UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against making a “strategic mistake” by invading Ukraine.
The senior minister accused Moscow of “malicious activity” in the Balkans, as NATO allies gathered in Latvia to consider how to respond to Russia’s military build-up near the Ukrainian border.
Tensions were rising over the Kremlin’s suggestion, Ms Truss said: “We will support Ukraine and stability in the Western Balkans … we will stand with our fellow democracies against Russia’s malicious activity.”
The foreign secretary also warned: “Any action by Russia to undermine the freedom and democracy that our partners enjoy would be a strategic mistake.”
NATO is concerned about Russian build-up of heavy equipment and troops near Ukraine’s northern border, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has claimed that his country’s intelligence service had uncovered plans for a Russia-backed coup.
Speaking on Tuesday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shymagal insisted that Russia was “absolutely” behind what he said was an attempt to overthrow his government in Kiev – citing “secret data” that could be found in Moscow’s Displays intentions.
Ms Truss is expected to use the summit in Riga to present a united front for the NATO alliance to stand against Moscow, while also keeping channels of communication open with the Kremlin.
Ms Truss also dismissed Russian claims that the NATO action was provocative, after being photographed inside tanks meeting with British soldiers stationed in Estonia.
“We have seen this Kremlin playbook before when Russia falsely claimed that its illegal occupation of Crimea was a response to NATO aggression,” the foreign secretary said. “NATO is an alliance built on the principle of defence, not provocation.”
Meanwhile, MI6 chief Richard Moore said it was an “old problem” with Russia and Ukraine. The British intelligence chief told the BBC that “the Russians should be very careful about this … they will pay the price if they intervene”.
As tensions rise, Mr Moore said it was also important to be clear that “there is no opposing agenda here – we are not trying to surround Russia, we are trying to stop it from pursuing its legitimate interest.” are not”.
Before the talks, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned that “there will be a high price for Russia to pay if they once again use force against the independence of the nation of Ukraine”.
And German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said NATO’s support for Ukraine is “unbroken” and that its “independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty are not up for discussion”.
Mr Putin responded on Tuesday by warning that the expansion of NATO military infrastructure in Ukraine was a red line he hoped would not be crossed – as he expressed concern about military exercises near Russia’s borders Was.
Speaking at an investment forum in Moscow, the Russian president also said that his country is developing a new hypersonic missile that will soon have it in its arsenal.
His foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, accused NATO of deploying a significant amount of military hardware near Russia’s borders, and said Ukrainian military maneuvers and the use of drones in the country’s east posed a threat to Russia.
“President Putin insists that we do not need conflict, but if the West cannot stop Ukraine – and encourages it on the contrary – certainly we will take all necessary steps to ensure its security.”
Meanwhile, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin announced that Belarus would conduct joint military exercises with Russia “to cover the southern borders” – a reference to the border area near Ukraine, according to Belarus state news agency Belta.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /