Hours after Arsenal’s disastrous defeat to Everton, their major shareholder and Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov has called on the Foreign Office to act courageously and ban him from entering the country as a warning to Vladimar Putin. He said ‘The Government in England needs to send a message to Putin that his actions in the Ukraine are completely unacceptable. The best way to do this is to ban Russians such as myself from being anywhere near London. It’s not too much to ask is it, surely? Just from now until pre-season friendlies start again in July. I really won’t mind, honestly, I can go to a nice Caribbean island where they don’t have Sky Sports. Please do this for people in the Ukraine. And for goodness sake make sure it happens before the FA Cup Semi-Final on Saturday. ‘
Details have emerged of the phone call Obama had with Putin on Sunday night after Russia invaded the Ukraine. The President pulled out all the stops to overt war, offering his counterpart the opportunity to join computer club without having to pay the 50p subs, as well as the chance to sit with him, President Hollande and Prime Minister Rajoy on the back seat of the coach and have first pick on ‘Top Trumps’ when they go to the World Trade Organisation summit in Cancun. He also said that he could come round to his house for supper followed by a game of ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ on ANY day of the week, although he did add that Putin would have to leave by 8pm as he has to have a bath before going to bed. The Russian Premier was fine with this as his dad doesn’t like him to be out when it’s dark.
White House aids have been quick to defend accusations that the President should take a more hard-line response, with a spokesperson saying ‘Some House Republicans have suggested that we should send the 5th Fleet through the Bosphorus so that the 800 Division of the Navy Seals can be within striking distance of the Ukraine. To that, I would say that when the President offered Mr Putin first pick of any of David Cameron’s Panini football stickers, the Russian Premier replied ‘Any? Really? Even the shiny Liverpool badge?’ I think we will see a change in approach from the Russian military very soon.’
However, over the last few hours it seems that American optimism may be a little misplaced. A military researcher from the Brookings Institute said ‘Talks were advancing well until Mr Obama invited Mr Putin round on Sunday night to listen to the Top 40 chart countdown on Radio 1. Unfortunately, the President is a little protective of his new Hi-Fi, as it is his birthday and Christmas present for the next 2 years, and he told Mr Putin not to touch the CD player or fiddle with the graphic equaliser. This went down badly, and I fear it has led to the massing of tanks from 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Division on the Crimean border.’
People in war-torn Syria have expressed surprise that so much is now being done by Western powers to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A rebel fighter in Homs said ‘I’ve just read a tweet from William Hague that said he was having talks in Kyiv, have heard that the European Council has called on all parties to behave with self-restraint, and that Germany has suggested creating a contact group to open channels of communication. I can’t believe that these countries are making such difficult decisions and are putting so much on the line in order to make peace happen when they have done so little for us. Ah, what I would give now for the president of the European Commission to call on Assad to behave responsibly in order to reduce tension in the region. We can all dream.’
Politicians from around the world have praised the American diplomatic effort to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine for being even-handed yet forceful, for being timely yet well-thought out, but mainly for John Kerry not falling about laughing when saying ‘You just don’t in the 21st Century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.’. The Mexican president said ‘I like what the US is doing, the way they are treating Putin, but most of all I like the way how Kerry and Obama can talk as though they actually mean what they are saying. There’s no looking away from the camera, no covering of the mouth when speaking, no spluttering when giving a speech. Really very impressive.’