Ukraine-Russia conflict: Nike and Volkswagen halt exports to Russia; Ukraine asks for Russia WTO suspension

Ukraine-Russia conflict: Nike and Volkswagen halt exports to Russia; Ukraine asks for Russia WTO suspension
Women walk among remains of residential buildings destroyed by shelling, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in Zhytomyr, Ukraine March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi

The backstory:

  • Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine (a former Soviet state) back in 2014, which caused it to be kicked out of the international military alliance, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Over the last few months, Russia has been amassing large numbers of troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border, worrying people that Russia was looking to invade again, eight years after the first invasion.
  • Russia denied any intention to invade and said that the troops were for self-defense. Meanwhile, they sent some demands to the West, including banning Ukraine from ever entering NATO.
  • The United States responded by writing to Russia, saying that they wouldn’t ban Ukraine but would find ways to work with Russia where appropriate.
  • On February 21, in a televised address, Russian President Putin recognized two Russian-backed separatist regions in Ukraine and then ordered the Russian army into the area to “keep the peace.”
  • Putin described the country as an essential part of Russia’s history and added that he was confident that the Russian public would support his decision.
  • Since Russia’s move, the US, the United Kingdom and the European Union have all announced increasingly intense sanctions against the country, Ukraine has gone into a state of emergency, and Russia has imposed some measures to prop up its falling currency.

The development:

  • According to the United Nations (UN), a million people have fled Ukraine. The US, Australia, India and Japan are all trying to set up a humanitarian line to deliver aid to the country.
  • Ukraine’s Zelenskiy addressed the nation, urging the Russian soldiers to go home. On the other hand, Putin said in televised comments, “All the goals that have been set are being attained.”
  • According to the Kremlin press service, Putin also told French President Emmanuel Macron that he intended to fulfill his goals in Ukraine.
  • Volkswagen AG and Nike Inc. have cut ties with Russia. Volkswagen will stop producing cars and exporting to the country, and Nike will suspend operations and halt sales in Russia.
  • You may have seen a picture of a big yacht floating around social media – that used to belong to Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin, and it’s been seized by French officials.
  • Ukraine has asked for Russia to be suspended from the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the EU is apparently considering removing the country’s most-favored-nation status at the WTO. This could further hit 95 billion euros (US$105 billion) of Moscow’s exports to the bloc with tariffs.
  • The Bank of England and the European Central Bank will no longer publish any data on the ruble exchange rate against the dollar and pound.
  • Let’s talk about Ukraine’s request to join the EU. According to anonymous sources, the EU is expediting Ukraine’s request to enter the bloc, with the 27 leaders meeting next week in Paris to talk about it. The bloc said that it also expects Moldova and Georgia to submit membership requests.
  • In terms of meetings, negotiators from Russia and Ukraine met and said they made some progress when it comes to trying to evacuate civilians. Russia’s negotiator Leonid Slutsky said the third round of talks will happen again “in the nearest future,” while Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to President Zelenskiy’s chief of staff, said on Twitter, “We did not yet get the results that we hoped for.”
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that the Russian military is battling outside the gates of Europe’s and Ukraine’s biggest nuclear power plant.

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