rebuilding US partnerships in response to China’s growing military assertiveness and expanding global influence.

Can Saudi Arabia Become the World’s Leading Hydrogen Producer? A Saudi plan to dominate hydrogen production is part of its bid to diversify its oil and gas-dependent economy and create jobs. But with Russia and the United Arab Emirates among many countries also seeking market share, skeptics wonder if Riyadh can deliver.

How to Help Your Staff Love a Takeover Threat The collapse of SoftBank’s Arm sale to Nvidia ushered in a period of flux for the UK-based chipmaker’s staff. Uncertainty is inevitable with takeovers, but managers can motivate their teams to see the bright side of business, writes Andrew Hill.

Andrew Hill:

Andrew Hill: “The negotiators are still bad enough to turn their rosy visions into reality” © Dom Mackenzie

Will it really be, finally, “the year of the stockpicker”? As surely as New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside, January brings declarations that the coming era will be good for stockpickers, writes Robin Wigglesworth. But so far, the first signs are good.

You can’t hide from the jerks at work Are co-workers: a) great because you can bounce their ideas off by heading to a well-ventilated, sanitized bar for a drink on a Thursday night? b) a fatality to tolerate? Or c) total shaking? Social psychologist Tessa West’s new book speaks directly to the fear that c) is the only honest answer.


Food is both personal and universal, so River Café owner Ruth Rogers doesn’t have to work hard to get her topics opened up on her podcast River Cafe Table 4. Although Rogers isn’t the smoothest host, the conversations are intimate, revealing, and real. Read Fiona Sturges’ review here.

Ruth Rogers, chef and owner of the River Café, hosts “River Café Table 4”

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