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Putin puts Russia’s nuclear force on high alert

“President Putin has ordered Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces on to high alert, greatly escalating tensions even as President Zelensky of Ukraine agreed to peace talks. In a televised meeting with his defence minister and chief of staff, Putin placed the nuclear deterrent forces into a “special regime of combat duty”, citing Nato’s “aggressive statements” about his invasion of Ukraine. Fierce fighting was entering a fifth day as Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, lifted a weekend curfew and defence forces searched for infiltrators who are believed to have entered the city to assassinate Zelensky and prepare for a Russian ground force. As further air raid sirens and explosions were heard in key cities, Zelenksy said this morning that the next 24 hours would be “crucial” for the defence of his country.” – The Times

  • West takes Putin’s nuclear threat seriously – FT

More:

  • Belarus to join Russia’s war on Ukraine within hours, sources suggest – Kyiv Independent
  • Mercenaries ordered to kill Ukraine’s president – The Times
  • Chechen leader demands Putin let his troops finish off ‘Nazis’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Kiev defence commander says Russian forces repelled from capital – FT
  • Ukraine faces ‘crucial 24 hours’ as siege rages – The Sun
  • Three mile-long Russian convoy heads to capital – Daily Mail

Panic in Moscow as economy in freefall

“Panic in Russia has broken out as the rouble plunged to record lows with people concerned about their savings. Russians waited in long queues outside ATMs on Sunday, worried that the new Western sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine will trigger cash shortages and disrupt payments. “A bank run has already started in Russia over the weekend… and inflation will immediately spike massively, and the Russian banking system is likely to be in trouble,” said Jeffrey Halley, Asia-based senior market analyst at OANDA. It comes as Russia’s central bank announced today it was raising its key interest rate to 20 per cent from 9.5 percent as the West pummelled the country with sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Russia sharply increases rates as sanctions send rouble plunging – FT
  • Putin abandoned by key allies – Daily Express

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Merkel’s legacy. Ukraine’s invasion has exposed years of self-deception and wishful thinking in Berlin.

Britain should spend more on defence, says Truss

“Britain needs to increase its defence spending and cannot ignore the demand for conventional weapons while focusing on cyberattacks, the foreign secretary said yesterday. Amid criticism that there has been too much emphasis on cyberdangers Liz Truss said that there had been decades of western complacency over the threat posed by Vladimir Putin. She urged other European countries to spend more on defence as well. The British Army is being shrunk by 9,000 soldiers to 73,000, its smallest since Napoleonic times. Dozens of tanks are also being scrapped but the 148 that remain are being upgraded. By comparison Russia has a 280,000-strong army and nearly 3,000 main battle tanks; Ukraine has a 125,600-strong army and 858 main battle tanks.” – The Times

  • Britons volunteer for Ukrainian ‘foreign legion’ to take the fight to Vladimir Putin – Daily Telegraph
  • Johnson attends memorial service at cathedral – Daily Mail
  • Wallace ‘undermines’ Truss by pushing back against volunteers fighting Russia – Daily Telegraph

>Today:

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Truss warns of the consequences for Putin of a chemical or nuclear attack

Patel calls time on Vladimir Putin cronies who are hiding cash in UK

“Ministers will today unveil new powers to seize the hidden assets of Russian oligarchs in the UK. A new Economic Crime Bill will force foreign shell companies holding property in the UK – including the mansions of oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin – to reveal the identities of the true owners. Police will also be handed strengthened powers to investigate and seize the ‘unexplained wealth’ of foreigners suspected of laundering cash in the UK. Powers will also be introduced to allow the courts to freeze and forfeit money hidden in cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. And a new ‘Kleptocracy Cell’ is being established in the National Crime Agency to target those trying to evade sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” – Daily Mail

  • Government brings forward bill to tackle UK’s ‘dirty money’ – FT
  • Truss says she has ‘hit list’ of oligarchs facing UK sanctions – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Truss on the war and sanctions. “Yes, there will be an economic cost here in Britain.”

Ukrainians can seek sanctuary in Britain visa-free if they have family in UK

“Ukrainians fleeing Vladimir Putin’s invasion will be able to seek sanctuary in Britain visa-free if they have family in the UK. Boris Johnson announced the relaxation of immigration rules as the UN warned that nearly 400,000 refugees had left Ukraine. The PM also pledged another £40million to provide medical aid to Kyiv after talks with President Zelenskyy and meetings with community leaders at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London. He said: “The UK will not turn our backs in Ukraine’s hour of need.” Immigration Minister Kevin Foster caused fury by telling those fleeing to come to the UK to pick fruit. Replying to Labour MP Luke Pollard, he tweeted that they could try “our seasonal work scheme”.” – The Sun

  • No 10 urged to scrap UK borders bill as fears grow – FT

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Lammy on visas. “Why would we ask people what their salary levels are when you’re fleeing war?”

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: The West has finally taken the gloves off and redeemed our honour

“This weekend’s draconian measures come too late to deter Vladimir Putin, but not too late to inflict real pain and perhaps to set in motion the destruction of his regime. The market verdict on earlier, minimalist, lowest-denominator, attempts to sanction Russia was almost embarrassing. Moscow’s MOEX equity index rocketed 20pc on Friday, with relief rallies for Russian bonds and the rouble. Oil prices settled down. It was a collective judgment by hard-nosed traders that the West was not willing to go beyond symbolic gestures, and that business would carry on as usual even if a sovereign democratic Ukraine were wiped off the map. Saturday evening was the moment that the Western democracies took a deep breath and began to use their crushing economic and financial power, all too aware of the coming blowback through a commodity shock and multiple channels of financial contagion.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Putin’s grand plan is unravelling – Gideon Rachman, FT
  • Our decadence is the perfect ally for despots – Leo McKinstry, Daily Express
  • Russian president had his own way too long – Dominic Lawson, Daily Mail

Johnson appoints combative election strategist Canzini

“Boris Johnson has appointed the combative election strategist David Canzini as part of his attempts to restore his battered reputation amid new claims that Downing Street lockdown parties regularly descended into “carnage”. Canzini, a key ally of the political strategist Lynton Crosby, is due to start work in Downing Street on Monday. The pair worked for the former prime minister Theresa May before turning on her in 2018. His new role as deputy chief of staff is expected to involve winning over disgruntled backbenchers and coming up with an election-winning strategy. Tory MPs have been encouraged by Boris Johnson’s handling of the Ukraine crisis, but more are expected to submit letters of no confidence in the prime minister if he is served with a penalty notice as part of the police investigation into lockdown parties.” – The Guardian

  • ‘Butt out’ of Downing Street parties investigation, Prime Minister’s ally tells police – Daily Telegraph

Mordaunt attacks stealth tax on landlords

“Hundreds of thousands of landlords face being hit with a stealth council tax rise after rental homes were quietly reevaluated for the levy. The Telegraph can reveal that large rental homes which are let room by room are being reclassified as multiple smaller properties. In a five-bedroom house, this means five sets of council tax will be due rather than a single charge. Government figures show there are 500,000 of these so-called “houses in multiple occupation” (HMOs) in England that could be affected. Campaigners said they have been inundated with calls from worried landlords. Penny Mourdaunt, minister of trade and Portsmouth North MP, criticised the trend and called on the Government to intervene to prevent housing supply being harmed.” – Daily Telegraph

Lewis: we must end school segregation in Northern Ireland

“Ministers are to launch a campaign of “nudging and cajoling” to combat religious segregation in education in Northern Ireland, after figures revealed just 7% of schools officially offered integrated education. The Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, said he wanted to see an acceleration in the number of schools opting for integrated status, believing it was an important part of the post-conflict journey of healing. “This was one of the factors that people set out in the Belfast Good Friday agreement [BGFA] itself. We are 23 years on and still … such a small percentage of the population is able to be part of and benefit from integrated education. I think it’s just pretty poor progress,” said Lewis.” – The Guardian

Sturgeon faces SNP rebellion over gender ‘self-identification’

“Nicola Sturgeon is facing an SNP rebellion over her plans to allow Scots to “self-identify” their legal gender, ahead of her government publishing legislation this week. The Scottish Government will set out on Thursday controversial plans to allow people to quickly change their gender with no need for a medical diagnosis. The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill is also expected to cut the time in which someone must live in their “acquired gender” from two years to three months and open up the process to 16- and 17-year-olds. But it has emerged around 10 of her MSPs oppose the plans, which have faced fierce criticism from feminist groups for allegedly damaging women’s rights.” – Daily Telegraph