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Ukraine 1) UK and US to ban Russian oil and gas imports

“President Joe Biden has banned imports of Russian oil and gas into the US as Washington steps up economic sanctions on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine in an attempt to deprive it of revenue. The move was matched by a UK phase-out of Russian oil imports, but the EU did not follow suit and instead unveiled a plan to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds within a year. The US decision opens a new front in efforts to isolate Moscow from the global economy, following moves to impose sanctions on key Russian banks, top government officials and oligarchs, as well as its central bank.” – Financial Times

  • Europe is funding Putin’s war-chest through gas alone – Iain Duncan Smith, Daily Telegraph
  • It’s not too late to free ourselves from this idiotic addiction to Russian gas – George Monbiot, The Guardian
  • Putin threatens to turn off gas pipeline to Europe – Daily Mail
  • Gove warns of return to the 1970s – Daily Mail
  • Oil sanctions take west into uncharted waters – Faisal Islam, BBC
  • Conservative co-chair closes Quintessentially office in Russia – BBC
  • This cost-of-living emergency is shattering so many received wisdoms – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • Fitch Ratings warns Russian bond default ‘imminent’ – BBC

>Today:

Ukraine 2) Pentagon rejects offer from Poland to supply jets

“Poland has offered all its MiG-29 fighter jets to the United States government as part of a proposal to get them to the Ukrainians. Washington on Tuesday night applied the brakes on the idea, however, after appearing to be blindsided by Warsaw’s public overture. Poland’s foreign ministry suggested in a statement that the used, Russian-made jets would be transported to a US air force base in Ramstein, Germany, describing the aircraft as “ready to deploy immediately and free of charge”. The announcement raised the prospect of a potentially major development in the Nato allies’ military support for Kyiv in the wake of the Russian invasion.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Xi urges Russian restraint in first sign of split with Putin – The Times

Ukraine 3) Zelensky evokes Churchill in address to UK Parliament

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky channelled Winston Churchill’s wartime defiance as he delivered a historic address to the House of Commons from his war-ravaged country, vowing ‘we will not give up’. Mr Zelensky was given a standing ovation by MPs both before and after his speech in which he compared Ukraine’s fight against Russia to Britain’s Second World War struggle against Nazi Germany. Drawing on Churchill’s iconic ‘we shall fight them on the beaches’ wartime address in June 1940, he said Ukrainians will fight against Moscow’s forces on land, sea and in the air. Mr Zelensky said: ‘We will not give up and we will not lose. We will fight to the end, at sea, in the air, we will continue fighting for our land, whatever the cost. We will fight in the forests, in the fields, on the shores, in the streets.’ ” – Daily Mail

  • A heroic speech – Leader, The Sun
  • He championed the principles of law and liberty – Leader, The Times
  • We must all give Ukraine what support we can – Leader, The Scotsman
  • Serving Queen’s Guard, 19, goes AWOL so he can fight in Ukraine – The Sun
  • Tory MP’s son among UK ex-servicemen heading to Ukrainian front line – The Guardian
  • Will the Baltics become the ‘new West Berlin’? – Financial Times
  • Putin may be mad, he may be ill – but he is definitely a coward, sending his own people to be slaughtered – Douglas Murray, The Sun
  • To be clear, Russia is not likely to win this war – Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: WATCH: “We will fight till the end.” Zelensky’s address to the Commons.

Ukraine 4) Harrington made Minister for Refugees

“Boris Johnson has created a new minister to deal with the growing refugee crisis after a succession of Conservative MPs condemned the Home Office for failing Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. The prime minister was forced to act on Tuesday after Tory backbenchers joined opposition members in claiming that Priti Patel’s department has been “dragging its feet” over visa applications. Richard Harrington has been appointed as the minister for refugees, Downing Street said. Harrington, a lobbyist and businessman who was previously minister for Syrian refugees and stepped down as an MP in 2019, will be made a life peer sitting in the House of Lords.” – The Guardian

  • Does the Home Office need to get a grip? – BBC
  • Hoare says we must do better – The Guardian
  • Patel is in deep trouble over this farce – Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph
  • Blunders shame this country – Leader, Daily Telegraph

Ukraine 5) Finkelstein: We need to consider defence systems for nuclear missiles

“In his book The Fallacies of Cold War Deterrence and a New Direction, the nuclear strategist Keith Payne argues that if we were able to defend ourselves against missile attack more effectively, we could better deter other nuclear powers from aggression. They would realise they couldn’t rely on us to stay out of any conflict. Other strategists believe enhanced missile defence systems to be too expensive and unreliable to be a priority. But they agree that our protections against biological warfare are insufficient and that improving them would send the message that we would be hard to defeat. And even if such preparations do not send a message, they have another purpose, unfortunately. They might be needed.” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times

>Today: Bob Seely on Comment: What Moscow doctrine, and Putin, says about using nuclear and chemical weapons

‘Serial bully’ Bercow banned from parliament

“John Bercow has been banned from parliament for life after an independent panel said he was a “serial bully” and a “serial liar”. After a two-year investigation, 21 claims of bullying against the former Commons Speaker were upheld. A panel chaired by a former appeals court judge said that he should never be allowed a parliamentary pass and that if he were still an MP it would have recommended expelling him from the Commons. The complaints against Bercow were made by Lord Lisvane, formerly the most senior clerk in the Commons, Angus Sinclair, Bercow’s former private secretary, and Kate Emms, another former private secretary.” – The Times

  • I made friends and incurred enemies. But I wasn’t a bully – John Bercow, Daily Telegraph
  • Bercow the Bully – Leader, The Times
  • The former Speaker’s greatest offence was attempting to bend parliamentary procedure – Leader, Daily Telegraph
  • He should be barred from public office, says former Black Rod – The Guardian
  • Labour on the wrong side of history after welcoming him with open arms – Daily Express
  • He should have his official portraits labelled like those of slave traders and have his lavish pension docked, say MPs – Daily Mail
  • How Remainers ignored bullying allegations to keep anti-Brexit Speaker in his job – Andrew Pierce, Daily Mail

Rees-Mogg challenges MI5 and MI6 over “woke” language

“Britain’s woke spy agencies are making us look weak in Putin’s eyes, a top Cabinet Minister has raged. Jacob Rees-Mogg scolded MI5 and MI6 for telling spooks to avoid words like “grip” and “manpower” while also checking their “white privilege”….He told Tory bible ConHome: “What are they doing? That’s not their job to faff around with this kind of stuff, they’re there to keep the country safe. And this distraction, this time used on essentially trivial stuff, has not been an indication of backbone. If you were Putin and you thought what sort of response would I get from the UK, and saw they were worrying about whether you use the word grip, you’d think they didn’t have a grip.” But he added that Britain was ready to stare down Putin’s naked aggression and should not be underestimated.” – The Sun

>Yesterday: Audio: The Moggcast. “The Green Blob has had the view that UK energy is bad in principle.”

Fracking “back on the agenda”

“Boris Johnson has opened the door to the return of fracking in the UK, The Telegraph understands, as he stops importing Russian oil over the Ukraine war. The Prime Minister wants his ministers to look again at whether fracking, which has been under a “moratorium” for more than two years, can help diversify the country’s energy supply. Mr Johnson is said to see the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “moment of great clarity” about the dangers of European countries relying on Russian oil and gas imports. “We need alternative sources of energy that are cheaper and more reliable and less vulnerable to the whims of a dictator,” said a senior government source, in reference to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Shale sites ‘to be used for further research’ rather than be closed down forever – The Sun
  • Virtue-signalling MPs could hardly have made a bigger mess of our energy policy – Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph
  • Relaxing rules on wind farms could ease gas crisis – The Times

Javid: We can’t keep raising taxes to fund NHS reform

“Taxes cannot rise again to fund the NHS, the health secretary said as he argued that preventing ill-health could help to shrink the state. Sajid Javid said that as the population ages, the government cannot “keep going back for more tax hikes on a smaller workforce”. Public services from education to infrastructure would have to be cut if the NHS could not be more efficient, he said, and raising health spending faster than economic growth was “just not sustainable”. However, health chiefs warned that his reform plans would fail without a clear plan for more frontline staff, which could take another year.” – The Times

MPs criticise “meagre” effort to reduce court delays

“The government’s “meagre ambition” to tackle a backlog of crown court criminal trials in England and Wales is “unlikely to address unacceptable delays” for victims, witnesses, and defendants, the parliamentary spending watchdog has concluded. A report by the House of Commons public accounts committee, published on Wednesday, said that government plans to reduce the crown court backlog by less than 8,000 to 53,000 by March 2025 were not radical enough — particularly for victims of rape and sexual assaults who often wait years for justice.” – Financial Times

Macron promises to scrap TV Licence

“President Macron has pledged to scrap the TV licence fee and provide funding for state broadcasters if he wins a second term in the Élysée. Launching his re-election campaign with barely a month to go before the first-round vote, he said that phasing out the annual €138 licence fee would help poorer people. It is used to finance television and radio channels such as France Télévisions and Radio France, as well as France Médias Monde, which includes channels such as France 24.” – The Times

News in brief

  • Russia’s nose is bloodied, and its economy is reeling, but it is dangerous to assume Putin will give in – Mark Wallace, The i
  • Britain’s bullying speaker – Sebastian Whale, Politico 
  • Bercow is disgraced. But don’t forget those who cheered his biased, sneering Speakership – Harry Phibbs, CapX
  • Arguably the worst Speakership in history – Henry Hill, Unherd
  • Why is Britain reluctant to open its doors to Ukrainians? – Patrick O’Flynn, The Spectator