Ukraine Special Report:
March 19-March 25, 2022
Read all about Ukraine! Ukraine International Airlines says it is grounded until April 15, but the carrier is willing to lease crews and aircraft to other airlines. Finland cuts its last passenger rail link with Russia. Burger King's Russian franchisee refuses to close its restaurants in Russia. Renault and Nestle wind down Russian operations under intense global pressure. Will Russia aim for Poland next? Paul Manafort, Trump's convicted and pardoned 2016 campaign chief, caught trying to use a revoked passport to fly to Dubai. Russia says 78 commercial jets have been seized by Western lenders. And more.

Ukraine Update: Friday, March 25, 2022

One stumbling block to greater Western unity against Russia? Germany's massive dependence on Russian energy to fuel its homes and its economy. Now German officials are formulating plans to halve the country's reliance on coal and gas from the Putin regime. Reuters has details. Here are today's other developments:
        Off the rails   Effective March 28, Finland is closing the last direct rail link between Russia and the West. Trains between St. Petersburg and Helsinki continued operating after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 to allow Finns to return home and enable Russians to flee Putin's regime. The International Rail Journal has details.
        Russia's right wing enablers   Western media outlets have ceased propaganda broadcasts from Russian-owned outlets such as RT and Sputnik. Russia's last reliable friend? Rumble, the video streaming service that caters to right-wing conspiracy theories and insurrectionist pro-Trumpers. has details.
        Out of the pool   Russian and Belarusian swimmers have been banned from competing at the world championships because of the war in Ukraine. ESPN has details. Meanwhile, Speedo has ended its sponsorship deal with two-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Evgeny Rylov after he attended the pro-war rally last week hosted by Putin. CNN has those details.
        Barrels and gallons   Brent Crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, is trading at about $113 a barrel on Friday. It settled Thursday at $115.30 after selling in the $117 range. Meanwhile, the AAA says that the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States today is 4.243, up about half a cent from Thursday.
        Secret ties   Some of Russia's influence on U.S. politics is obvious--looking at you, Ron Johnson and Rand Paul--but much of it is on the downlow, hidden from view by lobbying firms that disguise their clients. has details.

Ukraine Update: Midweek, March 23-24, 2022

Russia's Interfax "news" agency says 78 jets leased by commercial Russian carriers have been seized by international lessors. Russia is making sure that won't happen again and passed a law saying its airlines can keep any planes leased from Western firms. That's illegal under the Chicago Convention, so Russian carriers basically will have to fly only domestically for a while. Here are today's other developments:
        On fifth thought ...   Switerland-based Nestle has reversed itself again and now says it will end production of virtually all products in Russia. The global food giant had balked at doing so--apparently KitKat bars are essential to human life--and then run into a hail of international criticism. The reversal comes shortly after Ukraine President urged the Swiss to force Nestle to honor the Western boycott. The Wall Street Journal has details.
        Renault relents   Renault, the French carmaker, has also rethought its plans and again closed its Moscow plant. It now says it will exit Russia permanently. Bloomberg details.
        Gotcha (once again)   Paul Manafort was barred from an Emirates Airline flight from Miami to Dubai over the weekend. The reason? He was traveling on a passport revoked in 2017. You remember Manafort, right? He was a stooge for the corrupt Viktor Yanukovych, who once ran Ukraine the way Putin wanted it run. He was also briefly Donald Trump's campaign chief in 2016. He watered down the 2016 GOP platform that had expressed support for a free Ukraine. And he was convicted for multiple financial crimes by Robert Mueller. Of course, he was pardoned by Trump. Why would Manafort try to sneak out of the country--he could legally apply for a new passport--and get to Dubai? Well, that's where all the Russian kleptocrats are stashing assets. CNBC has details.
        Barrels and gallons   Brent Crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, is trading Thursday at about $117 a barrel. Meanwhile, the AAA says the average price of a gallon of gasoline Thursday is $4.23, essentially treading water this week. If, you know, gasoline could tread water.
        The ballad of Vlad and Dmitri   A super-yacht belonging to one of Putin's kleptocrats--he makes steel pipes--has been detained in Gibraltar near Spain. has details.
        Moscow's mini-mart   The Moscow Stock Exchange reopened Thursday (local time) after a month's closure. Only locals may trade, a hedge against foreign owners dumping shares to exit Russia. has details.

Ukraine Update: Tuesday, March 22, 2022

If you believe this survey, leisure road trips have now exceeded 2019 levels. That is astonishing given the pandemic and the Russian-fueled gasoline price hikes. Grains of salt, I guess. Here are today's other developments:
        When they tell you who they are ...   French carmaker Renault says it has resumed operations at its Moscow factory. That should surprise no one since Renault also built trucks for the Nazis. Reuters has details.
        Going for Poland next?   Chilling message from Dmitry Medvedev, one of Putin's cronies and former Prime Minister and President of Russia. His dispatch on the Telegram social messaging service indicates the Russians could go for Poland next because Poland suffers from "Russophobia." He called Poland "a community of political imbeciles." The original message is here. Fire up a translation app.
        Barrels and gallons   Brent Crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, is down the slightest bit today, trading at about $115 a barrel. Meanwhile, the AAA says the average price of a gallon of gasoline today is $4.24, down about half-a-cent from yesterday.
        Checkmate   Russian grandmaster Sergey Karjakin has been barred from international chess competitions for six months because he supports Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Chess24 (yes, that's a thing) has details.
        Cyber chase   President Biden yesterday urged companies to check on their preparations for and defenses against Cyber attacks from Russian actors. Agence France-Presse has details.

Ukraine Update: Monday, March 21, 2022

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Moscow Stock Exchange did not reopen for business today. It's been closed since the invasion of Ukraine began despite regular assurances from Russian officials that the market would reopen. Some bond trading resumed today, however, for the first time since the invasion. The Associated Press has details. Here are today's other developments:
        Airline for lease   Ukraine International Airlines, the flag carrier of Ukraine, has been grounded since Russia's invasion. The airline says it expects to remain grounded until at least mid-April. (Details are here.) But the carrier says it is anxious to "wet lease" crews and aircraft to other airlines during its grounding. A common commercial aviation practice, a "wet lease" is when one airline supplies both a plane and a flight crew to another carrier and flies under the second carrier's name. The World Airline News Web site has details.
        Up again   After shooting up to $140 at the start of the invasion and then selling below $99 last week, Brent crude, which most closely tracks the price of jet fuel, is rising once again. It settled today at around $115 a barrel, up from about $108 when markets opened.
        Meanwhile, back at the pump ...   Gasoline was selling today for $4.25, according to the AAA. That's down from the record high of $4.33 ten days ago.

Ukraine Update: Weekend, March 19-20, 2022

The Moscow Stock Exchange, closed since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine last month, will supposedly reopen tomorrow. But Russia has said that several times in the last month. Here are this weekend's other developments:
        It's (not) good to be the king   Burger King says it is exiting Russia. Its Russian franchisee says not so fast. It is refusing to close the shops. The Washington Post has details.
        Help from Hungary   Poland has been the country of first "choice" for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. But Hungary says that it will take up to 900,000 Ukrainian refugees. Chief Security Advisor György Bakondi claims that Hungary already has taken in more than 430,000 refugees.
        Nestle is not making the very best (decisions)   Switzerland-based Nestle is taking heat from many sides for its decision to continue selling many of its products in Russia. Fortune has details.

Daily Ukraine Updates for March 12-18:

Read all about it! U.S. gasoline prices reach record highs, then fall a bit. Uber and Lyft add surcharges to all rides. Air Astana drops Russia routes because it cannot secure flight insurance. Korean Air bails on Russian routes, too. No 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. Click here for the week's updates.

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.