Russia Ukrain Kyiv
The aftermath of Russian shelling outside Kyiv, Ukraine (Image: AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

RUSSIA ATTACKS UKRAINE

Ukraine is now under a full-scale attack from Russia, with the military attacking the country from Russia and Belarus in the north, and Crimea in the south, and from land, sea, and air, BBC reports. At least 40 Ukrainian servicemen and dozens of civilians are dead so far, Ukraine’s ambassador to Washington says. Russia has lost two helicopters and seven aircraft in combat, The New York Times reports. Ukraine’s health minister posted on Facebook that Russia is firing at hospitals, while footage shows an explosion at one of Ukraine’s international airports. Russia has also seized the Chernobyl power plant, a hydro plant, and an airfield so far. In Kyiv, the capital, air-raid sirens are sounding and highways are bumper to bumper as Ukrainians flee, The Guardian says. One defence official told the NYT, “we haven’t seen a conventional move like this, nation-state to nation-state, since World War II”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Moscow’s response will be “instant” if anyone tries to take on Russia — but overnight UK PM Boris Johnson has confirmed new sanctions anyway, as BBC writes — he’s frozen assets in all major Russian banks, he’s frozen the assets of 100 new entities or individuals, and he’s banned airline Aeroflot from landing in the UK. In the US overnight, President Joe Biden has vowed sanctions will target Russian elites, top banks, and technology exports, but says US troops will not fight in Ukraine, the NYT continues. Hundreds of Russians have taken to the streets to protest the Ukrainian invasion, despite Putin’s deadly reputation for dissent.

Back home, the Australian Stock Exchange lost $73 billion in one day amid the attack, AFR says, with the bulk of the losses sustained by mining, energy, and technology shares, The West ($) adds. It is expected further rounds of sanctions will be announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the coming days — yesterday travel bans and financial sanctions were confirmed, ABC reports.

HOT AND COAL

Western Australia has broken a 44-year-old record as temperatures reach 35 degrees yet again — meaning Perth has sweated through the most summer days over 35 degrees since 1977-78, The West ($) reports. The Bureau of Meteorology has warned that Perth is also set to get its hottest summer ever. It’s a different story in Sydney, where more wet weather is on the way this weekend. It’ll be muggy and 27 degrees today, with four to 15mm of rain to fall, but Sydneysiders should see around 25-30mm on the weekend.

It comes after a week of torrential downpours in Sydney, which “have swollen waterways, triggered floods, inundated roads, brought down trees and damaged homes,” the SMH reports. In Queensland, a woman has been found dead in her submerged vehicle on the Sunshine Coast after being trapped in floodwaters, SBS reports. Several people are still missing across Queensland and searches by emergency services are underway in the state’s south-east. Increasingly wild weather is one of several certainties if we do not act meaningfully on climate change, according to the IPCC.

Speaking of — the Greens will guarantee coal workers new jobs at their existing pay rates in a new policy unveiled today, The New Daily reports. It’s inspired by a German policy and works like this: a jobs-for jobs package will cover 50% of a coal worker’s wage for a decade, subsidising employers outside the fossil fuel sectors who offer a job with equivalent coal job pay. If you’re a coal worker over 55, you get the wage subsidy for 12 years while you transition to retirement, and if you can’t find a job at all you get the subsidy directly, Guardian Australia reports. Greens Leader Adam Bandt says we don’t need to shut down the mining industry — we need critical minerals and green metal processing — we just need to bail on coal.

COP A LOAD OF THIS

More than 1000 Victorian cops have been carrying guns and issuing charges without authorisation, according to The Age. Yesterday Victoria’s top cop Shane Patton revealed an “administrative error” had led to hundreds of police, protective services officers, and custody officers being sworn in by someone without the authority. The issue dates back to 2014, which means “innumerable” arrests, charges, searches, and evidence now have a question mark over them. It’s caused a bit of chaos — some cases have been adjourned for eight weeks while the cops involved are assessed. Interestingly, the same thing happened in New Zealand back in 2013, as Stuff reported at the time — they corrected the error by passing retrospective legislation.

But a legal expert told Guardian Australia these sorts of Victoria Police bungles were becoming a “reckless” pattern — naming the “Lawyer X scandal, we learnt recently that police were ‘accidentally’ disclosing privileged conversations between lawyers and their clients, they were incorrectly swearing affidavits, PSOs didn’t have powers to use pepper spray”. So what happens now? The Victorian police minister will introduce legislation to state Parliament to make sure the decisions of the affected cops were valid going forward. IBAC, which has oversight over the police, has also been notified.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

It’s 2.30am, and the face of Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, a 16-year-old kid, is lit up by his computer screen. If his dad had woken up for a glass of water and walked by the teenager’s bedroom, nothing would’ve looked amiss. But Praggnanandhaa — Pragg for short — is sending shockwaves through his worldwide chess community of fans and fellow players. Pragg’s opponent is the nearly decade-long world champion chess player Magnus Carlsen of Norway, and the teenager is playing black (so he moved second, considered a disadvantage in elite chess). Your average onlooker might see the chess game in real-time — but with every move, the audience can also map the future of this game, and no one can believe what they see. Pragg makes his final move — checkmate — and sits back stunned. He texts his coach to let him know, and decides to wake his dad.

Pragg’s win doesn’t affect the International Chess Federation world title but it didn’t stop the celebrations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India tweeted “We are all rejoicing on the success of the young genius R Praggnanandhaa,” continuing he wished the teen the very best. Then, one of the most famous Indian cricket stars of all time, Sachin Tendulkar, described the win as “magical”, saying Pragg had made India proud. It was a game for the ages, yet just 39 moves long. After the win, when asked how he’d celebrate, Pragg was like, “I think it’s about just going to bed, because I don’t think I will have dinner at 2:30 in the morning”. Legendary.

Hope you surprise yourself today folks, and have a restful weekend ahead.

SAY WHAT?

I know that day-to-day life can seem extremely exhausting, impossible at times. I understand that you feel if you open up it may make you feel weak, or scared. I’m telling you right now, it’s OK, you are not alone. I’ve been through those times when it seemed as if those positive energetic vibes were never ever going to be reality.

Nick Kyrgios

Who would’ve thought the tennis showman had such a tender side? The 26-year-old pro has been roundly commended for opening up about his mental health struggles, saying although it may have looked like he was enjoying his life, he was feeling alone, negative, and depressed. He finished with an assurance that those struggling can turn things around, to “reach your full potential and smile” again. “This life is beautiful,” he wrote.

CRIKEY RECAP

The end of ‘fog of war’: how open source intelligence has made everyone into a Russia-Ukraine analyst

“Satellite images of moving Russian troops. TikTok videos showing explosions in Ukraine. Filmed speeches from officials released via Telegram. Bird’s-eye live streams. Voices chattering over internet radio. An endless delivery of data from every perspective that can tell us exactly what is happening in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

“The traditional idea of the ‘fog of war’, and everything that happens in the lead-up to conflict, is a thing of the past. Technology killed it in the eight years since Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Information that was once confined to militaries or governments is now cheaply or even freely available.”


After the war, the real bastardry begins: Afghanistan starves to death as the US keeps its billions

“The obvious realpolitik of this move is to put the blame on the Taliban as the proximate cause — an approach that seems to assume that because a country is poor, it doesn’t have satellite TV and can’t get CNN. The Taliban will make it very clear to the Afghan people just who is starving them of the means of life.

“But it’s what the US is doing with the other half of the money that has provoked condemnation around the world, because the other US$3.5 billion is being put in escrow, pending the outcome of civil trials by families of 9/11 victims, who are still suing various global entities — including the Taliban government of 2001 — for unlawful killing of their relatives.”


Happy 21st, Scott. Why Howard’s 2001 playbook lights a path to another election miracle

“In 2001, Howard capitalised on the rescued asylum seekers aboard the MV Tampa to appear tough on border security. He gained two points in the polls as a result.

“His stance was brought home when 9/11 happened a month later, and the threat of terrorism made his infamous election pitch irresistible to frightened voters: ‘We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come.’ This stance gave him a five-point recovery in the polls, just in the nick of time to win the November election. Morrison is already trying to engage a similar strategy — about the threat posed by China.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

77% of Australians want single-use plastics to be banned now (The Advocate)

Six stories you may have missed amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine (Al Jazeera)

Stocks and energy markets reel after Russian attack on Ukraine (The New York Times)

Hedge in times of trouble? Bitcoin drops to one-month low (Al Jazeera)

Queen postpones two virtual audiences after COVID diagnosis (The Guardian)

Nicaragua court convicts government critics of ‘conspiracy’ (BBC)

All Black and Samoa rugby legend Va’aiga Tuigamala — ‘Inga the Winger’ — dies aged 52 (NZ Herald)

China rejects use of term ‘invasion’ to describe Russian attack on Ukraine (SBS)

Key inquiry into Trump’s finances in jeopardy as two prosecutors resign (The Guardian)

BTS were the top-selling act in the world last year (BBC)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Sanctions must hit Russian elite’s access to the WestGeoffrey Robertson (The Australian) ($): The reality is that economic sanctions alone will not work to deter a powerful aggressor state. The only hope lies in moral sanctions of the kind that had some effect against apartheid and are available to Western states through Magnitsky laws, which authorise sanctions in the form of visa bans and asset freezes against human rights abusers. They would be appropriate for use against Putin’s generals and advisers although they must be made much tougher: they must stop the Russian ruling class, the nomenklatura, from educating their children in Western countries and deny them access to Western hospitals as well as banks and financial institutions.

“But why stop at those who have personal connections with the leadership? If the purpose of sanctions is to give Putin pause and to deter further bloodshed, then a much wider targeting of the Russian people, whether resident in the West or seeking to profit from connections with it, must be contemplated. Members of this wider class should be sanctioned unless they are prepared to condemn the Russian government’s lawless aggression in Ukraine.”

Grattan on Friday: Faraway conflict feeds into Morrison’s national security pitchMichelle Grattan (The Conversation): “Labor is leading comfortably in the polls, but for Anthony Albanese the Ukraine crisis presents, at the very least, a political challenge. This is not a matter of a wedge — no one can suggest any lack of bipartisanship over Ukraine. Labor was immediately and solidly behind the initial sanctions, and Albanese will ensure it will continue in step with the government. But such a major conflict, even one far removed and in which we are not directly involved, changes the domestic atmosphere and plays to the status quo.

“It also limits the attention on the issues on which Labor wants to focus, such as the increasing cost of living and stagnant wages (although rising oil prices will impose further pressure on high petrol prices). Assuming there is not a new COVID variant, the foreign crisis may help to put a full stop under ‘pandemic politics’, making it harder for Labor to get public attention back on the government’s failures on issues such as aged care … Morrison is trying to bring China — on which he is attempting to wedge Labor — into the Ukraine story .. [but] Morrison may be at risk of overplaying his hand with the China card.”

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  • Australian National University’s Kirill Nourzhanov and Matthew Sussex will speak about Russia and the Ukraine crisis.

  • University of Queensland’s Warren Ward will discuss his new book, Lovers of Philosophy: How the Intimate Lives of Seven Philosophers Shaped Modern Thought.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Premier Dominic Perrottet will deliver the NSW State of the State address at the Hilton Sydney.

Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)

  • Federal ministers Anne Ruston and Simon Birmingham will speak at an event called “Post-COVID Economy and Australia Moving Forward” held by the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Fortescue Future Industries’ Andrew Forrest and Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles will be the guest speakers at the Queensland Media Club to discuss the state’s green energy future.