Will Biden support Ukraine’s attacks on Russia?

46 min listen

This week: will Biden support Ukraine’s attacks on Russia? Owen Matthews writes the cover piece in light of the Zelensky drone offensive. Ukraine’s most successful strategy to date has been its ingenious use of homemade, long-range drones, which it has used to strike military targets as well as oil refineries and petrol storage facilities in Russia. The strikes are working but have alienated the US, who draw a red line when it comes to attacks on Russian soil. Owen joins the podcast alongside Svitlana Morenets, author of The Spectator’s Ukraine in Focus newsletter to debate what comes next. (01:44) Next: Will and Lara take us through some of their favourite pieces in

Are Brits losing sympathy for Ukraine?

Britons were keen to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. A month into the war, more than half thought we hadn’t gone far enough. That was after the government had frozen the assets of Russia’s banks, banned the Russian airline Aeroflot from landing in Britain, and sanctioned Putin and his cabinet. Voters wanted more sanctions, even if it hurt the economy. Now, though, it seems the public isn’t so sure. Only a quarter of Britons think we should give Ukraine more support, according to a YouGov poll this month. We’ve given it tanks. Should we now send jets? Democratic governments often find it hard to keep up support for war, especially when it entails sacrifices. But history shows

Will Nato accept Ukraine?

Shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky made an offer to Vladimir Putin. Ukraine would drop its ambition to join Nato and would instead stay neutral, he said. It would not align with the West, in exchange for an end to hostilities. It was a sincere offer, and unpopular with Ukrainians. Yet it was significant: Putin had cited Ukraine’s Nato ambitions as the main reason for the invasion, saying it showed the West was somehow threatening Russia. But today, that offer ended and Zelensky is seeking the ‘accelerated’ Nato accession granted to Finland and Sweden this year. Will Nato accept? Jens Stoltenberg, Nato Secretary-General, dodged the question when asked today. ‘Our focus

Ukraine stuns Russia with a counter-offensive in Kherson region

The southern city of Kherson, which fell to Russian forces in the first few days of the war, is one of the places Ukraine would need to liberate if Putin’s army is to be repelled. But what realistic chance is there? Many argued that the Russian occupation is a one-way process: that having taken Crimea, Putin would extend his reach northwards and westwards – with the only question being how long Ukraine could hold off an offensive from its far-bigger enemy.  But that conversation is changing, and fast. This morning, the Ukrainian army broke through the first line of the Russian defence in Kherson region – a move that was

Why Crimea could be key to Ukraine winning the war

Over the six months since Russia invaded Ukraine, the ambitions of President Zelensky and his compatriots have only grown. From an early readiness to engage in talks – first in Belarus and then in Istanbul – Kyiv has progressed to an insistence that Ukraine can win, and from there to a definition of victory that includes not just a return to the status quo before the war, but the restoration of Ukraine’s post-independence borders, and now also the recovery of Crimea. Zelensky himself has often seemed slower than some in his entourage to expand the mission. But he has been adding his voice to those calling for the recovery of Crimea for

Can Zelensky afford to freeze Ukraine’s gas prices?

This morning, Volodymyr Zelensky signed a moratorium on energy prices – so while gas bills are rising all over Europe, Ukraine will remain unaffected. This honours a pledge he made on his election. Freezing energy bills is a standard populist policy in Ukrainian politics (in a country where temperatures can reach -25ºC and the elderly can’t afford to buy medicine, it’s hard to win without making such promises). But there are now serious worries about whether it could bankrupt a government that needs all the money it can get to fight a war. Energy prices will be frozen until six months after martial law ends in Ukraine: the pledge is

Zelensky’s peculiar Glastonbury appearance

Volodymyr Zelensky didn’t quite make it onto the Glastonbury line-up posters. Perhaps Michael Eavis, the owner of ever-so Worthy Farm, had last-minute difficulties with the Ukrainian President’s booking agent. No matter. An eight-foot-high image of President Zelensky’s face graced the Pyramid Stage on Friday, right before ageing indie rockers The Libertines belted out their two-decades-old bangers. ‘Time for Heroes’, but not before festival-goers had enjoyed a brief set by Europe’s very own hero. You’d be forgiven for thinking the shtick’s getting a bit tired – but at least Pete Doherty can just about hold a tune. ‘Glastonbury is the greatest concentration of freedom these days,’ Zelensky told the festival. And

The West is watching the war in Ukraine like it’s sport

Every time I hear a politician speak of Munich, I suspect that something is amiss. Last week, President Zelensky accused former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger of living in the ‘deep past’, and demanding that ‘a part of Ukraine be given to Russia’. ‘It seems that Mr. Kissinger has 1938 on the calendar instead of 2022’, Zelensky said. He wasn’t alone: figures from the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to the former chess champion Garry Kasparov put themselves on the record timidly or violently disagreeing with Kissinger. I wasn’t at Davos, but I learned of Kissinger’s revelations through Twitter. A major newspaper had declared that he ‘came close to

Zelensky has saved Boris

Labour will try all it can to bring up the subject at every opportunity; as will a few backbench MPs. But partygate just doesn’t feel likely to prove fatal to Boris Johnson anymore. War in Ukraine has changed the dynamic: fussing over lockdown parties seems trivial and out of date. Keir Starmer’s continued plugging away on the matter makes him look even duller than normal. Rishi Sunak’s stock has plummeted after what many saw as a bungled spring statement. But if Boris Johnson does stage a revival, the figure he will have most to thank is Volodymyr Zelensky. The Ukrainian President has made it quite clear on more than one

Bono’s ‘poem’ was an insult to the craft of verse

Poet’, said Robert Frost, ‘is a praise-word’. So it is. That explains in part the unabashed delight with which Colm Tóibín, speaking in our current Book Club podcast, talks about publishing his fine first poetry collection Vinegar Hill – decades of international acclaim as a novelist notwithstanding. Poetry is a high-status artform, perhaps the highest. Yet unlike most other artforms, very many people seem to think of it as something that anyone can do. You wouldn’t expect to be able to write a symphony, or build a suspension bridge, or win Wimbledon, without many years of apprenticeship and intimate attention to the work of those who have excelled in those

Zelensky’s address was strange, but sensational

This afternoon, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the House of Commons. A single flat-screen TV broadcast his speech to a packed chamber. Zelensky appeared in plain green fatigues next to Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow flag. He looked pale, tired, fearless and determined. Squads of foreign killers are roaming his homeland trying to find him. His words were spoken in English by a translator who probably had no advance sight of the text. The halting, ungrammatical phrases made the address strangely powerful. ‘I would like to tell you about the 13 days of war. The war that we did not start.’ Zelensky’s goal is simple. ‘We do not want to lose what