UK says tensions with Russia reach ‘crunch time’, warns Putin of ‘high cost’
Foreign Minister Liz Truss says Western allies must hold imminent talks on assembling Russian troops on Ukraine’s border – and warned of sanctions against wealthy Russians
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
The West’s relations with Russia “are reaching a crucial moment,” the British Foreign Secretary said today as she called on the Kremlin to “de-escalate” tensions with Ukraine.
Tory Liz Truss threatened “massive economic consequences” if the Kremlin orders to invade Ukraine, including sanctions against wealthy Russians.
Ahead of a meeting in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine later this month, Ms Truss added: “Any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake and would come at a very high cost.”
Ms Truss also called on Europe to “reduce its dependence” on Russian gas as wholesale prices soar.
After Russian forces gathered near the border, she added: “I see next week – and there is a series of crucial meetings next week – like making sure that Russia lives up to the commitments it makes. took”.
Talks between Western allies will begin next Monday, followed by a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels on January 12 and a meeting on January 13 in Vienna involving the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
PRESS SERVICE OF THE RUSSIAN DEFENSE DEPARTMENT / DOSSIER / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)
As part of a related event, a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council will take place at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded legally binding guarantees that NATO will not be enlarged further and that Ukraine will not join the transatlantic alliance.
If Ukraine joined NATO and Russia invaded it, Western allies would traditionally go to war to defend it.
In an update to MPs, Ms Truss said: ‘We come at a crucial time.
âThe only way forward is for Russia to defuse itself and embark on the path of diplomacy.
âWe will continue to stand with our allies, unwavering in our support for Ukraine and its future as a free and sovereign democracy.
She continued, âI have been clear that Russian military aggression will be fought with force, including massive economic consequences through economic sanctions coordinated by allies and partners targeting Russian financial transactions and individuals.
“I cannot speculate on future sanctions.”
Ms Truss said Russia’s behavior was “appalling”, including “causing problems in the Balkans”. She said: âRussia is the aggressor here. They massed large numbers of troops along the Ukrainian border and illegally annexed Crimea.
âThere is no justification for Russia’s belligerent stance towards Ukraine. It is unprovoked and is part of a larger Kremlin pattern of behavior, which relies on misinformation and mistrust to seek to gain the upper hand.
“Moscow has long waged a campaign to overthrow freedom and democracy in Ukraine.”
Ms Truss said Moscow’s demands were “totally unreasonable”, adding: “I am absolutely clear that in the face of this aggression we should not see any concessions made.”
But opposition MPs accused the government of not doing enough to reveal UK property leads that prevent dirty money laundering.
Labor MP Kevan Jones also raised questions about Tory donors.
He told Ms Truss: “Before having lunch again with a Russian Conservative Party donor, can she just think it over and ask the question where this money is originally coming from?”
The conservative leadership hopeful replied: “We have a very tough anti-corruption regime.”