News diary 7-13 February: Ukraine crisis dominates plus Brit Awards and Super Bowl - Press Gazette

News diary 7-13 February: Ukraine crisis dominates plus Brit Awards and Super Bowl

Foresight News rounds up the key events that need to be in your news diary this week…

MONDAY

The Ukraine crisis looks set to dominate the international news agenda this week, starting on Monday when US President Joe Biden hosts German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for talks in Washington DC, and French President Emmanuel Macron holds talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, before heading to Ukraine on Tuesday. Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, meanwhile, begins a two-day visit to Ukraine.

Another round of the so-called Normandy format talks – involving Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany – at the level of presidential advisers is also due to take place in Berlin this week, likely on Thursday, though the announcement by Ukraine’s Andriy Yermak that he has tested positive for COVID-19 has thrown a potential spanner in the works. The EU’s Josep Borrell is also in Washington on Monday attending the US-EU Energy Council alongside US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, meanwhile, are due to lead UK diplomatic missions to Moscow at the tail end of the week, as efforts continue to try and de-escalate the growing tensions between Russia, NATO, and Ukraine. The chances of Wallace and Truss making any headline breakthroughs seem slim, with the Kremlin having already berated Britain’s diplomatic efforts as “utterly confused” and “worthless”.  The talks come just days after the United States announced a troop deployment to bolster NATO’s presence in the region, a move which prompted Vladimir Putin to accuse the alliance of luring Russia into a war.

TUESDAY

Ofgem chief executive Stephen Brearley faces tough questions from parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee following the regulator’s announcement of an eye-watering 54% hike in energy bills for millions of people. With a cost of living crisis looming,  Chancellor Rishi Sunak told Parliament on 3 February that the government will intervene to “take the sting out of the initial price shock”, providing affected families with up to £350 in relief.

The best of UK music is celebrated at tonight’s Brit Awards, where a performance from Adele (pictured) is set to be among the show’s highlights. The Easy On Me crooner returns to the Brits stage for the first time since 2011 and is likely to be among the award winners on the night, with four nods off the back of her Number One album 30. Dave, Ed Sheeran and Holly Humberstone also perform.

Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan announce the nominees for the 94th Academy Awards via a virtual broadcast. Films set to dominate this year include The Power of the Dog, Dune and Belfast, all of which have also been nominated by the Producers and Directors Guilds. Netflix’s awards domination is expected to continue with Don’t Look Up, The Lost Daughter and Tick, Tick…Boom! also likely to be recognised. Despite its disappointing box office performance, West Wide Story is also expected to feature in numerous categories.

WEDNESDAY

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty gives a Gresham College lecture on the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals against respiratory infections. Whitty, who warned in December that the pandemic could last another 18 months, could touch upon the new Omicron sub-variant found in South Africa. The new strain known as BA.2 may cause a second surge of Omicron infections, creating a “camel-like” wave, according to Stellenbosch University bioinformatics professor Tulio de Oliveria.

Team GB have a realistic chance of securing a medal on day five of the Winter Olympics as Charlotte Bankes competes in the snowboard cross. The 26-year-old goes into the event as the reigning world champion, and secured a third-place finish in Italy in her final warm-up event for the Games. Other medal events being contested on Wednesday include the luge, women’s slalom, and short track speed skating.

THURSDAY

Sir John Major makes a rare return to frontline politics with a major speech to the Institute for Government on trust and standards in democracy. The former Prime Minister was highly critical of the current occupant of No.10 over his handling of the Owen Paterson affair at the end of last year, and today’s intervention could mark a renewal of hostilities at a time of mounting pressure for Boris Johnson.

Joint Russian-Belarusian military exercises, dubbed Union Resolve 2022, are set to get underway. The deployment of Russian troops to Belarus, which borders Ukraine, has contributed to fears of an outright invasion of Ukraine. Russia has, unsurprisingly, accused the West of stoking “hysteria” over its troop build-ups while simultaneously warning of “the most serious of consequences” of failure to meet its security demands.

FRIDAY

The ONS releases GDP figures for the final three months of 2021 a week after households were hit with a cost of living double whammy and warned by the Bank of England about the prospect of incomes falling further over the coming months. The Bank’s revised growth forecasts came on the same day CBI director general Tony Danker said that the government would need to set more ambitious GDP targets or be required to make further tax increases, meaning poor figures today will only ramp up the pressure on the Chancellor to rethink April’s planned NICs rise.

Representatives of the University & College Union meet with Universities UK for talks aimed at averting a series of strikes by higher education staff over the coming weeks. The UCU has been in dispute with UUK for several months over pay and the USS pension scheme, and staff at over 40 institutions will walk out on 14 February if no agreement is reached today, with further strikes planned through the rest of the month into March.

Taking a holiday abroad becomes mildly easier as the requirement for fully vaccinated people to take a post-travel COVID test in the UK is scrapped. However, those wishing to travel to the continent over half-term may face disruption as Spain announced that children with only one jab will not be allowed entry to the country, while Britons entering France will be treated as unvaccinated if they received their second jab more than nine months ago or have not had their booster.

SATURDAY

The second round of the Six Nations begins with Wales welcoming Scotland to the Principality Stadium, before a mouth-watering showdown between France and Ireland in Paris. Ireland and Les Bleus look like the teams to beat in this year’s tournament after impressive autumn campaigns which saw both sides secure resounding wins over the All Blacks. England meanwhile take on Italy on Sunday as Eddie Jones continues to juggle injuries to key players.

SUNDAY

Over 100,000 fans descend on Los Angeles to see the LA Rams take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl LVI. Though the Rams are favoured to win, the Bengals are looking to pull off another surprising victory, having successfully come back from an 18-point deficit to defeat the Kanas City Chiefs last weekend. The game rounds off a historic season featuring the unveiling of the Washington Commanders, a high-profile lawsuit accusing the NFL of racist discrimination and Tom Brady’s retirement.

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

Picture: Graham Denholm/Getty Images

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