Ukraine conflict: UK won’t accept Russian separatist rebel gains, says Philip Hammond

The Foreign Secretary admits that negotiations in Munich with other powers have been difficult

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The Independent Online

The British government will not sign off any deal to end the conflict in Ukraine if it solidifies Russian separatist gains in the east of the country, the Foreign Secretary has said.

Speaking after talks in Munich with senior US, EU, Ukrainian and Russian officials Philip Hammond said negotiations with Russia had been difficult.

“It is not the case that the Russians have said 'okay, fine, we'll do it your way then'. It was a hard discussion,” Mr Hammond said.

Britain is a senior partner in the talks seeking to end the conflict in Donetsk and the Crimea.

But Mr Hammond was earlier today forced to deny that David Cameron had become an “irrelevance” because of his lack of involvement in high-level talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“What is being painted here is a ludicrous proposition that somehow Germany and France are doing their own thing,” the Foreign Secretary told the BBC.


He added that the format of the highest level of talks, which exclude Britain, had been agreed last summer and that Britain had been key in pushing for sanctions against Russia.

Mr Hammond said he believed that arming Ukrainian government forces would not help bring about peace in the divided country.

“At the moment we do not feel that the supply of arms would be a helpful contribution,” he said.

 “And so long as there is something approximating a military stalemate, the focus must be on finding a political solution to resolve it.”

The Foreign Secretary said sanctions were putting pressure on the Russian government to negotiate, arguing that the impact of Russian foreign exchange reserves would be being felt acutely in Moscow.

He added however that the UK would keep its “options open” with regards to alternative courses of action.

The news comes as the UN refugee agency says a million people have been forced to leave their homes due to the conflict.