Published:

Western leaders in final push to stop Russia invading Ukraine…

“International leaders will make a last-ditch effort to prevent war in Ukraine this week amid warnings that a Russian invasion could come “any day now”. Boris Johnson is expected to travel to Europe and Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, is in Kyiv today to see President Zelensky of Ukraine, and Moscow tomorrow to meet President Putin. President Biden’s senior security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said yesterday that “major military action” by Russia could begin in Ukraine very soon. The Pentagon said that a call between Biden and Putin for slightly more than an hour on Saturday “did not give any cause for optimism”. John Kirby, the US Defence Department spokesman, told Fox News that the call was “certainly not a sign that Putin has any intention to de-escalate the tensions. And it’s certainly not a sign that he is recommitting himself to a diplomatic path forward.”” – The Times

… as Johnson urges Putin to ‘step back from the brink’

“Boris Johnson has urged Vladimir Putin to “step back from the brink” as he insisted there was still a “window of opportunity” to avoid war in Ukraine. The Prime Minister will speak to world leaders from Monday and travel to countries in Europe later this week, as he seeks to unite Western allies against the threat of Russian invasion. On Sunday, Downing Street said the UK believes Moscow could invade Ukraine “at any moment”, as commercial airlines began cancelling flights and neighbouring Poland warned of an impending refugee crisis. It comes as Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK said the country could consider dropping its ambition to join Nato to avoid war.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Stoical Ukrainians worn down by constant rattle of Western anxiety – The Times
  • Poland braces for massive influx of refugees – Daily Telegraph
  • Russia accuses US of violating its waters as Ukraine feels squeeze – The Times
  • Putin leaves the West guessing as Ukraine crisis intensifies – FT
  • Wallace cancels holiday to meet Nato allies over threat to Ukraine – The Times
  • ‘It is past time to leave Ukraine’: Western diplomats flee Kyiv  – The Guardian
  • Tory MPs want end of poisonous Russian cash laundromat’ – The Times
  • Scholz to warn Putin of Western resolve on Ukraine – FT

>Today:

Tim Stanley: The self-hating West is losing the will to survive

“The only person who threatens war in Ukraine is Vladimir Putin, by putting more than 100,000 troops on the border – and if you think they are there for the scenery, I would remind you that Moscow has already meddled in Crimea and the Donbass. Britain and America, by contrast, don’t propose putting a single soldier in the country to defend it. On the contrary, their goal is to avert bloodshed by making it clear that invasion would come at an economic and political cost so high it wouldn’t be worth trying. So why on earth is this effort for peace being denounced by some Westerners as “sabre-rattling” and “escalation”? I can’t fault anyone who is sceptical of the intelligence: the US, in a bid to embarrass Putin out of committing shenanigans, seems to be releasing every bit of gossip it hears, expecting journalists to repeat it verbatim without knowing the source, in a way that risks making us sound gullible.” – Daily Telegraph

Lockdown parties are part of work, PM will tell police

“Boris Johnson will argue that he attended a series of lockdown-breaching parties in Downing Street as part of his working day, The Times has been told. The prime minister is being questioned by police over his participation in as many as six events that were held in Downing Street while coronavirus restrictions were in place. It is understood that nearly 90 questionnaires will be sent to people in Downing Street, far more than the 50 originally announced by the Met police. About a third were sent on Friday with more expected to be sent today. Johnson has appointed his own lawyer to work on his response and is expected to argue that three leaving parties he attended briefly were a function of his job. “Saying goodbye to staff is part of working life,” a source said.” – The Times

  • Johnson backed to ‘fight’ and win next election whatever happens over ‘partygate’ – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

>Yesterday:

Patel’s hunt for Cressida Dick’s replacement as Met police chief ‘will be global’

“The hunt for Britain’s next top cop will be global, we can reveal. Home Secretary Priti Patel will cast the net wide to replace ex-Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick. She has vowed to clean up London’s 32,500 full-time officer force after a report identified a “culture of misogyny, harassment, racism and homophobia”. A source said she could choose a candidate from outside the force as a “Met lifer” may be less likely to shake things up. She could look to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — fellow members with the UK of The Five Eyes intelligence alliance. A Whitehall insider said: “We want someone who has spent some time out of the Met, who can come in and enact culture change.” – The Sun

Comment:

EU hands Britain post-Brexit olive branch – an offer to lead new security council

“European leaders are planning to ask Britain to head up a new security organisation to counter future geopolitical challenges, in a move to put post-Brexit tensions behind them. Proposals for a “European Security Council” are being drawn up by Germany, the Netherlands and Poland in order to bring “Britain back into the fold” of major foreign policy discussions outside the confines of the European Union. The influential EU capitals believe it is now time to end years of bitterness after Brexit and forge new ties based on security and global co-operation, all to ensure Europe is better positioned to tackle world crises, in areas such as the Ukraine crisis and future pandemics. A group of countries are already urging Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, to personally reach out to Boris Johnson to “bring Britain back into the fold”.” – Daily Telegraph

House of Lords quits Stonewall work programme in row over gender-neutral terms

“The House of Lords has become the latest institution to quit a controversial workplace scheme run by charity Stonewall following a row about gender-neutral language in legislation. A Bill to enable ministers to take maternity leave without stepping down initially referred to ‘pregnant people’ rather than mothers, but the wording was changed after peers raised concerns last year. Now the Upper House has abandoned the LGBTQ+ charity’s Diversity Champions programme, under which participants pay for advice on creating an ‘inclusive’ working environment. Other high-profile organisations to have done the same include the BBC, while government departments such as the Cabinet Office have also rejected it.” – Daily Mail

  • New trans laws in Scotland could open up ‘loophole’ for rest of UK – Daily Telegraph

Fracking ban stays to avoid local fury

“Ministers have rejected calls from Conservative MPs to lift a ban on fracking, saying the “UK is not Utah”. Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, an environment minister, told MPs that reopening shale wells would be “unpopular”. He said that the public would not support the “large-scale industrialisation of the British countryside”. Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, and 29 Tory MPs had signed a letter demanding the lifting of the ban on fracking to help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis. A moratorium was imposed on shale gas extraction in 2019 after two minor earthquakes in Lancashire were linked to a fracking site. The letter was organised by the Net Zero Scrutiny Group — an increasingly vocal caucus of Tory MPs which argues for greater domestic extraction of oil and gas. Frost said that it was time to end the ban in order to create a “British energy renaissance”.” – The Times

Lewis warns the DUP that the people of Northern Ireland will not ‘tolerate anybody threatening institutions’

“Brandon Lewis warned the Democratic Unionist Party against collapsing the power-sharing Stormont government today, amid fears of months of political deadlock over Brexit. Northern Ireland was plunged into fresh political upheaval last month when the DUP withdrew Paul Givan as first minister in protest at the protocol. The party said the post-Brexit deal, which has created trade barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, had undermined a cornerstone of powersharing in the region – governance with the consent of both nationalists and unionists. It raised the prospect of a political void before elections in May – in which republicans Sinn Fein are expected to become the largest party in the legislature.” – Daily Mail

Metropolitan Police examines death threats to Starmer after unproven Savile claims

“The Metropolitan Police is investigating death threats made against Sir Keir Starmer after Boris Johnson’s unproven claims that the Labour leader failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile. The Center for Countering Digital Hate, a campaigning group, passed on evidence to Scotland Yard of social media users on the app Telegram calling for Starmer to be “executed” . The Met confirmed that it was examining a case of threats made against a serving MP after being handed evidence on Friday. Starmer was forced to flee a mob of far-right activists and anti-vaxers outside parliament last week. Protesters filmed themselves hurling abuse at him, calling him a “traitor” and accusing him of “protecting paedophiles”.” – The Times

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