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Russia is preparing for a new offensive.

Russia opposes Finland and Sweden’s NATO moves and appears to be preparing to redouble efforts in Ukraine.

A tank heads down a street with fire burning in the background.
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  • Morgan Haefner
By Morgan Haefner

Deputy email editor

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Here’s what you need to know

Russia isn’t happy with Finland and Sweden’s moves to join NATO. A Kremlin spokesperson warned that expanding NATO “​​​​will not bring additional security to the European continent.” The warning comes as Russia prepares for a new offensive in eastern Ukraine.

Société Générale is getting out of Russia…by selling to a Russian oligarch. The French bank is the latest Western financial institution facing pressure to sever ties with Russia.

Joe Biden and Narendra Modi got together. The US president wanted to lessen India’s dependence on Russian oil to put more economic pressure on Russia.

China agreed to rules against forced labor. The nation ratified two 20th century International Labor Organization conventions that had held up talks with the EU about investment deals.

Emmanuel Macron has his sights set on Marine Le Pen in the French runoff election. The incumbent president is stepping up campaigning efforts in poorer parts of the country where Le Pen is popular, and emphasizing cost of living increases.

Oil prices fell below $100 for the first time since March. Lockdowns in Shanghai have led to concerns that demand from China, the world’s biggest oil importer, could dip.

What to watch for

The US’s March consumer price index comes out today, and prices are expected to hit another 40-year high, jumping by 1.2% on the month, or 8.4% on the year. Minus food and energy, CPI is forecast to move up by 0.5%.

The report will likely show consumers moving away from buying stuff—like that sofa you spent your pandemic on—and back to investing in experiences. The buildup of global inventories, meanwhile, should push down the prices of durable goods such as new and used cars.

The US isn’t alone: Global inflation has now risen past 6%. Here’s a snapshot of the latest inflation data from around the globe. (Note: each country’s CPI is weighted differently, so these aren’t exact apples-to-apples comparisons.)

🇪🇺 Eurozone (March): 7.5%

🇨🇳 China (March): 1.5%

🇨🇦 Canada (Feb): 5.7%

🇮🇳 India (March): 6.07%

China’s other oil problem

“A bottle of oil should contain as much Chinese oil as possible.” —Chinese agriculture minister Tang Renjian in February

China has a vulnerability issue when it comes to oil—and not just because it relies on Russia and the Middle East for energy. It’s also heavily dependent on foreign countries for oil used in cooking. Across all edible oils, China relies on foreign sources for 31% of its consumption, and policymakers have made clear that the country must boost self-sufficiency in cooking oils as a matter of food security. To ramp up domestic production, officials will offer subsidies for land rotation and incentives to oil-producing counties.

Oil isn’t the only consumable making Beijing nervous—soybeans and grain have also been flagged as weak spots in China’s food security.

A line chart showing China's rising dependence on foreign sources for soybeans, from 0% in 1990 to about 90% in 2020.

Agricultural plastics and climate change

A satellite image of Turgreen, Turkey. Large areas are white because of the use of plastic in farming.
Image copyright: NASA Earth Observatory
The white areas are farms covered in plastic

The white you see on this satellite image of Turkish farmland is plastic, mostly used for greenhouses. While the short-term benefits of using plastic in agriculture are undeniable, those plastics leach toxins into the soil, lower microbial activity, and break down into microplastics, which make their way into the food chain.

Quartz reporter Clarisa Diaz rounded up satellite images that show how agricultural systems all over the globe are increasingly reliant on plastic. ✦ Support Quartz journalism by becoming a member today!

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Surprising discoveries

Neptune is getting colder. Scientists were surprised that temperatures fell during the planet’s southern hemisphere summer, which lasts for four decades.

Wanted in Wales: Snoopy sculpture smashers. A display that’s raising money for a rescue center lost four of its 115 beagles to vandals.

A proposed ancient-Roman-themed center is kicking up dust in the UK. ​The hotel-apartment-museum complex would house artifacts that supposedly lay under the York construction site.

Can a wooden knife be three times sharper than steel? Chefs and foodies alike are skeptical.

A warehouse containing 1,000 taxidermy animals was found in Spain. More than 400 of the animals are considered protected species and at least one has been declared extinct.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, Woodstock and Snoopy musings, and Roman apartment moodboards to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Mary Hui, Clarisa Diaz, Nate DiCamillo, Camille Squires, Susan Howson, and Morgan Haefner.

 

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