The US said Moscow’s efforts to destabilise Ukraine were “part of the Russian playbook” after the UK warned of an alleged plot to install a puppet government in Kyiv.
Antony Blinken, US secretary of state, said that Washington had been “concerned” for weeks about Russian tactics, including efforts by President Vladimir Putin to replace Kyiv’s government.
He was speaking after the UK said in an extraordinary statement that it had evidence Russia was planning to install a pro-Moscow leader in Ukraine — and named Yevhen Murayev as a potential leader favoured by the Kremlin.
Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border and vowed “the most unpredictable and grave consequences for European security” if the US does not concede to its demands to roll back Nato’s expansion.
Related news: Nato’s pledge to admit Ukraine was an “ugly compromise” but was not to blame for the threat of conflict with Russia, the military’s alliance’s former secretary-general has told the Financial Times.
Thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. Here’s the rest of today’s news — Yasemin
Five more stories in the news
1. Activist hedge fund Trian builds stake in Unilever The arrival of Nelson Peltz’s group comes as the UK consumer giant is under pressure from investors after its failed £50bn attempted takeover of GSK Consumer Health.
2. Australian Open ejects protesters for supporting Peng Shuai The tennis tournament ejected two spectators for wearing T-shirts in support of the player Peng Shuai, who accused a senior Chinese government official of sexual assault last year.
3. Private equity sidesteps IPO parade The industry’s biggest privately held firms raised at least $9bn through debt sales last year to invest in their own buyout funds, finance growth or pay dividends to partners, according to industry executives and records obtained by the Financial Times.
4. World Bank under pressure to release Afghan funds Leading charities working in Afghanistan are demanding more than $1.2bn in frozen funds in order to pay teachers and other government workers and prevent the collapse of essential services.
5. Warren Buffett closes in on Cathie Wood Cathie Wood’s flagship Ark fund is on the cusp of being overtaken by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway in the post-pandemic performance table, reflecting a dramatic shift in fortunes between the two prominent investors.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will reintroduce tough Covid-19 restrictions — forcing her to cancel her own wedding plans — as Asia-Pacific battles to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.
The Beijing Winter Olympics is posing a challenge to China’s zero-Covid policy.
The Omicron variant is causing far less damage to the eurozone economy than previous waves of Covid-19, according to FT analysis.
The day ahead
IBM earnings The computer, technology and IT consulting corporation will report its Q4 results.
PMIs IHS Markit flash composite purchasing managers’ index data releases for Japan, Eurozone, France, Germany, UK and the US.
Italian presidential election Parliament members and regional representatives to begin voting for Sergio Mattarella’s replacement. Prime Minister Mario Draghi is considered a serious contender.
What else we’re reading and watching
Russia and China’s plans for a new world order A decade ago, the neighbours were as much rivals as partners. But after a period when both countries have sparred persistently with the US, Xi Jinping has become Vladimir Putin’s most important ally. Today, Moscow and Beijing have embraced the rhetoric of counter-revolution.
Don’t write off Hong Kong as a financial centre just yet Hong Kong is astir after the city passed a death sentence on hamsters. But for hard economic reasons, the future of the Chinese territory is more secure than any global rival except for New York, says FT Asia Editor Robin Harding.
Netflix faces a dystopian future The streaming giant appeared to have the wind at its back heading into the end of 2021, with the success of Squid Game and Don’t Look Up. But star-studded releases were not enough to give it a significant boost in subscribers in the fourth quarter. What happens if popular new shows are not enough to lure lots of new subscribers to Netflix any more?
Get ready for the four-day working week First it was working from home, writes our business columnist Pilita Clark. Now it is the four-day working week that is shaking business life in ways that would have seemed unthinkable before Covid-19. Younger managers are a lot more interested in the idea than the older leaders they are on track to replace.
Millions of Turks flock to cryptocurrencies TV news channels present bitcoin and ethereum prices alongside the dollar and euro exchange rates. Half-time television adverts at football matches tout the virtues of crypto exchanges. Amid soaring inflation and a plunge in the Turkish lira, millions are investing in crypto. The surge in interest has alarmed the country’s authorities who now want to regulate the sector.
Life & Arts
The FT’s San Francisco correspondent Patrick McGee takes a deep dive into the controversial rise of connected fitness. Fans of Peloton and its peers describe the gamified experience as a way of getting into fitness, or even building a community, without feeling awkward or vulnerable at the gym.