Millions of refugees could flee Ukraine if it is invaded by Russia, the Defence Secretary warned last night as he said that Vladimir Putin could strike ‘at any time’ and likened the West’s efforts to stop him to the infamous policy of appeasement in the lead-up to the Second World War.
Ben Wallace said that the potential for ‘millions of displaced people – refugees – pouring from one European country to another hasn’t been seen since the war and could potentially have a massive impact.’
His comments echoed previous warnings by Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, who said that a ‘major war’ could lead to the ‘sudden appearance of between three and five million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion’.
Poland is among the countries that are preparing to absorb an influx of people fleeing conflict if it does break out.
Speaking in an interview with the Sunday Times, Mr Wallace added that there is a ‘whiff of Munich in the air’ – an apparent reference to the 1938 agreement that allowed Germany to annex the Sudetenland in the hope that it would prevent the outbreak of war.
Just a year later, the Second World War began when Hitler invaded Poland, with Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s efforts to preserve peace left in tatters.
Mr Wallace, who this week flew to Moscow as part of the frantic spell of diplomacy, shared his concerns as US President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart an attack would cause ‘widespread human suffering’.
During an hour-long phone call, Mr Biden told the Russian president an attack would ‘diminish Russia’s standing’ as heightened fears of an attack caused western nations including Britain to urge citizens to flee Ukraine.
Mr Wallace said that Moscow could ‘launch an offensive at any time’, with an estimated 130,000 Russian troops and heavy firepower amassed along Ukraine’s border.
‘It may be that he (Putin) just switches off his tanks and we all go home but there is a whiff of Munich in the air from some in the West,’ he added.
A source explained that Mr Wallace’s concerns that if Mr Putin strikes ‘come what may, then all the diplomacy would have been a straw man’.
US officials have discussed receiving intelligence that Russia is considering Wednesday as a target date to strike, but it was unclear how definitive the intelligence was.
But Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky sought to downplay the threat, saying: ‘The best friend of our enemies is panic in our country. And all this information is just provoking panic and can’t help us.’
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the White House of stoking ‘hysteria’.
Diplomatic efforts on Saturday also included French President Emmanuel Macron sharing a call with Mr Putin, but it was understood that Boris Johnson, who spoke to the Russian president earlier this month, did not have any calls with Moscow scheduled.
Pictured: British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace attends a meeting with Russian Defence Minister in Moscow on Friday. The Cabinet minister, who this week flew to Moscow as part of the frantic spell of diplomacy, shared his concerns as US President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart an attack would cause ‘widespread human suffering’
In this photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, A tank moves at the training ground during the Union Courage-2022 Russia-Belarus military drills in Belarus
Ben Wallace said there is a ‘whiff of Munich in the air’, in an apparent reference to the agreement that allowed German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938 but failed to prevent the Second World War. Pictured: Helicopter fires missiles beneath clear blue skies during a Russian-Belarusian joint military drill on Saturday
Adolf Hitler greets British Prime Minister Neville chamberlain at Munich 1938. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace likened the West’s attempts to stop a Russian invasion of Ukraine to the failure to prevent WWII
The Defence Secretary has compared diplomatic efforts to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine to appeasement as he said it is ‘highly likely’ Vladimir Putin will order an attack despite the concerted talks to avert war. Pictured: Soldiers work with their military vehicle at the Gozhsky training ground during the Union Courage-2022 Russia-Belarus military drills in Belarus. Despite the ramping up of military drills, Russia has called fears of an invasion of Ukraine ‘alarmist’
Pictured: A handout satellite image made available by Maxar Technologies shows tents and equipment at the northern end of the Oktyabrskoye airfield, Crimea, 10 February 2022
Russian Navy’s diesel-electric submarine Rostov-on-Don is escorted by a Turkish Navy Coast Guard boat as it sets sail in the Dardanelles, on its way to the Black Sea, in Canakkale, Turkey February 12, 2022
Ukrainians attend an open military training for civilians range as part of the ‘Don’t panic! Get ready! ‘ which is carried out by veterans of the Azov battalion on a training range in Kyiv amid the threat of Russian invasion, Feb 12, 2022
Russian President Vladimir Putin (pictured left on Friday) and US President Joe Biden (pictured right on Wednesday) held a high-stakes phone call today as a tense world watched and worried that an invasion of Ukraine could begin within days
UK nationals in Ukraine have been being urged by the Foreign Office to ‘leave now while commercial means are still available’, with officials warning there will be no RAF evacuations.
Armed Forces minister James Heappey warned Russia is in a position to be able to attack ‘very, very quickly’, with an estimated 130,000 troops on Ukraine’s border.
But unlike when the Taliban seized Kabul, Mr Heappey stressed that the RAF would not be carrying out evacuations in the event of war in Ukraine.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she spoke to US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Saturday, and shared her ‘acute concerns’ that Russia could launch further military aggression against Ukraine within days.
She tweeted: ‘Spoke to @SecBlinken today about acute concerns that Russia may launch further military aggression against Ukraine in coming days. We agree Russia will face massive consequences for any invasion, including severe sanctions. Russia must deescalate and engage with @NATO proposals.’
Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded the US share intelligence which suggests Russia is planning to invade his country on Wednesday – as the first British families begin arriving to the UK after being urged to flee the potential future war zone.
Writing on the website of the think tank the Atlantic Council in December last year about a potential refugee crisis, Mr Reznikov said: ‘A major war in Ukraine would plunge the whole of Europe into crisis.
‘The sudden appearance of between three and five million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion would be just one of many major concerns facing European society.
‘For example, the EU relies heavily on food imports including grain. A major war would seriously disrupt and possibly prevent entirely many imports from both Ukraine and Russia, creating a whole range of food security problems for the entire continent.’
Poland is one nation neighbouring Ukraine that is preparing for an influx of refugees.
Speaking earlier this month, the country’s deputy interior minister, Maciej Wasik, told Polish radio: ‘We have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario and [we have] been taking steps so as to be prepared for a wave of up to a million people.’
The alleged invasion plans, reported by German newspaper Der Spiegel, are said to detail specific routes that might be taken by individual Russian units and were analysed by the Secret Service, the CIA and the Pentagon before being handed over to President Joe Biden’s government.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held an emergency call with Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov to discuss the crisis today, after the ‘extremely detailed’ plans stoked fears of war in eastern Europe.
He warned his Russian counterpart that further aggression from Moscow would be met with a ‘resolute, massive and united transatlantic response’.
Mr Blinken had said earlier today that the crisis had reached a ‘pivotal moment’, adding that there continues to be ‘very troubling signs of Russian escalation’, including new forces arriving close to Ukraine’s borders.
But speaking during a live broadcast this afternoon, Mr Zelensky told the US: ‘If you have 100 percent-certain information about a Russian invasion of Ukraine, please share it with us’. He added that he realised ‘such risks do exist’ and that his country remains ready to take any measure necessary and ‘from any border.’
Thousands of British, American and other European citizens – including many embassy staff – have now been told to get out of Ukraine while they still can, as they were warned there would be no military evacuation in the wake of a Russian attack. (Pictured: Hurricane rocket launcher during Russian-Belarusian drill on Saturday)
Two camouflaged tanks toll through the Gozhsky training ground during military exercises held by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus in the Grodno region, Belarus, on Saturday
Smoke fills the air during a military drill between Russia and Belarus in the Grodno region of Ukraine’s neighbour on Saturday
Amid the escalating tensions, thousands of British, American and other European citizens – including many embassy staff – have now been told to get out of Ukraine while they still can, as they were warned there would be no military evacuation in the wake of a Russian attack.
The first haul of visibly relieved British families arrived at UK airports today, including a medical student from Birmingham and a couple with a young daughter, who landed at Gatwick airport.
The student said the call for Britons to flee Ukraine caused ‘quite a panic’ and a rush to return home.
Ali Haider said after landing at Gatwick Airport from Kyiv on Saturday: ‘I’d been in two minds about coming back because of the advice coming out by the British Embassy, about the amber alert, red alert.
‘A lot of people, a lot of students were waiting for the red alert, and it happened yesterday. Once that happened, everybody booked their tickets and left as soon as possible.’
The 21-year-old from Birmingham said his university, the Dnipro Medical Institute in Dnipro, a city in central Ukraine, had advised students to ‘get out as soon as you can’.
He said around half the students at the university are British.
Mr Ali said: ‘I think the main thing that people were getting worried about as well is, because it’s along the Dnieper River, a lot of the people were saying, if Putin wants to suffocate Kyiv, push his warships along that path as well.’
The student said he had paid £210 for his one-way flight ticket and thought prices would get much more expensive over the next three days as more people rush out of the country.
He said he was hoping to return to Ukraine by June to continue his studies.
Mr Ali said Ukrainians’ opinions were split on the likelihood of a Russian incursion, but that the perception that Western media were blowing the crisis out of proportion was changing.
He said: ‘The Ukrainians are generally very laissez-faire as in terms of people, but the last couple of days they’ve started to get worried. And when that happens, alarm bells should be ringing.’
Another British citizen arriving at Gatwick on the same plane said Ukrainians did not seem worried.
Paul Meakin, 51, from Poole in Dorset, his Ukrainian-British wife Svetlana, 36, and their daughter, who had spent a week in Ukraine to attend a funeral, said most passengers on their flight had been Ukrainian, not British.
Asked about people’s attitudes there, the IT company chief said: ‘You wouldn’t even know. They don’t care, that’s what came across.’
That sentiment was echoed by Ukrainian Pasha Honcharuk, 24, from Kyiv, who said he was ‘not too worried’ and that he would have stayed home if it were not for work in the UK.
He said: ‘All news channels tell that there will be war but I don’t think so.’
But a Ukrainian business analyst, who did not want to be named, said ‘of course everybody’s worried’ about the threat of war. But she said this had not influenced her pre-existing decision to move to London from Kyiv for work.
Relieved: Paul Meakin, his wife Svetlana and their daughter (pictured left) arrive at Gatwick from Kiev, Ukraine, after being urged to leave the country amid mounting tensions with Russia. Pictured right: Haider Ali, 21, from Birmingham, is all smiles as he arrives safe and sound at Gatwick from Ukraine, where he studies at a medical university
Ken Stewart, 54, and his wife Tania, 36, (pictured together) are stranded as their baby Douglas does not yet have a passport, according to The Mirror
Ben Garratt, and his wife Alice – both from Queen’s Park in London – are also trapped waiting for their surrogate-born baby to receive documentation
Daniel Williams, 45, who is originally from the Isle of Wight and now lives in Kyiv as a business investor, has a four-month-old daughter with his Ukrainian wife
While many of the 6,000 Britons in Ukraine have already fled via air or west into Poland, there have also been reports of British families with newborns becoming trapped in the country waiting for the correct documentation.
Ken Stewart, 54, and his wife Tania, 36, are stranded as their baby Douglas does not yet have a passport, according to The Mirror.
Douglas was born weighing 9lbs by cesarean section, and he and his mother are in a Kyiv hospital. Mr Stewart, originally from Edinburgh, and his family now face an anxious wait to see if they can get out in time.
Meanwhile, Ben Garratt and his wife Alice – both from Queen’s Park in London – are also trapped waiting for their surrogate-born baby to receive documentation.
The couple moved to Kyiv in December where their son was born thanks to the ‘very different surrogacy laws’ in Ukraine that allow for a swifter IVF and surrogacy process.
Mr Garratt said he and his wife are growing increasingly concerned after the Foreign Office updated its advice on Friday evening to encourage UK nationals to leave.
Another British man – Daniel Williams, 45 – who is originally from the Isle of Wight and now lives in Kyiv as a business investor, has a four-month-old daughter with his Ukrainian wife.
They are also stuck in the country, he has said. Mr Williams’ wife has a valid travel visa, but their baby does not yet have a British passport or a Ukrainian passport to get to the UK by commercial means.
People take part in the Unity March, which is a procession to demonstrate their patriotic spirit amid growing tensions with Russia, in Kiev, Ukraine, on Saturday
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Kiev on Saturday, vowing to ‘resist’ any attempt at occupation from Russian forces
Hundreds waved Ukrainian flags as they marched against Putin in Kiev on Saturday
Protestors against Russian threats hold up a sign saying: ‘Say no to Putin’ in Kiev on Saturday
Ukraine Will Resist! 5,000 march through Kiev warning Putin of bloody consequences if his massive army invades
Traffic in the city ground to a halt as the anti-war rally snaked its way from Shevchenko Park to the historic Maidan Square, birthplace of the 2014 revolution. (Pictured: Demonstrators hold up sign reading: ‘Ukrainians will resist’)
By Nick Craven in Kiev, Ukraine, for MailOnline
More than 5,000 people defiantly marched through the centre of Kiev behind a huge banner proclaiming ‘Ukraine Will Resist’.
Traffic in the city ground to a halt as the anti-war rally snaked its way from Shevchenko Park to the historic Maidan Square, birthplace of the 2014 revolution.
Protesters of all ages, many draped in yellow and blue Ukrainian flags, chanted ‘Ukraine, united, will never be defeated’ and one banner described Russian leader Vladimir Putin as a ‘mass murderer’ and a ‘war criminal’. Another said simply ‘#sayNOtoPutin’
Leading the march, Illia Kononov of the Capitulation Resistance Movement, told MailOnline: ‘So many people have turned out to show their support for Ukraine and to tell the world that we don’t want war, but if it comes – we will fight back.
‘We also want to thank all the countries such as the UK which have supported us morally and given us weapons to deter the Russians.
‘Personally I don’t think Putin will invade, but if he does, he should know that Ukraine will fight to the last man and woman.’
The march halted at Maidan and the protestors sang the Ukrainian national anthem beneath flags fluttering in the chilly wind.
Students Aleksey, 17, and his 18-year-old girlfriend Elvira, said they had come to show their support for their country at a time of need.
‘Russia has so many problems of its own, so why are they planning to cause problems in our country,’ said IT student Aleksey.
Physics student Elvira added: ‘When I think about what might happen in the next few days or weeks, I’m scared, but it’s good to see so many people coming out to make their feelings known – it would not be so easy to do this in Russia because they don’t have the freedoms we have.’
Another marcher, Andreii, 34, who had fought in the Ukrainian army in Donbas for three years, said he was now ‘seriously worried’ about the situation.
‘When I heard that the US and UK governments were telling their people to return home, it made me think this was actually going to happen,’ he said.
‘But we are home, and that means we can’t run away anywhere – we have to stand and fight.’
Woman holds up picture seemingly comparing Putin to former dictators Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler, during an anti-war rally in Kiev on Saturday
*Britain’s Ambassador to Ukraine has pledged to remain at her post, despite the Foreign Office advising Britons to leave the country now over fears that a Russian invasion is imminent.
Melinda Simmons will continue to run the Embassy in Kyiv with a skeleton staff while most colleagues are expected to fly home over the weekend.
She tweeted: ‘I am staying in Kyiv and continue to work there with a core team. The embassy remains operational.’
The news came as the Russian Embassy also sent most staff home, which observers were interpreting as another clear sign that Putin intends to take offensive action against his weaker neighbour.
Earlier on Saturday, the Russian military said it caught a US submarine in its far-east waters and drove it out with ‘appropriate means’ after the vessel ignored a Russian request to leave, Interfax news agency has reported.
Citing the Russian defence ministry, Interfax reported that the US submarine was detected near the Pacific Kuril islands as Russia conducted naval exercises with its Pacific Fleet. It was ordered to surface immediately.
It said the order was ignored by the U.S. submarine’s crew, leading the crew of Russia’s Marshal Shaposhnikov frigate to use unspecified ‘corresponding means’ to make the vessel leave.
‘The U.S. submarine … left Russian territorial waters at maximum speed,’ the defence ministry was quoted as saying. The Russian ministry called in the U.S. defence attache after complaining that the submarine had entered its waters, the RIA news agency reported.
‘We are aware of press reporting about an alleged naval incident in the Pacific. We cannot confirm the details of these reports at this time,’ said a Pentagon spokesman.
Ukrainian Ministry of Defence reported seven incidents of ceasefire violations in the rebel-held Donetsk region over the past 24 hours, accusing Russian-backed forces of ‘opening fire’ on the outskirts of Pisky.
And frictions could worsen from Sunday, when a crucial stage in the Russian military exercises around Ukraine begins in the Black and Azov Seas on the country’s southern coast.
The manoeuvres, scheduled to last a week, will completely block international shipping to and from the Sea of Azov as the Russian naval blockade will put a stranglehold on the narrow Kerch Strait between Russia and Crimea.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has claimed the movements of Russian ships in the Black Sea are in compliance with international maritime law, but the potential for a full-scale amphibious assault on Ukraine has not been lost on NATO observers.
The Ukrainian coast of the Sea of Azov is the perfect bridgehead for Moscow as no other nations’ ships can enter that stretch of water because the Kremlin controls Kerch Strait.
The West’s fears of an invasion were branded ‘alarmist’ and a symptom of US ‘hysteria’ by leading Russian figures on Saturday – just as sabre-rattling drills were launched by Putin in neighbouring Belarus.
The country’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram: ‘The White House’s hysteria is more revealing than ever. The Anglo-Saxons need a war. At all cost.
‘The provocations, disinformation and the threats are their favourite method for resolving their own problems.’
However in the same breath, she revealed Russia was reducing diplomatic staff in Ukraine because it feared ‘provocations’ from the Kiev authorities or ‘third countries’ – in another alarming sign that an invasion is edging closer.
It has long been suspected that Russia could use the cloak of an ‘attack’ in rebel-held, pro-Russian areas as an excuse to send in troops.
Ms Zakharova added: ‘In the wake of possible provocations by the Kiev regime or third countries, we have, indeed, made a decision on some optimisation of the staff of Russian overseas missions in Ukraine.
‘We want to highlight that our embassy and consulates will keep performing their basic functions.’
The Ukrainian MoD urged people via Twitter to ‘remain calm’ today, as hundreds joined anti-Putin rallies on the streets of Kiev, holding up signs reading: ‘Invaders must die’ and ‘Say no to Putin.’
It came as Britain made clear that its embassy in the capital would remain open despite a reduction in staff and travel advice for all UK citizens to leave ahead of a feared Russian attack.
Ambassador Melinda Simmons said: ‘I am staying in Kiev and continue to work there with a core team. The embassy remains operational.’
The US embassy will also run on a skeleton crew after it ordered all non-emergency Kiev staff to leave Saturday ‘due to the continued threat of Russian military action’.
Despite mounting fears, Russia’s ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told Newsweek magazine that warnings of an invasion were ‘alarmist’ and repeated that his country was ‘not going to attack anyone.’
The White House said Biden and Putin would discuss the crisis by phone today – just hours after thousands of Brits and Americans were warned to get out of Ukraine while they still can, as tensions reached boiling point amid fears that Putin could launch an ‘aerial bombardment’ of Kiev, risking a high civilian death toll.
Spain, The Netherlands, Kuwait, Germany and several other countries have now told their citizens to leave, including Belgium, who on Saturday warned there would be ‘no guarantee of evacuation’ following a ‘sudden deterioration’, as ‘communication links including internet and telephone lines could be seriously affected’ and air travel hampered.
Images released today showed Russian and Belarusian forces testing snow-camouflaged ‘hurricane’ and ‘tornado’ rocket launcher systems, while a major Russian sea drill, featuring deadly warships, was launched in the Black Sea.
Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Defence Select Committee, branded the Ukraine crisis ‘our Cuban missile crisis moment’ as he called for British-led NATO divisions to be in the country.
The Conservative MP told Times Radio on Saturday: ‘An invasion is imminent. Once that happens, because of the grain the comes out of Ukraine for the world, (that will) affect food prices across the world.
Ukrainians hold up flares as they unfurl a banner reading ‘Ukrainians will resist’ and ‘say no to Putin’ during a rally in the capital Kiev on Saturday
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (pictured left) is currently on a call to Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov (pictured right) to discuss the crisis, after the ‘extremely detailed’ invasion plans, seen by the Secret Service, CIA and the Pentagon, stoked fears of war in eastern Europe.
Snow camouflaged Tornado rocket launcher systems are put to the test in sub-zero Belarus on Saturday amid mounting fears of Ukraine invasion
An intelligence report has suggest Putin wants to invade Ukraine on Wednesday (Pictured: A serviceman takes aim during the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)
Britain made clear today that its embassy in Kiev would remain open despite a reduction in staff, and travel advice for all UK citizens to leave ahead of a feared Russian attack. (Pictured: Russian Tornado rocket launcher system during drill in Belarus)
Russian troops continue to amass along Ukraine’s borders as US President Joe Biden prepares to call Vladimir Putin today (Pictured: 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launchers fire during the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)
Brits, Americans and other Europeans living in Ukraine have been told to get out while they still can amid rising tensions (Pictured: Servicemen operate 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launchers during Russian-Belarusian military drill on Saturday)
V-200 Polonez multiple launch rocket systems take part in the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops
Belgians were warned on Saturday to leave Ukraine as there was ‘no guarantee of evacuation’ if Russia invades (Pictured: A 9K57 Uragan multiple rocket launcher takes part in the Allied Resolve 2022 joint military drills by Belarusian and Russian troops)
Soldier mounts a ‘hurricane’ rocket launcher system during drill in Belarus
Russian soldier behind the wheel of a rocket launcher system during drills in Belarus on Saturday
Scottish man fears ‘chaos’ as he tries to flee Ukraine with his family – as former ambassador warns not all Brits will get out
A Scottish man living in Ukraine has said he is concerned about ‘chaos’ as he tries to get his family out of the country quickly amid growing concerns that Russia could launch an invasion.
Stuart McKenzie told BBC Breakfast: ‘With young children in the country, I’ve got to take their safety as a priority so we’re definitely looking at how to get them out as soon as possible.
‘So many people are trying to leave at the same time and there won’t be flights, the roads will be blocked, are you going to be able to get fuel for your car? Is there going to be cash in the banking machines?
‘There could be so many things happening, so much chaos happening’.
He added: ‘Day to day, people are trying to get on with their lives, however, every day it seems that there’s more and more threats and we hear as soon as next week we could have Russian troops in the country.
‘These things can go out of control very fast so we’ve got to be on the right side of the chaos, because to think of a border with a million cars and panic happening would be disastrous’.
Former British ambassador to the US Lord Kim Darroch described the efforts the remaining embassy staff in Ukraine will have to go to in order to help Britons flee.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It will overwhelm the embassy’s resources, you can’t assume all the Brits in the country will hear this so you have to contact them.
‘You may have to arrange an emergency telephone line, you’ll need to send people to the airport where, with lots of foreign nationals trying to get out, there will be chaos, there may need to be extra flights laid on so this will occupy everyone’s time for 24 hours a day for the next few days and you won’t get everyone out – some people will choose to stay.’
‘Oil and gas prices will be affected as well, and European security will then be threatened further, so we have to ask ourselves, what should we do instead?
‘What are the calculations, and yes, there is this looking Putin in the eye wondering what would happen.
‘This is our Cuban missile crisis moment’.
He said the consequences of allowing Ukraine to fall would see a ‘new era of instability with a Russia and China axis developing’ while the West is ‘shrinking in size’ and authoritarianism is on the rise.
He added that he was ‘really concerned about what’s going on in No 10’ over the Ukraine crisis.
He criticised an absence of international leadership, saying: ‘Where is the United Nations Security Council resolutions?
‘Where is the determination not to put Nato troops around the country as we’re doing at the moment, but actually inside the country as well…?
‘I know this is something that the MoD (Ministry of Defence) would like to do, but they are hampered by political resolve, by a political appetite to lean into this’.
He added that it would be ‘misguided’ to think sanctions against Russia would work, and that: ‘We haven’t understood the bigger strategic picture.’
‘I’m again really concerned about what’s going on in No 10,’ he said, ‘We’re playing catch-up and I’m afraid it’s all too late.’
It comes after the Foreign Office this week updated its advice to tell UK nationals to ‘leave now while commercial means are still available’ amid mounting concerns they could get caught up in fighting – including a deadly ‘aerial bombardment of Kiev’ – should Putin give the go-ahead to his 130,000 troops currently massed near Ukraine’s borders.
The urgent government update came less than 24 hours after the US also issued an evacuation order, as western analysts raised the alarm that Vladimir Putin was about to send in his forces.
The European Union also told non-essential staff from its diplomatic mission in Ukraine that they should leave the country, but stopped short of issuing a full evacuation order.
Meanwhile, armed forces minister James Heappey today said British troops helping with training in Ukraine will be leaving the country this weekend.
Having sent UK personnel to train Ukrainians on the anti-tank missiles supplied by Britain, Mr Heappey said: ‘All of them will be withdrawn.
‘There will be no British troops in Ukraine if there is to be a conflict there.’
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk