Truss condemns Russian aggression ahead of ‘absolutely critical’ week for Europe

Russia has “no justification” for its aggression towards Ukraine, Liz Truss has warned ahead of an “absolutely critical” week for Europe’s peace and security.

The foreign secretary, who plans to visit Kiev later this month, told lawmakers that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “walking” a “false narrative” of a security threat in the region to which the Kremlin responds. is giving.

He stressed that Russian military incursions into Ukraine would be a “huge strategic mistake” and would “come at a serious cost”, including the potential for “coordinated sanctions” to affect the country’s interests and economy.

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss addresses MPs in the House of Commons (PA)

Europe should also reduce its dependence on Russian gas, the foreign secretary said.

The gathering of Russian forces on the border with Ukraine has raised concerns about Mr. Putin’s intentions towards the former Soviet country.

Ms Truss, in a statement in the House of Commons, said the UK’s commitment to Ukraine was “unwavering” and that it joins its allies in defending “democracy at the frontier of freedoms in Eastern Europe and around the world”.

He said: “We will not accept the campaign that Russia is running to destroy its democratic neighbours. It is accompanied by baseless rhetoric and propaganda.

“They falsely threaten Ukraine 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 massaged a large number of soldiers on the Ukrainian border and in illegally occupied Crimea.

“Russia’s aggressive stance towards Ukraine has no justification. It is unprovoked and is part of a broader pattern of behavior by the Kremlin, which relies on propaganda and mistrust to gain the upper hand.”

After outlining Russian actions elsewhere in the world, Ms Truss said: “I urge Russia to end its malicious activity and stay as agreed.”

Ms Truss said: “This next week will be absolutely critical for peace and security in Europe.

“Tomorrow, I will attend an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers of NATO. The US-Russia dialogue begins on Sunday, followed by the NATO-Russia Council on Wednesday and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Permanent Council on Thursday.

“We will negotiate on the basis of freedom, democracy and rule of law. It is important that NATO unites to back down against Russia’s threatening behavior, and together we must fulfill our longstanding obligations to Russia.

“There can be no reward for aggression.

“We are approaching a critical moment. The only way forward for Russia is to de-escalate and adopt the path of diplomacy.

“We will continue to stand with our allies, standing firm in support of Ukraine and its future as an independent and sovereign democracy.”

Ms Truss said the UK is helping Ukraine “by joint exercises, maritime support and training of more than 20,000 members of its military, and strengthen its defenses over time”.

He said: “Europe should reduce its dependence on Russian gas. Britain is opposed to Nord Stream 2 (a new pipeline running from Russia to Europe across the Baltic Sea) and I want to highlight the strategic risks of the project.” I am working with allies and partners for

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Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lamy (PA)

As for Labour, shadow foreign secretary David Lamy said Russia’s actions are “driving this alarming escalation of tensions”.

He told lawmakers: “It is fitting that this whole House sends a clear and unified message today, that we fully support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and that Russian action to further undermine it will have dire consequences.”

“We must be clear in our commitment to the security of NATO and our allies. That commitment must be unwavering. It is also true that we support talks to de-escalate tensions, which protect the security of our NATO allies and the integrity of Ukraine. corresponds to.”

Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, insisted that NATO is “a free association of free people who defend freedom”.

Ms Truss said it was “a sovereign decision for NATO and the respective applicant states on whether to join NATO” and “not a decision for Russia”.

Conservative former Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood said he does not believe the West has a coherent strategy for dealing with Russia’s aggression.

He asked: “With the West always looking timid, sometimes divided and always risk-averse, the United States always looking distracted due to domestic issues, and NATO upset after Afghanistan’s withdrawal, there have never been a better time for Russia. invade Ukraine than the upcoming New Year of the Orthodox calendar?”