British troops ‘extremely unlikely’ to go to Ukraine if Russia invades

Deputy PM urges Vladimir Putin to ‘step back from the brink’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 25 January 2022 12:23
Raab says it's ‘extremely unlikely’ troops will be sent to Ukraine in event of Russian invasion

Dominic Raab has said it is “extremely unlikely” that troops will be sent into Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion – but stressed there will be “severe economic consequences” for the Kremlin.

The deputy prime minister also assessed the threat of an incursion by Russian forces as “very significant”, as he urged the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to “step back from the brink”.

His remarks came after the British government accused the Kremlin of seeking to install a regime of collaborators in Kiev, as tensions rise in the region over the build-up of Russian forces.

Over the weekend, a No 10 source said Boris Johnson regarded the situation in Ukraine as "the biggest test to the unity and resolve of the west and the Nato alliance in decades".

Raising the prospect of financial sanctions, Mr Raab told Sky News: “There will be very serious consequences if Russia takes this move to try and invade, but also install a puppet regime”.

“We wouldn’t telegraph all of the measures that we would take," he stressed. "But it’s important this very clear message … that there will be very serious, severe economic consequences”.

Pressed on whether troops would be sent to Ukraine in the event of an incursion, the cabinet minister added: “I think it’s extremely unlikely we would do that.”

"But what we have said is that are already willing, having engaged in training programmes, to help the Ukrainians defend themselves, that’s absolutely right – for defensive purposes.”

Labour's shadow minister, Emily Thornberry, said her party was “completely unified” with the government on its approach to Russian aggression in Ukraine.

“I think that what is really important – and Putin knows this, he has an absolute nose for it – is that we have to be completely unified on this,” she stressed on Sunday.

“We have to be strong and we have to be unified, whether it is in Nato, our surrounding allies, and we have to play our part as the opposition also in making sure we in Britain stand unified against this threat.”

Ms Thornberry also called for the government to utilise a “new generation of sanctions”, including investigating the “unexplained wealth” of Mr Putin allies living in the UK.

Last night, the Foreign Office took the unusual step of naming former Ukrainian MP and media owner Yevhen Murayev as a potential Kremlin candidate to take over in Kiev, with four others, including a former prime minister and a former acting prime minister, among those who are supposedly to be given senior ranks.

In a statement, foreign secretary Liz Truss said the Russian plotting showed the lengths to which the Kremlin was prepared to undermine the government in Kiev.

“The information being released today shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking,” she said.

“Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy. As the UK and our partners have said repeatedly, any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake with severe costs.”

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