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5 things to know for March 7: Ukraine, Oil prices, Covid-19, Tornadoes, Trump

By Alexandra Meeks, CNN

American Express is the latest credit card company to end its operations in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Visa and Mastercard made similar announcements over the weekend — and analysts say there’s a high risk that Russia will face a financial crisis that will push its largest banks to the brink of collapse. Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Ukraine

A Russian military strike hit an evacuation route in a Kyiv suburb yesterday, killing eight people — including two children — as they tried to flee the invasion. “A family died… in front of my eyes,” said Irpin Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn. Irpin, a suburb northwest of Kyiv, has been the site of intense shelling by the Russia in recent days. The UN said yesterday that more than 360 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began, while acknowledging that the real figure is likely “considerably higher.” The UN also said more than 1.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine since February 24. Meanwhile in Russia, more than 4,600 people were detained during protests yesterday, according to an independent monitoring group. Negotiators say Ukraine and Russia are scheduled to hold a third round of talks today, following two previous rounds of talks that failed to yield any major resolutions. Follow CNN’s full coverage of Russia’s attack on Ukraine here.

2. Oil prices

Oil prices soared to their highest level in 13 years today, raising fears about a further spike in inflation that could damage the global economy. The surge is due to delays in the potential return of Iranian crude to global markets and as the US and European allies consider banning Russian oil imports, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN yesterday. If Russia’s oil exports are cut off, experts say it will put more strain on an already tight oil market, resulting in even higher gas prices across the US. The average price for a gallon of regular gas hit $4 yesterday, the highest level since 2008. There are now 18 states, plus Washington, DC, where the price of gas is $4 or greater. The highest prices are being seen in California, where the statewide average stands at $5.29 a gallon.

3. Coronavirus

Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are gearing up for a showdown over Covid-19 relief funding this week. House Democrats plan to introduce a massive spending bill as soon as tomorrow that includes roughly $10 billion to help bolster Ukraine, but also tacks on about $22.5 billion in coronavirus relief money that Republicans widely oppose. The move would put Republicans in a tough spot — essentially daring them to block a package that includes money for Ukraine — according to a Democratic source familiar with the matter. The pressure is on for both parties to secure a deal before Friday, when government funding expires. If a broad funding package doesn’t move quickly, lawmakers may be forced to pass another short-term stopgap funding measure to avoid a government shutdown.

4. Tornadoes

Seven people, including two children, were killed in a series of tornadoes that ripped through multiple counties near Des Moines, Iowa over the weekend, officials said. The oldest victim was 72-years-old and the youngest was 2. The National Weather Service declared it a severe event, after wind speeds reached at least 136 miles per hour. The tornadoes destroyed several homes, buildings, power lines and vegetation. A tornado watch is in effect today for parts of Arkansas, southeast Oklahoma and southern Missouri, according to CNN’s Storm Prediction Center.

5. Trump

Two top prosecutors leading the criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump and his business resigned last month after the Manhattan district attorney said he was not prepared to move forward with an indictment against Trump, a person familiar with the investigation said. Prosecutors have been investigating whether Trump and the Trump Organization misled lenders, insurers, and others by providing them false or misleading financial statements about the value of properties. Some prosecutors, including the two that resigned, believed there was sufficient evidence to charge Trump, while others, including some career prosecutors, were skeptical that they could win a conviction at trial — in part because of the difficulty in proving criminal intent, people familiar with the investigation said.


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