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Client Update - 26th May 2023

Ukraine continues to polarise the western world against Russia and the recent battle for Bakhmut, a four hundred year old city with a population of 70,000 prior to the start of the war that has been devastated by the Wagner Mercenary group leading the attack.

According to the Guardian, Kyiv has suggested Russia has lost more soldiers, in the region of 100,000, in the battle to take Bakhmut, than the entire population of the city before the conflict began. Whether this figure is correct, some suggest this includes the wounded as well, this equates to half the current UK armed forces service personnel lost in the alleged taking of a city that is now a ruined shell of its former self.

Something radical is needed to resolve this war, although we can be pretty sure that Donald Trump’s claim that he could bring peace within 24 hours of his re-election as the US President should be taken with a pinch of salt. As the US Presidential elections for 2024 start to build momentum with candidates announcing their candidacy over the coming weeks, the Democratic positioning against the war in the Ukraine has started to soften as the view develops that a Russian victory of any sort and any land seized, strengthens Chinas position over Taiwan. If there is one matter that unites Republicans and Democrats, it is their fear of a strong China. Florida governor Ron DeSantis has stepped back from his march posturing that defending Ukraine was not in Americas best interest as he announced his entrance as a Presidential candidate this week.

China is gradually trying to build its reputation as a global peace broker, partly because the US has taken its eye off the ball in recent years, certainly with the arrival of Donald Trump as President. Quite rightly Ukraine is occupying the news, but Taiwan may well ultimately be next. China was very unhappy with arrival of Nancy Pelosi in the region. As she was serving as the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, this was not taken well in Beijing and rapid military exercises were arranged in the area by China, which was seen as a show of defiant strength. Just when you thought Liz Truss couldn’t descend any deeper into the mire, her visit to Taiwan last week barely created a ripple. The response from Beijing has been dismissive. In an interview with the BBC, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spokesperson Victor Gao scorned the idea that Truss could provoke a show of Chinese strength like the one seen after then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit. “I think she is not impactful or consequential at all by any stretch of the imagination,” was his scathing assessment. Oh dear.

Politics continues to dominate global news, and the variety of characters on offer provide interesting viewing. Perhaps it is ultimately good after Trussenomics, that Rishi Sunak has brought stability and self-assured leadership back to UK politics. Trump brings his own brand of wild west politics back to the US, as an unpredictable, policy on the edge of your seat, lover of adoring crowds, versus old Joe Biden, a people person, who brings discipline and a rigorous chain of command back to US politics.

Back to the ongoing inflationary issues, and I must comment on the UK’s headline inflation figure falling from 10.1% to 8.7%. This is a big fall, but ultimately inflation remains above Bank of England expectations and further interest rate rises remain a distinct possibility.

The saying goes “May you live in interesting times” and that certainly seems to be the case today.

I am afraid that there will be no update next week, so I look forward to writing to you again on the 9th June. Until then, do look after yourselves.

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