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D-PIMS weekly market update - week of 28th March - 3rd April

On Monday Ukraine said it is prepared to discuss adopting a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia but such a pact would have to be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Ukraine and Russia were preparing on Monday for the first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks, with Kyiv insisting it would make no concessions on Ukraine's territorial integrity as battlefield momentum has shifted in its favour.
The Kremlin said that peace talks between Russia and Ukraine may get under way in Turkey on Tuesday and it was important that they would take place face-to-face, after what it described as a lack of major progress in negotiations so far. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a telephone call on Sunday for Istanbul to host the talks, which Ankara hopes will lead to a ceasefire in Ukraine.
Eurojust, Europe's agency for criminal justice cooperation, said on Monday it would support a joint investigation team announced last week to probe allegations of war crimes in Ukraine following Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.
Ministers plan to force all ferry companies operating from UK ports to pay at least the National Minimum Wage, in a bid to persuade P&O Ferries to reinstate 800 workers it has sacked. A source says Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hopes the firm will "see reason and step back". But unions have said workers should be reinstated on their existing terms not the National Minimum Wage.
China's financial hub of Shanghai launched a two-stage lockdown of its 26 million residents on Monday, closing bridges and tunnels and restricting highway traffic in a scramble to contain surging COVID-19 cases. The snap lockdown, announced by the local government late on Sunday, will split China's most populous city roughly along the Huangpu River for nine days to allow for "staggered" testing by healthcare workers in white hazmat suits.
On Tuesday Russian soldiers who seized the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster drove their armoured vehicles without radiation protection through a highly toxic zone called the "Red Forest", kicking up clouds of radioactive dust, workers at the site said. The two sources said soldiers in the convoy did not use any anti-radiation gear. The second Chernobyl employee said that was "suicidal" for the soldiers because the radioactive dust they inhaled was likely to cause internal radiation in their bodies.
China's most populous city tightened the first phase of a two-stage COVID-19 lockdown on Tuesday, asking some residents to stay indoors unless they are getting tested as the number of new daily cases exceeded 4,400. The financial hub of Shanghai, home to 26 million people, is in its second day of a lockdown authorities are imposing by dividing the city roughly along the Huangpu River, splitting the historic centre from the eastern financial and industrial district of Pudong to allow for staggered testing.
Delegations from Russia and Ukraine are in Istanbul for the first face-to-face talks in more than two weeks. Ukraine says its top priority from the talks, which will begin early on Tuesday, is to negotiate a ceasefire. But hopes of progress are slim, with both sides playing down the chances of a breakthrough. Turkey's President Erdogan says it's time the talks yield "concrete results". Ukraine's Zelensky pleads for world powers to toughen sanctions on Russia, including an oil embargo.
Twenty fines will be issued as part of the police inquiry into Downing Street parties that breached Covid rules. The police will not be saying who is fined or confirming which events the fixed penalty notices relate to. However, Downing Street has said it would say if the Prime Minister is among the recipients. Fixed penalty notices are a sanction for breaking the law, and mean a fine which needs to be paid within 28 days, or contested.
The United States and its allies plan new sanctions on more sectors of Russia's economy that are critical to sustaining its invasion of Ukraine, including supply chains, Deputy U.S. Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said on Tuesday.
Russia promised at peace talks on Tuesday to scale down its military operations around Kyiv and northern Ukraine, while Ukraine proposed adopting a neutral status, but with international guarantees that it would be protected from attack. The talks in a palace in Istanbul came as Russia's invasion has been halted on most fronts by strong resistance, with Ukrainians recapturing territory in counter-attacks, even as civilians are trapped in besieged cities.
On Wednesday the governor of Ukraine's Chernihiv region says there is no let-up in attacks by Russia, despite its pledge to reduce military activity there. The governor, Viacheslav Chaus, took to the Telegram messaging app to denounce Russia's promise. "Do we believe in it? Of course not," he said, adding Russia had bombarded Chernihiv "all night long".
Britain will take a very sceptical view towards Russia and its pledge to scale down military operations around Kyiv, with Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab saying London will judge Moscow on its actions not words. Russia has promised in negotiations to scale down some military operations to "increase mutual trust", but Western countries expect that to lead to an intensification of its offensive in other parts of the country.
Coronavirus infections in Asia passed 100 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as the region records a resurgence in cases, dominated by the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant.
Germany on Wednesday declared an "early warning" of a possible gas supply emergency, saying the measure was designed to prepare for the risk of disruption or stoppage of natural gas flows from Russia. The announcement - the clearest sign yet that the European Union is preparing for supply disruptions after imposing unprecedented sanctions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine - comes as Moscow plans to introduce a new mechanism switching payment for its gas to roubles.
China's state-run Sinopec Group has suspended talks for a major petrochemical investment and a gas marketing venture in Russia, sources told Reuters, heeding a government call for caution as sanctions mount over the invasion of Ukraine. The move by Asia's biggest oil refiner to hit the brakes on a potentially half-billion-dollar investment in a gas chemical plant and a venture to market Russian gas in China highlights the risks, even to Russia's most important diplomatic partner, of unexpectedly heavy Western-led sanctions.
Ukrainian forces are preparing for new Russian attacks in the east of the country as Moscow deploys more troops there after suffering setbacks near the capital Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday.
On Thursday Russian shelling and missile strikes have continued in Chernihiv despite Russian statements indicating an intended reduction of military activity around the area, British military intelligence said on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was misled by advisers who were too scared to tell him how poorly the war in Ukraine is going and how damaging Western sanctions have been, White House and European officials said today.
The Biden administration is considering releasing up to 180 million barrels of oil over several months from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), four U.S. sources said on Wednesday, as the White House tries to lower fuel prices.
Activity in Chinese manufacturing and services simultaneously contracted in March for the first time since the height of the country's COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, adding to the urgency for more policy intervention to stabilise the economy.
On Friday European buyers of Russian gas faced a deadline to start paying in roubles, while negotiations aimed at ending the five-week war were set to resume even as Ukraine braced for further attacks in the south and east.
China's commercial hub of Shanghai ground to halt on Friday after the government locked down most of the city's 26 million residents to stop the spread of COVID-19, even as official numbers put local cases falling for the second day in a row.
Two of Ukraine's military helicopters struck a fuel depot in the Russian city of Belgorod on Friday, a Russian official has said, making the first accusation of a Ukrainian air strike on Russian soil since Moscow invaded its neighbour in late February.
Russian troops occupying the former nuclear power plant at Chernobyl have left, the plant's staff say. According to Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatom, staff at the plant said there are currently no "outsiders" at the site.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began meetings with India's leaders in New Delhi on Friday after seeing his Chinese counterpart earlier in the week, as Moscow tries to keep the Asian powers on its side amid Western sanctions. Lavrov's mission to shore up support from a country Moscow has long-regarded as a friend comes a day after senior U.S. and British officials held talks in New Delhi to persuade the Indian government to avoid undermining sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.
China offered the European Union assurances on Friday that it would seek peace in Ukraine but said this would be on its own terms, deflecting pressure for a tougher stance towards Russia. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told EU leaders that Beijing would push for peace in "its own way", while President Xi Jinping said he hoped the EU would treat China "independently", in a nod to Europe's close ties with the United States.

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