Published:

Russian forces seize first major Ukrainian city

“Vladimir Putin’s forces over-ran their first major Ukrainian city last night and unleashed heavy weapons fire on urban centres, driving the number of refugees who have fled the country to more than a million after just eight days of war. The reported seizure of Kherson, a provincial capital and Black Sea port, would mark a significant breakthrough for Russia’s southern campaign, which has made steady territorial advances unlike its northern offensive. Its capture has yet to be confirmed by Ukraine’s military, but on Wednesday evening its mayor Igor Kolykhayev suggested Russian troops had secured the city. Intense fighting was also reported further east along the coast in Mariupol, which has been heavily bombarded in recent days as Russian forces enveloped the Sea of Azov port.” – FT

  • Putin set to ‘cut Ukraine in two’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Huge explosion hits Kyiv and Russia’s warships prepare amphibious assault on Odessa – Daily Mail
  • Bombardment pulverises schools and hospitals as civilian deaths ‘pass 2,000’ – The Times
  • Russian fighter jets violate Swedish airspace – Daily Mail

>Today: Garvan Walshe’s column: Now that Putin’s blitzkrieg has failed, Russia turns to other Nazi tactics in Ukraine

>Yesterday: Anwar Darkazally in Comment: Lessons from the Middle East in how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might play out

A victorious Russia ‘will see years of resistance in Ukraine’, says Wallace

“Russia will face “years of resistance” if it manages to take control of Ukraine, the UK defence secretary has warned, as cities across the east were encircled by invading forces. Ben Wallace said Ukrainians would not give up their country and that for every day they defended it there would be a year of resistance that followed. “Men and women are not going to finish now, they are not going to give up, those Ukrainians, it is going to be years of resistance,” he told Today on BBC Radio 4. “Once you have been shelled and stood up and pointed your rifle and defended your own sovereign nation you can’t rub that out with re-education. That resistance lasts for ever. I think it is incredibly important we keep hope alive for Ukraine.” Western nations are considered likely to arm any insurgency with money and weapons.” – The Times

  • No-fly zone would only bolster Putin, warns Defence Secretary – Daily Telegraph

>Today: John Baron MP in Comment: Ministers should continue to resist siren calls for a no-fly zone

UK announces first wave of sanctions against Belarus

“The UK has announced its first wave of sanctions against senior military figures in Belarus specifically for their role in joining and facilitating the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Belarusian chief of the general staff, Maj Gen Victor Gulevich, and three other deputy defence ministers will all face sanctions, along with two military enterprises. The EU – with which the UK has been working in close cooperation over sanctions – is likely to take similar measures. Belarus has been used as a base for Russian soldiers to pour into Ukraine. Soldiers from the Belarus army have joined the invasion. The Foreign Office described Gulevich as responsible for directing the actions of the Belarusian armed forces, which have supported and enabled the Russian invasion of Ukraine.” – The Guardian

  • Russian and Belarusian athletes banned from Paralympics – Daily Express
  • UK eyes seizing the property of oligarchs hit with sanctions – FT
  • The ‘amoral’ lawyers accused of getting rich off Kremlin cronies – Daily Mail

Energy:

  • Britain to spend more than £2bn on Russian gas imports – The Times
  • Port workers threaten not to unload Russian natural gas shipments – Daily Telegraph
  • Fix this loophole, Boris! – Daily Express
  • Will the west place an embargo on Russian oil and gas supplies? – FT

International:

  • China ‘asked Putin to delay invasion of Ukraine until after Winter Olympics’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Fury as India and China abstain on UN vote – The Sun
  • France hits out at UK’s ‘overly restrictive’ approach to Ukrainian refugees – Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: Johnson proclaimed a more generous attitude to Ukrainian refugees: Patel and Gove will have to make it work

Putin’s commanders will be hunted down for war crimes, says Raab

“Russian commanders who follow Vladimir Putin’s illegal orders will be hunted down for war crimes, Dominc Raab has vowed. The Justice Secretary said the UK was already drawing up plans to help identify and track down fugitives suspected of atrocities. In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Mr Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, said Britain had expertise from previous conflicts of gathering intelligence that could provide vital evidence that prosecutors needed to put war criminals on trial. It came as Boris Johnson for the first time explicitly accused Putin of committing war crimes in Ukraine as he expressed his shock at the bombardment of civilian areas.” – Daily Telegraph

  • UK and 37 other countries refer Russia to the ICC for ‘war crimes’ – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: Daniel Hannan’s column: So much for Putin the chess master. Perhaps its time to offer the tyrant asylum?

Nadine Dorries: Sport matters to Putin – we can use it to cause him real pain

“We’ve provided Ukraine with the weaponry to inflict significant losses on the invading Russian forces. Together with our international partners, we have crippled the Russian economy through a range of measures, with its stock market suffering its longest closure in decades. And if history is our guide, culture and sport can be equally as effective as economic sanctions in isolating rogue regimes. Culture is now the third front in the Ukrainian war. I’ve been working to mobilise the full might of the UK’s soft power against Putin, to entrench the Russian president’s status as an international pariah. That includes putting pressure on governing bodies across my sectors, urging them to use every lever at their disposal to make the Russian dictator feel the full pain of his barbaric invasion.” – Daily Telegraph

  • We need a 21st-century Kindertransport from Ukraine – Caroline Nokes, Times Red Box
  • Crisis has shown how independent Britain wields far more influence – Stephen Glover, Daily Mail
  • We must sanction those who continue to trade with Russia – Jeremy Hunt MP, Times Red Box

Driverless Tube trains on the table as Shapps issues Khan with ultimatum

“Driverless trains could be introduced on the Underground as part of plans by ministers to break the power of the militant RMT union. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has made driverless technology a condition of talks on a bailout for Transport for London (TfL), which wants a long-term settlement to shore up finances ravaged by the pandemic. Millions of commuters face another day of misery today as the RMT strikes over job cuts and pensions for the second time this week. Tuesday’s strike brought the network to a standstill, leaving commuters queuing for buses and walking miles in the pouring rain. Yesterday, the RMT threatened more strikes and said there could be ‘a massive shutdown over the summer’ if TfL tries to change the terms of staff pensions.” – Daily Mail

Sunak plans overhaul of ‘generous’ R&D tax credits

“Rishi Sunak is planning an overhaul of the UK government’s “flagship industrial policy”, as he looks to redesign a misfiring £7.7bn R&D tax credit system to boost sluggish business investment. The chancellor, who will present a spring financial statement on March 23, believes that in spite of spending “huge and rapidly growing sums” on the tax credit, it is not doing enough to boost growth. Sunak has been inspired by a Cambridge university report which asked: “Is the UK’s flagship industrial policy a costly failure?” The chancellor is looking at whether R&D tax credits can be better focused on larger companies, rather than an increasingly costly programme aimed at small and medium-sized businesses, government insiders said.” – FT

  • Ministers are clueless on the cost of Johnson’s green plan, MPs say – The Sun
  • Student loan changes hit lower earners harder than first thought, says IFS – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: How the Government could help workers buy homes, build families, and save for retirement

>Yesterday:

Justice Secretary pledges an expansion of drug-free wings in jails

“Prisoners will be given privileges including pool tables, gym and work placements if they go on drug-free wings and submit to regular testing, Dominic Raab said. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Justice Secretary pledged a major expansion of drug recovery wings in jails, where offenders will get new privileges as well as counselling and therapy to help them kick their habits. It is part of a strategy to promote abstinence from drugs for addicted criminals as a replacement for methadone, a heroin substitute, which Mr Raab said left prisoners in a “zombie comatose” state and unable to take up training and work. On a visit to Wandsworth prison in south London, which has a drug recovery wing and is forging new links with employers, the Deputy Prime Minister said tackling drugs in jails and getting offenders into work were his “mission critical” priorities.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Tories like me don’t seek a culture war, we just want a ‘radically moderate’ society – Steve Baker MP, The Guardian

Fury over Labour by-election candidate who talked of race ‘uprising’

“Labour’s by-election candidate has said that votes may not be enough to achieve racial progress as footage emerged of her discussing the merits of an “uprising”. Paulette Hamilton, who is seeking election in Birmingham Erdington on Thursday, said that Britain’s black community may not get what they “really deserve” by using democratic means alone. On Wednesday night, Sir Kier Starmer, the Labour leader faced calls to suspend Ms Hamilton as Tory MPs questioned whether she represented “democratic values”. She made the remarks at a panel event in 2015 called “The Ballot or the Bullet: Does Your Vote Count?” hosted by the Organisation of Black Unity (OBU). Audience members were shown clips of Malcolm X’s famous 1964 speech in which he warned that African-Americans may need to defend themselves if the US government continued to prevent them from achieving full equality.” – Daily Telegraph

  • McDonnell and Abbott pull out of Stop the War rally – The Guardian

Comment:

  • Creasy’s vision of a ‘family friendly’ Parliament would be a disaster – Henry Hill, Daily Telegraph

News in Brief:

  • Will Russian mercenaries conquer the world? – John Lewis-Stempel, UnHerd
  • The West risks launching an information war on itself – James Ball, CapX
  • Putin won’t be easy to topple – Owen Matthews, The Spectator
  • Britain must not allow volunteers to fight in Ukraine – Charlie Peters, The Critic