The Foreign Secretary said Vladimir Putin appeared to be ‘hell-bent’ on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
23 February 2022
Britain will make it “as painful as possible” for Russia if President Vladimir Putin unleashes an all-out attack on Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned.
Ms Truss said the Russian leader appeared to be “hell-bent” on invading his neighbour, including potentially an assault on the capital, Kyiv.
She said the Government had further measures “in the locker” which it could activate, after an initial tranche of sanctions announced on Tuesday was widely criticised as being too weak.
Boris Johnson told MPs that three oligarchs linked to the Kremlin and five smaller Russian banks were being targeted in the “first barrage” as the United States and the European Union unveiled similar measures.
The White House, meanwhile, also signalled a halt to diplomatic moves to resolve the crisis, scrapping plans for a potential crisis summit between Mr Putin and President Joe Biden.
It follows Mr Putin’s announcement that Russia would recognise the breakaway “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, a move seen by many in the West as a precursor to a full-scale invasion.
Ms Truss said it was still unclear whether Russian troops had crossed into the territories, after Mr Putin said he was authorising the despatch of “peacekeepers” to the area.
“That is frankly ambiguous at this stage,” she told Sky News. “We’ve heard from Putin himself that he is sending in troops. We don’t yet have the full evidence that that has taken place.”
She said however that Britain and other Western allies were determined to make it as difficult as possible for Russia if an attack does take place – including through the supply of defensive weaponry to Ukraine.
“I believe that Putin is hell-bent on invading Ukraine,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“This is about inflicting pain on Putin and degrading the Russian economic system over time, targeting people that are close to Putin.
“What we have to do is make it as painful as possible, both by supplying support to the Ukrainian government in terms of defensive weapons, in terms of economic support, and by imposing economic costs.”