Ukraine Special Report:
March 12-March 18, 2022
Read all about Ukraine! U.S. gasoline prices reach record highs, then fall a bit. Uber and Lyft add fuel surcharges to all rides. Air Astana drops Russia routes because it cannot secure flight insurance. Korean Air bails on Russian routes, too. Not a single Western hotel chain has closed or deflagged a property in Russia. Brent crude, which closely tracks the price of jet fuel, plunges from last week's highs. Russian tourists are trapped at Thai beach resorts because they cannot find flights home. Finnair explains how Airbus A350s fly over the North Pole to avoid Russian airspace. Russia seizes hundreds of leased commercial jets that should have been returned to Western lessors. Canada and Britain ban RT from the airwaves. And more.

Ukraine Update: Friday, March 18, 2022

The Russian government sure knows how to take care of its people. It has approved the license of a firm called Uncle Vanya--complete with cockeyed Golden Arches--to replace McDonald's, which closed all of its stores after the invasion of Ukraine. The Washington Post has details. Here are today's other developments:
        A good question   Ukrainian hoteliers want to know why not a single Western hotel chain has deflagged a franchised property in Russia. Marriott, Hilton, Accor and other chains are among the few Western businesses still operating in Russia. CoStar, a lodging consultancy, has details.
        Barrels and gallons   The price of Brent crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, closed near $108 today, up a bit from yesterday, but still well below the $140 a barrel reached last week. Meanwhile, today's average price of gasoline in the United States was $4.274, according to AAA. That's down more than a penny from yesterday.
        Cancelled  British regulator Ofcom has officially banned RT, the Russian propaganda channel, from airwaves in Great Britain. The Guardian has details.
        Winning a battle   How have Ukrainians and their armed forces stymied the grinding Russian ground attack? Consider the two-day battle for the key Southern Ukrainian town of Voznesensk. The Wall Street Journal offers a deep dive on the Ukrainian victory.
        Hack attack   Pro-Ukrainian hackers are wreaking havoc on official Russian web sites. The Washington Post has details of that battle.
        Dumb and dumber   The anti-vax crowd has a new crusade: pro-Putin propaganda. Because stupid is as stupid does or something. Politico has details of their attempt to blame Ukraine for being invaded.

Ukraine Update: Thursday, March 17, 2022

Servant of the People, starring Volodymyr Zelensky as a common man who becomes the president of Ukraine, is again available on Netflix. The political sitcom's success launched Zelensky to the actual presidency of Ukraine, where he has galvanized his citizens, dazzled the world and vexed Putin. The Hollywood Reporter has details. Here are today's other developments:
        Finnair goes over the Pole   With Russian airspace again off-limits, Finnair has resorted to an old strategy--flying over the North Pole--to maintain flights between Helsinki and Asia. This time, it is using state-of-the-art Airbus A350s on the very long hauls. The airline explains how its first Tokyo run last month managed the revived polar route.
        Lost in space  The European Space Agency has nixed its plans to cooperate with Russia on a joint Mars mission. Business Insider has details.
        Out of gas   Pity poor Russian kleptocrat Vladimir Strzhalkovsky. The 233-foot-long superyacht belonging to the former KGB agent and FOP (Friend of Putin) is stuck in Norway because no one will sell him fuel. NPR has details.
        Barrels and gallons   The price of Brent crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, closed at $106.64 today, up sharply from yesterday, but still well below the $140 a barrel it reached last week. Meanwhile, today's average price of gasoline in the United States was $4.289, according to AAA. That's down almost a nickel from the all-time-high of $4.33 last Friday (March 11).
        Open-door policy   Several nearly bankrupt hotels in Austria owned by a Russian oligarch should be seized and opened to Ukrainian refugees, says Dominik Oberhofer, an Austrian hotelier-turned-politician. The Local Austria Web site has details.

Ukraine Update: Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Canadian regulators banned Russia's state-backed RT and RT France TV channels. RT airs "abusive content" that "exposes the Ukrainian people to hatred or contempt on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin," said the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Many U.S. television providers have dropped RT because it is seen as Russian propaganda. The U.S. arm of RT subsequently shut down operations. Here are today's other developments:
        Just like Uber   Lyft announced today that it would join Uber in adding fuel surcharges to its rides. has details.
        Never mind ...  Air Astana had hoped to resume flights to Russia on March 13 and then today. But market realities have intervened: No one will insure the flights, so the state-controlled airline has completely cancelled Russia service. Putin now must be wondering why he ever intervened to protect Kazak's dictators from the country's nascent democratic movements. Here's Air Astana's statement on Russia flights.
        If you can't trust a sky pirate, who can you trust?   The Snidely Whiplash of Central Europe, Alexander Lukashenko, isn't so sure he wants to play on Putin's team, either. Lukashenko, the dictator of Belarus, needed Putin after he snatched a Ryanair jet out of Belarusian airspace. But now Lukashenko is balking at committing Belarusian troops to Putin's invasion of Ukraine. has details.
        Barrels and gallons   The price of Brent crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, closed at $98.02 today. It reached $140 last week. Meanwhile, today's average price of gasoline in the United States was $4.30. That's down from the all-time-high of $4.33 last Friday (March 11).
        That explains it then ...   The parent company of pizza chain Papa John's said it would leave Russia. But the country's master franchisee says that he'll keep the shops open. "At the end of the day, [Russians] appreciate a good pizza," explains American Christopher Wynne. The New York Times has details.

Ukraine Update: Tuesday, March 15, 2022

More than 500 aircraft in the fleets of Russia's commercial airlines are leased from Western lessors. International law requires the planes to be returned. (Besides, with Boeing and Airbus out of the country, there's no way to know if the aircraft are being properly maintained.) But if you invade your neighbor, bomb hospitals and shoot fleeing civilians, well, law doesn't mean much to you. So to the surprise of no one, Vladimir Putin signed a law that will allow Russian airlines to confiscate the leased aircraft. Reuters and the Associated Press each take a stab at explaining the intricacies. Here are today's other developments:
        Another exit closed   Korean Air has stopped flying to Siberia and is now routing European and American flights around Russian airspace. The Korea Herald has details.
        Well, duh ...   Priority Pass says that it has exited Russia and lounges at Russian airports will no longer honor Priority Pass cards for entry. Of course, if you're headed to Russia, lack of club access may not be your biggest worry.
        Meanwhile, back at the pump ...   The average U.S. price of gasoline is $4.31 a gallon today, according to the AAA. That's down two cents from Saturday, when it reached all-time highs.
        Silver barrel lining   The price of Brent crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, has been selling as low as $99 a barrel today. It reached $140 last week.
        Can we call it a 'Spanish galleon?'   Spain has seized a Russian oligarch’s $140 million yacht in Barcelona because he's a kleptocrat and ally of Putin The Guardian has details.

Ukraine Update: Monday, March 14, 2022

Wealthy Russians are parking assets in the United Arab Emirates because most other developed markets are closed and the UAE has refused to condemn Putin's invasion. Dodging sanctions has become a booming business in Dubai and other Emirates. Russian kleptocrats are even dumping crypto assets in the country. Of course, the world has noticed that the UAE has chosen greed over international law. Here are today's other developments:
        Another exit closed   Air Astana has dropped its Russia routes because it cannot get insurance to cover flights. However, the national carrier of Russia-aligned Kazakhstan says it hopes to get service back in the air by the end of the week. It has already missed its initial deadline of March 13, however. The Wall Street Journal has some of the details.
        Down it goes   Brent crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, was selling for about $106 a barrel today, down from the nearly $140 it reached last week.
        Meanwhile, back at the pump.   Gasoline reached a record high of $4.32 a gallon on Sunday, according to the AAA. But the "good" news is that prices did not increase today. Gasoline averaged $3.48 a year ago.
        Sins of the father   Activists broke into a mansion in Biarritz belonging to Vladimir Putin's daughter and renamed it "Villa Ukraine" and offered it to refugees. TheLocal France has details.
        Sins of the kleptocrat   Protesters briefly occupied a home owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in London’s Belgravia. They wanted to open it to refugees. The Guardian has details.

Ukraine Update: Weekend, March 12-13, 2022

The Moscow Stock Exchange, closed since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last month, will remain shuttered until at least March 18. Putin is afraid to reopen the market because he expects a huge sell-off since the ruble has collapsed and Western financial sanctions are strangling Russia's economy. Here are this weekend's other developments:
        Surcharges uber Uber   Uber, the car-hail giant, says it is imposing surcharges on all rides due to rising gasoline prices. NBC News has details.
        Yeah, about that ...   After being relentlessly mocked--and probably investigated--Deutsche Bank now says it will wind down its business in Russia rather than continue operating under the Putin regimen. has details.
        Life is hard   Thousands of Russian tourists are stranded at Thailand beach resorts because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Many are unable to pay their bills or return home because of sanctions and canceled flights. The Associated Press has details.
        Bluto's boat   American officials are examining the ownership of a $700 million superyacht in an Italian seacoast town. They believe the ship is owned by Putin. The New York Times has details.
        Christian collaborator   U.S. religious leaders are desperate to convince Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to reverse his pro-Putin stand. He's been a vocal Putin supporter and amplified the Russian government line to his followers. has details.

Daily Ukraine Updates for March 5-11:

Read all about it! Transatlantic bookings dropped 13% after Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia grounds most of its international flights to keep leased aircraft from being repossessed by the 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 ties with Russian franchisees. Emirates blames high oil prices for its revival of fuel surcharges. And more. Click here for the week's updates.

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.