Ukraine-Russia: Sajid Javid warns Russia not to launch 'act of war' on Nato as Ukrainians bury dead in mass graves

Sajid Javid has warned Russia not to launch an “act of war” against Nato on a day that saw Ukrainians bury their dead in mass graves.

The UK health secretary claimed it was “not impossible” Vladimir Putin could attack Nato territory after Russia hit a base less than 15 miles from the border with Poland.

It came as the bombardment of some areas of Ukraine was so intense people were forced to unceremoniously bury dozens of civilian victims in mass graves.

Reports also emerged of the death of a pregnant woman who had been pictured being stretchered from a bombed maternity hospital in Mariupol.

Sajid Javid warned Russia not to attack Nato territory

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Speaking to BBC’s Today programme, Mr Javid claimed a direct attack on a Nato member was “very unlikely”, but not impossible.

He said: “We’ve made it very clear to the Russians even before the start of this conflict.

“Even if a single Russian toecap steps into Nato territory, then it will be considered an act of war.”

The senior Tory minister made the warning after an attack on the Yavoriv base, which has previously been used by Nato to train Ukrainian soldiers, was one of the western-most targets struck by Russia during the invasion.

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Michael Gove told the Commons the UK Government was "doing everything we can” to facilitate Scotland and Wales acting as “super sponsors”.

The base was hit by 30 Russian missiles, killing 35 people and injuring 134 on Sunday.

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky warned it was “only a matter of time” before Nato was attacked, and used the incident to renew his call for Nato allies to “close” the skies above his country.

In a video address, he said: “Only 20km away are Nato borders. Last year, I made a clear warning to Nato leaders that if there were no tough preventive sanctions against Russia, it would start a war. We were right.

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“If you do not close our skies, it is only a matter of time before Russian missiles fall on your territory, on Nato territory, on Nato houses and citizens."

President Zelensky will deliver a virtual address to the US Congress on Wednesday.

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Downing Street said the strike being so close to a Nato member was “deeply concerning”.

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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “These strikes are deeply concerning.

“We want everyone in the international community to condemn Putin’s barbaric acts.”

Peace talks continued between the two countries on Monday, but there was no breakthrough in the conflict.

Russian and Ukrainian representatives held talks in a bid to end the fighting, with Ukraine's negotiator calling for a ceasefire and the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops.

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It comes as mass graves were in use across the country, with several built in Mariupol – a key port city devastated by constant shelling.

Northern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Sumy are surrounded by Russian troops and have also seen mass graves due to relentless bombardment.

Monday also saw the death of a pregnant woman wounded in the Russian bombing of a Ukrainian maternity hospital.

Pictured on a stretcher, she died along with her baby following the air strike in Mariupol on Wednesday last week in which at least three other people were killed.

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According to reports, she cried “kill me now” once she realised she was losing her baby.

In Westminster, Michael Gove unveiled the biggest sanctuary scheme since the Second World War, with the public now able to apply to host a Ukrainian refugee.

A website for people to register their interest in hosting went live on Monday afternoon and appeared to be so busy users reported frequent crashes.

Under the new scheme, local authority areas will be entitled to more than £10,000 per Ukrainian refugee using the new route to the UK, while Britons offering to take in someone fleeing the war will receive a “thank you” payment of £350 per month.

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He told the Commons: “Sponsors in the UK can be of any nationality with any immigration status, provided they have at least six months leave to remain within the UK.

“Sponsors will have to provide accommodation for a minimum of six months. In recognition of their generosity, the Government will provide a monthly payment of £350 to sponsors for each family whom they look after.

“These payments will be tax-free, they will not affect benefit entitlement nor council tax status.

“Ukrainians arriving in the United Kingdom will also have access to the full range of public services, doctors, schools, and full local authority support.”

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The communities secretary said the UK Government was "doing everything we can” to facilitate Scotland and Wales acting as “super sponsors”.

He said his officials were working with those devolved administrations “in order to ensure that we can do so in a way that enables everyone to live up to their responsibilities”.

Responding, Lisa Nandy raised concerns over matching Ukrainian families to sponsors and claimed the Government was suggesting people should advertise on Instagram via a “DIY asylum scheme”.

The escalation of the war in western Ukraine came as Mr Johnson prepared to host leaders from the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), an alliance of northern European nations.

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Representatives from Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway will attend the gathering on Monday and Tuesday.

During a call with Mr Zelensky on Sunday, Mr Johnson said “the UK would continue to pursue more options for bolstering Ukraine’s self-defence”, including at the JEF meeting on Tuesday.

Mr Johnson said Mr Putin’s “barbaric actions” were “testing not just Ukraine, but all of humanity”.

In London, protesters seized a mansion linked to the sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

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Banners were unfurled from the property at 5 Belgrave Square, including one stating "this property has been liberated," alongside the Ukrainian flag.

After speaking to two officers who were lifted to their level by a JCB crane, the protesters announced they would not be leaving the property.

One protester said they had demanded that, instead of being arrested, they be “treated the same way as Boris Johnson” and be handed a questionnaire to fill out.

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