Russia’s Potanin dodges politics and sanctions to flourish (Reuters – May 4, 2022)

https://www.reuters.com/

May 4 (Reuters) – So far, at least, “Nickel King” Vladimir Potanin is Russia’s ultimate survivor. Unlike many of Russia’s notable oligarchs, he has not been sanctioned by the United States or the European Union for his closeness to President Vladimir Putin.

And as Western companies quit Russia because of those sanctions, imposed as retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, he has snapped up assets to expand his own banking business. On Monday, Potanin’s Interros holding company said it had bought United Card Services, the Russian unit of U.S.-listed Global Payments, for an undisclosed sum.

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The Battery Boom Will Redraw Geopolitical Maps – by Tsvetana Paraskova (Oil Price.com – May 03, 2022)

https://oilprice.com/

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has exposed, once again, the vulnerability of the global energy markets and economy to the actions of petrostates with the power to weaponize their energy resources for political purposes. In the biggest shock to oil flows since the 1973 Arab oil embargo, the war in Ukraine and the hesitancy of Europe to immediately punish Putin threw into sharp relief the geopolitical power that countries with huge oil and gas resources currently hold.

The European Union’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is to wean off Russian energy as soon as possible and reduce overall fossil fuel consumption in the longer term in order to stop being beholden to malign actors for energy sources.

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The Geopolitics of the Rare-Metals Race – by Guillaume Pitron (The Washington Quarterly – April 25, 2022)

The Washington Quarterly

The 20th century was the era of black gold; the 21st will
undoubtedly be the era of metals

In 2010, a team of Pentagon officials and American geologists uncovered Afghanistan’s best kept secret: a plethora of mining resources such as lithium, copper, cobalt—including 1.4 million metric tons of rare-earth elements, estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion, all of them essential to modern industry.

After this development, Afghanistan, according to The New York Times, rapidly became heralded as a country which could “be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world.” More than a decade later, however, US forces filing out of Afghanistan were leaving these resources untapped, attracting the interest of neighboring nations.

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Trilateral AUKUS defence pact expands to hypersonic missiles and electronic warfare – by Steven Chase (Globe and Mail – April 6, 2022)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

A defence pact among three of Canada’s allies that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has dismissed as merely a submarine sale arrangement on Tuesday expanded its scope to include two major security threats: hypersonic missiles and electronic warfare.

The United States, Britain and Australia announced they will work together to develop their capacity to launch and intercept hypersonic missiles – which travel five times the speed of sound and can change course in mid-flight – as well as electronic warfare, which is the use of the electromagnetic spectrum to disrupt enemy operations.

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America’s ‘Invisible Aircraft’- As Russia Controls Titanium Supply Chain, How US Secretly Sourced This Mineral To Build The Blackbird – by Tanmay Kadam (EurAsian Times – March 28, 2022)

Home

The Russia-Ukraine war has the aerospace companies worried as it may disrupt the supply of titanium, a key mineral used in the manufacture of various components of modern aircraft.

Kevin Michaels, managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory, a supply-chain consulting firm, has sounded an alarm by saying that Russian President Putin can shut down the commercial aerospace business if he chooses to do so.

VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation based in Verkhnyaya Salda, Russia, is the world’s largest titanium producer. It supplies 30-35% of the titanium used by the aviation sector globally. Aerospace giants such as Boeing and Airbus are heavily dependent on Russian titanium.

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Devil Copper: War and the Canadian Nickel Industry, 1883–1970 – by Scott Miller (National Defence Canada – Winter 2019)

http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/

Located in the heart of northeastern Ontario, the city of Sudbury is often referred to as the ‘Nickel Capital’ for its historic relationship with this particular metal. Indeed, by the eve of the First World War, it had become the world’s leading producer of nickel, and by 1950, its share of the global supply peaked at 95 percent.1

Also known as ‘devil copper,’ worldwide demand for nickel remained strong throughout much of the 20th Century, largely as a result of its far-reaching military applications. While the citizens of Sudbury are generally well aware of this mining legacy, others may not be as familiar with the significance of nickel in Canadian political and military history. This is hardly surprising. As renowned historian J.L. Granatstein once asserted, there is a lack of “…serious scholarship on Canada’s industrial [war effort],” including its mineral and mining sectors.2

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OPINION: Africa is becoming the new frontline in the conflict between Russia and the West – by John Rapley (Globe and Mail – March 26, 2022)

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/

John Rapley is a professor at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study. His most recent book is Twilight of the Money Gods.

During the Cold War, Africa stood on the frontline of the East-West struggle. Both the U.S. and Soviet blocs propped up client-regimes with generous patronage and military assistance, and each of them maintained proxy armies that fought rebellions against states in the other camp. In this way, the two superpowers became adept at harassing one another without ever coming to blows themselves.

Africa generally came off the worse for it. Some leaders of what were then newly independent countries became very adept at exploiting the superpower rivalry, playing one side off against the other and thereby extracting maximum benefit.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pushes the West to re-arm (The Economist – March 28, 2022)

https://www.economist.com/

BY INVADING UKRAINE, Vladimir Putin has revitalised the world’s democracies and strengthened NATO’s resolve, President Joe Biden told an audience in Warsaw on March 26th. Two days later he submitted a budget to Congress that included $813bn in defence spending.

He called it “one of the largest investments in our national security in history”. Among other things, Mr Biden said, it was intended “to forcefully respond to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine”. In Europe, meanwhile, many NATO allies are beefing up their forces even faster. But will the extra money for weapons be spent effectively?

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War and sanctions have caused commodities chaos (The Economist – March 12, 2022)

https://www.economist.com/

Global commodity crises tend to cause severe economic damage and political upheaval. The oil shocks of the 1970s left Western economies with runaway inflation and deep recessions.

Oil revenues also helped prop up the Soviet Union and fuelled the export of Saudi extremism. Soaring grain prices in 2010 and 2011 were a trigger for the street protests that led to the Arab spring and the toppling of dictators.

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The war in Ukraine is going to change geopolitics profoundly (The Economist – March 5, 2022)

https://www.economist.com/

“This morning we are defending our country alone,” declared Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, on Friday February 25th, the day after Russia’s invasion began. It was “the beginning of the war against Europe”. Yet Europe’s only forces in the field were those of Ukraine.

The rest of Europe was shamed. Over the weekend, appalled by the baselessness of Mr Putin’s invasion, inspired by the bravery of Ukraine’s soldiers, pushed by demonstrators on its streets and moved by Mr Zelensky’s words and actions, the continent took steps which days earlier had seemed unthinkable.

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A Nickel for Your Ukraine Thoughts – by the Editorial Board (Wall Street Journal – March 8, 2022)

https://www.wsj.com/

Wars rarely go as planned and they invariably have collateral economic damage that surprises the unsuspecting. That’s the story this week in the chaos in the market for nickel, a crucial metal used in electric-vehicle batteries, among other things.

The London Metal Exchange on Tuesday suspended trading in nickel, after the price soared 66% on Monday to more than $100,000 a metric ton. This was the first time the LME suspended trading in a metal since the international tin cartel collapsed in 1985.

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Column: Nickel, the devil’s metal with a history of bad behaviour – by Andy Home (Reuters – March 10, 2022)

https://www.reuters.com/

The global nickel market is in a pricing black-out. The London Metal Exchange (LME) three-month nickel price sits in suspended animation at $48,048 per tonne, Monday’s closing price and the last trade with even a semblance of legitimacy.

Tuesday’s mayhem and the resulting decision by the LME to suspend all trading has frozen what is the core reference price for the global supply chain stretching from miners to stainless steel mills and electric vehicle battery makers.

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A stunning day for nickel prices – by Staff (Sudbury Star – March 8, 2022)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

The metal used in stainless steel and lithium-ion batteries rose as
much as 90 per cent to $55,000 a metric ton, the highest in the
35-year history of the contract. That topped a previous record
of $51,800 reached in 2007.

It was a wild day for nickel prices on Monday – reaching $US20 a pound briefly before retreating to $17.32 – still an increase of a little more than $4 a pound compared to Friday.

Russia’s invasion is the main reason behind the dramatic increase in price. Russia supplies around 10 per cent of the world’s nickel, and investors fear that Western sanctions against Russia could disrupt air and sea shipments of commodities produced and exported by Russia, Reuters reported Monday.

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[Norilsk Nickel] This Russian Metals Giant Might Be Too Big to Sanction – by Alistair MacDonald (Wall Street Journal – March 2022)

https://www.wsj.com/

Norilsk Nickel is a key supplier of nickel and palladium, two metals that are key for electric-vehicle batteries and semiconductors

From its base at a former Arctic gulag, Russia’s MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC digs up a large portion of two metals that are essential to greener transport and computer chips.

So far the U.S. and its allies haven’t sanctioned the company, or its oligarch chief executive, underscoring the dilemma some analysts say governments face in seeking to punish Russia without hurting their own access to key commodities.

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Russia seizes Europe’s biggest nuclear plant in ‘reckless’ assault (Kitco/Reuters – March 4, 2022)

https://www.kitco.com/

LVIV, Ukraine/KYIV, March 4 (Reuters) – Russian invasion forces seized Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant on Friday in what Washington called a reckless assault that risked catastrophe, although a blaze in a training building was extinguished and officials said the facility was now safe.

Combat raged elsewhere in Ukraine as Russian forces surrounded and bombarded several cities in the second week of the assault launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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