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Russian firms rush to open Chinese bank accounts amid sanctions over Ukraine: report

The Moscow branch of a Chinese state bank has seen a surge in enquiries from Russian firms wanting to open new accounts, a person familiar with the matter said, as the country’s businesses struggle with international sanctions after its invasion of Ukraine.

“Over the past few days, 200-300 companies have approached us, wanting to open new accounts,” the person, who works at the Moscow branch of a Chinese state bank and has direct knowledge of its operations, told Reuters.

He declined to be named or have his bank identified as he is not authorized to speak with media.

It was not clear how widespread Russian demand for new accounts at Chinese banks was, but the banker source told Reuters many of the companies seeking new accounts do business with China and that he expected yuan transactions by such firms to increase.

Read more: Canada targets Russia and Belarus with tariffs, sends more lethal aid to Ukraine

Western governments are shutting off Russia’s economy from the global financial system, pushing international companies to halt sales, cut ties and dump tens of billions of dollars’ worth of investments.

China has repeatedly voiced opposition to the sanctions, calling them ineffective and insisting it will maintain normal economic and trade exchanges with Russia.

A handful of Chinese state banks operate in Moscow, including Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank.

China Construction Bank declined to comment. The other three Chinese state banks did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Click to play video: 'Russia grows more isolated as Western allies unite against Putin'

A Chinese businessman with long-term ties with Russia, who also did not want to be identified, said several Russian companies he works with are now planning to open yuan accounts.

“It’s pretty simple logic. If you cannot use U.S. dollars, or euros, and U.S. and Europe stop selling you many products, you have no other options but to turn to China. The trend is inevitable,” the source told Reuters.

As a growing number of Western companies abandon Russia, the willingness of emerging market giants such as China to sustain business relations with Moscow highlights a deep rift over Europe’s biggest crisis since the World War Two. That trend could threaten to chip away the dominance of the U.S. dollar in global trade.

FESCO Transportation Group, a major Russian transport and logistics company, said this week it will accept Chinese yuan from customers, after some Russian banks were kicked out of the global financial messaging system SWIFT.

Read more: European Union sanctions Belarus over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

“It’s natural for Russian companies to be willing to accept yuan,” said Shen Muhui, head of a trade body that promotes links between Russia and China.

But small Chinese exporters are suffering from a tumble in the rouble and many are suspending deliveries to avoid potential losses, he said.

Click to play video: 'EU’s foreign minister says he asked China to ‘use its influence’ on Russia amid invasion' EU’s foreign minister says he asked China to ‘use its influence’ on Russia amid invasion

The Russian currency dived to a record low of more than 17 rouble to the yuan on Wednesday, having lost nearly 40 per cent of its value against the Chinese unit over the past week.

“Companies will be switching to yuan-rouble business but in any case things will become two, three or four times more expensive for Russians because the exchange rate between the yuan and rouble is also changing,” said Konstantin Popov, a Russian entrepreneur in Shanghai.

Shen said Russian demand for Chinese goods will nevertheless grow in the long term. “The key is to solve trade settlement issues” in the face of sanctions, he said.

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Andrew Galbraith Editing by Vidya Ranganathan and Sam Holmes)

Demerara_Guy

Canada prepared to welcome an 'unlimited number' of Ukrainians fleeing war, minister says

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says Canada is waiving most typical visa requirements

https://i.cbc.ca/1.6371289.1646322280!/fileImage/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/derivatives/16x9_780/cda-ukraine-20220228.JPGMinister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser speaks during a press conference in Ottawa on Feb. 28. On Thursday, he announced new programs that will allow more Ukrainians who are fleeing war to come to Canada. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced Thursday the federal government has created two new pathways for Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country to come to Canada — part of a plan to accept an "unlimited number" of people who want to leave.

To start, Fraser said his department has created a new visa category that will allow a limitless number of Ukrainians to come to Canada to live, work or study here for up to two years.

People accepted under the Canada Ukraine Authorization For Emergency Travel program will have an open work or study permit and employers will be free to hire as many Ukrainians as they want.

Fraser said the federal government is waiving most of the typical visa requirements but applicants will still need to supply biometrics and undergo a background screening process before leaving for Canada. The application process will open in two weeks' time.

Fraser said the department is prepared for a possible influx of Ukrainians and there are biometric kits and personnel ready to assist would-be applicants at diplomatic posts in Warsaw, Vienna and Bucharest and at 30 other locations throughout Europe. Canada is also waiving application fees for all Ukrainians who want to avail themselves of this program.

NDP wants Canada to drop visa requirement

Fraser also announced the government is introducing an "expedited path" to permanent residency for Ukrainians with family in Canada. The minister said a "wider circle of family members" will be able to sponsor Ukrainians who want to come to Canada on a more permanent basis.

Some critics, including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, have called on the government to drop the visa requirement altogether to allow all Ukrainians to travel to Canada unencumbered.

Asked about the possibility of visa-free travel for Ukrainians, Fraser said that sort of change would require 12 to 14 weeks of work to implement because the department's IT systems would need "certain renovations" and airlines would have to change their normal processes. He said the situation is urgent and there's no time for a three-month delay.

WATCH | Fraser speaks to CBC's Power & Politics about plans to waive most visa requirements

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Feds waive most typical visa requirements for Ukrainians, but stop short of waiving visas completely

1 hour ago -- Duration 10:11
"We don't want to open the door for folks who might cause damage to our national security interest...and, it would have taken a couple months longer to implement a visa waiver," says Immigration Minister Sean Fraser on why the feds are not waiving visa requirements for Ukrainians. 10:11

Fraser also said it's prudent to conduct background checks on all applicants to weed out any Russian collaborators. He said a blanket visa waiver would mean some people could "slip through the cracks," including people aligned with Russia who have attacked Ukrainian forces in the breakaway regions of the Donbas.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress said the new pathways will help some of the nearly one million people who've already fled the country.

"Canada, together with all civilized nations, is mobilizing in support of efforts to help these innocent people. Our community is grateful," the group's president, Alexandra Chyczij, said in a media statement.

"Russia is trying to destroy Ukrainian cities and towns from the air. These are crimes against humanity that are causing a humanitarian catastrophe not seen in Europe since World War II."

Canada slaps massive tariff on all Russian imports

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also announced Thursday more measures to tighten the screws on the Russian economy.

As punishment for what Freeland called a "barbaric" invasion of Ukraine, Canada is slapping a steep 35 per cent tariff on all exports from both Russia and Belarus — a country that has been used as a staging ground by Russian troops. The change could effectively halt all trade between Canada and these former Soviet bloc countries.

Canada is also levying sanctions on two major Russian oil and gas producers, Rosneft and Gazprom. The move follows an earlier decision to halt all petroleum imports from Russia.

With the addition of these two major oil companies, Canada has now sanctioned more than 1,000 Russian individuals and entities.

WATCH | UN planning for up to four million refugees

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UN Refugee Agency plans for up to 4 million Ukrainians to leave the country

1 hour ago -- Duration 7:05
As more than a million Ukrainians flee the war, Deputy High Commissioner Kelly Clements of the UN Refugee Agency says they're planning for up to 4 million people to leave the country. "We're all quite astounded with how quickly the situation within Ukraine has deteriorated." 7:05

Freeland said Canada and its G7 partners already have imposed the strongest sanctions ever inflicted on a major economy. She said "more will follow in the days to come" as Russian forces continue to bombard Ukrainian cities with rockets and missiles.

"We will do everything in our power to make sure President Putin and his accomplices pay the price of this grave historical mistake," Freeland said. "We cannot allow him to succeed and we will not."

Freeland said Western actions have crippled the Russian economy.

The country's central bank has hiked the benchmark interest rate to 20 per cent — a move that will obliterate Russian savings and push up the price of everything. The country's stock exchange has been shuttered for four days.

https://i.cbc.ca/1.6371571.1646331420!/cpImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_1180/cda-ukraine-20220303.jpg

Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, left, and Minister of National Defence Anita Anand hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, March 3, 2022. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Two major credit rating agencies, Moody's and Fitch, have downgraded Russian government debt to junk status, which will make it increasingly difficult for Putin and his regime to borrow any money to fund its war machine. The country's currency, the ruble, has been on a precipitous decline since the invasion and the resulting sanctions, dropping in value by some 30 per cent against the U.S. dollar.

"The economic costs of the Kremlin's barbaric war machine are already high and they will continue to rise," Freeland said. "I do want the Russian leadership to understand that we're going to keep going. There is a tremendous willingness among the world's democracies to just continue ratcheting up the pressure."

Government promises to address tariff fallout

At a separate announcement on support for small businesses, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is prepared to help any companies that experience disruption as a result of Canada's aggressive economic actions against Russia.

While Canadian companies have relatively little exposure to the Russian economy — two-way trade plummeted after Putin's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 — there could be some fallout for some importers now faced with a maze of red tape and eye-popping sanctions on the goods they bring in from the region.

With oil out of the picture, Canada's largest import from Russia is platinum.

WATCH: Trudeau says Canada's response to Ukrainian refugees is built off the Syrian refugee crisis

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Trudeau says Canada's response to Ukrainian refugees is built off the Syrian refugee crisis

7 hours ago -- Duration 2:17
Trudeau said 'we are guided by the same values, the same principles but adjust to what the needs are on the ground.' 2:17

In 2019, Canada's largest exports to Russia were planes, helicopters and spacecraft, radioactive chemicals and animal feed. The recently announced ban on export permits could make it difficult for those goods to ever make it to their intended Russian recipients. Putin may also retaliate against countries that have levied sanctions on him and his country.

"Our approach on this has been to go as hard and as fast, as quickly as we could, in coordination with our allies around the world," Trudeau said.

"Obviously, this may last some time and as we move forward in this situation we will take a look at how we can minimize the impacts on Canadians. But our priority right now is sending the strongest signal of condemnation and penalties to Putin and Russia that we possibly can."

Canada deploys more lethal military aid

To help Ukrainians in the fight against Russian forces, Defence Minister Anita Anand announced Canada will provide more lethal aid to the country.

Anand said Canada is sending 4,500 M72 rocket launchers and 7,500 hand grenades drawn from existing Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) stockpiles. She said these supplies will be deployed "as quickly and as safely as possible."

This shipment builds on a previous commitment to send Ukraine up to $10 million worth of lethal and non-lethal aid, including sniper rifles, carbines, pistols, body armour and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition.

Canada is also granting Ukraine some $1 million to purchase "high-resolution satellite imagery," which will give Ukrainian forces the ability to monitor the movement of Russian forces as they continue their incursion.

"We are going to keep adding to the measures to support Ukraine sovereignty, security and territorial integrity. The brutality of what we're seeing on our screens is angering everyone," Anand said.

"A more violent conflict is not what Ukraine, Canada and the rest of the world wants or needs. We want peace."

https://i.cbc.ca/1.6371442.1646327306!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_1180/nato-russia.jpg

In this Sept. 13, 2021 file photo, military vehicles and tanks of Poland, Italy, Canada and United States roll during the NATO military exercises ''Namejs 2021'' at a training ground in Kadaga, Latvia. NATO responded to Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula by beefing up alliance forces and conducting drills on the territories of its easternmost members. (Roman Koksarov/AP Photo)

The CAF also has roughly 3,400 military personnel on "high readiness alert" for a possible deployment to the region to offer more protection to NATO countries that border Russia. Anand said NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe will decide if those Canadian troops will be dropped into a country like Latvia in the coming weeks.

Canada already has troops on the ground as part of Operation Reassurance, which has placed CAF personnel in central and eastern Europe to carry out assurance and deterrence measures.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Paul Tasker

Parliamentary Bureau

J.P. Tasker is a senior writer in the CBC's parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. He can be reached at john.tasker@cbc.ca.

Demerara_Guy
Last edited by Demerara_Guy

This is just the beginning of a major conflict between the US and Russia that will go on for decades.   We will see new developments that we could never dream about.  It's a difficult world we are living in.

Billy Ram Balgobin
Last edited by Billy Ram Balgobin

This is just the beginning of a major conflict between the US and Russia that will go on for decades.   We will see new developments that we could never dream about.  It's a difficult world we are living in.

Are you a soothsayer?  Ah, wait and see. 

T

I've always considered the readings of Pattra to be superior to that of the Crystal Ball.

My Pattra tells me that this war will last for a long time since it is obvious that the big boss of NATO would like to see a military victory over Russia. What this means is that the use of Stingers and Javelins will be utilized to the highest extent possible to create stalemate and ultimately victory.  My Pattra cannot at this time predict so far ahead but I do sensed that in the minds of the politicians on both sides of the new divide want nothing less than victory rather than a political compromise. Zelensky is caught between a rock and a hard place. He speaks everything we want to hear except to give into Putin's demand of never to allow NATO on Ukrainian soil.  NATO says they're out to stop Russia's push westward. Russia says they're out to stop NATO from pushing further East.  This is big debate and the war won't stop until we have compromise or one is victorious of the other militarily.

Billy Ram Balgobin
Last edited by Billy Ram Balgobin

My orbuculum tells me something could very well hit a NATO country..might not kill anyone but will be a reason to get everyone into the action. This will be blamed on Russia, Russia will say it is America and the allies who carried out the attack. We will never know the truth.

cain
Last edited by cain

CNN and other media must have a deal with the Ukraine forces not to show them in action, all they show us is the destruction done by Russian forces. Ukraine ground fighters and their air force have done quite a bit of damage , Russia jets are brought down by ground to air missiles but it is never shown.

cain
@Irfon Ali posted:

AKA prefers to stir Guyanese racial strife, then sit back and enjoy them mauling each other

Ali Khan has always supported equality of all people. What he does not like is when people use their status as racially oppressed people to racially oppress another group of racially oppressed people.

Ali Khan Azad
Last edited by Ali Khan Azad

Ali Khan has always supported equality of all people. What he does not like is when people use their status as racially oppressed people to racially oppress another group of racially oppressed people.

Your only exception are the Arabs or was it their Goats?

Mitwah

Ali Khan does not follow organized religion. Nevertheless, Ali Khan has visited many mosques in Guyana. Ali Khan has spoken to several Guyana Imams. No one ever told Ali Khan that he cannot come into the mosque. I was told by a Palestinian Jordanian in Canada that I must not be allowed into the Arab Mosque because I don't believe in organized religion.

Ali Khan Azad
@Irfon Ali posted:

Hey Totaram, what are your thoughts about people who speak in the 3rd person, e.g. Ali Khan? 

This is funny.  You mean its like they are two people in one--like the father and son.  I would get really worried if they become like three people --father, son and holy ghost.  That's a concept even some Catholics struggle to understand. 

T

Yall US people, tell Biden Cain said this is one time he gives permission to bomb the rass out of Putin's lair. Find out where he is hiding out..probably seated at that long ass table scared one of his own will try to take him out. Send in a drone and BADDAM...story done.

His people will rejoice..so will most of his soldiers.

cain

How about Guyana accepting some Ukrainian refugees??

Countries accept refugees in order to help them lead a good, decent, safe life so how the heck can Guyana do so when they can't even take care of their own?

cain
Last edited by cain