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Ukraine 1) Britain, America and the EU agree to throw Russian banks out of Swift

“Britain and its western allies last night agreed to throw Russian banks out of the Swift payments system, in a move expected to cripple the country’s economy. After days of negotiations, Britain, the United States and European Union agreed measures which will prevent several of Russia’s key financial institutions from operating globally. The announcement marks a significant shift in stance by a number of European countries, including Germany, who were previously reluctant due to their heavy reliance on Russian gas and oil.…In a joint statement, the western allies also said they would impose restrictive measures aimed at preventing the Russian central bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that may undermine sanctions.” – Sunday Times

Ukraine 2) Russians in Kharkiv, Ukrainians hold Kiev, Zelensky rejects peace talks in Belarus

“Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has said his country is ready for peace talks with Russia but not if they are hosted in Belarus, as suggested by the Kremlin. It came as Vladamir Putin’s troops stormed the second-largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv. Speaking in a video message on Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky named Warsaw, Bratislava, Istanbul, Budapest or Baku as alternative venues for the diplomatic talks.  The Kremlin said Sunday that a Russian delegation had arrived in the Belarusian city of Homel for talks with Ukrainian officials.  “The Russian delegation is ready for talks, and we are now waiting for the Ukrainians,” Mr Peskov said. Russian troops entered Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv early on Sunday morning following a night of heavy artillery bombardments on the northern fringes of the city. However, Russian troops have so far failed to enter Kyiv as Ukrainians defended the capital city.” – Sunday Telegraph

Ukraine 3) Patel under pressure over refugees

“The home secretary was under pressure from Scotland last night to set up a resettlement scheme for Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. The Scottish government said it would be ready to offer “refuge and sanctuary” if a programme, similar to the one set up to help Afghans last year, were to be opened. The move is likely to ignite tensions between Holyrood and Westminster, amid claims Priti Patel will resist calls to set up a unique resettlement scheme despite fears that up to five million people could be displaced by the conflict. Instead, the government is in talks with Ukraine’s neighbouring states as part of its planning for any refugee crisis — and 1,000 British troops are on standby to help” – Sunday Times

  • Johnson says that the invasion “is not going Putin’s way” – Sunday Express
  • Gove told Cabinet that oligarchs’ homes should be seized – Sunday Telegraph
  • Truss interview: we will come after you, she tells oligarchs – Sunday Times
  • Wallace interview: he says it could take ten years for Putin to fail – Mail on Sunday
  • …And that Lord Barker should quit his Russian company and the House of Lords – Mail on Sunday
  • Former commander of Estonian forces claims Putin is furious at lack of progress – Sunday Express
  • Street fights in Kharkiv – Sun on Sunday
  • Russian missile hits nuclear waste disposal site – Sun on Sunday
  • Snake island soldiers may still be alive – Sunday Telegraph
  • Man tries to push back Russian tank and then kneels before it – Observer
  • Emergency money-laundering laws to be introduced on Tuesday – Sun on Sunday
  • MI6 head suggests war is unwindable for Putin – Sunday Times
  • Russian cyber attack expected within ten days – Sunday Express
  • What’s going on inside Putin’s head? – Observer
  • Baker and Mckinlay call for fracking – Sunday Telegraph
  • What will China do? – Observer
  • Russia’s warning to Sweden and Finland over NATO – Sunday Express
  • Thousands of Russians flee to America to escape conscription – Sunday Telegraph
  • MPs want troop cuts reversed – Sunday Telegraph
  • The war explained in maps and charts – Sunday Times
  • Is addiction to Russian gas because we’re going green too fast or too slow? – Sunday Times
  • Ambramovitch hands over Chelsea to charitable foundation – Mail on Sunday
  • Putin weaponises Facebook – Sun on Sunday
  • Row over Labour Russia-linked donation – Mail on Sunday

Robert Colvile: Putin’s tanks in Ukraine today, a new defence policy tomorrow?

Sanctions on Russian companies and individuals are likely to incur costs for the UK, too — especially if our enthusiasm for retroactive justice harms our reputation as a fair and open place to do business. And cutting Russia off from the Swift banking system would free Putin to unleash his cyberwarriors against the network — which processes a huge chunk of the UK’s domestic banking transactions. In short, a long-term confrontation with Russia will bring substantial economic costs. And it also reopens the debate about the defence budget…In the post-9/11 world, we assumed we wouldn’t have to fight big countries, and shaped our capacities to suit. As recently as November, Johnson insisted that “the old concepts of fighting big tank battles on the European land mass are over”. But what if Putin comes for Lithuania, a Nato member, after Ukraine? – Sunday Times

  • Our real enemy is China – Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday
  • An attack on civilisation itself – Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph
  • Putin sits atop a crumbling pyramid of power – Vladimir Sorkin, Observer
  • Ukrainians are fighting for freedom and we are helping them – James Heappey, Sunday Telegraph
  • China and Russia: the new axis of tyranny – Iain Duncan Smith, Sun on Sunday
  • We are not prepared to fight for Ukraine – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday
  • Kick out the Russian Ambassador – Tobias Ellwood, Mail on Sunday
  • We snaffled the Kremlin’s cash while it sneered at our decadence – Matthew Syed, Sunday Times
  • Putin’s contempt for civilisation – Leo McKinstry, Sunday Express
  • Globalisation has rendered us incapable of resisting tyrants – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • Russia Today should have been banned by Ofcom – Tom Tugendhat, Mail on Sunday
  • We’re hammering Putin’s finances – James Cleverly, Sunday Express
  • Biden first betrayed the Afghans and now the Ukrainians – Niall Ferguson, Mail on Sunday
  • Putin’s fascists aren’t scared of death and we are – Rod Liddle, Sunday Times
  • Rally behind the Ukrainians – Sarah Vine, Mail on Sunday
  • Putin lives in a crazed fantasy world of the imperial past – Antony Beever, Mail on Sunday
  • His actions are those of a madman – Tony Parsons, Sun on Sunday
  • He has fatally miscalculated – Roderick Lyne, Mail on Sunday
  • The West always loses to him – Simon Tisdall, Observer
  • We must enhance our armed forces – Lord West, Sun on Sunday
  • Cuts in defence spending must be overturned – Richard Kemp, Sunday Telegraph
  • We must build up our land forces – Richard Dannatt, Sunday Telegraph
  • Seduced by money, isolated by Brexit – Dominic Grieve, Observer
  • NATO should assume and prepare for the worst – Sunday Times Editorial
  • How you can ease the pain of Ukraine’s refugees – Mail on Sunday Editorial
  • Johnson must deport oligarchs with links to the Kremlin – Sun on Sunday Editorial

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

Patel to tell police tackling attacks on women should get the same priority as tackling terrorism

“Priti Patel is set to tell police that attacks on women and girls should be given the same priority as tackling terrorism, saying: ‘I do not accept that violence against them is inevitable.’ The Home Secretary’s plan will aim to improve the record low conviction rate for rape, amid scathing criticism of police and criminal prosecutors. Last week, senior police officers slammed Ms Patel for rejecting attempts to make misogyny a recognised hate crime, like racism and homophobia. Instead, she is expected to add violence against women and girls to the list of national priorities for police, alongside terrorism, serious and organised crime and child sexual abuse.” – Mail on Sunday

Other political news:

  • Poll says Johnson and half the Cabinet would lose their seats were the election held now – Mail on Sunday
  • Wine on walls at Downing Street Christmas party – Sunday Times
  • Met accused of bungling investigation – Sunday Telegraph
  • Canzini to join Finn and Gascogine as a Number Ten Deputy Chief of Staff – Mail on Sunday
  • Foie gras row continues – Sunday Telegraph

New Ashcroft book: he calls for a Royal Commission on NHS reform

“Former Tory peer Lord Ashcroft has called for a Royal Commission to examine how to reform the NHS, which, he says, is now in ‘critical condition’ and cannot be saved with extra cash alone. He makes the proposal in Life Support, a new book about the health service, which is being serialised in The Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mail from today. His call comes amid growing concern that a £36 billion boost for health and social care over the next three years – subsidised by a 1.25 per cent increase to National Insurance contributions – risks being squandered, without patients seeing noticeable improvements.” – Mail on SundayThe only way to save the NHS is through radical reform – Lord Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott, Mail on Sunday

Other comment and news:

  • Our pay rises are no business of the Bank – Dominic Lawson, Sunday Time
  • Taxing all graduates would be a vote winner – Charlotte Ivers, Sunday Times
  • Mandelson under fire for wooing Qatar’s super-rich – Mail on Sunday
  • Kim Leadbeater fears becoming a target for violent extremists – Mail on Sunday