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A top adviser to Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told the Financial Times that Kyiv is willing to discuss the future of Crimea with Moscow if its forces reach the border of the Russian-occupied peninsula.
“If we will succeed in achieving our strategic goals on the battlefield and when we will be on the administrative border with Crimea, we are ready to open [a] diplomatic page to discuss this issue,” Andriy Sybiha said, referring to Kyiv’s long-planned counteroffensive.
He added: “It doesn’t mean that we exclude the way of liberation [of Crimea] by our army.”
These comments by the deputy head of the president’s office are the most explicit statement of Ukraine’s interest in negotiations since it cut off peace talks with the Kremlin last April.
Sybiha’s remarks may relieve western officials who are sceptical about Ukraine’s ability to reclaim the peninsula and worry that any attempt to do so militarily could lead President Vladimir Putin to escalate his war, possibly with nuclear weapons.
To date Zelenskyy has ruled out peace talks until Russian forces leave all of Ukraine, including Crimea.
In related news:
More jets: Poland’s president yesterday pledged to send 14 MiG-29 fighter jets to neighbouring Ukraine after welcoming Zelenskyy to Warsaw for a state visit.
WSJ reporter: The US is preparing to declare American journalist Evan Gershkovich wrongfully detained, a designation that will escalate Washington’s efforts to secure his release from Russia.
Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:
UK: A new tax year starts, and Halifax publishes its monthly house price index.
Maundy Thursday: Markets are closed in Denmark, Mexico, Norway, Spain and other countries.
Economic data: S&P Global releases its construction purchasing managers’ indices for the EU, the UK, France, Germany and Italy.
Results: Ermenegildo Zegna, Levi Strauss & Co, Robert Walters, Ferrexpo and WD-40 Company report.
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Five more top stories
1. BlackRock will help sell a $114bn portfolio of securities from failed lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, which the US government took over last month. Here’s why regulators said the asset sales would be “gradual and orderly”.
2. EXCLUSIVE: Private equity group KKR is nearing a deal to buy a large stake in FGS Global that will value the WPP-backed financial communications company at about $1.4bn, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Read the full story.
3. EXCLUSIVE: A Hollywood business manager whose clients have included Madonna and Drake has sued Goldman Sachs alleging it tricked him into handing over business secrets as part of an effort to agree a $7bn deal with a private equity firm. More details from showbiz impresario Mickey Segal’s lawsuit here.
4. The Swiss government has cut bonuses for about 1,000 senior bankers at Credit Suisse, with the executive team losing their outstanding variable pay entirely, after the lender’s rescue by its rival UBS last month. The bonuses cut were worth up to a total of SFr60mn ($66.1mn).
5. The UK Passport Office “delivered an unacceptable level of service” last year, a cross-party parliamentary report concluded today, with about 360,000 customers forced to wait more than 10 weeks for their documents between January and September.
This was not the start Humza Yousaf wanted. Just a week after taking office as Scotland’s first minister, he had to respond yesterday to the arrest of the husband of his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon by police investigating the finances of his governing Scottish National party. It is the latest in a series of setbacks analysts said could threaten the pro-independence party’s dominance.
If you’re interested in UK politics, don’t miss the live Inside Politics panel on April 19, when Stephen Bush and other FT journalists and experts will discuss next year’s general election. Sign up for the subscriber-only event here.
We’re also reading . . .
Chart of the day
Millennials are more educated than any generation before them, earning as much as their predecessors, writes chief data reporter John Burn-Murdoch. Yet in Britain, this translates into a home-ownership rate 23 per cent below where boomers were at the same age, and 10 per cent lower in the US.
Take a break from the news
Nicolas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio are known to have bid against one another for the skull of a Tarbosaurus bataar. Others with deep pockets will get their chance this month when Trinity, a 67mn-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, goes on sale at Koller Auctions. The reserve suggests that dinosaurs have entered the realm reserved for the most highly prized works of art.
Additional contributions from Gordon Smith and Emily Goldberg
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