UK urges Putin to ‘de-escalate’ Ukraine tensions or risk serious sanctions
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been urged to “de-escalate” the military build-up on the border of Ukraine as the international community steps up retaliation threats in the event of an invasion.
UK minister Chris Philp said Moscow should “get to the table” to resolve the tension peacefully as he warned of “very serious” sanctions should Russian troops make an incursion into neighbouring territory.
It came after US President Joe Biden told Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskyyon there is a “distinct possibility” that Russia could take military action against Ukraine in February.
We are urging Russia to get to the table, to discuss issues that are relevant and to de-escalate the situation
Mr Philp, a minister in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said there is “deep concern” about the “unprecedented” build-up of Russian troops on the border, particularly after units from the east of Russia redeployed to the region.
“I think it is a very serious situation,” he told Sky News.
“I think President Biden and our Prime Minister are right to warn President Putin that the consequences if they do invade Ukraine will be very, very serious indeed for Russia in terms of sanctions.
“The Americans made clear yesterday that the Nord Stream 2 pipe would not happen if they invade.”
The technology minister said the UK has provided military equipment and training to support the Ukrainians, but pressed for Russia to engage diplomatically and avoid the need for combat.
“We are urging Russia to get to the table, to discuss issues that are relevant and to de-escalate the situation,” Mr Philp added.
“De-escalation is clearly in the interests of all concerned – it is not too late to de-escalate, and that is what now needs to happen.”
This week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace admitted he is “not optimistic” that a Russian mobilisation into Ukraine can be stopped.
The Cabinet minister confirmed on Thursday that he is due to meet his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, in Moscow soon to discuss the stand-off.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has used public statements this week to issue a stark warning that a military clash would be a “painful, violent and bloody business” as he called a possible invasion a “disastrous step”.