by Gabe Fleisher
Good morning! It’s Monday, March 14, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 239 days away. Election Day 2024 is 967 days away.
Happy Pi Day — or, as its known in my hometown, St. Louis Day (the area code in STL is 314). Enjoy some toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake, or Ted Drewes today.
Ukraine war nears NATO’s doorstep
This is Day 18 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Here’s the latest news you should know in the ongoing conflict:
A fourth round of peace talks will kick off today. Russian and Ukrainian officials will meet over video conference today, the latest attempt to foster an end to the weeks of fighting.
- Both sides have projected confidence about the talks: “I think we will reach some concrete results, literally, in a few days,” one Ukrainian official said Sunday, sounding a more optimistic tone than before other rounds of negotiation.
But for now, Russia is intensifying its assault on its neighbor. In recent days, Russian airstrikes in Ukraine have hit a maternity hospital, a historic monastery, and a mosque — all signs of Moscow’s increasing willingness to hit civilian targets as the war grinds on.
- In a new video on Friday, announcing Russia’s abduction of a second Ukrainian mayor, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that “a new stage of terror” had arrived.
- So far, Russia has been stymied in its efforts to capture Kyiv by a greater-than-expected resistance, but its forces are now attempting to encircle the capital city. The city has also been pummeled with airstrikes, including one this morning that hit a residential building.
One Russian strike in particular has caught the West’s attention. Russia launched a barrage of missiles at a military facility in western Ukraine on Sunday, killing at least 34 people and injuring 134 more. The strike took place about 15 miles from the Poland border, the closest Russia has come to hitting a NATO country so far.
- The arrival of the war on NATO’s doorstep comes as U.S. officials are reportedly worried that Russian President Vladimir Putin may expand the war against other European targets. According to the New York Times, there is particular concern about threats against Moldova and Georgia.
- Officials have also warned that Putin may be preparing to use chemical weapons against Ukraine. Russia has made a similar claim against the U.S., which White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday was false and “a tell” that Moscow is planning to do so.
President Biden is facing pressure from lawmakers to step up U.S. aid to Ukraine. According to the Washington Post, a bipartisan group of lawmakers are calling on Biden to accept an offer from Poland to facilitate the transfer of MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. The Pentagon declined the offer last week, arguing Russia would view the move as an American escalation. Separately, the U.S. did send an additional $200 billion in arms and equipment to Ukraine on Sunday.
- Many of Biden’s highest-profile moves in the Ukraine crisis so far have come after pressure from Congress, including his ban on Russian oil and his downgrade of Russia’s trading status.
- According to CNN, Russia has sought to respond to its isolation from the West by requesting military and economic aid from China. The Chinese government has denied receiving such a request.
Each morning, WUTP’s team of contributors rotate to offer briefings on the latest news in different policy areas.
It’s Monday, so Davis Giangiulio is here with the latest economic news you need to know:
A new report showed inflation hitting a 40-year record. The Consumer Price Index, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Thursday, revealed that prices rose 7.9% over the 12 months ending in February. Unsurprisingly, fuel oil has surged 44%, but other important items are up significantly too. Shelter prices are up 4.7%, beef has risen 16.2%, and the meats, poultry fish and eggs index has climbed 16.2%.
Especially concerning are the monthly figures for February. Inflation last month alone rose 0.8%: the most since October, and the third sharpest rise since inflation began to spike nearly a year ago. Rents jumped 0.6% in February, the most in a single month since 1987. In a statement, President Biden partially blamed the inflation on “an increase in gas and energy prices as markets reacted to Putin’s aggressive actions” — although prices have been rising since long before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gas prices also hit a record last week. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. is now $4.33, exceeding the record high set in 2008. As gas prices rise at their fastest rate rise since Hurricane Katrina, Uber is introducing a “fuel surcharge” to make it easier for their drivers at the pump.
The situation isn’t expected to improve with Russian oil imports now banned. The move will impact the current global transfer of oil and could lead to oil taking longer to travel and becoming more expensive, especially if more countries join in on the decision. The U.S. has tried to normalize relations with Venezuela to get another source of oil, though that has come with pushback, and is encouraging domestic oil producers to increase their production. However, oil executives say they need more government support to do so.
The stock market is as volatile as ever, with some indexes entering bear market territory. Inflation, high gas prices, and uncertainty in Europe are coming together to create the most uneasy market since the beginning of the pandemic. The Nasdaq Composite, a tech-heavy index, fell into bear-market territory last week, which signifies a 20% fall from a peak. Meanwhile, the Dow Industrial Average and S&P 500 are in correction territory, a 10% fall. Markets hate uncertainty, and some experts say the longer it goes on the worse markets will get.
All times Eastern.
President Joe Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing at 10:30 a.m., address the National League of Cities conference at 2:10 p.m., and participate in a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at 7:45 p.m.
First Lady Jill Biden will deliver remarks at the 2022 International Women of Courage Award ceremony at the State Department at 10 a.m.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki will hold her daily press briefing at 3 p.m.
The Senate will convene at 3 p.m. and hold a cloture vote to advance Shalanda Young’s nomination to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at 5:30 p.m.
The House is not in session.
The Supreme Court is not in session.
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