Liz Truss warns Vladimir Putin Russia has 'no justification whatsoever' for aggression towards Ukraine
Liz Truss has warned Russian president Vladimir Putin his country has “no justification whatsoever” for its aggression towards Ukraine.
The UK foreign secretary told MPs Russia has been “peddling” the “false narrative” of a security threat in the region which the Kremlin is responding to.
Making a statement in the House of Commons, Ms Truss said the UK’s commitment to Ukraine was “unwavering”.
She said: “We will not accept the campaign Russia is waging to subvert its democratic neighbours. It is accompanied by baseless rhetoric and disinformation.
“They have falsely cast Ukraine as a threat to justify their aggressive stance. They falsely accuse Nato of provocation. This could not be further from the truth.
“Russia is the aggressor here. They have massed a huge number of troops along the Ukrainian border and in illegally-annexed Crimea.
“There is no justification whatsoever for Russia’s bellicose stance towards Ukraine. It is unprovoked and it is part of a wider pattern of behaviour by the Kremlin, reliant on disinformation and mistrust to seek to gain an upper hand.”
After outlining Russian actions elsewhere in the world, Ms Truss said: “I urge Russia to end its malign activity and to stick to what has been agreed.”
Ms Truss, who is visiting Kiev this month, added: “This next week will be absolutely critical for peace and security in Europe.
“Tomorrow I will join an extraordinary meeting of Nato foreign ministers.
"The US-Russia dialogue begins on Sunday, followed by the Nato-Russia Council on Wednesday, and the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe] Permanent Council on Thursday.
“We will be in talks on the basis of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. It’s vital that Nato is united in pushing back against Russia’s threatening behaviour, and together we must hold Russia to its long-standing obligations.
“There can be no rewards for aggression.
“We are reaching a crucial moment. The only way forward is for Russia to de-escalate and pursue a path of diplomacy.
“We will continue to stand together with our allies, steadfast in support of Ukraine and its future as a free and sovereign democracy.”
During the debate, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy claimed Russia’s actions were “driving this dangerous escalation of tensions”.
He told MPs: “It is right that this whole House sends a clear and unified message today, that we fully support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that Russian actions to further undermine this will be met with severe consequences.
“We must be crystal clear in our commitment to Nato and to the security of our allies. That commitment must be unshakable.
"It is also right that we support dialogue to achieve de-escalation, consistent with the security of our Nato allies and the integrity of Ukraine.”
Conservative former defence minister Tobias Ellwood complained the West lacked a coherent strategy to deal with Russia’s aggression.
He asked: “With the West looking ever timid, ever divided and ever risk-adverse, with the United States looking ever distracted because of domestic issues, and Nato bruised after its retreat from Afghanistan, has there ever been a better time for Russia to invade Ukraine than in the forthcoming new year of the Orthodox calendar?”
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