Thursday, December 2, 2021

Britain offers Ukraine “unwavering support” amid concerns over Russian troops’ build-up on the border

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Downing Street describes Russia’s actions as “worrying”.

Boris Johnson warned European countries like Germany with a veiled blow against their stance on Ukraine and warned them against having the choice of mainline Russian gas or advocating stability in the region.

Speaking at the annual Mansion House dinner last night, the Prime Minister appeared to be targeting Berlin’s decision to approve the Nord Stream pipeline, suggesting that Europe had not done enough to stem Russian aggression on the continent .

He said Britain has a commitment to “democracy and freedom” that is shared across Europe.

Mr Johnson pointedly added, “We hope our friends will realize that a choice will soon be made between maining more and more Russian hydrocarbons in huge new pipelines and standing up for Ukraine and standing up for peace and stability.”

The previous Monday, Britain had promised to offer Ukraine “unwavering support” amid concerns about a build-up of Russian troops on the country’s border.

The Kremlin has denied claims that it was preparing for an invasion after the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported that around 90,000 Russian soldiers were gathering in the area.

However, Downing Street described the situation as “worrying” and said Britain would assist Ukraine in maintaining its borders.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and there is an ongoing conflict between the two nations over the territory.

Asked about the Russian build-up of troops, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said on Monday: “We are seeing a worrying situation on the border.

“We continue to steadfastly support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and will continue to support it in the face of Russian hostility.”

It came when NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the Western military alliance was “with clear eyes” about the challenge that Russia’s “substantial” military build-up poses.

“We are seeing an unusual concentration of troops and we know that Russia was ready to use this type of military capability to take aggressive action against Ukraine,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week it would be a “grave mistake for Russia to repeat what it did in 2014” when it captured Crimea from Kiev.

Defense Minister Ben Wallace stressed that the UK has a “very, very operational combat group in Estonia that can be moved in a matter of hours” and suggested that it would serve as a deterrent against Russia.

Meanwhile, the UK accused the authoritarian President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, of “heinous” attempt to create a migrant crisis in order to undermine European unity.

Mr Johnson said the UK stands “shoulder to shoulder” with its European allies as EU foreign ministers consider new sanctions against the Minsk regime.

Thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, are trapped at the Belarusian border with Poland, where the authorities have denied them entry into the EU.

Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been accused of deliberately encouraging migrants to cross EU borders in retaliation for the sanctions Brussels imposed in response to its repressive rule.

Foreign Minister Liz Truss called on Putin on Sunday to intervene to stop the development in the region, which she described as a “shameful manufactured migrant crisis”.

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