Thursday, 20 Jan 2022

Finally listening to us! EU gets tough on Putin after UK pressure

Liz Truss warns G7 will not tolerate Russian invasion of Ukraine

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On Thursday, EU leaders warned the Russian president of a “severe cost” to Russia in the event of any further military aggression toward Ukraine. However, the EU were behind the Prime Minister, who spoke to Mr Putin on Monday.

According to Politico, the new pledges from the EU are a “a sign that increased pressure from the U.S. and U.K. to take a stronger line against Moscow has had an effect”.

EU leaders sent their warning to the Kremlin via a post-summit communique on Thursday.

They urged Russia to “de-escalate tensions caused by the military buildup along its border with Ukraine and aggressive rhetoric”.

According to a leaked draft of the communique, they said: “The European Council reiterates its support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Any further military aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and severe cost in response.”

They also pledged “restrictive measures coordinated with partners”, in a sign that increased pressure from the US and UK to take a stronger line against Moscow has had an effect.

It comes after Mr Johnson spoke with the Russian leader on Monday.

The Prime Minister warned Mr Putin of “significant consequences” should Russia take “any destabilising action”.

In a press release, Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin today.

“He expressed the United Kingdom’s deep concern over the build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border, and reiterated the importance of working through diplomatic channels to de-escalate tensions and identify durable solutions.

“The Prime Minister emphasised the UK’s commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and warned that any destabilising action would be a strategic mistake that would have significant consequences.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Johnson also stated an invasion of Ukraine by Russian would be “catastrophic for the world”.

When asked by Sir Bernard Jenkin, Tory MP for Harwich and North Essex, “how much does the Government understand that President Putin is conducting a hybrid war against the west and how is the Government responding to it?”, the Prime Minister responded with his grim warning.

He said: “There is a particular crisis that we face on the border with Ukraine where Russian troops have been massing for some time as the House knows.

“I told President Putin on Monday what I think everybody in the G7 and more widely is agreed, that if Russia were so rash and mad as to engage in an invasion of sovereign territory of Ukraine, then there would be an extremely tough package of economic sanctions, mounted by our allies, mounted by the UK and our friends around the world.

“There would also, of course, be support for Ukraine, there would inevitably be the build-up of Nato forces in the periphery regions and as I told President Putin, I believe any such action would be catastrophic not just for Russia and for Ukraine, but for the world.”

Russia is reported to have as many as 175,000 troops on Ukraine’s northern, eastern, and southern borders.

Hundreds of tanks, self-propelled artillery and short-range ballistic missiles have also been reportedly moved to within striking range of Ukraine.

Mr Putin has also demanded legal guarantees that Ukraine will never join BATO or host its missile strike systems.

It comes as Yuliia Laputina, Ukrainian minister for veterans affairs, warned a Russian invasion would spread conflict around Europe and could even trigger World War Three.

She told Sky News Ukraine was ready to defend itself should Moscow launch a new attack, but warned the consequences of further military action by Mr Putin would not be contained within Ukrainian borders.

Speaking the broadcaster, she said: “If Russia will invade you know, you should also take care about the Balkans.

“What Russians are doing now in Serbia – they try to provoke a situation in the Balkans.

“But we also take into account [the beginning of] World War Three.”

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