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Friday, August 12, 2022

The best news of all

I’ve been very affected by the all the video footage of Ukrainian suffering these past few weeks. I have also felt that it would be difficult for stocks to get back to new highs in the absence of a ceasefire. Not only because of the surging commodity prices driven by the war itself, but because of the sentiment surrounding an event like this – thousands of civilians hurt or killed, escalating rhetoric threatening trade and stability, etc.

So today’s talk of a softening of the Russian position is extremely encouraging, even though we know not to trust everything we hear.

Barron’s relays the good news as we currently understand it:

Russia will “radically” reduce its military activity in northern Ukraine, including near the capital Kyiv, after “meaningful” talks in Istanbul, Moscow’s negotiators said Tuesday.

“Given that the talks on the preparation of an agreement on the neutrality and non-nuclear status of Ukraine have moved into a practical field… a decision has been made to radically… reduce the military activity in the areas of Kyiv and Chernigiv,” said Russia’s deputy defence minister Alexander Fomin.

Chief negotiator Vladimir Medinsky said there had been a “meaningful discussion” at the talks and that Ukrainian proposals would be put to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He also said that Putin could meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

I’m hopeful that a deal can be struck, even if its conditions are less than ideal for NATO or the Ukrainian citizens living in the eastern part of the country. A cessation in the bombing and the safe passage of people trapped in besieged cities is long overdue. This whole episode has been absolutely barbaric, among the worst global events I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Stocks are continuing higher on these new developments, as they should be. We’re not out of the woods on all fronts, but this was certainly one of the worst headwinds being faced by investors so far in 2022. Today’s news is the best news we could have asked for, on multiple levels.

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