Russia-Ukraine tensions: UK to deploy troops across Europe as fears grow Putin will choose ‘a path of bloodshed and destruction’ by invading Ukraine | world news
The UK is preparing to send a ‘clear message to the Kremlin’ by increasing the number of its troops deployed across Europe – as NATO hopes to prevent Russia from ‘choosing the path of bloodshed and of destruction” by invading Ukraine.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the armed forces to prepare for the major military deployment, which could double the number of soldiers deployed, to reinforce Europe’s borders and ensure that the United Kingdom is “able to support our NATO allies on land, at sea and in the air.
Mr Johnson said the move will show Moscow that the UK ‘will not tolerate their destabilizing activity, and we will stand with our NATO allies in the face of Russian hostility’.
British officials will be deployed to Brussels to finalize details of the NATO deal next week.
The move comes as the Foreign Office is expected to announce tougher sanctions on Monday, which will allow the UK to target Russiastrategic and financial interests.
Speaking of the UK’s plan to contribute more troops to NATO, Mr Johnson said: “This package would send a clear message to the Kremlin – we will not tolerate their destabilizing activity, and we will always stand with our NATO allies facing Russia hostility.
“If President Putin chooses the path of bloodshed and destruction, it will be a tragedy for Europe. Ukraine should be free to choose their future.
“I have ordered our armed forces to prepare to deploy across Europe next week, ensuring that we are able to support our NATO allies on land, at sea and in the air. .”
Moscow has denied plans to invade Ukraine, while mustering some 120,000 troops near its Eastern European neighbor’s border.
Russia has also expanded its military buildup to include blood supplies that would allow it to treat the wounded – another key indicator that Moscow is preparing an invasion, sources told Reuters news agency.
The UK already has more than 100 soldiers training in Ukraine, 900 troops based in Estonia and a light cavalry squadron of around 150 personnel deployed in Poland.
Britain, the United States and other NATO allies seem more and more concerned that hostilities are more likely than a negotiated solution to the crisis.
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Mr Johnson will further strengthen his presence in the Russia-Ukraine crisis by holding a call with Mr Putin and visiting the region “in the coming days”.
The prime minister will “step up deterrence to avoid bloodshed” between the two former Soviet states and is determined to “accelerate diplomatic efforts” during the trip, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.
“He will reiterate the need for Russia to step back and engage diplomatically when he speaks to President Putin this week,” she added.
William Taylor, former US ambassador to Ukraine, told Sky News he expects the British Prime Minister to warn Mr Putin of the potential consequences of an invasion when they speak on the phone.
Mr Taylor said: “Without a doubt the Prime Minister will make it clear to President Putin that if he takes this terrible decision to invade Ukraine…there will be tens of thousands of Ukrainians, military and civilians , who will die.
“There will be thousands of Russian soldiers dying. These kinds of actions are war crimes – and I imagine the Prime Minister will point out that there is nothing good to be gained from this kind of action .”
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Foreign Minister Liz Truss and Defense Secretary Ben Wallace are also due to travel to Moscow for talks with their counterparts in the coming days.
They will be asked to improve relations with President Putin’s government and encourage de-escalation.
In an article in the Sunday Telegraph, Ms Truss wrote: “Moscow’s campaign against Ukraine and other democracies is undermining the very foundation of European security. It is therefore vital that we confront the clear and present threat posed by Russia.
She added: “The Prime Minister will lead diplomatic efforts by holding talks with President Putin and visiting the region in the coming days. Tomorrow the UK will join the talks at the UN Security Council to put pressure on Russia to pursue the path of diplomacy. I will be flying to Moscow in the next fortnight.
“The stakes are high. Over a hundred thousand troops are now massed on the Ukrainian border. Russia has attacked Ukraine before, illegally annexing Crimea in 2014 and bringing war to the Donbass region, so the danger is real. “
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Meanwhile, Mr Johnson will meet his NATO counterparts early next month.
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defense select committee, told Sky News that Russian-Ukrainian tensions are “our Cuban Missile Crisis Momentand we must not blink”.
He said: “From the Russian perspective, there has never been a better time to invade Ukraine – something Putin has wanted to do for a long time.
“He appreciates this international attention. Every time a leader raises his hand and says ‘I’m going to Moscow’, of course he’s going to say yes.
“He’s shooting this. I doubt an invasion would happen before the Beijing Olympics, China would have made sure of that.”
Labor has accused Mr Johnson of ‘playing up to other world leaders’ to deter Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey says the government is ‘crippled by a mess of its own making’ domestically as the Prime Minister waits for the long-awaited party report of senior civil servant Sue Gray.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian reservists, some brandishing fake wooden rifles, took part in military drills on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Kiev.
Ukraine launched a new territorial defense force this year, which it wants to transform into a corps of up to 130,000 people.
Among the reservists are a lawyer, a computer programmer and an online advertising freelancer.
Although they stand little chance against the much larger and better equipped professional Russian army, reservists like them could be tasked with protecting civilian sites in Kiev in the midst of any conflict.
It comes as Russia has said it will not conduct naval exercises in international waters in the Irish Sea next week following a request from the Irish government to move the maneuvers.
Ireland was told last week that the drills would take place around 240km (149 miles) off the south west coast in its exclusive economic zone but not in its territorial waters, meaning it was authorized by international law.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the plans were not welcome, particularly at a time when there are tensions between Western allies and Russia over the situation in Ukraine.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is a guest on Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday from 8.30am.