FirstFT: Top Russian diplomat rules out hopes of quick end to Ukraine war

Good morning. As the six-month mark of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine approaches later this week, a senior Russian diplomat has told the Financial Times that Moscow sees no possibility of a diplomatic solution to end the war and expects a long conflict.

Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva, said the UN should be playing a bigger role in attempts to end the conflict and accused the US and other Nato countries of pressing Ukraine to walk away from negotiations. There would be no direct talks between Putin and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he added.

“Now, I do not see any possibility for diplomatic contacts,” Gatilov said. “And the more the conflict goes on, the more difficult it will be to have a diplomatic solution.”

Gatilov’s comments come as tension between Moscow and Kyiv rises following the murder of a prominent Russian journalist over the weekend.

Daria Dugina, daughter of far-right nationalist philosopher Alexander Dugin, was killed when a car she was driving exploded in a suburb 20km west of Moscow. The car belonged to her father, a prominent academic and supporter of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Supporters of the Russian president blamed Ukraine for the attack and called for reprisals against Kyiv.

Zelenskyy warned on Saturday that Russia may be preparing “something particularly nasty” ahead of Wednesday, which marks six months since Russia’s full invasion of Ukraine and the country’s independence day.

Thank you for reading FirstFT Americas. Have a great week — Gordon

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The day ahead

US markets expected to open lower Shares on Wall Street are expected to follow Europe and open lower later today. Worries that Europe’s largest economies will slide into recession are weighing on equity markets across the region and have dragged the euro back to parity with the dollar.

Corporate earnings Zoom Video Communications, a corporate success story during the pandemic, is expected to report a fall in earnings as a weakening economy and back-to-the-office trends hit demand for its services.

US and South Korea launch war games South Korea and the US begin their first large-scale joint military exercises in four years today. The manoeuvres come amid growing tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and regional concerns about the future of Taiwan.

What else we’re reading

Why Biden is taking on private equity The influence of buyout groups on US industry has never been greater. But the antitrust landscape is changing after years of lenient policy, with regulatory agencies under President Joe Biden’s administration seeking to crack down on private equity and prevent it from “rolling up” vast chunks of American business.

Anxious US consumers carry on spending regardless The University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment suggests US consumers are more gloomy now than during the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, the global financial crisis or any other moment since the series began in 1952. Yet this pessimism is not showing up in the sales story being told by Walmart and other retailers. Why has sentiment become a less reliable guide to spending? Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson explains.

How a 20-year-old student made $110mn riding the meme stock wave He may not have succeeded in his bid to become the youngest US president at the age of 18, but last week Jake Freeman emerged as one of the youngest investors to generate a nine-figure windfall by trading the meme stock frenzy.

Soaring fertiliser prices threaten to spark Africa food crisis The price of nitrogen-based fertilisers has hit record highs in line with natural gas costs in the wake of the war in Ukraine. Growers have cut usage in response, threatening to reduce food production and deepen a global food crisis and raising the prospect of social unrest on the continent.

Chart shows the dependency on Russian fertiliser imports by African countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Ghana and Cameroon. Net importers, 2021 (percent)

Why staff are being sent to bond with nature According to a recent global survey, most workers are unable to explain their own companies’ climate commitments. Could environmental retreats — from sleeping in the woods to hugging trees — solve the disconnect?

Travel

Brickell is Miami’s frenetic financial district and one of the fastest-growing destinations in the city. Enuma Okoro recently spent some time there sampling its deliciously diverse cuisine. Enuma recommends her four favourite eateries.