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March 18, 2022Newsletter

Russia Update: March 18, 2022

Diplomacy

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan. Putin reportedly reiterated the same asks as always. However, Russia may also be adding sanctions rollbacks to ceasefire negotiations.

President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a nearly two-hour call today. There’s no U.S. readout yet, but China’s readout said, “All sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue [...] The US and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine.” The EU, meanwhile, says it has “very reliable evidence” that China is considering giving military aid to Russia. “All [EU] leaders are very aware of what’s going on,” an unnamed EU official said. The official also added that the EU would “impose trade barriers against China” if China does fulfill the request. The U.S. also believes that China is moving close to helping Russia.

Sanctions

Australia announced sanctions on Russia’s Finance Ministry and 11 more banks and government organizations.

The Commerce Department announced that it was publicly identifying commercial and private aircraft that flew into Russia in violation of Export Administration Regulations (EAR). It also warned that anyone providing service to those aircraft could be in violation of sanctions laws and face jail time, fines, loss of export privileges, or other restrictions. Planes identified belonged to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, as well as Aeroflot, AirBridgeCargo, Aviastar, Azur Air, Nordwind, and Utair.

Though the House passed a bill to revoke permanent normal trade relations from Russia and Belarus by an overwhelming margin, it faces an uncertain path in the Senate. Senate Republicans want to amend the bill to include a Russian oil import ban. There are also disagreements about the Global Magnitsky Act sanctions.

Consequences

S&P cut Russia’s rating to “CC” amid difficulties in making debt payments.

Gazprom has obtained the copyright for a new electronic payment service. A Russian oligarch’s yacht is reportedly stuck in Norway because locals refuse to refuel it.

The UK’s TV regulator revoked the broadcast license for Russian state-backed station RT.

Representative Tom Suozzi (D-NY) wrote to the Secretaries of Treasury, State, and Commerce urging them to help his office identify businesses in his district doing business with Russia.

Ukraine Sitrep

Russia is warning, “Any cargo that contains weapons for Ukraine will become a legitimate target.”

Ukraine says it was extracted 130 people from the rubble of the Mariupol theater, but there are hundreds still stuck. Russia struck an aircraft repair facility in the western city of Lviv, which has seen relatively few strikes.

Russian ships are blocking grain exports, which will heavily impact food security in a number of developing countries.

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