Boris Johnson issues warning to Russia about invading Ukraine
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Boris Johnson spoke to the media during a visit to a Milton Keynes hospital and was asked to give an update on the situation in Ukraine with the Prime Minister warning of a “lightning war is one that everybody can see”. Mr Johnson said he wanted to get across the message that any invasion would be a “painful, violent, bloody business” as the UK leads economic sanctions and measures against Russia. When pressed on the likelihood of an invasion, Mr Johnson said the evidence was “gloomy” and it could be a “new Chechnya”.
Mr Johnson discussed the latest events in Ukraine following the evacuation of US personnel from their embassy.
The Prime Minister was asked whether the UK should follow suit to which he replied: “The intelligence is very clear that there are 16 Russian battle groups on the borders of Ukraine.
“The plan for a lightning war that could take Kyiv is one that everybody can see.
“We need to make it very clear to the Kremlin, to Russia, that would be a disastrous step and so what we’re saying is that the UK is leading on creating a package of economic sanctions.
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“Working with our partners around the world. I will be talking to them this afternoon and this evening, talking to colleagues and others in Washington.
“But we also need to get over the message that invading Ukraine from a Russian perspective is going to be a painful, violent and bloody business.
“And I think it’s very important that people in Russia understand that this could be a new Chechnya.”
Mr Johnson recalled his visits to Ukraine and said he believed the population would stand and fight Russia but warned it was not the way the world should be going.
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When pressed on the likelihood of an invasion, Mr Johnson added: “Look, I’ve got to tell you that I think that the intelligence is pretty gloomy at this point.
“There is certainly a large, very large array of Russian forces and we have to take the necessary steps.
“I don’t think it’s by any means inevitable now, I think that sense can still prevail.
“But the UK is in the lead in creating that package of economic sanctions helping to stiffen the resistance of our Ukrainian friends with defensive weaponry that we’re supplying.
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“And making it clear that we stand fully for square with the people of Ukraine that we support the sovereign integrity of Ukraine.”
The UK has begun withdrawing some staff from its embassy in Ukraine despite no specific threat being made against the diplomats.
But around half of the staff will return to the UK following the Russian threat.
US officials have ordered relatives of embassy staff to leave.
EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said he would not “dramatise” the tensions and would keep EU staff in the country.
NATO allies have been sending weapons to aid Ukraine against Russian aggression with the UK leading the negotiations on economic sanctions against Russia.
Germany, however, has come under fire after it has denied weapons being sent to Ukraine.
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