Good evening. Vladimir Putin lashed out at Western elites, exiled Russian tycoons and even the Church of England, during a lengthy state-of-the-nation address. We have analysis of the speech, as well as his decision to walk away from the world’s last remaining nuclear arms treaty.
Evening briefing: Today’s essential headlines
Brexit | Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested that the Prime Minister is repeating Theresa May’s Brexit mistakes by failing to secure the support of the DUP and Tory Brexiteers before negotiating with the EU.
Putin walks away from the world’s last nuclear arms treaty
In his first state-of-the-nation address since unleashing the war in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin announced he is suspending the world’s last remaining nuclear arms control treaty, sparking fears of a global arms race. The Russian president called efforts to make him follow the New Start treaty’s cap on weapons a “theatre of absurdity”.
Natalia Vasilyeva writes that the announcement follows months of bickering between Russia and the US, as the two accused each other of blocking inspections to make sure each country is sticking to a limit of 1,550 strategic warheads.
The Russian president told a gathering of Russian MPs, members of his cabinet, governors and religious leaders, that he would not let American experts visit Russia’s nuclear sites “during the current confrontation”.
The New Start treaty expires in 2026, but on-site inspections stopped in 2020 due to the pandemic – we have a closer look at how the treaty works here. Putin’s decision to suspend the treaty came at the end of a long speech in which he blamed the West and the US for triggering the war.
However, almost exactly a year since he ordered troops into Ukraine, Putin still appears unable to present concrete results for the invasion – something that even his supporters criticize him for.
He merely said the goal of the war was to “defend our own home” and prevent attacks on “historic” Russian territory, which he claimed includes parts of southern and eastern Ukraine.
Roland Oliphant writes that his tone was regretful and defiant rather than violent and triumphalist.
Washington attacked Putin’s claim that Russia had been threatened by the West as a justification for invading Ukraine as an “absurdity.”
Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, told reporters: “Nobody is attacking Russia. There’s a kind of absurdity in the notion that Russia was under some form of military threat from Ukraine or anyone else.”
Mr. Sullivan also dismissed Putin’s claim that the West was responsible for the war in Ukraine: “If Russia stops fighting the war in Ukraine and goes home, the war ends,” he said. “If Ukraine stops fighting, and the United States and the coalition stops helping them fight, Ukraine disappears from the map.”
While billions of pounds have been sent to Kyiv, not all Western allies have been equal in their support and Telegraph analysis has revealed the five EU countries whose imports from Russia have increased since the invasion.
Criticises the idea of a ‘gender-neutral’ God
Putin also attacked the Church of England for “considering the idea of a gender-neutral God”. Flanked by Russian flags on either side during his address, Putin said of the West: “They distort historical facts, constantly attack our culture, the Russian Orthodox Church, and other traditional religions of our country” – you can watch a Here is a video of his comments on the Church of England.
His criticism came after Church of England bishops revealed that they are to launch a “project on gendered language” referencing God in church services later this year.
Our social and religious affairs editor Gabriella Swerling writes that it comes amid calls from some liberal wings of the Church to scrap the male pronouns, He and Him, as well as reference to Our Father, in favor of either gender neutral or female alternatives.
Biden hits back from Warsaw
In a rousing speech in Poland, Joe Biden rejected Putin’s claims and said America is not seeking to destroy Russia. The set piece event in front of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw comes after his surprise visit to Kyiv yesterday, where he vowed to continue supporting Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, for “as long as it takes.”
In Warsaw, the US president said: “The world is at an inflection point. The decisions we make over the next five years or so will shape our lives for decades to come.”
Comment and analysis
World news: Baby born under earthquake rubble is adopted
A newborn baby who was pulled from an earthquake-shattered building in Syria still attached by umbilical cord to her dead mother has been adopted by her aunt and uncle. Baby Afraa, who was named after her late mother, was the only survivor from her immediate family when the February 6 earthquake destroyed their home in the north-west Syrian town of Jindaris, five miles from the Turkish border. The baby’s mother had went into labor shortly after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck southern Turkey and died shortly afterwards, alongside the baby’s father and four siblings.
Interview of the day
Jill Scott: I’d rather be known for my football than as ‘that girl from the jungle’
After winning the Euros with England and I’m A Celebrity on retirement, the former Man City midfielder is nurturing the next generation.
Sport news: Leeds United appoint Javi Gracia
Leeds United have appointed Javi Gracia as their new manager want him in place in time for Saturday’s crucial relegation encounter with Southampton. Jason Burt and Ian Whittell report that the struggling Premier League club have to conclude work permit formalities and are eager to have the 52-year-old Spanish coach in their dug-out on Saturday. The appointment comes in the wake of the weekend defeat at Everton that left them in the bottom three after a run of 10 games without a victory.
Travel | Europe is turning its back on British tourists – and it’s class based
Health | ‘We had 10 patients but only seven beds – it’s an impossible puzzle doctors face every day’
Ukraine | Russia’s war on medics, hospitals and patients exposed
Business news: Asda begins rationing fruit and vegetables
Supermarkets have started rationing items of fruit and vegetables after a poor harvest in Spain and North Africa left gaps on supermarket shelves. Asda is limiting customers to a maximum of three items each across tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, as well as other products which are detailed on our business live blog. And from tomorrow, Morrisons will only allow customers to buy a maximum of two each of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and peppers.
Reports from Ukraine: One year on from the invasion
‘A million to one miracle’: Ukraine church describes brush with death after Russian attack | Parishioners in a Kyiv suburb remember hiding in a bunker as Putin’s armed forces closed in during Moscow’s early attempt to take the capital.
Tonight starts now
The six best pancake recipes for Shrove Tuesday | From crisp to fluffy, banoffee to bacon, let our culinary experts guide you through all the different batters.
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And finally… for this evening’s downtime
I flew 6,000 miles for ‘energy medicine’ to try to heal my gut | Integrative wellness retreat Rakxa in Thailand blends cutting-edge science with ancient methods of healing – but does it work?