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FirstFT: Russia vows to press on ‘until all the goals’ achieved in Ukraine

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Good morning. Russia will push on with the war in Ukraine until all military goals are met, the Kremlin said yesterday, as it responded to Kyiv’s counter-offensive that has reclaimed more than 3,000 sq km in the east.

The military setback has been the Kremlin’s largest in the conflict since it was forced to U-turn on plans to take the Ukrainian capital, and has led to a rising tide of recriminations in Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin had been fully briefed on the relocation of Russian forces, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. The defence ministry has acknowledged Russian troops were pulled back in the Kharkiv region, but authorities have avoided calling it a retreat.

Ukrainian troops yesterday worked to consolidate their gains. In Izyum, a logistics hub where thousands of Russian troops had been stationed, Ukrainian soldiers hoisted the national flag in the main square.

US officials expressed cautious optimism about the counteroffensive, while warning that the rapid advances had not fundamentally changed the near-term outlook on the battlefield.

The retreat of Moscow’s forces in the north-east has again exposed the weaknesses of the Russian military machine and its shortcomings in manpower, morale, intelligence and command.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Send your feedback on the newsletter to [email protected] — Jennifer

1. King Charles III to uphold ‘precious principles’ of UK democracy The monarch yesterday devoted himself to upholding “the precious principles of constitutional government” in a Westminster ceremony that served as a reminder of his constrained role in British politics. His speech came ahead of planned visits to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales this week.

King Charles III: ‘Parliament is the living and breathing instrument of our democracy’ © Dan Kitwood/AP

2. EU delays cut in pesticide use The European Council, representing member states, is delaying plans to halve pesticide use in the bloc by 2030 over fears that implementing the regulation could cut food production and raise prices of critical products. The law is particularly unpopular in eastern Europe.

3. UK and EU to avert Northern Ireland trade confrontation The sides are preparing to avoid a diplomatic confrontation tomorrow, the legal deadline for grace periods over post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland, according to both British and EU officials.

4. Germany aims for leading military role in Europe Christine Lambrecht, the country’s defence minister, said Berlin was “prepared to make a decisive contribution to fair burden-sharing”, underscoring how Russia’s war in Ukraine has transformed the government’s strategic thinking over its contributions to the western alliance.

5. UK trade deficit widens as EU exports hit record The UK trade gap widened in the three months to July to a near all-time high as a result of surging energy imports following the war in Ukraine and weak export performance, according to data released yesterday. Exports to the EU reached the highest level on record as the UK increased gas flows.

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The day ahead

Twitter shareholder vote Elon Musk sent a third letter to the social media company last week attempting to call off his $44bn takeover. Today, Twitter shareholders will vote on whether to approve the deal.

Kenya’s new president William Ruto will be sworn in after his election victory was confirmed by the country’s supreme court. Now, our editorial board writes, he must deliver.

Economic data The US consumer price index for August is forecast to show a second consecutive monthly decline in the annual inflation rate. Germany has a CPI for the same month and the September ZEW economic sentiment survey, while the UK releases labour market data. Opec publishes its monthly market report.

Corporate earnings Half-year results are out for UK-based carbonated mixer supplier Fevertree and Danish consumer review website Trustpilot. Ocado delivers a third-quarter trading update.

What else we’re reading

Debt monsters in the downturn As central banks raise rates to tame inflation, debt-laden companies are facing the uncomfortable prospect of servicing higher interest bills with crimped cash flows. Which groups are flashing warning signals? The Financial Times has compiled a list of companies with debt trading more than 10 percentage points above government bonds.

Why Wall Street is still betting on the music industry Investors have poured billions of dollars into buying music rights in recent years, turning pop songs into a new source of returns. But in an era of rising interest rates and a stalled economy, the nascent asset class is facing its first real test.

‘Quiet quitting’ is worse than nonsense According to Gallup, about half of Americans are “quiet quitters”: people who are “not going above and beyond at work and just meeting their job description”. HR specialists have been quick to advise on how to fix this problem. But Sarah O’Connor argues that it’s not a problem at all — staff who turn up to do exactly what is asked of them are still working.

The Ukraine war has reached a turning point After Russia’s setbacks, a new and dangerous phase of the conflict is beginning, writes Gideon Rachman. Rather than accept defeat, Russian president Vladimir Putin may try to escalate. His options, however, are limited and unappealing.

The ‘success sequence’ for life should be treated with caution Want to get ahead in life? In the rich world, there are three supposedly foolproof steps: graduate from secondary school, get a full-time job and get married before you have children. Stephen Bush writes that American libertarians have fallen for this idea that is an excuse for cutting welfare spending.

Add these to your reading list

As epic levels of flood, heat and fire strike countries across the world, can 21st-century capitalism deliver the changes needed to prevent further environmental carnage? Pilita Clark outlines a new crop of environmental books that address this question.

Disrupted Times — Documenting the changes in business and the economy between Covid and conflict. Sign up here

Asset Management — Sign up here for the inside story of the movers and shakers behind a multitrillion-dollar industry

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