Bloomberg - Evening Briefing - Sending in mercenaries

Bloomberg Evening Briefing

Since Russia’s war on Ukraine began more than two weeks ago, about 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country, with a majority crossing over to Poland. On Friday, bombing of cities continued to intensify and spread to the west of Ukraine as satellite photos appeared to show a Russian convoy outside the capital Kyiv had scattered into nearby towns and forests

A Ukrainian man waves farewell to his family at a railway station in Odessa on March 9. Photographer: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. President Joe Biden asserted on Friday that sanctions are crushing Russia’s economy, noting that the country’s stock market has been closed for more than a week.

“They know the moment it opens, it’ll probably collapse,” he said. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will introduce a fourth package of sanctions on Saturday to isolate the Russian economy

A Ukrainian man stands next to snow covered body bags on Friday at a morgue in Mykolaiv, a city on the shores of the Black Sea that’s been under Russian attack for days. Photographer: Bulent Kilic /AFP/Getty Images

A U.S. defense official said it isn’t clear that Ukraine needs additional fixed-wing fighter aircraft like the MiG’s Poland offered this week, but that it could use more surface-to-air and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft systems.

With Ukrainian forces still managing to slow the Russian advance on major cities, Biden warned Moscow against using chemical weapons, saying it would pay a severe price if it did. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday accused the Kremlin of trying to establish a pretext to use chemical weapons during its invasion. 

A Russian army tank fires at an apartment building in Mariupol, Ukraine, on March 11. Photographer: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP Photo

In 2015, Vladimir Putin sent Kremlin forces to intervene in Syria to prop up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. With the help of heavy Russian air bombardment, Syrian pro-government forces waged a brutal campaign to recapture rebel-held territory. Civilian targets were regularly decimated by Russian bombers, acts the United Nations labeled as war crimes.

Some 400,000 people have been killed in that 11-year conflict, with more than 25% of them civilians, according to human rights monitors. Now, Russia said it plans to send thousands of fighters from the Middle East, along with weapons, to join its war on Ukraine. The decision to call in mercenaries “is a demonstrative signal that Russia isn’t planning to step back,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a political consultant. “Putin wants to show that he isn’t going to reverse course.” 

Here are today’s top stories

Billionaire Vladimir Potanin, Russia’s richest man and one of the few tycoons to escape sanctions, tore into his country’s retaliation against international penalties enacted over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “Our efforts should be directed not at ‘slamming the door’ but at maintaining Russia’s economic position in markets that we’ve been mastering for so long,” he said.

Vladimir Potanin Photographer: Chris J. Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The campaign to starve Russia of technology—stripping it of everything from iPhones and Airbnb listings to defense electronics—is an unprecedented experiment, one that may have unintended consequences.

World powers and Iran suspended their efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear accord discarded by Donald Trump, reigniting a crisis that’s set to impact already surging oil markets and potentially plunge the energy-exporting Persian Gulf into a new cycle of violence. 

Deutsche Bank said on Thursday that it wasn’t leaving Russia. Today it says it is. The German bank announced that it’s in the process of winding down its remaining business and won’t start any new business there. The bank added, however, that its withdrawal doesn’t apply to its information-technology hub in Russia, which employs about 1,600 out of the lender’s total 1,700 staff in the country. 

Christian Sewing, chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank AG Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg

JPMorgan is the largest counterparty to the nickel trades of the Chinese tycoon caught in an unprecedented short squeeze, putting the bank at the center of one of the most dramatic moments in metals market history.

A Morgan Stanley trader is leaving the firm after racking up tens of millions of dollars in losses. Hamza El Hassani, who traded dividends in the New York-based bank’s equities division, will be departing after transactions he oversaw went awry.

Across America, only 47% of Black homeowners who completed a refinance application with Wells Fargo in 2020 were approved. But 72% of White homeowners were more lucky, according to a Bloomberg News analysis. While Black applicants had lower approval rates than White ones at all major lenders, the data show Wells Fargo had the biggest disparity.

What you’ll need to know tomorrow

No Tourists, But Russia’s Luxury Hotels Still Open

Five-star hotels are still operating in Russia, but they’re having to rely on locals amid sanctions on the country. Luxury destinations such as the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow and the Four Seasons are offering stays that can cost as much as $2,165 a  night. Belmond has also kept its  Grand Hotel Europe in St. Petersburg open. The hospitality chain is owned by Paris-based  LVMH.

The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow Photographer: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo

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