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7 March

In the headlines

After previously breaking ceasefires to attack fleeing Ukrainian citizens, Russia has offered residents of some cities evacuation routes that lead to Russia and Belarus. A spokesperson for Volodymyr Zelensky labelled the proposal “completely immoral”. A whistleblower in Russian intelligence has branded the Ukraine invasion a “total failure”, says The Times. The whistleblower claims the number of Russian dead could already have reached 10,000, and that the war has been given a “provisional deadline” of June, given the economic pressures on Russia. The UN says more than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine since the conflict began, only 50 of whom have been accepted by Britain as refugees. Home Secretary Priti Patel tells The Sun she is “urgently escalating” Britain’s humanitarian response to allow more people in.

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The green “delusion” that put us at Putin’s mercy

How has Vladimir Putin managed to invade Ukraine? One crucial factor, says Michael Shellenberger in Common Sense, is that the Russian president understands economic realities better than his counterparts in the West. “The maths is simple”: Europe produces less than a quarter of the oil it needs, and less than half the natural gas. Russia produces more than three times as much oil as it needs, and nearly twice as much gas. And Europe is utterly dependent on Russian energy. When Brussels announced sanctions on the country last month, it specifically exempted energy products.

UK politics

Ukraine has shaken up British politics

The Ukrainian invasion has turned British politics on its head, says Dan Hodges in The Mail on Sunday. For one thing, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace “has emerged as the Cabinet’s Action Man”. He started sending weapons to Ukraine back in January, and because he’s on first-name terms with defence ministers across the West, he’s been able to rapidly mobilise a strong response to the crisis. Now he’s “de facto Deputy Prime Minister” in Boris Johnson’s unofficial “War Cabinet” – something Foreign Secretary Liz Truss doesn’t seem too happy about. Truss is also competing for Johnson’s ear with the Evening Standard’s Russian owner Evgeny Lebedev, who, according to one No 10 insider, WhatsApps the PM “a lot”.


“Covid has really highlighted our cultural differences,” says Zoe Strimpel in The Sunday Telegraph. New York Times theatre critic Laura Collins-Hughes visited London last month for a week of shows but found herself driven into “fits of anxiety” – she even walked out of one play – because so many in the audience were “barefaced” (not wearing masks). She couldn’t understand “how anyone could be so reckless as to gamble with [the actors’] health”. I feel differently, says Strimpel. New Yorkers may be terrified of contagion, but I prefer, and am “even a little bit proud of, Britain’s relatively lax ways”.


Australian cricket legend Shane Warne, who died on Friday, was a notorious ladies’ man. When England cricketer Adam Hollioake first played against Australia, Warne tried to unsettle him by naming Hollioake’s Australian relatives: Uncle Rex, Auntie Jan, and so on. “I was like, how the hell do you guys know Auntie Jan?” Hollioake recalls. “I knew Warnie was a bit of a womaniser… As I faced my first ball in Test cricket, that’s all I can think about. My first ball is just a blur. I’m just trying to solve the puzzle: has Warnie been around to see my Auntie Jan?”

On the way out

Chicken kievs, which Sainsbury’s is renaming chicken kyivs, switching the Soviet-era Russian name “Kiev” for the Ukrainian version. The supermarket is also withdrawing Russian-made vodka from its shelves, says The Guardian, as have other chains like Waitrose, Aldi and Morrisons.

Gone viral

A CCTV image purporting to show a group of Russian paratroopers stuck in a lift in Ukraine has been circulating on social media. They were apparently trying to reach the top floor when the building’s caretaker cut the power. “I hope they designated a pee corner,” says one user of a Reddit message board.


The set of Lupin, a hit French-language Netflix series about a master thief, has been robbed. A gang of about 20 masked intruders stole around £250,000 worth of equipment while filming was taking place in a Paris suburb. They carried off the heist in true cinematic style, says The Hollywood Reporter, launching fireworks into the set to “sow havoc” while they made off with the gear.


It’s a waxwork of Vladimir Putin, which has been taken off display in France’s Grévin Museum and put into storage. “Current events mean we don’t want him here and the staff don’t want to walk past him every day,” says the museum’s director. He added that Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky could even take Putin’s place in the museum’s display of world leaders.


Quoted 7.3.22

“By the time a man realises that his father was right, he has a son who thinks he’s wrong.”

Pianist Charles Wadsworth