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Johnson vows to push West for even more sanctions on Russia…

“Boris Johnson will push for western allies to take more action on sanctions and offer greater military assistance after being warned that Russia is preparing a huge assault on Kyiv. President Zelensky of Ukraine told Johnson during a phone call yesterday that Russia was gearing up for a renewed attack on the capital as soon as today as he appealed for more help. The prime minister will host Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, and Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, today as he calls for more “lethal assistance”, economic pressure on Russia and “lethal” military aid for Ukraine. The government will also bring forward legislation to speed up the sanctioning of oligarchs today amid accusations that the UK is lagging behind the EU and the US.” – The Times

  • Putin will be ‘held to account’ over Ukraine invasion, Raab warns – The Sun
  • MPs urge global banks to close Russian offices ‘without delay’ – The Guardian

>Today: Stewart Jackson’s column: Arms to Ukraine, Russian bank sanctions, action on SWIFT. How Johnson and Britain are showing leadership.

…and to help EU and West away from Russian gas with new energy plan

“Boris Johnson vowed Britain will play a leading role in weaning the West off Russian gas. The Prime Minister said sanctions are working but the only way to have “real lasting pressure” on Vladimir Putin is by turning to other nations for energy supplies. He said there are huge reserves around the world that mean “we do not have to be beholden to Putin in the way that we are”. The UK wants to bring together nations to find other gas sources. Mr Johnson set out his aim in a question and answer with Daily Express readers he had invited to quiz him on any topic they wanted. Over half an hour in the Downing Street study, which was used by Margaret Thatcher as her main office, he gave the panel an update on the war in Ukraine and how Britain was responding.” – Daily Express

  • Johnson wants ‘climate change pass’ to boost gas production during transition to renewables – The Times
  • Oil prices soar as Western allies discuss Russian import ban – FT
  • Fracking could return as firms research methods to reduce earthquakes amid energy fears – Daily Telegraph
  • Tory MPs urge bigger ‘floating’ wind target to boost energy security – FT

>Today: ToryDiary: Defence, energy, food. Ten ways in which this war should change Government policy and the way we live.

MPs seeking ‘fast-track’ freeze on oligarchs’ assets before formal sanctions

“Russian oligarchs suspected of having links to Vladimir Putin could have their UK assets seized even before the British authorities have completed formal steps to impose sanctions, under far-reaching plans tabled for debate in parliament on Monday. The move – put forward in an amendment to the economic crime bill by former Tory cabinet minister David Davis and backed by a cross-party group of MPs – would, if passed, amount to the toughest action yet to clamp down on illicit Russian cash in the UK. On Friday the government made a number of moves to toughen the UK sanctions regime after widespread criticism that it has been slower to act than the EU and the US… ministers agreed that changes will be made to the economic crime bill to allow the UK to impose sanctions on any individual who has already been targeted by the EU or US.” – The Guardian

  • Starmer calls for referral of Johnson’s peerage nomination for Russian businessman – FT
  • Ministers warned measures contain loopholes – The Guardian
  • Why have almost 100 Russians hit with foreign sanctions been spared by Britain? – Daily Mail

More:

  • French anger as Britain hands out only 50 visas to Ukrainian refugees – The Times
  • Number will increase ‘very, very quickly’, says minister – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: State capacity failure, not conspiracy, explains why the UK has been slow on individual sanctions

Russian victory in Ukraine is ‘no longer inevitable’, says head of Britain’s Armed Forces

“A Putin victory in Ukraine is no longer inevitable thanks to heroic Ukrainians, the head of Britain’s Armed Forces has said. But he warned the Russian President will “ratchet up the violence” any day. Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Tony Radakin said power is draining from the Kremlin as the botched invasion drags on — but it will only get bloodier. He said: “We’re going to see more indiscriminate shelling. We’re going to see more ridiculous violence.” Russia has “got itself into a mess” with the invasion and it “cannot continue” after the Kremlin had lost more troops in a week than the UK did in 20 years in Afghanistan, he said… It came as retired British Army brigadier Ben Barry said that “dinosaur” Russian military chiefs’ over-optimism and inferior leadership were helping Ukraine win the war.” – The Sun

  • SAS planning ‘high-risk rescue of Zelensky’ – Daily Mail
  • Defence chief contradicts Truss over idea of Britons going to fight Russia – The Guardian
  • Retired colonel, 72, is oldest member of team fighting to defend Ukraine – Daily Mail
  • Rogue Met Police officers who travel to Ukraine to fight Russia could be prosecuted – Daily Telegraph

More:

  • Britain poised to expand defence spending as Russia’s failures in Ukraine raise eyebrows – Daily Telegraph
  • Sunak considers reversing armed forces cut – Daily Express

>Yesterday:

Opposition leader calls for political ‘unity’ amid crisis

“Keir Starmer appeared to row back from his demands for Boris Johnson to resign over Partygate today as he called for UK political ‘unity’ over the invasion of Ukraine. The Labour leader demanded the PM stand down in January amid the fallout from the probe into parties in Downing Street and whether they broke Covid laws. Sir Keir accused Mr Johnson of having ‘lost the moral authority’ to lead the country, saying it is in the ‘national interest’ for him to quit. But asked about that call today, Sir Keir would not repeat it, saying instead it is very important ‘we demonstrate unity’ against Russian aggression in Ukraine… When asked if he would therefore withdraw his call for Boris Johnson to resign immediately, he said: ‘Look, at the moment the Prime Minister is obviously concentrating on the job in hand and we stand united as the United Kingdom on that issue.'” – Daily Mail

  • He has restored Labour’s strength on national security, says former aide – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: Government must go ‘further and faster’ on sanctions against Russia – Labour leader

Sir Keir Starmer: How Russian bandits buy their way out of trouble

“Labour stands shoulder to shoulder with the Government in our support for the Ukrainian people in the face of the barbaric and senseless Russian aggression we have seen unfold over the past ten days. There is only one person responsible for this bloody and pointless war and that is Vladimir Putin. Putin is a brutal dictator, a thug, and a war criminal. It’s only right that we pursue the strongest possible economic, cultural, and sporting sanctions to try to influence his intent in the only way he seems to care about: through his wallet and the wallets of the oligarchs who have supported him for the past 20 years. If we’re honest, there is more the UK and our allies should have done sooner. The limited response to the invasion of Crimea and Donbas in 2014 must have played a part in Putin’s risk analysis of this latest invasion.” – Daily Mail

  • Starmer’s clarity on foreign policy will restore trust in Labour – Ben Nunn, The Guardian

Cost of living crunch set to deepen as Home Office sets rules to increase pay of overseas pickers

“The family shop for fruit and veg faces a big price rise after the Government increased foreign pickers’ basic wages by up to 38 per cent to bring them in line with skilled workers. The Home Office is requiring all foreign seasonal agriculture employees to be paid at least £25,600 per year in line with skilled workers’ wages, as part of an attempt to drive up pay and make the jobs more attractive to recruit home-grown British staff. However, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has warned that this will mean a rise of up to 38 per cent in their hourly pay when translated into the amount of work that foreign staff typically do every week. Ali Capper, chairman of the NFU’s horticulture and potatoes board, said it would drive wage inflation through the whole of the food industry at a time when families were struggling with the cost of living.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Union questions Tory claim to be halfway to hiring 50,000 new nurses – The Times

Stop giving out unfair offers, universities told

“No university should use unconditional offers that force students to make it their firm choice, a new code of practice says today. Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, has published a fair admissions code that effectively forbids the use of “conditional-unconditional” offers. These are often made to sixth-formers before they take their A-levels, and guarantee teenagers a place at the university no matter what grades they achieve as long as they commit to make it their top choice. The use of such offers has been widely criticised as a way of universities securing places and tuition fee income, and removing candidates’ motivation to do well in their A-levels… Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, has criticised Portsmouth University for continuing to use conditional-unconditional offers, saying that they could never be justified.” – The Times

News in Brief:

  • Why is Serbia Europe’s weak link in taking on Putin? – Helena Ivanov, CapX
  • The Russia we have lost – Ben Judah, UnHerd
  • Could the Ukraine war save Taiwan? – Rana Mitter, The Spectator
  • A surfeit of rank – Simon Akam, London Review of Books
  • Trade with Australia is good for Britain, but it can’t replace Europe – Ben Ramanauskas, The Critic