There are increasing signs Russian forces in Ukraine are being less careful to cause civilian casualties as they work harder to reignite their stalled advance.
- Six days into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it has become clear the Russian military operation is still performing poorly and that Ukraine has been able to mount a much more successful defense than had been widely expected. However there are signs of more determined and ruthless action from Russian forces in some areas, and the advance seems to be making some progress in the south and east of Ukraine. Kiev continues to hold out but a long Russian military column is close to the city.
- Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia and the Russian central bank, which are biting hard. Ordinary Russians are finding it difficult to make payments, access their savings, or convert Rubles to foreign currency. Canada has announced a ban on imports of Russian oil. It seems likely that the Russian stock market will not open for several days, with foreigners already banned from selling Russian stocks. Almost every western nation has closed its airspace to Russia while almost every NATO country is sending weaponry to Ukraine for the purpose of fighting the Russian invasion. Turkey has announced it will close the Black Sea to any warships not returning to home base, which will disadvantage Russia if the conflict lasts for another 3 months.
- Ukraine and Russia held diplomatic talks yesterday which ended inconclusively, although the sides have agreed to talk again soon.
- The stock and Forex markets have broadly stabilized, but certain commodities produced in Ukraine and Russia such as Wheat and Corn have risen strongly, while Crude Oil continues its upwards movement towards a new 7-year high price with the $100 level in sight. In the Forex market, it seems the situation is boosting the US Dollar and weakening the Euro. The Swedish Krona is especially weak, which is probably increased by Russia’s threat that there will be military consequences should Sweden or Finland join NATO. Finland is beginning a parliamentary debate on joining NATO.
- The Reserve Bank of Australia announced it is maintaining its Cash Rate at 0.1% as had been widely expected.
- Daily new coronavirus cases globally seem to have peaked six weeks ago, showing that the omicron variant wave is in strong decline almost everywhere.
- It is estimated that 62.8% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination.
- Total confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide stand at over 437.3 million with an average case fatality rate of 1.37%.
- The rate of new coronavirus infections appears to now be increasing only in Brunei, China, Iceland, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.