'We should all worry in Europe': UK warning as threat of Russian invasion grows in Ukraine

·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·4 min read
The big annual press conference of Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall. Russian President Vladimir Putin at a news conference. 23.12.2021 Russia, Moscow Photo credit: Dmitry Azarov/Kommersant/Sipa USA
Russian president Vladimir Putin has amassed up to 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine. (PA Images)

The UK defence secretary has delivered a stark warning amid growing tensions on the Ukrainian border amid fears of a Russian invasion.

Western countries say they fear Russia, which has massed up to 100,000 troops near the border, is preparing a pretext for a new assault on Ukraine.

In 2014, following the ousting of the pro-Russian government in Kyiv Russian forces seized and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, as well as encouraging an uprising of ethnic Russians in the east of the country.

At the weekend, a senior MP said a Russian invasion is “inevitable and imminent”.

Russia denies any current plans for an attack, Moscow has said it could take unspecified military action unless the West agrees to a list of demands, including banning Ukraine from ever joining NATO.

On Monday, the UK was dragged closer into involvement after announced it had started supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons and a small number of troops to help it defend itself.

The British defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has said the real reasons behind Russian President Vladimir Putin's ambitions in Ukraine can be found in an article he wrote six months ago.

Read more: Ukraine says massive cyber attack has hit Government websites

File photo dated 21/03/21 of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace who has said Allies must
Defence secretary Ben Wallace has said "we should all worry" about Russia's behaviour over Ukraine. (PA Images)

Read more: Ukraine says Russia waging ‘hybrid war’ after cyberattack on government websites

In the 7,000-word statement, Putin says Russians and Ukrainians should be considered "one people – a single whole" and that the "true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia".

He claims the West want to divide and rule Russia as he staked his claim over Ukraine, and that anyone challenging Moscow on this issue was being anti-Russian. He also said Ukraine's growing ties with the West were unacceptable.

"We should all worry," Wallace warned on Monday.

"Because what flows from the pen of President Putin himself is an essay that puts ethnonationalism at the heart of his ambitions.

"So, if one cold January or February night Russian Military forces once more cross into sovereign Ukraine, ignore the ‘straw man’ narratives and ‘false flag’ stories of NATO aggression and remember the President of Russia’s own words in that essay from last summer.

"Remember it and ask yourself what it means, not just for Ukraine, but for all of us in Europe. What it means the next time…"

Watch: UK to supply Ukraine with 'self-defence' weapons as fears grow over possible Russia invasion

Read more: UK to supply Ukraine with 'self-defence' weapons as fears grow over possible Russia invasion

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson on Tuesday said: "We have consistently said Russia need to de-escalate and pursue the path of diplomacy. We hope they will continue to engage.”

They added that they were still waiting for Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu to accept an invitation to visit London to discuss the growing crisis, and that the last time the prime minister spoke to President Putin was in December.

NATO called on Russia to de-escalate the situation in December, but to no avail.

A series of high-level negotiations between the US, NATO, EU and the UK on one side and Russia on the other have been taking place in recent weeks but so far no progress has been made.

"We can hope for the best and call on Russia to not once again use military force against a sovereign, independent Ukraine, but we need to be prepared for the worst," it said.

Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said on Friday the West was "in violation of its obligations" and reiterated its demands that Ukraine should not have. a closer relationship with NATO.

Ukrainian army soldiers are seen walking by the street of the Verkhnotoretske village that is situated on the very frontline between Ukraine and DPR positions. Russian diplomats will take part in talks with the United States in January 2022 on a list of security guarantees Moscow wants from Washington amid simmering tension between the pair over Ukraine. Russia's deputy defense minister in December 2021 warned foreign ambassadors of a
Ukrainian army soldiers are seen walking by the street of the Verkhnotoretske village that is situated on the very frontline between Ukraine and DPR positions. (PA Images)

Read more: NATO says Russia would pay 'high price' for invading Ukraine

“We have run out of patience,” he said. "The West has been driven by hubris and has exacerbated tensions in violation of its obligations and common sense.”

On Sunday, in the latest development of aggression, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian digital transformation ministry claimed that "all evidence points to Russia" being behind a cyber-attack after hackers knocked out key government websites. The attack was condemned by NATO general secretary.

“We are going to mobilise all our resources to help Ukraine to tackle this," he said. "Sadly, we knew it could happen.. it’s difficult to say [who is behind it]. I can’t blame anybody as I have no proof. But we can imagine.”

Earlier this month, a spokesperson for US president Joe Biden warned the US and its allies would act "decisively" should Russia invade Ukraine.

Watch: U.S senators promise solidarity and weapons for Ukraine in warning to Putin

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