Putin declares war — Bombs Kyiv — Blasts rock major cities – POLITICO

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Good Thursday morning.


PUTIN DECLARES WAR: In a televised speech overnight, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was launching a “special military operation” in Ukraine, in an effective declaration of war. Within minutes, at around 5 a.m. local time in Ukraine, multiple explosions were heard in the capital Kyiv. There were also reports of blasts in major cities across the country: in Kharkiv in the north-east, in Kramatorsk in the east, in Mariupol in the south-east, in Odesa in the south, and others. Ukraine’s interior ministry said they were “missile strikes.” There are reports that Kyiv’s Boryspil airport has been evacuated following explosions there. Ukraine’s border guard agency released video showing Belarus was assisting the Russian assault, describing “attacks on border units, border gear and checkpoints” with the use of “artillery, heavy equipment and firearms.” Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv and Lviv in the west. The Ukrainian government confirmed Russia had begun a “full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”

Translation — Looks like a pincer: The authorities in Kyiv reported a pincer movement attack on its troops from Belarus to the north, potentially attempting an encirclement of Kyiv, and from Crimea to the south.

Live from Kyiv: POLITICO’s Sergei Kuznetzov reported: “Several huge explosions were heard in Kyiv, in the district where I’m living, a few minutes ago.” While some people are walking to work this morning, others are rushing to gas stations, apparently with the aim to leave the city, Sergei said.

This is a video … of the moment CNN’s Matthew Chance heard the first explosions in Kyiv live on air.

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Putin’s statement came at 5.45 a.m. Moscow time: POLITICO’s Zoya Sheftalovich translated the speech. Here are the key passages.

The Russian leader said … he was beginning a “special military operation” seeking what he called the “demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine,” in remarks that were tantamount to declaring war on the country. Putin claimed Russia’s actions were about protecting Ukraine “from those who took Ukraine hostage” and called on members of the Ukrainian army to lay down their arms and go home to their families.

Addressing the Russian people, he said: “No matter how hard it will be, I am asking for understanding and cooperation so that we can turn this tragic page as soon as possible and move forward together, not to allow anyone to interfere in our affairs, in our relations, but to build them on our own, so that it creates the necessary conditions to overcome all problems and, despite the presence of state borders, would strengthen us from the inside as a single whole.”

He issued this chilling threat to the rest of the world: “To anyone who would consider interfering from outside: If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All the relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me.”

Premeditated attack: Dressed in what appeared to be the same dark suit and burgundy tie he wore in his rambling speech attacking Ukrainian statehood on Monday night, Putin said: “The people’s republics of Donbass turned to Russia with a request for help … I decided to conduct a special military operation.” He repeated false claims about aiming to protect people who have been subjected to a “genocide” by Kyiv.

He then made claims about Russia’s military might, insisting: “As for the military sphere, modern Russia, even after the collapse of the USSR and the loss of a significant part of its nuclear potential, is today one of the most powerful nuclear powers. And moreover, it has certain advantages in a number of the latest types of weapons. In this regard, no one should have any doubt that a direct attack on Russia will lead to defeat and dire consequences for a potential aggressor.”

Full story: You can read POLITICO’s full report of what happened overnight by Zoya Sheftalovich and Sergei Kuznetzov here.

KYIV RESPONSE: In a brief video message apparently filmed on his phone, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy declared martial law and told his nation: “Stay calm, stay at home, the army is doing its work. We are strong. We are ready for everything. We will defeat everyone. We are strong. Glory to Ukraine.” Ukrainian air defenses shot down Russian aircraft in eastern Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian military.

Full-scale invasion: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”

Military targets: “The invasion has begun,” an adviser to Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said early Thursday, shortly after Russia rolled troops into Ukraine. “There have just been missile strikes on the centers of the military administration, airfields, military depots near Kyiv, Kharkiv, the Dnipro. There are artillery shelling of the border.” Russia’s ministry of defense claimed to Russian state media agency RIA Novosti that it was using “high-precision weapons [to] disable the military infrastructure, air defense facilities, military airfields and aviation of the Ukrainian army.”

BIDEN WORDS: Joe Biden released this statement in response: “The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.”

He went on: “I will be monitoring the situation from the White House this evening and will continue to get regular updates from my national security team. Tomorrow, I will meet with my G7 counterparts in the morning and then speak to the American people to announce the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security. We will also coordinate with our NATO Allies to ensure a strong, united response that deters any aggression against the Alliance. Tonight, Jill and I are praying for the brave and proud people of Ukraine.” Biden spoke to Zelenskiy by phone and vowed allied nations would impose “severe sanctions” on Russia.

AT THE UN: Putin’s statement was aired at the exact moment the U.S. representative was speaking at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the meeting: “Russia has called our predictions ‘hysterical.’ Russia said we were lying. Russia said we were supplying the world with misinformation. Russia’s diplomats laughed in the face of the human suffering … But what we said would happen has come to pass.” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres had earlier said: “President Putin — stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance.”

How it ended: The U.N. meeting, which was hosted by Russia, concluded with Ukraine’s Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya telling his Russian counterpart Vasily Nebenzya: “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, ambassador.” You can watch that moment here.

JOHNSON WORDS: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement: “I am appalled by the horrific events in Ukraine and I have spoken to President Zelenskyy to discuss next steps. President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine. The U.K. and our allies will respond decisively.”

Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace added: “The Russian Federation has today further violated Ukrainian sovereignty. Despite the efforts of the international communities, Russia has chosen conflict. No one has been fooled by the Kremlin’s false flags and fake narratives. This is naked aggression against a democratic country which had dared to express a different aspiration than being a supine neighbor to Russia. No one should forget this day. Putin thinks this land grab is about securing his legacy — it will be, but not the one that he wishes.” Wallace will be on the morning broadcast round.

More UK response: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “I strongly condemn the appalling, unprovoked attack President Putin has launched on the people of Ukraine. We stand with Ukraine and we will work with our international partners to respond to this terrible act of aggression.” Britain’s Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons tweeted: “A wholly unprovoked attack on a peaceful country is unfolding. Horrified. Just because you’ve prepared and thought about this possibility for weeks and months doesn’t mean it isn’t shocking when it actually happens.”

And NATO … Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg added: I strongly condemn Russia’s reckless attack on Ukraine, which puts at risk countless civilian lives. This is a grave breach of international law & a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security. NATO Allies will meet to address Russia’s renewed aggression.”



KEY LINES: Before Putin’s announcement, Volodymyr Zelenskiy delivered an emotional and extraordinary speech last night that felt like it will be recorded in the history books as the final moment before Europe descended into war. The FT’s Max Seddon has an essential thread translating the speech, which really should be read in full. Playbook reproduces some key lines below:

He warned that war appeared imminent: “They’re telling you that this flame will liberate the people of Ukraine, but the Ukrainian people are free. They remember their past and are building their future.”

He derided the idea that Ukraine is attacking Donbass: “You’ve been told I’m going to bomb Donbass. Bomb what? The Donetsk stadium where the locals and I cheered for our team at Euro 2012? The bar where we drank when they lost? Luhansk, where my best friend’s mom lives?”

Speaking directly to Russians in Russian, he asked them why Putin was going to war: “I’m speaking Russian, but nobody in Russia understands what these places, streets, and events are. This is our land and our history. What are you fighting for? And with who? Lots of you have relatives in Ukraine, you studied in Ukrainian universities, you have Ukrainian friends. You know our character, our principles, what matters to us. Listen to yourselves, to the voice of reason. The people of Ukraine want peace. The government of Ukraine wants peace. It’s doing everything it can. We’re not alone. That’s true, lots of countries support Ukraine. Because this isn’t about peace at any price. It’s about peace, principles, justice, international law, the right to determine your own future. This is about society’s right to be safe and people’s rights to live without threats. This is all important for us and for the world. I know for sure that this is important for you too.”

He vowed Ukrainians would defend their country: “We know for sure that we don’t need war – neither cold, nor hot, nor hybrid. But if troops attack us and someone tries to take away our country, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children, then we will defend ourselves. When you attack, you will see our faces, not our backs. War is a great misfortune and it comes at a great price. People lose their money, reputation, freedom, living standards, and most importantly — they lose their loved ones and themselves.”

He said a Russian invasion would lead to tens of thousands of deaths: “Nothing’s ever enough in a war, but there’s more than enough pain, dirt, and death. Tens of thousands of deaths. They’re telling you that Ukraine could be a threat for Russia. That never happened in the past, it’s not and won’t be in the future.”

He said Putin refused his request to speak on the phone on Wednesday: “Today I initiated a phone conversation with the president of the Russian Federation. The result was silence. Although it’s the Donbass where there should be silence.”

So he tried to get this message to the Russian people: “War will take guarantees away from everyone. Nobody will have security guarantees anymore. Who will suffer most of all? People. Who doesn’t want that to happen more than anyone? People. Who can stop that? People. These people are among you. I’m sure. Activists, journalists, musicians, actors, athletes, scientists, doctors, bloggers, stand-up comedians, TikTokers, and many others. Ordinary people, simple people, men, women, the old, the young, fathers, and most of all — mothers. Just like the people in Ukraine. Just like the government in Ukraine. However they try to convince you otherwise. I know that Russian TV won’t show my speech. But citizens of Russia need to see it. They need to see the truth. The truth is you need to stop before it’s too late. And if the leadership of Russia doesn’t want, for the sake of peace, to sit at the table with us, maybe it’ll sit at the table with you. Do the Russians want war? I’d love to answer that question. But the answer only depends on you — citizens of Russia.”

Zelenskiy ended his speech: “I thank everyone who supports Ukraine. We keep on working.”

On the ground yesterday: Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko declared a state of emergency from midnight local time. My POLITICO colleague David Herszenhorn had this update from the Ukrainian military on the escalation of Russian shelling throughout the day yesterday: 75 shellings, 71 of which were with the use of heavy weapons, using multiple rocket launchers, 122 mm artillery systems, 120 mm and 82 mm mortars, grenade launchers of various systems, large-caliber machine guns and small arms.

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TODAY’S MEETINGS: The leaders of the G7 countries will hold a video call today to discuss the situation. Playbook is told the leaders will plan the next tranche of their sanctions ratchet strategy. EU leaders are also meeting at a snap summit in Brussels today (more on that in today’s Brussels Playbook).

The White House said: “In the early afternoon, President Biden will deliver remarks announcing the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for its unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine.”

In Downing Street: Johnson will chair a COBR committee meeting at 7.30 a.m. to discuss the response.

WHAT UKRAINE WANTS: “The world must act immediately,” Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba declared. On Twitter, Kuleba laid out a “to-do list” that he said would help Ukraine. Western allies, he said, should hit Russia with “devastating sanctions,” including pushing Russia out of the international SWIFT payments system. He added that Ukraine also would need weapons and other military equipment, as well as financial and humanitarian aid.

Sanctions latest: On Wednesday, the EU’s sanctions on Russian individuals went further than those previously imposed by the U.S. and U.K., with a list targeting top Russian military commanders from its navy, air force and ground forces, in addition to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. It also has two incendiary TV presenters who parrot Kremlin talking points as well as the Russian foreign ministry spokesperson spreading Moscow’s message abroad. The list also has a number of banking executives who helped execute the economic absorption of the illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, as well as several banks. Another big name is Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman close to Putin who controls the Wagner Group, a private military force. POLITICO’s Jacopo Barigazzi and David Herszenhorn have the story.

More coming: U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss confirmed yesterday’s Playbook report on Britain preparing tougher sanctions, so it seems inevitable that the U.S. and U.K. will ratchet up imminently. The Sun’s Harry Cole reports that Russian oligarch, Putin ally and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich “has effectively been banned from living in the U.K.” Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday that Britain will send lethal but defensive arms to Ukraine and that the government had urged TV regulator Ofcom to take action against RT’s propaganda.

Londonograd latest: The U.K. has not yet followed Washington and Brussels with tougher sanctions on financial services, however it committed to do so if the Russian threat to Ukraine is materialized, POLITICO’s Matei Rosca reports. Financial Services Minister John Glen met City bosses to discuss the measures on Wednesday afternoon. “The group also discussed the importance of an aligned approach with other financial centers, the upcoming legislative reforms to further crackdown on illicit finance, and how we could further limit Russian access to U.K. financial services if that becomes necessary,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

WHO CAN READ PUTIN’S MIND? Western allies believe Putin is keeping important details of his plan to invade Ukraine for himself, and that not even his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov knows all that the Russian president has in mind, diplomats with access to American intelligence told POLITICO’s Cristina Gallardo. This adds to concerns that Putin has gone deeper into a form of “bunker mentality” that makes him less likely to listen to moderate voices, and is completely focused on his legacy.

Gone tonto: British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace was reported saying yesterday: “Unfortunately we’ve got a busy adversary now in Putin, who has gone full tonto. The Scots Guards kicked the backside of Tsar Nicholas I in 1853 in Crimea — we can always do it again. Tsar Nicholas I made the same mistake Putin did … no friends, no alliances.”

Speaking of friends … what about China? Putin’s war against Ukraine is putting Beijing in a very awkward position, reports POLITICO’s Stuart Lau in this must-read story. While the Chinese are happy to issue vague pro-Kremlin statements, slamming NATO and Washington, while grumbling about Western aggression and the dangers of new Cold War faultlines, the fundamental geopolitical dynamics underlying Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are anathema to sovereignty-obsessed Beijing, Stuart explains.

WAR DIPLOMACY SCOOP: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will visit London on March 8 after accepting an invitation from Boris Johnson to hold talks on security and economic cooperation, Cristina reports. Britain will also send representatives to a meeting of the Visegrád Group — formed by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia — due to take place in Budapest Friday, in a further bid to show London’s commitment to security in Eastern Europe.


HOUSE OF COMMONS: Sits from 9.30 a.m. with Cabinet Office questions to minister and No. 10 Chief of Staff Steve Barclay … Followed by any UQs, statements and the weekly Commons business statement from Leader of the House Mark Spencer … There will then be two backbench debates, the first on the U.K.’s relationship with Russia and China and the second on recognizing the state of Palestine alongside Israel. Lib Dem MP Wendy Chamberlain has an adjournment debate on long COVID.

COVID RULES REMOVED: From this morning, domestic legal COVID restrictions will end in England. That means if you test positive for the coronavirus you no longer have to isolate by law, although the government still advises you to do so.

LOW TAX RISHI? Rishi Sunak will lay his claim to be a “low tax” chancellor in a speech today as he delivers the annual Mais lecture at the Bayes Business School at 12.30 p.m. Sunak has received tough criticism in Tory circles that the tax burden has risen too high during his pandemic-driven tenure and as he pays for Boris Johnson’s leveling up program — taxes in Britain will reach their highest levels since the 1970s next year. Today’s speech is a response to that sentiment, where Sunak will insist: “I firmly believe in lower taxes. The most powerful case for the dynamic market economy is that it brings economic freedom and prosperity. And the best expression of that freedom is for all of us to be able to make decisions about how to save, invest or use the money we earn. The marginal pound our country produces is far better spent by individuals and businesses than government.” The Telegraph front page goes with the optimistic headline: “Sunak vows to slash tax burden.” The FT says he is “channeling Thatcher” with a “pledge for low tax Britain.”

Just not yet … The trail for the speech is clear that Sunak is not proposing to cut taxes in a particularly radical way, nor to do it any time soon. “I am going to deliver a lower tax economy but I am going to do so in a responsible way, and in a way that tackles our long term challenges,” he will say, criticizing the idea that taxes should be cut even where that would leave spending pressures unfunded: “I am disheartened when I hear the flippant claim that ‘tax cuts always pay for themselves.’ They do not. Cutting tax sustainably requires hard work, prioritization, and the willingness to make difficult and often unpopular arguments elsewhere.” Translation: If Sunak does manage to cut taxes in this parliament, they may be accompanied by spending cuts. The Times says Sunak is pledging to put the economy before immediate tax cuts and the Mail leads with his rejection of tax cuts right away.

About that: The IMF last night that Sunak should raise taxes further now, and introduce higher incomes taxes and wealth taxes on the rich. The FT’s Chris Giles has that story.

What Labour is saying: Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves responds: “The chancellor may say he ‘believes’ in low taxes in his lecture — but the hard facts are that Sunak has hit households and business with 15 tax rises in two years in post — with an unfair National Insurance rise down the line — and he has raised the most tax on average per budget than any chancellor in the last 50 years.” Reeves has this attack line: “It is because the Conservatives are the party of low growth, that they are now the party of high tax.”

Tell it to under 40s: Graduates already whacked by successive Conservative governments have more bad news to wake up to this morning. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi announces controversial new plans to lower the repayment threshold on student loans from £27,295 to £25,000. As the FT reports, this means hundreds of pounds per year will cut from their take home pay, meaning it is yet another massive tax rise for younger people — who are already whacked by the looming National Insurance rise. (These changes affect students starting university next year.) The government is also extending the time at which unpaid loans are written off from 30 to 40 years. The scandal of massive interest rates on student loans is at least being addressed so that graduates will no longer repay more than they borrowed in real terms. But given many graduates currently pay hundreds of pounds per month to repay their student loans — often for low standard and overpriced courses that gave them just a few hours of teaching time a week, if that — not to mention the other taxes leveled at young people by the Tories, it is an understatement to conclude it will be difficult for the government to convince younger voters they are on their side.

Laddering up: The student loan changes come as part of the government’s response to the Augar Review. There will be changes to who can go to university: Students without English and maths GCSEs, or two A-levels at grade E, will not qualify for a student loan in England. FE Week reports the Association of School and College Leaders calls this “a ladder up, not leveling up.” The BBC leads with similar criticism. All in all, the government’s policy on students receives a rough landing in the papers. The DfE insisted to Playbook that the current student finance system was “clearly not sustainable” and that the new plan is “fairer for both students and the taxpayer.” They said Zahawi would also introduce lifelong learning opportunities that didn’t exist before, giving people the opportunity to train, retrain and upskill at any point in their life.

Starmer speaking too: Labour leader Keir Starmer is also giving a speech on the economy today, which will focus on his plans for “turning around the low growth” of the last decade. He will say: “With Labour, Britain will once again grow. And from the proceeds of that growth we will build a new economy and a new Britain, one based on security, prosperity and respect for all.” And he’ll lay out six policy areas aimed at increasing growth: “Reimagining the role of government as a partner to the private sector” … “Putting money back in people’s pockets” … “Restoring and revitalising the places that once powered Britain” … “Ending the era of insecure employment” … “Driving up productivity and wages” … and interestingly: “Taking advantage of the opportunities of Brexit.”

Worth noting: These Sunak and Starmer speeches may take on a different tone following events overnight.

What LOTO are reading: The FT’s Jim Pickard, George Parker and Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe have a long-read on Starmer that is worth your time. They travel to Erdington in the West Midlands, where the opposition are defending a by-election following the death of former MP Jack Dromey. The paper says “it is hard to detect much enthusiasm for Starmer” on the ground. The pieces asks “the less discussed question” of “whether the Labour party is in a position to take advantage of the disarray in the Johnson government,” or if “the party may be enjoying a time-limited sugar rush.” It’s an excellent and counter-intuitive story given recent coverage in Westminster and raises plenty of constructive criticism for Team Starmer.

CRUMBLEWATCH LATEST: A new report has landed spelling out the time and cost of keeping MPs in the Palace of Westminster while it is restored, estimating that it could cost up to £9 billion more and take 50 years longer than moving them off the estate. My POLITICO colleague Esther Webber writes that it also finds keeping MPs in parliament during restoration “substantially heightens the overall risk profile” — in particular the fire risk in the chamber. This is the same report presented to the Commons Commission last month, as revealed in Playbook, which cost £5 million to produce and has been greeted by the Commission deciding to … scrap the independent body which produced it. Nobody seems to know where we go from here. Over to the new leader of the House, Mark Spencer.

Cor, that’s a tough job mate, it’ll cost you: Esther has the almost unbelievable quotes being presented for the restoration work depending on whether MPs are relocated. A full decant of parliament puts the bill at £7-13 billion, with the work completed in 19-28 years. For a partial decant it’s £9.5-18.5 billion, taking 26-43 years. No decant is £11-22 billion taking 46-76 years. Playbook would probably get a few more quotes to be honest. In reality it’s another thing the country’s children will be paying for.

Partygate latest: Still very much on the back-burner. The main development yesterday was the confirmation from the Met that a police officer interrupted a Downing Street gathering during lockdown when someone accidentally set off an alarm. The Mail has that one.

Government announcements: NHS patients will be able to use a new platform to see the health service’s waiting times, NHS England has said … The U.K. will pledge £160 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to speed up vaccine development … The Environment Agency’s fish restocking programme has produced a record 627,495 fish this year.

Closer to home: The government is confident it won’t need to introduce any new measures to protect Brits if the Ukraine crisis triggers increased energy prices, PolHome’s Adam Payne reports. Officials who spoke to Payne said energy price protections introduced amid Britain’s own cost-of-living crisis would be sufficient even if the situation further escalates in Ukraine. The U.K. currently gets less than 3 percent of its gas from Russia, while the EU imports around 40 percent from there.

BOOZY ROW WITH SNACKS: A Tokyo trip for Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan risks being overshadowed by a row over black pudding and sparkling wine, POLITICO’s Emilio Casalicchio reports. Labour is piling on pressure over a failure to get Japan to recognize more than 70 protected British food and drink products following the updated trade deal between London and Tokyo. Emilio writes that Trevelyan’s predecessor Liz Truss claimed the products had been approved as part of the deal, which turned out not be true. More here for MTUK subscribers.

WHEN FREE COVID TESTING ENDS Unpaid carers face having to spend a fifth of their carer’s allowance on twice-weekly lateral flow tests, according to analysis by the Lib Dems. The around 11.5 million people in the U.K. who have to care for vulnerable family members weren’t namechecked as being a group who will continue to receive free COVID testing in April — though the government are yet to set out the full detail. Lib Dem leader Ed Davey said it was “heartless” that the government haven’t committed to provide tests for unpaid carers. The i’s Jane Merrick got the story.

CLASSIC: Yet another sympathetic edit to an MP’s Wikipedia page has been traced back to an anonymous user in parliament. Tory MP Bob Blackman’s page was scrubbed of mentions of an openDemocracy story about how Blackman had boasted about lobbying the U.K. government on behalf of “our good friends in Azerbaijan,” along with references to briefings he had received from high-level Azerbaijani figures. A Wikipedia editor restored the edits. Full story here from openDemocracy’s James Dowsett.

COMMITTEE CORRIDOR: Health Secretary Sajid Javid appears at PACAC for a session on the Coronavirus Act ahead of its expected expiry (10 a.m.) … and the transport committee is in Leeds for a check-in on the progress of HS2 with CEO Mark Thurston and West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin (10.30 a.m.).

LORDS: Sits from 11 a.m. with questions on any steps the U.K. is taking to encourage Ukraine to apply for NATO membership, the National Food Strategy and any progress made by the National Tutoring Program … Peers will then move on to the third reading of the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill — which would bring calling an election back into the armory of the PM — and day two of the Judicial Review and Courts Bill’s committee stage.

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Defense Secretary Ben Wallace broadcast round: Sky News (7.05 a.m.) … BBC Breakfast (7.30 a.m.) … LBC (7.50 a.m.).

Also on Kay Burley at Breakfast (Sky News): Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden (8.05 a.m.) … EU Ambassador to Ukraine Matti Maasikas (8.30 a.m.).

Julia Hartley-Brewer breakfast show (talkRADIO): Former Justice Secretary Robert Buckland (8.05 a.m.) … Tory MP Damian Green (9.05 a.m.).

Politics Live (BBC Two 12.15 p.m.): Tory MP Alicia Kearns … Former Home Secretary David Blunkett … JOE politics editor Oli Dugmore … Former Tory SpAd Anita Boateng.

The Briefing with Gloria De Piero (GB News 12 p.m.): Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth … Tory MPs Neil Hudson, Tory MP Marco Longhi and Pauline Latham.

Question Time (From Harrow, BBC One 10.35 p.m.): Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi … Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy … Oxford Uni professor Timothy Garton Ash … The Economist’s Anne McElvoy … Head teacher Katharine Birbalsingh.

Reviewing the papers tonight: Sky News (10.30 p.m. and 11.30 p.m.): Columnist Carole Malone and editor of the Courier David Clegg … Times Radio (10.30 p.m.): Columnist for the Article Ali Miraj and broadcaster Aggie MacKenzie.


(Click on the publication’s name to see its front page.)

Daily Express: Hell-bent … no stopping Putin.

Daily Mail: Security chief tells our spies to go woke.

Daily Mirror: Welcome to hell.

Daily Star: Vlad’s full tonto.

Financial Times: Brussels hits Putin’s inner circle as U.S. hardens invasion warning.

HuffPost UK: Parliament’s shock repair bill revealed.

i: Students to face ‘lifelong graduate tax.’

Metro: Putin’s gone ‘full tonto’.

POLITICO UK: Blasts rock Ukrainian cities as Putin declares war.

PoliticsHome: Boris Johnson says U.K. will send further military support to Ukraine after Russian invasion.

The Daily Telegraph: Sunak vows to slash tax burden.

The Guardian: State of emergency in Ukraine as U.S. warns Putin ready to invade.

The Independent: U.K. oil and gas drilling must end, ministers told.

The Sun: Crown jewels stolen.*

The Times: Students set to shoulder £100k bill for degrees.


POLITICO Europe: Kyiv calm in the face of a Russian menace.

The New European: Surviving Storm Johnson.

The New Statesman: Darkness falls — A special issue on the Russian-Ukraine crisis.

The Spectator: Vlad the invader — Niall Ferguson and Timothy Garton Ash on Putin’s next move.


WESTMINSTER WEATHER: 🌧🌧🌨 Showers — sleet and rain — most of the day, with highs of 8C.

NOW HIRING: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is advertising for a new parliamentary assistant. Advert here.

BIRTHDAYS: POLITICO’s own Emilio Casalicchio … Former Labour MP John Grogan … Retired crossbench peer Kathleen Richardson … Former Alliance leader David Ford … Teneo CEO Nick Claydon Former Norwegian PM Erna Solberg.

PLAYBOOK COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT: My editor Zoya Sheftalovich, reporter Andrew McDonald and producer Grace Stranger.

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