Financial Times – James Politi et al. / Biden predicts Russia will ‘move in’ on Ukraine
- US President Joe Biden predicted Russia would “move in” on Ukraine, and warned an invasion would be a “disaster” for Vladimir Putin, as he urged the west to remain united in holding Moscow accountable for any aggression.
- At a news conference in Washington on Wednesday, Biden said Russia would “pay a stiff price, immediately, short-term, medium-term and long-term” in the event of an invasion of its neighbour Ukraine.
- However, the US president’s comments on the western response to Russian aggression were muddied by his suggestion that a “minor incursion” into Ukraine might yield lighter retaliation, which the White House was later forced to clarify.
- “If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” said Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary.
- Foreign Policy – Stephen M. Walt / Liberal illusions caused the Ukraine crisis
The Guardian – Rowena Mason and Jessica Elgot / ‘In the name of God, go’: Tory fury spills over as Boris Johnson clings on
- Boris Johnson has faced a defection and a demand to quit from one of his most senior MPs during a dramatic day in Westminster, with even allies of the prime minister warning the current situation cannot go on.
- David Davis caused shockwaves when he told Johnson in the Commons: “In the name of God, go.” Less than an hour earlier, Christian Wakeford, the MP for Bury South, quit the Conservatives and joined Labour in fury at the Downing Street parties scandal.
- The prime minister vowed to battle on in No 10 and his supporters insisted he now had the breathing space for a fightback, with many MPs awaiting the outcome of the Sue Gray inquiry.
- But Johnson faces a growing clamour from Tory backbenchers to buy their support in any confidence vote by ditching a £12bn-a-year tax rise this spring. National insurance contributions are due to increase from April to fund health and social care and any U-turn could risk a showdown with the chancellor, Rishi Sunak.
- The Economist / Boris Johnson’s broken premiership
- French President Emmanuel Macron urged Europe to invest in its own collective security framework in the face of Russian military moves on the bloc’s doorstep. He also called for a “frank” EU dialogue with Russia in his address to the European Parliament on Wednesday at the start of France’s six-month rotating presidency of the European Council.
- Macron said Europeans needed to build their own collective security pact and re-arm themselves after Russia prompted fears of a Ukraine invasion with a significant troop buildup on the border.
- “Europe needs to finally build its own collective security framework on our continent,” he told lawmakers in Strasbourg in eastern France.
- “Security on our continent requires strategic rearmament,” he said, adding that “frank and demanding” talks with Russia were also required.
- Politico – Maïa de la Baume and Rym Momtaz / Macron’s EU speech descends into French campaign brawl
Financial Times – Benjamin Parkin and Farhan Bokhari / Taliban victory unleashes hardline forces in Pakistan
- Groups of Taliban fighters, dressed in the group’s usual assortment of military fatigues and shawls, have massed on Afghanistan’s long and arid southern border with Pakistan.
- The Durand Line, a 19th century boundary demarcated by British imperialists, is fiercely rejected by many on both sides of the border for carving up the traditional lands of the Pashtun people, tens of millions of whom live on either side.
- In a series of choreographed, well-publicised incidents, Taliban fighters dismantled poles and barbed wire erected by Pakistan, accompanied by denunciations from their leaders. In one video, local fighters appeared to topple a pillar emblazoned with the Pakistani flag and rolled it down a sandy hill.
- Pakistan has long been one of the Taliban’s most important advocates, from openly supporting its regime before 2001 to allegedly providing a haven to the group during the US war. Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed the Islamists’ military conquest in August and has lobbied for more international assistance for its government.
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – Abdul Sayed / The evolution and future of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan
Today’s longer reads:
- Financial Times – Leslie Hook and Steven Bernard / Weather events cost the US $145bn in 2021 as climate change took hold
- European Council on Foreign Relations – Michaël Tanchum / Gateway to growth: how the European Green Deal can strengthen Africa’s and Europe’s economies