The Papers: ‘State of emergency’ and Putin goes ‘full tonto’

The Papers: ‘State of emergency’ and Putin goes ‘full tonto’

By BBC News


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Many of the papers focus on the rising tensions in Ukraine, with the Daily Mirror leading on the nation’s warning to possible Russian invaders: “Welcome to hell”. The paper says Ukraine has called up 200,000 reservists while Russian forces have ordered 45,000 body bags.

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The Guardian’s story focuses on the state of emergency declared in Ukraine and says the country suffered a massive cyber-attack on its government ministries and banks – which officials have warned could be a precursor to an all-out military assault.

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The EU has imposed sanctions on the Russian president’s chief of staff and defence minister in a bid to target Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, the Financial Times’ lead story reports. The paper also says the US has firmed up its warnings of invasion, saying Russian troops are “as ready as they can be”.

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The Metro leads with the comments of UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, made to military personnel, that Mr Putin has gone “full tonto” – meaning he is mad to invade Ukraine with “no friends, no alliances”. A former Scots Guard, Mr Wallace said his regiment had “kicked the backside of Tsar Nicholas in 1853” during the Crimean War, and “we can always do it again”.

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“Vlad’s gone full Tonto!” is the Daily Star’s take on the same story, with the paper saying: “We’ve been thinking it but our defence secretary said it out loud: “Vlad’s mad.”

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The headline on the Daily Express front page characterises the Russian president as “hell-bent” on an invasion, taking the phrase from UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. The paper says US intelligence suggests Mr Putin is primed to give the order to invade in the next 24 hours.

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The i newspaper splits its front page between an image of a convoy of Russian military vehicles heading towards Ukraine’s eastern border and its lead story, a warning that university students in England face a “lifelong graduate tax” under plans to extent the repayment period of student loans.

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“Students set to shoulder £100k bill for degrees” is how the Times headlines the same story. The paper calculates that someone taking out a £45,000 loan to pay for their tuition fees and living expenses would face payments until retirement totalling £100,000 under “dramatic changes” being brought in from September of next year.

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak “vows to slash tax burden”, says the Daily Telegraph, previewing a speech on Thursday in which he is expected to set out his economic vision. The paper says he will reject calls to cut taxes immediately, citing concerns over the cost of borrowing, but he will promise to do so in the years ahead.

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The Daily Mail says that spies in MI5 and MI6 have been told to “go woke”, based on a leaked guide to diversity and inclusion. The paper says security services staff are being urged to consider their “white privilege” and to declare their pronouns, and reports criticism that they should be focusing on events in Ukraine instead.

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And the Sun adds an asterisk to its eye-catching headline: “Crown jewels stolen”. A cheeky footnote reveals they are referring to precious gems and antiques used in the hit Netflix series, The Crown, rather than the royal regalia held at the Tower of London.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin announcing military action in Ukraine after the newspapers went to press, their websites have been updating with the latest reports.

“Putin declares war,” is the Sun’s stark headline.

The paper says the invasion began after a televised address early this morning “from a defiant Putin”, who rejected last night’s calls for peace from Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

It says Russian forces appear to be targeting military infrastructure in early strikes, with explosions reported at airfields, military headquarters and military warehouses.

The paper says the operation began amid warnings from world leaders that it could spark the biggest war in Europe since 1945.

The Daily Mail website talks of missiles raining down on Kyiv and unconfirmed reports of a huge seaborne landing by Russian forces in the Black Sea port of Odessa, involving large landing craft and helicopters.

The Daily Mirror’s website reports that people can be seen fleeing Kyiv, as others sheltered in basements to the sound of distant explosions.

The Independent says President Putin’s announcement confirms fears he was massing troops along the border ahead of a strategic offensive.

It also highlights what it calls the “emotional” address by President Zelensky in which he said that he and his people wanted peace with Russia, but would defend themselves.

But the Daily Express website says Mr Putin’s support is crumbling, as Russians appear to be losing patience with what it calls his “warmongering”.

It cites a recent survey by CNN, which shows that support among Russians for military force against Ukraine – to prevent it from joining Nato – has dropped to 50%, with a quarter of the Russian population indicating it would be wrong.

The Financial Times highlights the tightening of EU sanctions against Russia, saying that Brussels has “hit Putin’s inner circle”.

In its leader, the FT turns its sights on the UK’s sanctions response so far and says “Londongrad” ties to the Kremlin need to be cut.

It says Russia’s renewed aggression towards Ukraine should be a wake-up call to the UK “over who it is willing to do business with”.

Away from the Ukraine crisis, the Times says government plans to reform the loan system for university students in England means they will “shoulder” a bill of £100,000 for gaining a degree.

The i newspaper likens the change to a “lifelong graduate tax”.

“Sunak vows to slash tax burden” is the headline on the front of the Daily Telegraph.

It says that the chancellor will use a major speech today to lay out his vision for “economic freedom”, but will also hint at spending cuts in the years ahead.

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And the Telegraph reports that home abortions – where women can get pills by post to terminate a pregnancy in the first 10 weeks – will be axed in the autumn.

The service had started in the pandemic but the paper says there have been long wrangles in the government about women’s reproductive rights.

The paper says leading medics have voiced concern about the service ending, saying the move will be “devastating for women” and a “huge backward step”.

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