Welsh morning headlines: News, Covid, sport, weather and roads updates as huge Russian convoy heads towards Kyiv


We have put together a round-up of all the latest news, weather and travel information for St David’s Day, that will get you caught up and ready for the day.

People in cities and towns across Ukraine were woken by air raid sirens this morning, urging people to find shelter as dawn broke. It comes as a huge convoy of military vehicles – now estimated to be 40 miles long – rolls towards the capital, Kyiv.

There were also reports that a maternity hospital in village of Buzova, on the Zhytomyr highway where heavy fighting has been ongoing, had to be evacuated this morning after hit was hit by Russian shelling.

More than 520,000 people are now said to have now fled Ukraine as refugees, with Vladimir Putin being accused of “war crimes”, after residential areas in the city of Kharkiv were bombed by his regime. It follows reports that weapons banned under the Geneva convention – including cluster bombs and thermobaric ‘vacuum’ warheads – have been used by Russia.

“No one in the world will forgive you for killing peaceful Ukrainian people,” said Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, in an address late last night. Read the morning update here.

Satellite image of the convoy

Wales news headlines

WalesOnline state of the nation poll 2022

Almost half of voters in Wales believe the Welsh Government does not serve the interests of Wales “very well”, according to a new WalesOnline poll.

However, the same appears to apply to Westminster, with 55% of people voting that Boris Johnson’s UK Government also does not serve the interests of Wales and its people “very well.” See the full results here.

These findings are in the new State of the Nation poll created by WalesOnline to coincide with St David’s Day – as we asked readers their opinions on topics that shape their day-to-day life in Wales.

These ranged from devolution to independence, to how well our leaders govern the country.

Despite this clear disillusion with how the respective governments serve our country, there was no clear solution from respondents as to what can be done to make a big difference to Wales’ future.

Welsh independence was cited by most respondents as the biggest single thing which could improve the future of Wales. However, despite seemingly being the most popular response, it still accounted for less than 10% of answers provided.

Meanwhile, in his St David’s Day message, First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It’s been a difficult two years during which we’ve all made sacrifices to keep each other safe.

“I want to thank everyone for everything you’ve done to look after and protect one another. As we move forward, we are working hard to create a stronger, fairer and greener Wales, in which no one is left behind.

“A country where people don’t have to choose between putting food on the table or heating their homes. A place where everyone is welcome.

“And a Wales where our children can reach their dreams and ambitions, without thinking they have to move away to succeed. These are aims I’m sure St David would have agreed with.” Read more here about William and Kate visit to Wales today.

Hundreds attend Cardiff rally to show support for Ukraine

Hundreds showed their solidarity with Ukraine outside the Senedd on Monday evening denouncing the actions of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Banners in the Ukrainian colours of blue and yellow called for strict sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion. Many others simply came to Cardiff Bay to display their support for Ukraine.

The rally attracted a diverse mix of people – all of whom were horrified at the events unfolding in Ukraine.

Adam Price, Plaid Cymru’s leader was at the demo and gave an impassioned speech at the steps of the Senedd building. He said: “We need to stop the Russian economy from functioning completely.”

He called for a complete ban on energy imports from Russia and added: “One thing Putin cannot crush and that is the hope and the spirit of the Ukrainian people.”

Last week, Mr Price and Labour politician Mick Antoniw were reprimanded by the Foreign Office for their four-day trip to Ukraine as part of a “UK delegation”.

Welsh Labour’s Mick Antoniw, who is of Ukrainian descent, told the crowd the Welsh government would do “all they can” to assist Ukrainian refugees.

Oksana Pryshchepa, who lives in Cowbridge and is a lecturer in finance at Cardiff University, turned out on Monday evening and said she’d urged her elderly parents to leave their home city Rivne but they’d refused.

Her parents are history professors who continue to work and stand against the attack on their country. Oksana told our reporter Conor Gogarty she is proud of her parents but fears for them as air strikes target the city.

Read more:The faces and stories of the innocent children killed in the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Today’s forecast

St David’s Day will see bright spells, with rain arriving after dark. Best places to see daffodils here.

The Met Office forecast for Wales today says: “A bright and cold start to the morning with any patchy fog soon lifting away to leave a few sunny spells. Turning cloudier during the afternoon, with some patchy rain and drizzle arriving in the south by early evening. Maximum temperature 10 °C.

“Outbreaks of rain and drizzle will spread north during the evening, with foggy conditions developing over hills. Rain continuing through the early hours, giving a wet end to the night. Minimum temperature 3 °C.”

Here is how the roads and rail are affected at 7am:

  • No major issues to report on Wales main roads

  • Buses run instead of trains on Transport for Wales between Shrewsbury and Newtown, Powys, because of flooding.

National news headlines

Largest rail fare rise for nearly a decade

The Government has been accused of adding to the cost of living crisis following the largest rise in rail fares for nearly a decade.

Train passengers in Wales and England face an increase in fares of up to 3.8% from Tuesday.

This is the steepest increase since January 2013, according to figures from industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

In Scotland, a 3.8% increase in regulated fares was implemented on January 24.

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of pressure group Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This fare rise couldn’t come at a worse time and will simply add to the cost of living crisis.

“We need to get people back into workplaces, eating in town centre cafes and shopping on their lunchbreaks to help kick start the economy.

“If the Government is serious about shrinking transport’s carbon footprint and growing the economy, it should make rail the affordable choice with better value flexible season tickets and an immediate reform of the fares and ticketing system.”

The UK, Scottish and Welsh governments set the cap on rises in regulated fares, which are around half of tickets such as season tickets and off-peak returns on long distance journeys.

They each decided to match this year’s figure with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation for July 2021, which was 3.8%.

Train operators traditionally controlled increases in other fares, but governments have much more influence on their decisions after spending billions of pounds to take on their financial liabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said it has “protected passengers” by delaying the fares rise until two months later than normal, and setting a cap which is “well below current inflation rates”.

Latest figures show RPI in January was 7.8%.

The DfT spokesman added: “We must now look to recoup some of the £14 billion which was spent to keep vital services running throughout the pandemic in a way that is fair for all taxpayers.

“By striking this balance, we will be able to encourage people back on to trains whilst funding the necessary improvements and unprecedented investment that will benefit all those who use our railways.”

New driving rules will see hefty fines

A new law is being introduced across the country this month which could see drivers hit with a hefty fine or points on their license.

Under UK law, it is currently illegal to make a call or text using a hand-help phone or device while driving.

However, in a few weeks’ time the regulations will go further to ban drivers from even touching their phone for a whole raft of reasons while on the road. This includes taking photos or videos, scrolling through playlists or other items stored on their mobile devices.

Anyone caught using their phone in a hand-held fashion while behind the wheel will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six penalty points on their licence. According to the UK Government, drivers will still be able to use their phones in a ‘hands-free’ manner while behind the wheel, although they must “always take responsibility for their driving”.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held. By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.

“While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.”

Sport headlines

Dylan Hartley reveals full scale of England’s skullduggery

Former England captain Dylan Hartley has insisted Alex Dombrandt’s decisive try in the victory over Wales last weekend would not have happened if Alun Wyn Jones had been on the field.

The try, which was the difference in the end as England held on to win 23-19 at Twickenham, has been the source of controversy in the aftermath.

Wales’ lineout deep in their own 22 went horribly wrong and the ball ended up in the hands of the England No.8, who finished well.

But Wales hooker Ryan Elias and lock Adam Beard were immediately furious and closer inspection showed that Beard, the target for the throw, was impeded by Maro Itoje as he went to jump for the ball.

It meant the Welsh lock never got off the ground and Dombrandt gleefully welcomed the ball into his open arms.

Despite the protestations of Wales’ players, referee Mike Adamson did not check for the infringement, instead focusing on the grounding of the ball before awarding the try.

After the match, Wales boss Wayne Pivac was adamant that Beard was pushed.

Read next:The latest Six Nations headlines amid controversy

New signing puts in top display for Swansea City

Russell Martin admits he has been left surprised by Joel Piroe’s stunning impact since joining Swansea City following his talks with the Dutchman earlier on in the campaign.

The striker was signed from PSV Eindhoven prior to Martin’s arrival at the club but has swiftly established himself as the Swans’ most productive marksman.

Piroe netted his 15th goal of the season to help earn Swansea a 2-0 win over West Brom at The Hawthorns Stadium on Monday night. Read the player ratings here.

Joel Piroe of Swansea City celebrates after scoring their side’s first goal

And Martin could not hide his delight with the efforts of the player since the pair’s frank talks back in August.

“He’s playing a different role to try and get them both [Piroe and Michael Obafemi] into the team to try and increase our goal threat,” said Martin.

“When we score first we have a brilliant record. Joel Piroe I thought was fantastic, out of possession he did a brilliant job for us. He’s playing a different role to what he ever has done, he’s playing in a midfield really.

“Wherever he plays he’s just a brilliant boy.” Read more here.

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