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The Papers: Russian sanctions and ‘chilling warning’

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    The i
    Image caption The poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter continues to lead many of the papers. The i says the Russian embassy has raised concerns about a cyber-attack by the UK as Theresa May plans a “wave of sanctions”.
    Daily Mail
    Image caption Russia has issued “a chilling warning” to Britain, says the front page of the Daily Mail. It quotes the Russian embassy in London: “Any threat to take punitive measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.”
    The Times
    Image caption The UK will investigate 14 “Kremlin-related” deaths, says the Times. It also reports on a push by No 10 to “curb” Sharia law in a bid to improve integration.
    The Telegraph
    Image caption The Daily Telegraph focuses on the death of a man believed to be Russian businessman Nikolai Glushkov – described as Mr Putin’s “one-time fiercest rival”. According to a Russian media source quoted by the paper, Mr Glushkov was found with “strangulation marks” on his neck.
    Image caption The Metro also leads on the reported death of Mr Glushkov and his fear that he would be murdered by the Kremlin. The paper says Mr Glushkov claimed he was on “a hit list” drawn up by Mr Putin.
    The Sun
    Image caption The death of the man believed to be Mr Glushkov also makes the front page of the Sun, which also reports on a hit list. The paper also reports on the chancellor’s “shock plans” to scrap 1p and 2p coins.
    Daily Mirror
    Image caption The Daily Mirror worries that axing 1p and 2p coins will hit charities that depend on “small change donations”. It suggests that the reasoning behind the plans is low usage of the coins. According to the chancellor, 60% of the currency is used just once before being stored “in piggy banks or jars”.
    The FT
    Image caption Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement makes the front page of the Financial Times. The chancellor described himself as “positively Tigger-like” but the paper warns that his “real fight” will come next year when there will be a new Whitehall spending review.
    Daily Express
    Image caption The Daily Express welcomes Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement – particularly a “rising windfall from Britain’s accelerating economy” which the paper says could mean an extra £15bn for the Treasury by 2020-21.
    Daily Star
    Image caption The UK hasn’t seen the last of wintry weather according to the Daily Star. It warns of “another beastly blast of freezing rain, gale-force winds and snow”. The paper also reports on an MP’s accusations that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is pocketing “blood money” by working as a Russian TV World Cup pundit.

    The main story for most is what the Times calls the high-stakes diplomacy between Britain and Russia over the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

    “Putin raises the stakes” is the Daily Mail’s headline. As the investigation into their attempted murders continues, the Mail quotes Whitehall sources as saying Mr Skripal was poisoned when he touched the door handle of his BMW, which had been smeared with a deadly nerve agent.

    The Telegraph and the Sun focus on the “unexplained” death in London of a man believed to be the Russian businessman, Nikolai Glushkov.

    According to the Telegraph, a Russian media source claimed he was found with “strangulation marks” on his neck. The Times reports that he was understood to be in poor health, suffering arthritis and heart problems.

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    The Telegraph has a cartoon showing President Putin’s face as a doomsday clock with the 11h hour fast approaching.

    For the Financial Times, the prime minister faces a difficult dilemma: how far can she go to ensure she inflicts pain on Moscow while at the same time not hurting Britain’s economic and diplomatic interests.

    The Mail says demands for a co-ordinated boycott of the World Cup in Russia are growing. It reports that the Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, has called on the EU, which has 10 teams in the tournament, to withdraw as a bloc.

    In the Sun’s view, Fifa – football’s world governing body – should pull the tournament out of Russia.

    ‘Brightest star’ Hawking

    Professor Stephen Hawking’s death was announced too late for the print editions but is the main item on the news websites.

    Image copyright Getty Images

    The Telegraph describes him as Britain’s most famous modern day scientist, a genius with a razor-sharp wit who dedicated his life to unlocking the secrets of the Universe.

    For the Mail, he was one of science’s biggest celebrities since Albert Einstein. In the Guardian’s words, he was the brightest star in the firmament of science, whose insights shaped modern cosmology and inspired global audiences in the millions.

    The Guardian leads with President Trump’s sacking of his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, saying the move has sent US diplomacy into fresh turmoil.

    It says the manner of his termination was abrupt, even by the standards of the current administration.

    For the New York Times, the Texas oil baron never adapted to the power dynamics of Mr Trump’s world or to the president’s world view.

    The New Statesman’s website says Mr Tillerson’s successor, Mike Pompeo, is much more in line with Mr Trump politically than his corporate predecessor.

    Small change?

    The chancellor’s upbeat Spring Statement makes the lead for the Financial Times and the Express.

    The FT says Philip Hammond stayed true to his word by not announcing new tax or spending commitments in the statement.

    But he dangled a carrot at his ministerial colleagues, offering more money for public services in the autumn Budget, the paper adds. The Express has the headline: “At last! Tax cuts on the way”.

    A number of papers reject the idea that we should get rid of the penny or two pence coins, after a ministerial review into the future of the coppers was announced by the Treasury on Tuesday.

    It’s the lead for the Mirror, which says small change could be a thing of the past. The Sun warns that shops will simply round up every price and charities will miss out on a fortune in spare change.

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