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Russia invades Ukraine

Troops are entering from multiple directions, and airstrikes are targeting Ukrainian cities.

A Ukrainian soldier in a trench on the front line near the village of Travneve, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine.
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  • Susan Howson
By Susan Howson

News Editor


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Here’s what you need to know

Russia invaded Ukraine. Troops are entering from multiple directions, and airstrikes are targeting Ukrainian cities. Vladimir Putin threatened “instant” retribution if anyone tries to stop Russia, and claimed there are no plans for an occupation.

The US “will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia,” Biden says. The US president called the attack “unprovoked and unjustified,” and spoke to Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

The EU is also preparing “a package of massive and targeted sanctions.” European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen aims to “weaken Russia’s economic base and its capacity to modernize.”

Cyberattacks accompanied airstrikes on Ukraine. Government websites went down under a barrage of distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.

Ukrainian airspace is closed to civilian flights. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency also warned airlines against flying in neighboring Russia and Belarus.

Stocks fell, while oil and other commodity prices surged. Oil is above $100 a barrel, and gold jumped to its highest value for more than a year.

What else to watch for

Today, Alibaba reports earnings for its most recent fiscal quarter.

Still under the shadow of Beijing’s crackdown on Big Tech that first began in late 2020, the firm is expected to report an approximate 60% decline in profit, according to Bloomberg. Investors will also watch closely for any clues about fresh scrutiny from Beijing, which is said to have ordered state-owned banks and firms to check their financial exposure to fintech giant Ant Group, one-third of which is owned by Alibaba.

All the guessing about Alibaba’s fate lays bare the trauma China’s crackdown has brought investors. Without their once-blind faith in the industry, most Chinese tech giants have experienced panic selloffs that wiped billions of dollars from their market value. With no signs of a change of direction from Beijing, the companies may have no choice but to accept that their heydays are already behind them.

A chart showing how Beijing's crackdown on big tech has impacted Alibaba's earnings. In June 2020, Alibaba reported revenue of $21.8 billion and a $6.7 billion profit. In September 2021, the company's revenue was $31.1 billion with a profit of $800 million.

A micronation’s Zaha Hadid-designed city in the metaverse

Image copyright: Zaha Hadid Architects

In January, the Free Republic of Liberland—a crypto-friendly micronation located on three square miles of no man’s land between Croatia and Serbia—unveiled a fully realized city in the metaverse designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. Picture a national assembly hall, a buzzy NFT bazaar, office towers—all done in Hadid’s trademark swooping, swoon-worthy architectural style.

Patrik Schumacher, who has been running Hadid’s firm since the starchitect’s death in 2016, predicts that the metaverse will usher in a golden age for parametricism—an avant-garde building style based on computer algorithms that defined Hadid’s career and legacy. “Every institution could have a mirror space in the metaverse,” he argues. “And we architects can cater to both at the same time.”

✦ Our latest member-exclusive Forecast email looks at how companies can get started in the metaverse. If you’re not yet a Quartz member, start your seven-day free trial today.

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