Bloomberg - Evening Briefing - Russia gives Chernobyl back

Bloomberg Evening Briefing

NATO allies reiterated their doubts about Kremlin promises to withdraw troops from around the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, saying instead Vladimir Putin is simply repositioning some forces while replenishing others. Shelling of Ukrainian cities continued overnight while the Russian government formally called up more than 134,000 conscripts as part of its annual draft. Kremlin forces are pulling back from at least one area, however. Russian soldiers are leaving the site of the doomed Chernobyl nuclear plant after Ukrainian authorities said some of them received significant doses of radiation.  

A Ukrainian serviceman fires on the front lines east of Kharkiv on March 31. Russian forces have continued to attack Ukrainian cities despite a promise of de-escalation. Photographer: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Fossil fuels are becoming an ever-more important aspect of Russia’s broader confrontation with the West. Putin has both threatened to cut off gas supplies to “unfriendly” states and reassured Europeans that gas will keep flowing even as he demands payment in rubles. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas is floating the idea that Europe withhold a share of the revenue that goes to Russia for its energy exports.

The wreckage of a downed Russian helicopter in Malaya Rohan, Ukraine, on March 31. Photographer: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Chilly relations between the Biden administration and Saudi Arabia over the brutal murder of U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, and a desire by some Gulf states for defense support from Washington, have complicated efforts to get OPEC+’s help. The cartel, which includes Russia, chose on Thursday to stick to gradual production increases rather than ramping up. The decision was followed by the U.S. announcement of an “unprecedented” release of fuel from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The Biden administration will dispense roughly a million barrels of oil a day for six months beginning in May, a historic drawdown. “The U.S. is the largest oil producer in the world and is a net energy exporter,” the White House said. “Despite that, the actions of a dictator half a world away can still impact American families’ pocketbooks.” But it may not be that easy.  

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raises “awkward questions” for China because it violates Beijing’s closely-held principles of territorial integrity, sovereignty and non-interference.

Lee Hsien Loong Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg

The U.S. Department of Justice has reportedly widened its investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The probe may now include attempts by Republicans to file fake slates of electors in an alleged conspiracy to keep Donald Trump in power, and the planning of events leading up to the insurrection. The  move comes after revelations that official records of phone calls made by Trump that day have a big gap.

The right to vote, and the federal Voting Rights Act, are “under siege,” a federal judge said Thursday in throwing out parts of a Florida voting law passed in the wake of the 2020 election. Republican-controlled states have been moving to both restrict voting access and place elections under partisan control.

Support for Putin has surged among Russians following his invasion of Ukraine, according to the country’s leading independent pollster, even as a Kremlin crackdown on protest raises questions about the accuracy of any surveys. Increasingly dire penalties can come from public opposition to the war, one in which Russian soldiers have killed potentially thousands of civilians, and in which thousands of Russian soldiers may have died.

A Ukrainian serviceman stands near a captured Russian soldier in Kharkiv on March 31. Photographer: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos and Mukesh Ambani, billionaires who have been battling for years in India, are headed for a ferocious new clash.

Robinhood Markets is nearing the launch of retirement accounts, part of a bid to challenge traditional money managers and stock-trading platforms.

The omicron variant of Covid-19 has been linked to more hospitalizations, severe complications and deaths of young children than previous waves of the virus, suggesting the highly contagious strain may not be as mild as initially thought. In the U.S., Biden called on Congress to authorize new money for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines, warning that supplies are running low and leaving the door open to a deal that reallocates previous funding

What you’ll need to know tomorrow

Decades of Dumping Plague an Italian Paradise

For more than a century, the coastal waters off Rosignano Solvay, a Tuscan town named for the company that built it, have been a dumping ground for millions of tons of milky white industrial discharge that have transformed these Italian beaches and the seabed. Then officials discovered mercury.

The beach in front of the Solvay SA soda ash plant in Rosignano Solvay, Italy Photographer: Francesco Mazzei/Bloomberg

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