Ukraine Special Report:
March 5-March 11, 2022
Read all about Ukraine! Transatlantic bookings dropped 13% after Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia grounds most of its international flights to keep leased aircraft from being repossessed by Western leasing firms. United Airlines drops two India routes. A scheme to help Ukrainians by renting their Airbnbs runs into the realities of home-sharing sites. Western carriers reroute flights and drop others to avoid Russian airspace, but runs are now hours longer. Western hotel chains have yet to sever their relationship with Russian franchisees. Emirates blames high oil prices for its revival of fuel surcharges. And more.

Ukraine Update: Friday, March 11, 2022

Among today's package of sanctions against Russia, President Biden barred the import of Russian caviar, diamonds and vodka. But fear not: Stolichnaya, the best-known "Russian" vodka, is actually distilled in Latvia. Besides, the vodka announced today that it is rebranding as "Stoli." The Wall Street Journal has those details. Here are today's other developments:
        I guess they could check Ebay ...   Russia says China has refused to supply it with aircraft parts now that Boeing and Airbus have stopped servicing aircraft in Russian territory. Reuters has details.
        On brand   Deutsche Bank, which helped finance Auschwitz, was Donald Trump's lender of last resort and has been fined numerous times for fraud and money-laundering, says it won't leave Russia because it is inconvenient. CNBC has details.
        Lordy, lordy   Evgeny Lebedev, the son of a former KGB agent who was given a peerage by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, insists he's not a security risk. He made that announcement through the Evening Standard, one of the newspapers he owns. The Guardian has details.
        Back to thumb drives then ...   Google Cloud says it will not accept new customers based in Russia.
        Whopper of a move   Burger King is pulling out of Russia. Unlike McDonald's, however, Burger King is completely franchised in Russia. has details.
        Duck, duck, gone   DuckDuckGo, a privacy-oriented alternative to Google, is "downranking" sites "associated with Russian disinformation." And, of course, the Putin branch of the right wing and dedicated Trumpers are annoyed. Mashable has details.

Ukraine Update: Thursday, March 10, 2022

Context department: The price of gasoline is at record numeric highs, but the price of driving isn't nearly as high as in the past, according to one analysis. MarketWatch has details. Here are today's other developments:
        Instant impact   Transatlantic bookings fell 13% and intra-Europe reservations plunged 23% after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The statistics come from ForwardKeys, a Spain-based travel-analyst.
        The Belgrade Connection   Most of Europe's airspace is closed to Europe, but Russia isn't yet isolated. Air Serbia flights to Belgrade are a lifeline for Russia-Europe connections and several major carriers--Qatar Airways, Emirates Airline and Turkish Airlines--continue to fly nonstop into Russia. Simon Calder of The Independent has details.
        Buried   Rio Tinto, the world's second-largest mining concern, is leaving Russia. A buyer of Russian fuel and other products, Rio Tinto says it will be “terminating all commercial relationships with any Russian businesses.”
        Stalled   Lada, the large Russian carmaker, has halted production because it cannot secure necessary parts and supplies from its Western sources.
        This is not a game   PlayStation and Nintendo are suspending shipments to Russia, the Japanese gaming giants said today (local time).
        Kleptocracy watch   The United Kingdom has frozen the assets of seven Russian oligarchs, including familiar names Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska. The Guardian has details.

Ukraine Update: Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Brent Crude, which closely tracks the price of jet fuel, opened the day selling north of $130 a barrel. It dipped as low as $105 before settling at $111. Of course, it sold for $110 on Monday, so, you know, small victories. Here are today's other developments:
        Of course ...   Emirates Airline is first out of the box with new fuel surcharges. A business class seat on an Emirates flight between Dubai and the United States will now get slapped with as much as US$280 roundtrip in surcharges. The National has details.
        Drink it in   Coca Cola and Pepsi have stopped selling most products in Russia. Meanwhile, Starbucks has closed its shops. All three were facing withering criticism for not following other businesses out of Russia.
        Lip service   Western hotel chains have been quick to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But none of them, including Marriott, Hilton and Accor of France, has severed a franchise agreement with a Russian hotel. CoStar, the hotel analysts, has details.
        Putin's profit   European countries buying energy from Russia pump $285 million each day into Putin's economy. The Guardian has details.
        BFFs   Serbia, the most pugnacious of Balkan states, has long had close ties with Russia. But the traditionally close relationship between the two Slavic states seems to be veering into hero worship of Putin and mindless defenses of his invasion of Ukraine. Agence France-Presse has details.
        Grounded   The United Kingdom impounded a private jet believed to be owned by a Russian kleptocrat. The BBC has details.

Ukraine Update: Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Thanks to an overnight price hike of nearly 11 cents, the AAA says today's national price for regular gasoline hit an average of $4.173. That's the highest average price ever recorded by the auto club. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden today imposed a ban on Russian oil, natural gas and coal. Here are today's other developments:
        Let's get small   Alaska Airlines says it expects jet-fuel prices in the first half to be as much as 25 cents per gallon higher than forecast. As a result, it will reduce first-half seat capacity by as much as 5%.
        Nickel gets nicked   The London Metal Exchange briefly halted trading in nickel today after the metal reached $100,000 a ton due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Russia is a large producer of nickel.) The metal was selling around $20,000 a ton on February 22. It closed at about $80,000 a ton today.
        No-fry zone   Nearly two weeks after the invasion, McDonald's bowed to public pressure and announced the closure of its 850 locations in Russia. Unlike other global brands, McDonald's owns more than 80% of its outlets in Russia. CNBC has details.
        United with Ukraine   United Airlines is offering MileagePlus miles for donations to Ukraine relief funds. It also will match donations of miles contributed by members. The details are here.
        Art versus army   Russian artists--singers, pianists, etc.--who won't denounce Putin are finding their bookings drying up in the United States. That raises more than a few prickly questions about art and politics. The New York Times has details.

Ukraine Update: Monday, March 7, 2022

The national average price for regular gasoline hit $4.065 a gallon today, according to the AAA. That's the highest average price since July, 2008, and only about a nickel short of the all-time high in the United States. Here are today's other developments:
        Unintended consequences   A viral social media campaign to support average Ukrainians by renting their accommodations on Airbnb may have unintended consequences. Many units are run by investors or big firms, some of them Russian. Dennis Schaal of Skift, a travel trade site, has the details.
        It doesn't add up   The Big Four global accounting firms--KPMG International, EY, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers--have severed ties with their Russian subsidiaries or aligned firms.
        Retail wars   The parent company of Japanese casualwear giant Uniqlo says it will continue to operate its 49 stores in Russia because "clothing is a necessity of life." Agence France-Press has details. Other retailers don't agree. however, and Russian shoppers are already beginning to notice the loss of international brands. "My life has already collapsed," one Moscow shopper says, ironic since Putin is collapsing buildings in Ukraine. AFP also has those details.
        Oligarchs and art   Those big, bad Russian oligarchs who everyone now hates and countries hope to sanction and squeeze? They are also big supporters of American philanthropies, museums and universities. The Washington Post has details.
        No surprise   United Airlines says it indefinitely suspended two India routes--San Francisco-Delhi and Newark-Mumbai--due to the inability to overfly Russian airspace. The carrier last week suggested it might be able to resume flights within a few days. Reuters has details.
        Life imitates art ... or sitcoms   You know that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was a comedian. You might even know that he once appeared in a sitcom about a put-upon normal guy who ends up as president of the country. But did you know that the 7-year-old show, Servant of the People, is now airing on Channel 4 in Britain? The Guardian has details, a review and more background here.

Ukraine Update: Weekend, March 5-6, 2022

Russia is halting most international flights operated by Aeroflot and other Russian-flag airlines. The reason: Putin's government fears lessors will seize leased aircraft operated by its airlines. Around 75% of the combined commercial fleet of Russian airlines is leased. Here are this weekend's other developments:
        Declined   Visa, Mastercard and American Express have all announced they will stop doing business in Russia. International transactions are barred although locally issued cards may still work within Russia. Separately, PayPal says it has also exited Russia.
        Long, long haul   Japan Airlines Flight 43 on Friday completed a flight between Tokyo and London that operated by Alaskan, Canadian and Greenland airspace. It took three hours longer than the former route that used Russian airspace.
        Finnair adjusts   Finnair is resuming Shanghai and Seoul flights this week, but cancelled its Osaka and Hong Kong routes until the end of April. Avoiding Russian airspace will add at least three hours to each route.
        Sailing into trouble   Italian police have seized assets owned by Russian oligarchs. Including a yacht owned by the richest man in Russia, the seizures are valued at 140 million euros. WantedinRome, an English-language site, has details.
        Da svidania   Netflix, the Spanish clothing chain Zara and Samsung Electronics are among the latest businesses to close shops and/or stop doing business in Russia.
        Get outta here   The city council of Newark, New Jersey, has voted unanimously to suspend the business licenses of two Lukoil gasoline stations. Although the stations were staffed by locals, Lukoil, a Russian oil giant, apparently owns the businesses through a franchise agreement. Fox News has details.
        And now the sports ...   Russian and Belarusian athletes have been barred from competitions. ... Russian driver Nikita Mazepin has been dropped by Haas, the Formula 1 team. Haas, a U.S. team, says it has also ended its sponsorship deal with Uralkali, a Russian potash firm.

Daily Ukraine Updates for Feb. 28-March 4:

Read all about it! The United States and Europe close airspace to Russian aircraft, but an Aeroflot jet eludes Canada's ban. Finnair is in financial turmoil as it loses Russian business and Asian traffic. Russia bans flights from dozens of countries. United, Air France, KLM and SAS drop Asia flights because they can't overfly Russian territory. JAL and ANA drop Europe flights because they can't overfly Russia. Oil firms, retailers and sports groups bailing on Russia. Boeing and Airbus won't service aircraft operated by Russian carriers. And more. Click here for the week's updates.