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NATO allies agreed to strengthen its defense in Europe

NATO allies agreed to boost their defenses in Europe amid the war in Ukraine.

World leaders stand in front of flags.
This story was published on our Quartz Daily Brief newsletter, The concise, conversational rundown you need to start your day.
  • Morgan Haefner
By Morgan Haefner

Deputy email editor


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Here’s what you need to know

NATO allies agreed to strengthen defenses in Europe. Leaders also discussed sending Ukraine more military supplies. US president Joe Biden said the US will respond if Russia uses chemical weapons, and called for the Russia’s removal from G20.

The US and its allies announced new sanctions. The latest round was imposed on Russian defense companies, parliament, and the chief executive of the country’s largest bank. 

Russia is open to accepting bitcoin for gas. But the terms will depend on the foreign country’s relationship with Russia.

Europe is readying its next sweeping piece of tech regulation. EU members reached a deal for a Digital Markets Act, an effort to rein in tech giants that has Apple, Google, and Meta worried.

SoftBank is looking for a $60 billion Arm IPO. The valuation will mean convincing investors Arm is worth more than the $40 billion that semiconductor peer Nvidia offered for it.

Singapore will ease covid measures. Starting March 29, outdoor mask mandates will be dropped and vaccinated travelers will not be tested upon arrival.

North Korea tested a long-range missile. It’s likely its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017.

What to watch for

A person wheels a massive Oscar statue.
Image copyright: Reuters/Mike Blake
Roll out the carpet

The Academy Awards are back on March 27 at 8 pm ET. Along with the resurgence of the box office as the pandemic wanes in some parts of the world (for now), there’s hope the annual event will see a revival. Oscars ratings have fallen nearly every year since 2015, with viewership plummeting almost 60% last year.

Some believe a disconnect between Academy voters and what is popular with fans, as well as a lack of diversity, have been part of the problem. The latest attempt to reach out to the public is a new Fan Favorite category, which allows people to vote for their top picks to be included in the awards.

Already, the poorly rated Cinderella has emerged as a leading vote getter rather than box office winners like Spider-Man: No Way Home. If the Fan Favorite vote doesn’t align with box office success, the Academy’s attempt at public outreach could backfire.

The reality of gas in rubles

Not only is Russia considering accepting bitcoin for its gas, but Vladimir Putin also wants nations he deems “hostile”—like the US, the UK, and EU members—to pay for Russian gas in rubles.

The demand is more than provocation; it’s a strategy to force the West to dilute the effects of its own sanctions on Moscow. But the move also fits into a larger mosaic of efforts by several countries to challenge the hegemony of major Western currencies like the dollar and the euro.

48: Nations Putin has dubbed “hostile” and wants to pay for gas in rubles

$69 billion: What these nations paid for gas from Russia’s state-owned company, Gazprom, last year

6 to 7 trillion: Rubles these nations would have to procure for similar payments

7%: Value the ruble gain against the dollar after Putin said nations should use it for gas

The app of the Ukrainian resistance

Telegram, a messaging app and a social media platform, has taken on an outsized role in the war in Ukraine. The app excels in allowing users to openly oppose Russia and Putin without censorship. But as our latest Company email points out, Telegram’s philosophical opposition to content moderation has made it a haven for extremists of all kinds. ✦ Try membership free for a week to get this kind of analysis, plus much more.

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Surprising discoveries

Pepsi and IHOP released a limited-edition maple syrup cola. It’s the latest in collabs for the soda maker, including one with Peeps and another with Cracker Jack, which no one asked for.

The creator of the GIF has died. Stephen Wilhite wanted a way to distribute high-resolution color graphics at a time of glacial internet speeds.

Rolex watches are now even more scarce. With entertainment and travel hit by the pandemic, people turned to owning nice things instead.

Font Fashion Week is a thing. Starting April 4, the online event will showcase 14 new releases from the most well-respected type foundries.

The first movie sequel was 1916’s Fall of a Nation. It came a year after Birth of a Nation, which, if you listened to the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast, you’d know is way too short of a gap.

🎬 Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher

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