Good evening. One of Vladimir Putin’s closest allies has claimed that Russia “is not at war with Ukraine”, but is fighting Britain and the US. We’ve got the latest on the Kremlin’s hardliner’s comments amid warnings of a second global recession this decade.
Evening briefing: today’s most important headlines
strikes | The TUC has said the government’s proposed anti-strike legislation is an attack on the right to strike and urged MPs to block it. TUC general secretary Paul Nowak warned that if it becomes law, the legislation will “prolong disputes and poison labor relations – leading to more frequent strikes”. However, Downing Street said the laws are not intended to prevent people from going on strike, but rather to act as a “safety net” to keep critical services running during strikes. No. 10 also defended Rishi Sunak after the prime minister used an RAF plane to fly to Leeds for an NHS-related visit yesterday.
The big story: Russia ‘at war with Britain and the US’
A Kremlin hardliner has made the outlandish claim that Russia “is not at war with Ukraine,” adding that Moscow was in fact fighting Britain and the US. Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told the newspaper Argumenti i Fakti: “The events in Ukraine are not a clash between Moscow and Kiev – this is a military confrontation between Russia and NATO, and especially the United States and Great Britain. Britain.”
Patrushev, who is seen by diplomats as one of the main hardline influences on Putin, added: “The plans of the Westerners are to continue to tear Russia apart and eventually just take it off the political map of the erase the world.”
The comments come as the US considers sending Stryker armored fighting vehicles to Kiev. James Crisp writes that Washington is considering supplying the Stryker, which can carry nine soldiers but is not a tank, to repel an expected offensive by Russia in the spring.
There are also renewed calls for the UK to step up its military aid to Kiev by sending tanks. Dominic Nichols believes that the British Challenger II will be the most capable armored vehicle donated to Ukraine if Rishi Sunak’s government decides to increase military support.
Some in Whitehall’s security organization will fear that such sophisticated military secrets will fall into Russian hands. However, it seems that Kyiv’s stubborn resistance has convinced outside supporters of the need to provide more advanced combat power; to switch from making sure Ukraine doesn’t lose to making sure it wins.
US officials said Russian artillery fire has decreased by nearly 75 percent, suggesting Moscow’s position on the battlefield is weakening. We asked three experts for their thoughts on scenarios Russia faces if their war effort is unsuccessful.
Missing Britons were ‘evacuating civilians’
Two British aid workers missing in Ukraine were attempting to evacuate civilians from the frontline as Russian troops “launched an offensive,” according to a colleague.
Christopher Parry, 28, and Andrew Bagshaw, 48, who worked to rescue Ukrainians trapped in conflict zones, have not been seen since Friday.
Joe Barnes writes that humanitarian worker Christian Campbell, who worked with the pair to rescue people in frightening conditions, said they entered Soledar to “carry out an evacuation while the Russian forces unfortunately launched an offensive on the village”.
Mr Campbell, who is from Tennessee, said “teams are working to find them” and urged people to “pray for the return of Chris and Andrew and for their families during this time”.
Russia is borrowing a record $56 billion
Russia’s budget deficit rose to a record high in December as revenues plummeted due to restrictions on oil exports and spending on war efforts grew. The fiscal gap hit a record 3.9 trillion rubles ($56 billion) last month, according to Bloomberg calculations based on preliminary government data released today.
Meanwhile, petrol prices have fallen below 150 pence per liter for the first time since the invasion of Ukraine. Fuel rose to a record 191.53 pa liters in July as Western sanctions against Russian oil affected supply chains. Ambrose Evans Pritchard writes that a drop in gas prices means now is the time to end the catastrophe over the issue as Putin’s gas weapon is enriched.
Comment and analysis
World news: ‘Storm Biden’s homes,’ Trump tells FBI
The FBI should “storm” Joe Biden’s property, Donald Trump said after classified Obama administration documents were found in an office associated with the president. Lawyers for Mr Biden discovered the documents last November while clearing office space sometimes used by the president at a Washington think tank. The documents were then turned over to the National Archives, which handles all this material, Biden’s special counsel Richard Sauber said. Trump responded with a post on his Truth Social platform writing, “When is the FBI going to raid Joe Biden’s many homes, maybe even the White House? These documents have certainly not been released.”
Tuesday long read
‘A health scare motivated me to lose two stone – and it all came down to my diet’
From Midlife Fitness Files: The Telegraph’s health series, where we take advice from midlifers as they talk us through their weekly regimen
Read the piece
Sports News: Counties Must Embrace ‘Bazball’
Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum have told the 18 first-class counties to embrace their new fearless ‘Bazball’ philosophy as part of a major push to bring more alignment and cooperation to English cricket. Stokes and McCullum, England’s Test captain and coach, addressed a meeting of county cricket directors about the way they want to play and the qualities they look for in potential international players. Meanwhile, Coventry Rugby said they were “incredibly sad” to learn of the death of England and Lions great David Duckham at the age of 76.
Movie | The Glorious History of Ricky Gervais’ Golden Globes Insults
Sport | Why top female players want to leave tennis
Opera | Why touring is vital to the survival of opera in the UK
Business news: Second global recession looming
The World Bank has warned that a second global recession is lurking this decade as it cut its growth forecasts for nearly all advanced economies this year and next. World Bank president David Malpass said Russia’s war in Ukraine, stubbornly high inflation and global interest rate hikes threatened to add to the “already devastating” legacy of Covid and resulting global lockdowns. Meanwhile, Amazon is closing three UK warehouses, putting 1,200 jobs at risk as the online retail giant restructures its UK operations amid an economic slowdown.
Tonight starts now
Seven remote destinations you can only reach by boat | The words “cruise” and “intrepid exploration” don’t often go hand in hand, but there are some parts of the world that you can only get to by boat – and some of those boats have en-suite cabins and Captain’s Tables. From the paradise islands of the South Pacific to the frigid waters of Antarctica, read about the places planes, trains, and cars can’t reach, but cruise ships can.
Three things for you
And finally…for tonight’s downtime
10 things we used to do, from calling friends to polishing silver | Kiwi shoe polish is no longer sold in the UK as we all wear trainers. It makes you think: what we no longer do may be more revealing about the way we live now than the things we do. Here are 10 examples.