price of palladium, used in automotive exhaust systems and mobile phones, has been soaring amid fears that Russia, the world’s largest exporter of the metal, could be cut off from global markets. The price of nickel, another key Russian export, has also been rising.

Mr. Rasmussen and other executives added that identifying suitable areas for wind turbines and obtaining permits required for construction take “far too long.” Challenges are based on worries that the vast arrays of turbines will interfere with fishing, obstruct naval exercises and blight views from summer houses.

To Kadri Simson, Europe’s commissioner for energy, renewable energy projects should be treated as an “overriding public interest,” and Europe should consider changing laws to facilitate them.

“We cannot talk about a renewables revolution if getting a permit for a wind farm takes seven years,” Ms. Simson said.

Still, environmental regulations and other rules relating to large infrastructure installations are usually the province of countries rather than European Union officials in Brussels.

And steadfast opposition from communities and industries invested in fossil fuels make it hard for political leaders to fast-track energy transition policies.

In Upper Silesia, Poland’s coal basin, bright yellow buses display signs that boast they run on 100 percent electric, courtesy of a grant from the European Union. But along the road, large billboards mounted before the invasion of Ukraine by state-owned utilities — erroneously — blame Brussels for 60 percent of the rise in energy prices.

Down in the Wujek coal mine, veterans worry if their jobs will last long enough for them to log the 25 years needed to retire with a lifelong pension. Closing mines not only threatens to devastate the economy, several miners said, but also a way of life built on generations of coal mining.

“Pushing through the climate policy forcefully may lead to a drastic decrease in the standard of living here,” said Mr. Kolorz at Solidarity’s headquarters in Katowice. “And when people do not have something to put on the plate, they can turn to extreme populism.”

Climate pressures are pushing at least some governments to consider steps they might not have before.

German officials have determined that it is too costly to keep the country’s last three remaining nuclear power generators online past the end of the year. But the quest for energy with lower emissions is leading to a revival of nuclear energy elsewhere.

Britain and France say they plan to invest in smaller nuclear reactors that can be produced in larger numbers to bring down costs.

Britain might even build a series of small nuclear fusion reactors, a promising but still unproven technology. Ian Chapman, chief executive of the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority, said every route to clean energy must be tried if there is to be any hope of reaching net zero emissions in three decades, the deadline for avoiding catastrophic climate change. “We’ve got to do everything we possibly can,” he said.

In the short term, much of what the European Union is proposing involves switching the source of fossil fuels, and, in particular, natural gas, from Russia to other suppliers like the United States, Qatar and Azerbaijan, and filling up storage facilities as a buffer. The risk is that Europe’s actions will further raise prices, which are already about five times higher than a year ago, in a market where supplies are short in part because companies are wary of investing in a fuel that the world ultimately wants to phase out.

Over the longer term, Europe and Britain seem likely to accelerate their world-leading rollout in renewable energy and other efforts to cut emissions despite the enormous costs and intense disruptions.

“The E.U. will almost certainly throw hundreds of billions of euros at this,” said Henning Gloystein, a director for energy and climate at Eurasia Group, a political risk firm. “Once the trains have left the station, they can’t be reversed.”

Melissa Eddy contributed reporting.

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Ukraine Live Updates: Some Survivors Pulled From Damaged Theater Where Civilians Sheltered

It was a victory that came at the cost of a city.

After weeks of laying siege to Volnovakha in eastern Ukraine, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, the Russian defense ministry’s spokesman, claimed on March 11 that it had been “liberated.”

But after a relentless bombardment of the city, Russia was asserting control over a wasteland of rubble and ash.

When Russia launched its war in Ukraine last month, the Kremlin repeatedly said it was acting to prevent a “genocide” in the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.

As the war entered its fourth week on Thursday, Russian forces had their most complete control in territory around this area, known as the Donbas. They are also leaving a trail of death and destruction, the scope of which is only vaguely known to outside observers, as the fighting rages on. But witness testimony, photographs, video evidence, statements from local officials and satellite imagery all paint a consistent picture of destruction on a vast scale.

The city of Izyum — which is nearly 200 miles north of Mariupol, the besieged city on the Sea of Azov — has also been surrounded by Russian forces for two weeks, and officials there say that tens of thousands of people are facing a situation as dire as the one in Mariupol.

“No water, no light, no heat, no food, no medicine, no communication. The situation is no better than Mariupol,” Izyum’s deputy mayor, Volodymyr Matsokin, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday. “There is no one to bury the dead. Medical care is not provided.”

Before the war, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk were cities with populations of more than 100,000. Witnesses say both are in ruins. Russian shelling overnight targeting the city of Rubizhne, population 50,000, turned whole streets into caldrons of flames, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration, Sergiy Haidai, wrote on Telegram.

“At least 27 houses were set on fire,” he wrote.

Before it fell, Volnovakha issued the same kind of urgent pleas for help and humanitarian assistance now echoing out across the east.

About 40 miles north of Mariupol, Volnovakha was considered a key strategic target for Russian forces as they pressed to move on Mariupol, secure the region and establish a land bridge from Crimea to Russia.

Ukrainian officials estimate that 90 percent of the buildings have been destroyed and are uninhabitable. There is no official estimate of those killed.

“In general, Volnovakha with its infrastructure as such no longer exists,” Pavlo Kyrylenko, the governor of the Donetsk region, told the Ukrainian television channel Direct.

Credit…Maxar Technologies

Dmytro, 29, described a scene of chaos and desperation when he fled with three older relatives on March 4. People rushed to the main town square, hoping to escape, when more Russian shells exploded nearby.

“All these people had to hide in buildings,” he said. “But since these buildings were all destroyed, they just hid behind the burned walls. Wherever they could.”

“Around the square there are boutique shopping buildings, stores. Everything was burned black,” he said. The train station was also burning. He said that in the main square he saw a body, which he only realized was dead after approaching.

“Thank God it didn’t last long,” he said. “Someone came to pick us up. Regular civilians came in cars to help to get people out, too. Whoever had a place in the car were picking others up. Thank God we were able to get out of there.”

Pavlo Yeshtokin, 30, also escaped. But his father, who had worked at a supermarket called the Generous Basket, remained in the city longer. Just six days into the war, he told his son that almost everything was destroyed.

All of the newer buildings and the main city market were burned down, he said. Old houses are more durable, he said, and were standing even if they were missing a wall.

Mr. Yeshtokin, a journalist, said that when he fled, he did not take much, thinking he would be able to return. He said that there were no Ukrainian authorities left in the city, and that no humanitarian aid could be brought in from the Ukrainian government.

The day after the Russians took control, the Defense Ministry in Moscow issued a statement saying that “appropriate humanitarian measures are being carried out with the population, and none of the residents are going to leave their homes.”

The claim could not be independently verified.

Mr. Yeshtoken said he had seen videos on the Russian news media showing its soldiers giving out assistance, but he thinks they were a distorted version of reality. “Nobody looks normal, lively — they are red-faced, seemingly shellshocked, scared, moving slowly, sitting on the ground,” he said.

There has been no effort to rebuild anything, he said. “People keep living in the basements and just go around from house to house,” he said.

His grandmother is among those left to survive in the ruins.

“My father went to his 92-year-old mother,” Pavlo said. “She did not understand what was happening. He wrapped her in blankets, talked to her and left.”

“The next day he was evacuated, but his grandmother stayed there. We don’t know what’s happened to her,” he said.

Attempts to reach her have failed, he said. His father has not been allowed to return to look for her, and even relatives on the Russian side of the border cannot access the city. They have been told that people can come to Russia, but no one is allowed to travel from Russia to the ruins of Volnovakha.

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Black Construction Receives National Excellence in Construction Awards

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Tutor Perini Corporation (NYSE: TPC), a leading civil, building and specialty construction company, announced today that its Guam subsidiary, Black Construction Corporation (“Black”), has been recognized as a 2022 Top 200 Performer by the Associated Builders and Contractors (“ABC”). For over 60 years, Black has been a founding member of the Guam Contractors Association (“GCA”), an affiliate of ABC. The awards recognize the achievements of member contractors throughout the United States and its territories in safety, quality, inclusion, diversity and equity, and project excellence. Among the firms included in the Top 200 Performers, Black was ranked #1 in the category of Top Military Contractors, #4 in Infrastructure Contractors, #6 in Government Contractors, and #10 in Airport Contractors. In addition, Black was ranked #16 among ABC’s Top 125 General Contractors.

Black has also been recognized as an Accredited Quality Contractor and has received a National Safety Excellence Merit Award, as well as a National Excellence in Construction Eagle Award. The Eagle Award recognizes the top projects throughout the United States.

“We are honored to be recognized by ABC for the dedicated work we perform each day in support of our customers. Black has a long and proud history of partnering closely with customers to deliver quality and excellence in our construction services,” said Leonard Kaae, Black’s Senior Vice President and General Manager.

For more information, please visit ABC Top Performers.

About Tutor Perini Corporation

Tutor Perini Corporation is a leading civil, building and specialty construction company offering diversified general contracting and design-build services to private clients and public agencies throughout the world. We have provided construction services since 1894 and have established a strong reputation within our markets by executing large, complex projects on time and within budget while adhering to strict quality control measures.

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Volunteer Hackers Converge on Ukraine Conflict With No One in Charge

Ukraine has been more deliberate about recruiting a volunteer hacking force. In Telegram channels, participants cheer their collaboration with the government in going after targets such as Sberbank, the Russian state-owned bank. From Russia, where links between the government and hacking groups have long raised alarms among Western officials, there has not been the same kind of overt calls to action.

“We are creating an I.T. army,” Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted on Saturday, directing cybersecurity enthusiasts to a Telegram channel that contained instructions for knocking Russian websites offline. “There will be tasks for everyone.” By Friday, the Telegram channel had more than 285,000 subscribers.

Inside the main English-language Telegram page for the I.T. Army of Ukraine is a 14-page introductory document providing details about how people can participate, including what software to download to mask their whereabouts and identity. Everyday, new targets are listed, including websites, telecommunications firms, banks and A.T.M. processors.

Yegor Aushev, the co-founder of the Ukrainian cybersecurity company Cyber Unit Technologies, said he was flooded with notes after posting on social media a call for programmers to get involved. His company offered a $100,000 reward for those who identify flaws in the code of Russian cyber targets.

Mr. Aushev said there were more than 1,000 people involved in his effort, working in close collaboration with the government. People were only allowed to join if somebody vouched for them. Organized into small groups, they were aiming to hit high-impact targets like infrastructure and logistics systems important to the Russian military.

“It’s become an independent machine, a distributed international digital army,” Mr. Aushev said. “The biggest hacks against Russia will be soon,” he added, without elaborating.

A government spokesman confirmed the work with Mr. Aushev.

Figuring out who is behind a cyberattack is always difficult. Groups falsely take credit or boast of a bigger impact than actually occurred. But this week there was a string of attacks against Russian targets. The country’s largest stock exchange, a state-controlled bank and the Russian Foreign Ministry were taken offline for a time after being targeted by Ukraine’s volunteer hackers.

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SLI Joins Nonprofit Housing Organization Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) in Celebrating Groundbreaking of Permanent Supportive Housing Project

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sustainable Living Innovations (SLI) joined Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) today in announcing the groundbreaking of DESC Green Lake, a five-story, 124-unit apartment building at 8610 Aurora Avenue North in Seattle.

DESC released a “virtual groundbreaking” video that is viewable by clicking here.

SLI is serving as the design-build partner to DESC, a national leader in implementing innovative and cost-effective strategies that end homelessness. DESC and SLI won a competitive bidding process from the Seattle Office of Housing for the DESC Green Lake project.

DESC Green Lake is SLI’s first building constructed using the company’s low-rise technology, which eliminates the need for external structural steel for the support of the structure, and instead uses the strength of its premanufactured load-bearing panels to support the building.

When complete, the building will feature 24/7 supportive services and indoor/outdoor community spaces for the tenants, all single adults who are disabled and who have experienced long-term homelessness. DESC will continue to own and operate the building after completion.

SLI’s low-rise technology enables projects like DESC Green Lake to go up faster than conventionally built buildings and to operate with more energy efficiency as well. The building will include many aspects of SLI’s technology-enabled systems including roof top solar, greywater plumbing, waste heat recovery, ultra-efficient air conditioning and other “smart home” features. SLI is using similar technologies in its current construction of 303 Battery in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood.

“We are honored to partner with DESC on this project and appreciate the faith both DESC and the Seattle Office of Housing have put in our innovative building system. Homelessness in Seattle is a crisis and Daniel Malone, Sondra Nielsen and their team at DESC is at the forefront of solving the problem, in partnership with the team at Seattle Office of Housing,” said Arlan Collins, CEO of SLI. “Using our building technology to serve some of our most vulnerable community members allows SLI the opportunity to help make our great city a better place. The faster we can build this type of housing, the quicker we can help to provide a pathway out of homelessness.”

Absher Construction and SLI have formed a joint venture to handle the general contracting responsibilities.

“This innovative building from SLI will become DESC’s 17th supportive housing project providing comprehensive wrap-around services to help our tenants stabilize and begin to live fuller lives,” said DESC Executive Director Daniel Malone. “DESC is proud to have continued working throughout the chaos of the pandemic to build more supportive housing and help calm the chaos in the lives of those who are experiencing homelessness.”

“DESC is excited about partnering with SLI on this inventive new building type that will work to serve our goals of ending homelessness while providing high-quality energy-efficient housing,” said DESC Director of Facilities and Asset Management Sondra Nielsen. “We continue to pioneer Housing First and what that means, especially from a building technologies standpoint.”

About Sustainable Living Innovations

Sustainable Living Innovations (SLI) is a building technology and product development company that is disrupting the world’s largest addressable market by reimagining how buildings are designed, built, and operated. The company is revolutionizing the built environment by producing technology-enabled finished buildings that exceed the world’s most stringent sustainability standards and also help solve the affordable housing crisis. SLI designs, develops, and manufactures complete technology-enabled buildings using proprietary, high-performance building panels complete with integrated mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire safety and network systems infrastructure. SLI’s finished buildings are more sustainable, as well as faster to design and complete versus conventional buildings. The company employs more than 80 people with offices in Seattle and Denver and operates a showroom in Seattle and a manufacturing facility in Tacoma, Washington.

303 Battery

In addition to DESC Green Lake, SLI is currently building the world’s most sustainable high-rise apartment building. 303 Battery, located in downtown Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, will be the world’s first multifamily tower to meet the stringent net zero energy requirements set by the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge program, the same organization that certified Seattle’s Bullitt Center. Features include solar on the building’s roof, exterior walls and balconies in each unit, greywater and waste heat recovery systems, ultra-efficient hydronic heating and cooling systems, regenerative elevator motors, distributed DC power systems, and SLI’s advanced network systems and data management platform to ensure optimal building operations.

303 Battery will be complete this fall and has been pre-sold to Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR). Equity Residential is an S&P 500 company focused on the acquisition, development and management of rental apartment properties located in urban and high-density suburban markets.

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Intercontinental Exchange Announces Strategic Investment in tZERO Group, Inc.

NEW YORK & ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE), a leading operator of global exchanges and clearing houses and provider of mortgage technology, data and listings services, announced today that it is making a strategic investment in tZERO, a leader in blockchain innovation and liquidity for digital assets. In connection with ICE’s investment in tZERO, David Goone, a longtime member of ICE’s management team and currently ICE’s Chief Strategy Officer, will join tZERO as its next Chief Executive Officer and will serve on tZERO’s Board of Directors.

Goone, who joined ICE in 2001, will continue to serve ICE and its Chairman and CEO, Jeff Sprecher, in a consulting capacity.

“David Goone was present at many of ICE’s milestone moments and deals over two decades, a key player on our management team as we built our world-class trading, clearing and data infrastructure and product line, and has been a steward of our problem-solving culture,” said Jeff Sprecher, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange. “David’s leadership and his mastery of trading, data, and clearing technology will be a big asset as tZERO begins its next chapter leading the growth and adoption of next-generation market infrastructure.”

During his tenure at ICE, Goone developed and managed many of the company’s product lines and oversaw ICE Benchmark Administration, which has administered LIBOR and the global gold and silver fixings. He has served on many of ICE’s subsidiary exchange boards and represents ICE on several industry boards, including the Depository Trust Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Options Clearing Corporation (OCC), and the National Futures Association (NFA). Goone also served as Vice Chairman of CETIP S.A. until its merger with B3 exchange in Brazil.

tZERO, through a wholly owned subsidiary, operates an SEC-regulated alternative trading system (ATS) and broker-dealer in the digital asset space, and is a technology firm with the goal of democratizing access to capital markets. tZERO brings together issuers and financial firms seeking a transparent, automated, digitally enabled marketplace and investors seeking access to unique private assets, public equities, cryptocurrencies, and other digital assets, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Terms of ICE’s investment in tZERO, which will make ICE a significant minority shareholder in tZERO, are not being disclosed, and the financial impact of the transaction will not be material to ICE or impact ICE’s capital return plans. Other participants in tZERO’s fundraising round include Overstock.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: OSTK), an original investor in tZERO, and Medici Ventures, L.P., a blockchain-focused fund whose general partner is an entity affiliated with Pelion Venture Partners, among others.

About Intercontinental Exchange

Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE: ICE) is a Fortune 500 company that designs, builds and operates digital networks to connect people to opportunity. We provide financial technology and data services across major asset classes that offer our customers access to mission-critical workflow tools that increase transparency and operational efficiencies. We operate exchanges, including the New York Stock Exchange, and clearing houses that help people invest, raise capital and manage risk across multiple asset classes. Our comprehensive fixed income data services and execution capabilities provide information, analytics and platforms that help our customers capitalize on opportunities and operate more efficiently. At ICE Mortgage Technology, we are transforming and digitizing the U.S. residential mortgage process, from consumer engagement through loan registration. Together, we transform, streamline and automate industries to connect our customers to opportunity.

Trademarks of ICE and/or its affiliates include Intercontinental Exchange, ICE, ICE block design, NYSE and New York Stock Exchange. Information regarding additional trademarks and intellectual property rights of Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. and/or its affiliates is located here. Key Information Documents for certain products covered by the EU Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products Regulation can be accessed on the relevant exchange website under the heading “Key Information Documents (KIDS).”

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 — Statements in this press release regarding ICE’s business that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” that involve risks and uncertainties. For a discussion of additional risks and uncertainties, which could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see ICE’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, including, but not limited to, the risk factors in ICE’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, as filed with the SEC on February 3, 2022.

Source: Intercontinental Exchange

ICE-CORP

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How Europeans Are Responding to Exorbitant Gas and Power Bills

A German retiree facing sky-high energy bills is turning to a wood-burning stove. The owner of a dry cleaning business in Spain adjusted her employees’ work shifts to cut electric bills and installed solar panels. A mayor in France said he ordered a hiring freeze because rising electrical bills threaten a financial “catastrophe.”

Europeans have long paid some of the world’s highest prices for energy, but no one can remember a winter like this one. Lives and livelihoods across the continent are being upended by a series of factors, including pandemic-induced supply shortages and now geopolitical tensions that are driving some energy prices up fivefold.

Matters could get worse if tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalate further, potentially interrupting the flow of gas. Russia provides more than a third of Europe’s natural gas, which heats homes, generates electricity and powers factories. Even as politicians and leaders in capitals across Europe are freezing prices, slashing taxes on energy and issuing checks to households hardest hit by the price increases, concerns are growing about what the persistently high prices could mean for people’s jobs and their ability to pay their bills.

“People are very upset and very distressed,” said Stefanie Siegert, who counsels consumers in the eastern German state of Saxony who find themselves struggling to pay their gas and power bills.

rocked France in 2018. But Ms. Siegert, whose agency counseled more than 300 customers in January — three times its monthly average — said she wouldn’t be surprised if the anger currently directed at the prospect of a vaccine mandate shifted its sights to energy prices.

“When you talk with people, you feel their anger,” she said. “It is very depressing.”

price cap on energy bills was recently raised 54 percent, increasing annual charges to 1,971 pounds. That increase will affect 22 million households beginning in April, contributing to broadening worries in Britain about the rising cost of living.

Similar concerns can be found throughout the continent.

Athina Sirogianni, 46, a freelance translator in Athens, said she remembered fondly the day about a decade ago when her building switched from oil to natural gas. The move cut her utility bill in half.

Nyrstar, the world’s second-largest zinc processor, produces nearly 500 tons of the metal each day at a sprawling factory in Auby, in northern France, a complex that consumes as much energy as the French city of Lyon.

When its electrical rates surged from €35 to €50 per megawatt-hour to €400 last December, it made no sense to keep the factory running, said Xavier Constant, Nyrstar France’s general manager. At that rate, he said, “the more we produce the more we lose,” and so the plant shut down last month for three weeks.

Nyrstar temporarily halved production at its other European plants in October when the energy crisis set in, prompting a brief spike in the global price of zinc.

Last fall, fertilizer plants in Britain were forced to close because of gas prices. And several German companies that produce glass, steel and fertilizer have also scaled back production in recent months.

To ease the burden of the high prices, the government in Berlin reduced by half an energy surcharge on bills aimed at funding the country’s transition to renewable sources of power, and plans to phase it out by the end of next year.

on Twitter. He said the facility’s electricity prices had increased 100 percent.

He and other hospital directors have appealed to the government in Warsaw to intervene, saying the recent cuts to taxes on energy and gasoline were not enough.

In Germany, there is rising tension in municipally owned utilities that must accept customers, like Mr. Backhaus in Saxony, whose relatively low-cost contracts have been dropped by private energy companies because the companies can’t pay ballooning energy rates.

The municipal utilities are forced to increase the rates for these new customers, often almost astronomically high, to cover the cost of buying extra energy on the spot market at record prices. That leads to tensions in communities, and can threaten municipal finances.

“Anyone who wants to will be supplied with energy by the municipal utilities,” said Markus Lewe, president of the German Association of Cities and Towns. “But it must not lead to the municipal utilities and their loyal customers being asked to pay for questionable business models of other providers and having to answer for their shortsighted financing.”

He called on the federal government to intervene, to protect cities from the price instability.

In France, local leaders are also looking to the federal government to help ease the sting of skyrocketing energy bills.

Boris Ravignon, the mayor of Charleville-Mézières, said his city is facing “a catastrophe” after its January energy bill more than tripled, wiping out the region’s budget surplus for infrastructure and public services in a single month. The city is trying to cut costs by switching streetlights to LED bulbs, which use less electricity, and has proposed a new hydroelectric project.

The mayor has already frozen planned hirings and said the city may have no choice but to raise the cost of public services like water, transportation, fees to use sports halls like the city’s public pool, and cultural events.

“We really want to protect citizens from these increases,” Mr. Ravignon said. “But when prices reach such crazy heights, it’s impossible.”

Reporting contributed by Adèle Cordonnier in France, Raphael Minder in Spain and Niki Kitsantonis in Greece.

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Granite Announces Timing of Earnings Release and Investor Conference Call

WATSONVILLE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Granite Construction Incorporated (NYSE: GVA) will release fourth quarter and annual 2021 financial results on Friday, February 25, 2022, before the market opens. The Company will host an investor conference call at 8:00 a.m. PT, Friday, February 25, 2022.

The Company invites investors to listen to a live audio webcast of the investor conference call on its Investor Relations website, investor.graniteconstruction.com. The investor conference call will also be available by calling 1-877-328-5503; international callers may dial 1-412-317-5472. An archive of the webcast will be available on Granite’s Investor Relations website approximately one hour after the call. A replay will be available after the live call through March 3, 2022, by calling 1-877-344-7529, replay access code 9446786; international callers may dial 1-412-317-0088.

About Granite

Granite is America’s Infrastructure Company™. Incorporated since 1922, Granite (NYSE:GVA) is one of the largest diversified construction and construction materials companies in the United States as well as a full-suite civil construction provider. Granite’s Code of Conduct and strong Core Values guide the Company and its employees to uphold the highest ethical standards. Granite is an industry leader in safety and an award-winning firm in quality and sustainability. For more information, visit the Granite website, and connect with Granite on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Ukraine Live Updates: U.S. and NATO See No Immediate Sign of a Russian Military Drawdown

michael barbaro

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily.

[music]

Today: Russia is making preparations for what many fear may be a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, prompting warnings from the U.S. of serious consequences if it does. I spoke to my colleague, Moscow bureau chief Anton Troianovski, about what Vladimir Putin wants from Ukraine and just how far he may go to get it.

It’s Wednesday, December 8.

Anton, describe the scene right now on the border between Ukraine and Russia. What does it look like? What exactly is happening there?

anton troianovski

Well, what you’re seeing on the Russian side of the border within 100 to 200 miles away is that thousands of Russian troops are on the move.

archived recording 1

A top military official says intelligence shows nearly 100,000 Russian troops —

archived recording 2

Russian troops have massed on the border of Ukraine.

archived recording 3

— troops on the border with Ukraine. And that’s prompted fears of an invasion early next year.

anton troianovski

We’re seeing a lot of social media footage of tanks and other military equipment on the move, on trains, in some cases, heading west toward the Ukraine border area from as far away as Siberia.

archived recording

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been building for some time in the wake of —

anton troianovski

These satellite images that we’re seeing show deployment areas around Ukraine that were empty as recently as June that are now full of military equipment-like tanks and armored personnel carriers.

archived recording

The U.S. called it unusual activity.

anton troianovski

And obviously, Russia moves its forces all the time. It does big military exercises, snap military exercises all the time, but what we’re being told is that these military movements are very unusual. Some of them are happening at night and, in other ways, seemingly designed to obfuscate where various units are going. And experts are saying we’re also seeing things like logistics and medical equipment being moved around, stuff that you really would see if there were real preparations being made for large-scale military action.

michael barbaro

So what’s happening in Russia is not just the movement of the troops that would perhaps carry out an invasion, but the kind of military personnel and equipment that would be required to deal with the repercussions of something like invading Ukraine?

anton troianovski

Yes. So American intelligence officials are seeing intelligence that shows Russia preparing for a military offensive involving an estimated 175,000 troops —

michael barbaro

Wow.

anton troianovski

— as soon as early next year.

michael barbaro

And Anton, is Ukraine preparing for what certainly looks, from what you just described, as a potential invasion?

anton troianovski

They’re in a really tough spot because no matter how much they prepare, their military would be utterly outgunned and outmatched. Ukraine doesn’t have the missile defense and air defense systems that could prevent a huge shock-and-awe campaign at the beginning of Russian military action.

They also don’t know, if and when an attack comes, which direction it might come from, because Russia could attack from any of three directions. So we’re not seeing a big mobilization in Ukraine right now, but our reporting on the ground there does show a grim and determined mood among the military. The soldiers on the border have made it clear that if it comes to it, they will be prepared to do what they can to make this as costly as possible for the other side.

michael barbaro

So I guess the question everyone has in this moment is why would Putin want to invade Ukraine right now and touch off what would no doubt be a major conflict, one in which, as you just said, Russia would have many advantages, but would nevertheless end up probably being a very deadly conflict?

anton troianovski

So obviously, we don’t yet know whether Putin has made the decision to invade. He’s clearly signaling he’s prepared to use military force. What we do know is that he has been extraordinarily fixated on the issue of Ukraine for years. But I think to really understand it, you have to look at three dates over the last 30 years that really show us why Ukraine matters so much to Putin.

michael barbaro

OK. So what’s the first date?

anton troianovski

The first one, 1991, almost exactly 30 years ago, the Soviet Union breaks up, and Ukraine becomes an independent country. For people of Putin’s generation, this was an incredibly shocking and even traumatic moment. Not only did they see and experience the collapse of an empire, of the country that they grew up in, that they worked in, that, in Putin’s case, the former K.G.B. officer that they served. But there was also a specific trauma of Ukraine breaking away. Ukraine, of all the former Soviet republics, was probably the one most valuable to Moscow.

It was a matter of history and identity with, in many ways, Russian statehood originating out of the medieval Kiev Rus civilization. There’s the matter of culture with so many Russian language writers like Gogol and Bulgakov coming from Ukraine. There was the matter of economics with Ukraine being an industrial and agricultural powerhouse during the Soviet Union, with many of the planes and missiles that the Soviets were most proud of coming from Ukraine.

michael barbaro

So there’s a sense that Ukraine is the cradle of Russian civilization, and to lose it is to lose a part of Russia itself.

anton troianovski

Yeah. And it’s a country of tens of millions of people that is also sandwiched between modern-day Russia and Western Europe. So the other issue is geopolitical, that Ukraine in that sort of Cold War security, East-versus-West mindset, Ukraine was a buffer between Moscow and the West. So 1991 was the year when that all fell apart.

And then by the time that Putin comes to power 10 years later, he’s already clearly thinking about how to reestablish Russian influence in that former Soviet space in Eastern Europe and in Ukraine in particular. We saw a lot of resources go in economically to try to bind Ukraine to Russia, whether it’s discounts on natural gas or other efforts by Russian companies, efforts to build ties to politicians and oligarchs in Ukraine. Really, a multipronged effort by Putin and the Kremlin to really gain as much influence as possible in that former Soviet space that they saw as being so key to Russia’s economic and security interests.

michael barbaro

Got it.

anton troianovski

And then fast forward to the second key date, 2014, which is the year it became clear that that strategy had failed.

archived recording

Now, to the growing unrest in Ukraine and the violent clashes between riot police and protesters.

michael barbaro

And why did that strategy fail in 2014?

anton troianovski

That was the year that Ukraine had its — what’s called its Maidan Revolution.

archived recording 1

The situation in Kiev has been very tense.

archived recording 2

Downtown Kiev has been turned into a charred battlefield following two straight nights of rioting.

anton troianovski

It’s a pro-Western revolution —

archived recording

They want nothing short of revolution, a new government and a new president.

anton troianovski

— that drove out a Russia-friendly president, that ushered in a pro-Western government, that made it its mission to reduce Ukraine’s ties with Russia and build its ties with the West.

archived recording

Ukrainians who want closer ties with the West are once again back in their thousands on Independence Square here in Kiev. They believe they —

michael barbaro

Hmm. And what was Putin’s response to that?

anton troianovski

Well, Putin didn’t even see it as a revolution. He saw it as a coup engineered by the C.I.A. and other Western intelligence agencies meant to drive Ukraine away from Russia. And —

archived recording

With stealth and mystery, Vladimir Putin made his move in Ukraine.

anton troianovski

— he used his military.

archived recording

At dawn, bands of armed men appeared at the two main airports in Crimea and seized control.

anton troianovski

He sent troops into Crimea, the Ukrainian Peninsula in the Black Sea that’s so dear to people across the former Soviet Union as kind of the warmest, most tropical place in a very cold part of the world.

archived recording

Tonight, Russian troops — hundreds, perhaps as many as 2,000, ferried in transport planes — have landed at the airports.

anton troianovski

He fomented a separatist war in Eastern Ukraine that by now has taken more than 10,000 lives and armed and backed pro-Russian separatists in that region. So that was the year 2014 when Russia’s earlier efforts to try to bind Ukraine to Moscow failed and when Russia started taking a much harder line.

michael barbaro

And this feels like a very pivotal moment because it shows Putin’s willingness to deploy the Russian military to strengthen the ties between Russia and Ukraine.

anton troianovski

Absolutely. Strengthened the ties or you can also say his efforts to enforce a Russian sphere of influence by military force. And it’s also the start of what we’ve been seeing ever since, which is Putin making it clear that he is willing to escalate, he is willing to raise the stakes and that he essentially cares more about the fate of Ukraine than the West does.

And that brings us to the third date I wanted to talk about, which is early this year, 2021, when we saw the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, really start taking a more aggressive anti-Russian and pro-Western tack. He cracked down on a pro-Russian oligarch and pro-Russian media. He continued with military exercises with American soldiers and with other Western forces.

He kept talking up the idea of Ukraine joining NATO. That’s the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Western military alliance. And in a sense, this is what Putin seems to fear the most, the idea of NATO becoming more entrenched in this region. So Putin made it clear that this was starting to cross what he describes as Russia’s red lines and that Russia was willing to take action to stop this.

michael barbaro

So to put this all together and understand why Putin is doing what he’s doing when it comes to Ukraine, we have as a backdrop here this fixation with Ukraine for historic, political, economic and cultural reasons. And what’s new and urgent here for Putin is his belief that Ukraine is on the verge of a major break with Russia and toward the West — in particular, a military alliance, NATO — and that he cannot tolerate. And so that brings us up to now and this very imminent and scary threat of a Russian invasion.

anton troianovski

That’s right, Michael. I spoke to a former advisor of Putin’s recently who described Ukraine as a trauma within a trauma for the Kremlin — so the trauma of the breakup of the Soviet Union plus the trauma of losing Ukraine specifically for all those reasons you mentioned. And the thing is it’s true.

Russia is losing Ukraine. I think objectively, though, you have to say it’s losing Ukraine in large part because of Putin’s policies, because of the aggressive actions he’s taken. And if you look at the polls before 2014, something like 12 percent of Ukrainians wanted to join NATO. Now, it’s more than half.

michael barbaro

Wow.

anton troianovski

So you put all that together, Ukraine is indeed drifting toward the West. It does seem like Putin feels like he’s running out of time to stop this and that he’s willing to escalate, he’s willing to raise the stakes, to keep Ukraine out of the West. And what we’re seeing right now on the border is all that playing out.

[music]
michael barbaro

We’ll be right back.

So Anton, the question right now is will President Putin actually carry out an invasion of Ukraine? And how should we be thinking about that?

anton troianovski

Well, it’s quite perilous, of course, to try to get inside Putin’s head, but here’s the case for invading now. Number one: NATO and the United States have made it clear that they are not going to come to Ukraine’s defense, because Ukraine is not a member of the NATO alliance, and NATO’s mutual defense pact only extends to full-fledged members. And of course, I think, politically, Putin believes that neither in the U.S., nor in Western Europe, is there the will to see soldiers from those countries die fighting for Ukraine.

michael barbaro

Right. And President Biden has just very publicly pulled the United States out of the war in Afghanistan and more or less communicated that unless American national security interests are at play, he will not be dispatching troops anywhere.

anton troianovski

Exactly. So Putin saw that, and he sees that potentially things could change. If the West does have more of a military presence in Ukraine in the future, let alone if Ukraine were to become a member of NATO at some point — it’s not going to happen in the next few years, but perhaps at some point — then attacking Ukraine becomes a much more costly proposition. So it’s a matter of war now could be less costly to Russia than war later.

michael barbaro

Right. The geopolitics of this moment may work in favor of him doing it in a way that it might not in a year or two or three.

anton troianovski

Absolutely. And then there’s a couple of other reasons. There’s the fact that if we look at everything Putin has said and written over the last year, he really seems convinced that the West is pulling Ukraine away from Russia against the will of much of the Ukrainian people. Polling doesn’t really bear that out, but Putin really seems to be convinced of that. And so it seems like he may also be thinking that Ukrainians would welcome Russian forces as liberators from some kind of Western occupation.

And then third, there’s the economy. The West has already threatened severe sanctions against Russia were it to go ahead with military action, but Russia has been essentially sanctions-proofing its economy since at least 2014, which is when it took control of Crimea and was hit by all these sanctions from the U.S. and from the E.U. So Russia’s economy is still tied to the West.

It imports a lot of stuff from the West. But in many key areas, whether it’s technology or energy extraction or agriculture, Russia is becoming more self-sufficient. And it is building ties to other parts of the world — like China, India, et cetera — that could allow it to diversify and have basically an economic base even if an invasion leads to a major crisis in its financial and economic relationship with the West.

michael barbaro

Right. So this is the argument that Putin can live with the costs of the world reacting very negatively to this invasion?

anton troianovski

Exactly.

michael barbaro

OK. And what are the reasons why an invasion of Ukraine might not happen? What would be the case against it, if you were Vladimir Putin?

anton troianovski

Well, I mean, I have to say, talking to analysts, especially here in Russia, people are very skeptical that Putin would go ahead with an invasion. They point out that he is a careful tactician and that he doesn’t like making moves that are irreversible or that could have unpredictable consequences.

So if we even look at the military action he’s taken recently, the annexation of Crimea, there wasn’t a single shot fired in that. That was a very quick special-forces-type operation. What we’re talking about here, an invasion of Ukraine, would be just a massive escalation from anything Putin has done so far. We are talking about the biggest land war in Europe since World War II, most likely. And it would have all kinds of unpredictable consequences.

There’s also the domestic situation to keep in mind. Putin does still have approval ratings above 60 percent, but things are a bit shaky here, especially with Covid. And some analysts say that Putin wouldn’t want to usher in the kind of domestic unpredictability that could start with a major war with young men coming back in body bags.

And then finally, looking at Putin’s strategy and everything that he’s said, for all we know, he doesn’t really want to annex Ukraine. He wants influence over Ukraine. And the way he thinks he can do that is through negotiations with the United States.

And that’s where the last key point here comes in, which is Putin’s real conviction that it’s the U.S. pulling the strings here and that he can accomplish his goals by getting President Biden to sit down with him and hammering out a deal about the structure of security in Eastern Europe.

So in that sense, this whole troop build-up might not be about an impending invasion at all. It might just be about coercive diplomacy, getting the U.S. to the table, and getting them to hammer out an agreement that would somehow pledge to keep Ukraine out of NATO and pledge to keep Western military infrastructure out of Ukraine and parts of the Black Sea.

michael barbaro

Well in that sense, Anton, Putin may be getting what he wants, right? Because as we speak, President Putin and President Biden have just wrapped up a very closely watched phone call about all of this. So is it possible that that call produces a breakthrough and perhaps a breakthrough that goes Putin’s way?

anton troianovski

Well, that’s very hard to imagine. And that’s really what makes this situation so volatile and so dangerous, which is that what Putin wants, the West and President Biden can’t really give.

michael barbaro

Why not?

anton troianovski

Well, for instance, pledging to keep Ukraine out of NATO would violate the Western concept that every country should have the right to decide for itself what its alliances are. President Biden obviously has spent years, going back to when he was vice president, really speaking in favor of Ukrainian sovereignty and self-determination and trying to help Ukraine take a more Western path. So Biden suddenly turning on all of that and giving Putin what he wants here is hard to imagine.

michael barbaro

Right, because that would create a very slippery slope when it comes to any country that Russia wants to have influence over. It would then know that the right playbook would be to mass troops on the border and wait for negotiation with the U.S. and hope that the U.S. would basically sell those countries out. That’s probably not something you’re saying that President Biden would willingly do.

anton troianovski

Right. And then, of course, the other question is, well, if Russia doesn’t get what it wants, if Putin doesn’t get what he wants, then what does he do?

michael barbaro

So Anton, it’s tempting to think that this could all be what you just described as a coercive diplomatic bluff by Putin to extract what he wants from President Biden and from the West. But it feels like history has taught us that Putin is willing to invade Ukraine. He did it in 2014.

History has also taught us that he’s obsessed with Ukraine, dating back to 1991 and the end of the Soviet Union. And it feels like one of the ultimate lessons of history is that we have to judge leaders based on their actions. And his actions right now are putting 175,000 troops near the border with Ukraine. And so shouldn’t we conclude that it very much looks like Putin might carry out this invasion?

anton troianovski

Yes, that’s right. And of course, there are steps that Putin could take that would be short of a full-fledged invasion that could still be really destabilizing and damaging. Here in Moscow, I’ve heard analysts speculate about maybe pinpoint airstrikes against the Ukrainian targets, or a limited invasion perhaps just specifically in that area where Russian-backed separatists are fighting.

But even such steps could have really grave consequences. And that’s why if you combine what we’re seeing on the ground in Russia, near the border, and what we’ve been hearing from President Putin and other officials here in Moscow, that all tells us that the stakes here are really high.

michael barbaro

Well, Anton, thank you very much. We appreciate your time.

anton troianovski

Thanks for having me.

michael barbaro

On Tuesday afternoon, both the White House and the Kremlin released details about the call between Putin and Biden. The White House said that Biden warned Putin of severe economic sanctions if Russia invaded Ukraine. The Kremlin said that Putin repeated his demands that Ukraine not be allowed to join NATO and that Western weapons systems not be placed inside Ukraine. But Putin made no promises to remove Russian forces from the border.

[music]

We’ll be right back.

Here’s what else you need to know today. On Tuesday night, top Democrats and Republicans said they had reached a deal to raise the country’s debt ceiling and avert the U.S. defaulting on its debt for the first time. The deal relies on a complicated one-time legislative maneuver that allows Democrats in the Senate to raise the debt ceiling without support from Republicans, since Republicans oppose raising the debt ceiling under President Biden. Without congressional action, the Treasury Department says it can no longer pay its bills after December 15.

Today’s episode was produced by Eric Krupke, Rachelle Bonja and Luke Vander Ploeg. It was edited by Michael Benoist, contains original music by Dan Powell and Marion Lozano, and was engineered by Chris Wood. Our theme music is by Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk of Wonderly.

That’s it for The Daily. I’m Michael Barbaro. See you tomorrow.

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