Thursday evening news briefing: Putin's revenge after tanks offer

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Good evening. After the tanks, came the bombs. Vladimir Putin has unleashed a wave of fresh missile attacks on Ukraine, hours after the US and Germany confirmed that they would deliver battle tanks to Kyiv.

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Scotland | A transgender rapist is to be moved from a woman’s jail, Nicola Sturgeon has announced. The First Minister said Isla Bryson, who was convicted this week of raping two women, would not be in Cornton Vale women’s jail either in the “short-term or long-term”. Bryson, 31, was taken to the women’s jail after being found guilty on Tuesday. Ms Sturgeon said a risk assessment was being carried out, with Bryson currently being held in a segregated unit. However, she confirmed that Bryson would not serve the sentence in Cornton Vale.

The big story: Arctic bombers attack Ukraine

Ukraine may have got the Western battle tanks it has been desperately calling for, but it now has to contend with Moscow's retaliation, as Vladimir Putin launched a widespread bombing raid today.

The Ukrainian military said Putin ordered his bombers to take off from bases in Russia’s Arctic far north to launch a cruise missile attack - firing more than 30 missiles at targets across Ukraine.

Russia has been forced to station its strategic bombers at bases further from Ukraine after a series of drone attacks blamed on Kyiv destroyed and damaged several aircraft. Officials said the latest barrage of Russian drone and missile attacks both killed and wounded at least 10 people.

The mayor of Kyiv said one person was killed in the capital, in the city's first attack-related death of the year. At least two others were injured in Kyiv, where explosions and gunfire were heard as air defences rushed into action.

The Arctic north was not the only launchpad for the attacks, however, as Ukraine's air force said it shot down a cluster of 24 Iranian-made attack drones it said were launched by Russian forces from the Sea of Azov in the south of the country.

Meanwhile, analysts have warned that Russia has begun carrying out "spoiling attacks" across the frontline as a diversionary tactic ahead of a new offensive. Ukrainian officials say the attacks are carried out by Russian squads of 10 to 15 men to disperse Ukrainian defensive lines.

The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think-tank, said the size and nature of the attacks suggested they are more likely spoiling attacks that seek to "distract and pin Ukrainian forces against discrete areas of the front", rather than a concerted effort to "relaunch offensive operations to gain ground".

Tanks in time for spring

Britain's Ministry of Defence has said the Challenger 2 tanks it is sending to Ukraine will arrive in time for an expected Russian spring offensive. They will join German-made Leopards being sent to Kyiv within weeks.

Poland also said this morning that its Leopard 2 tanks would arrive within a few weeks, amid a rush to arm Kyiv before fresh attacks when the mud dries. Joe Barnes writes that Poland already has well-established logistical links with Ukraine, making it easier to ship the tanks to Kyiv.

Berlin hopes that, together with its allies, between 90 and 100 tanks will be delivered before the offensive. The US will also be sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks, however, it is unclear whether the US-made armour will arrive in time for the spring.

Zelensky on Boris

Volodymr Zelensky has said it would not be “correct” for him to support Boris Johnson if he ran for prime minister again, as he thanked the UK for its support to Ukraine. “I think that it is not correct for me to support Johnson to be a prime minister when Rishi is Prime Minister. It's not correct. I'm sorry,” the Ukrainian president told Sky News from Kyiv.

Maighna Nanu reports that he also declined to say whether Mr Johnson should be offered an official role representing the UK on Ukraine, appearing to laugh at the suggestion and indicating that the former prime minister might not be ready for such a role.

Comment and analysis

World news: Trump allowed back on Facebook

Donald Trump is set to have his Facebook and Instagram accounts reinstated, but Meta will put up “guardrails” to “deter” any offensive behaviour, Josie Ensor reports. Sir Nick Clegg, the company’s head of policy, said the former US president will be allowed back on the site in the coming weeks, following a two-year suspension after the deadly January 6 Capitol Hill insurrection led by his supporters. Mr Trump, writing on his own social media site Truth Social, responded by saying such a ban should “never again happen to a sitting president”, while claiming Meta lost “billions of dollars” replatforming him.

Thursday interview

Meet Lise Davidsen, the greatest soprano in the world right now

The Norwegian star almost chose handball over music - yet now she is the go-to singer for Wagner. Here, she tells her story

Read the interview

Sport news: Wimbledon to step up security

Wimbledon is expected to step up security at this year’s Championships to avoid a repeat of pro-Russia demonstrations that have erupted at the Australian Open. Despite unsavoury scenes on the steps of Rod Laver Arena after Novak Djokovic’s quarter-final win over Russia’s Andrey Rublev, the All England Club is still expected to admit Russians and Belarusians to this summer’s tournament. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic’s father, Srdjan, was seen on video posing with pro-Putin demonstrators at Melbourne Park - watch the clip here.

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Business news: 4,000 Asda staff face pay cuts

Asda has unveiled a major shake-up of store operations, which will put close to 300 roles at risk and reduce pay for more than 4,000 night workers. The supermarket chain has proposed that some overnight restocking shifts at 184 stores are moved to the daytime, putting 211 night shift manager roles at risk. Meanwhile, James Warrington reports that Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former Cabinet minister, is joining GB News in a major coup for the outspoken broadcaster.

Tonight starts now

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