‘Putin needs to de-escalate now’: Minister warns cost of Russia invading Ukraine would be ‘catastrophically high’

‘The Russian government should expect significant strategic consequences’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 07 December 2021 13:55
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The cost of Russia invading Ukraine would be “catastrophically high” with consequences including severe economic sanctions, a Foreign Office minister has warned as she told Vladimir Putin to “de-escalate now”.

The remarks come ahead of a key meeting between the US president Joe Biden and the Russian president amid rising tensions over a Russian troop build-up on the Ukrainian border — prompting concerns over a potential incursion.

During a meeting on Monday evening, Boris Johnson also spoke with Mr Biden alongside the leaders of Italy, France and Germany, to “reaffirm their staunch support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity”, a No 10 spokesperson said.

Addressing MPs, the Foreign Office minister Vicky Ford said: “Any military incursion by Russia into Ukraine would be a strategic mistake.

“The Russian government should expect significant strategic consequences. The costs of an incursion would be catastrophically high.”

After a warning from the Conservative MP Bob Seely that “we may be weeks away from a major war in Eastern Europe”, the minister insisted: “Let us be very clear, we stand by Ukraine and we are considering an extension of purely defensive support to Ukraine to help Ukraine defend itself.”

In a message to the Russian president, she went on: “Putin needs to de-escalate now and return to diplomatic channels”.

David Lammy, the newly appointed shadow foreign secretary, said the UK continued to “a soft touch for corrupt elites and dirty money that helps sustain the Putin regime” and criticised the government for failing to implement the recommendations of the intelligence and security committee’s report on Russia.

He also called on the government to speak to the new German government about cancelling the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to “ensure Russia is not able to increase Europe’s energy dependency or weaken our unity”.

In response, Ms Ford said: “To demonstrate Ukraine’s resilience we need a co-ordinated, increased approach, not just defensively but also economically and especially on the energy front, support for Ukraine.”

The Foreign Office minister did not respond directly to Mr Lammy’s calls to implement the Russia Report, but said the Government always “stands ready” to carry out sanctions.

She did say that the government had “repeatedly aired our concerns about the construction of Nord Stream 2 and its implications for European security and we will continue to do so”.

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