Friday evening news briefing: Could Vladimir Putin turn off Germany’s gas taps?

Your evening briefing from The Telegraph
Your evening briefing from The Telegraph

Evening briefing: Today’s essential headlines

Still waiting for Sue | Downing Street has cancelled a planned appearance by the Cabinet Secretary at a select committee, amid reports the Sue Gray partygate report could be published next week. Jack Maidment, our politics live blog editor, understands that No 10 has pulled an evidence session by Simon Case – reportedly present during at least one lockdown gathering. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to move on from the scandal, he today promised to do more to address the cost-of-living crisis. One man not struggling financially is Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is the first frontline politician included in the Rich List.

The big story: Could Putin turn off gas taps?

It has been a pressing question since even before Russian troops invaded Ukraine: How secure are Europe’s gas supplies – and how likely is Vladimir Putin to turn off the taps?

Today, those fears were ramped up. Germany’s regulator is considering rationing gas to the country’s businesses, effectively shutting down swathes of industry and worsening its economic plight. It admitted it could be forced to “cut supply of gas to some users to zero”, depending on the extent of any shortages.

Russia halted gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland last month and Finland is set to be cut off from tomorrow, following the country’s application to join Nato and refusal to pay in roubles as Putin has demanded.

It came as former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder today finally stepped down as chair of Rosneft following a backlash over his refusal to distance himself from the Russian oil giant.

James Warrington reports that, as payment deadlines loom, it highlights the escalating stand-off between Europe and Russia over energy supplies.

In Moscow, plans are being drawn up to create new military bases in western Russia in response to the expansion of Nato. Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said that “12 military units and divisions will be established” by the end of the year.

The military campaign in Ukraine has shaken Sweden and Finland such that – after decades of military non-alignment – they are seeking Nato membership despite Kremlin warnings. Follow the latest updates and analysis in our live blog.

‘Turned into hell’

As Moscow intensifies its attacks on industrial heartlands, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has said that the battle for Donbas has turned the eastern region into “hell”.

In a video address, Mr Zelensky accused Russia of “completely destroying” the region and deliberately targeting Ukrainian civilians. “In Donbas, the occupiers are trying to increase pressure,” he said from Kyiv. “There’s hell, and that’s not an exaggeration.”

Early today, the Ukrainian military also reported Russian artillery and missile strikes on civilian targets in multiple regions.

Secret bodycam

In a makeshift operating theatre in Mariupol, a celebrated Ukrainian medic pleads with a critically-wounded and bloodied boy to “stay with me, little one”.

He had arrived with his wounded sister from a shoot-out at a checkpoint in the town besieged by Russian forces and in which their parents both died.

Using a secret body camera given to her by Prince Harry, Yuliia Paievska, known in Ukraine as Tayra – a moniker from the nickname she chose in the World of Warcraft video game – films the tragic moment when she closes his eyes.

Henry Samuel has the poignant story of how she smuggled her harrowing record of events out of the city, through 15 Russian checkpoints, before she disappeared.

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