Javid warns Russia not to launch ‘act of war’ on Nato after attack near Poland

Cabinet minister Sajid Javid warned against a ‘single Russian toecap’ setting foot on a Nato members’ territory.

14 March 2022

It is “not impossible” that Russia will launch an attack which could hit Nato territory, a Cabinet minister admitted as fears rose about an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky warned it was “only a matter of time” before the alliance was struck following a Russian attack on a base less than 15 miles from the border with Nato member Poland.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he believed a direct attack on a Nato member was still “very unlikely” but warned it would trigger a response from the alliance, which has a policy of mutual defence.

Mr Javid told BBC’s Today programme: “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 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.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
(PA Graphics)

Mr Zelensky, who spoke to Boris Johnson on Sunday, used the attack near the Polish frontier to renew his call for Nato allies to “close” the skies above Ukraine.

In other developments:

– The UK Government will set out further details of its sponsorship scheme allowing individuals and organisations to provide a home to Ukrainians fleeing the war,

– Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia will resume.

– Justice Secretary Dominic Raab was visiting The Hague on Monday to offer UK legal expertise and technical support to the International Criminal Court as it considers allegations of war crimes.

– The UK will supply Ukraine with more than 500 portable generators to provide energy for essential services, including at hospitals and shelters.

– NHS England will provide treatment for 21 Ukrainian children with cancer forced to flee Ukraine.

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.

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 Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “barbaric actions” were “testing not just Ukraine but all of humanity”.

Poland Russia Ukraine War
An aerial view of refugees queuing for transport at the border crossing at Medyka, Poland (AP)

People keen to offer refugees shelter in the UK can register their interest in sponsoring Ukrainians through the Government’s new humanitarian scheme from Monday.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove, who is expected to give further details on Monday, said he expects the first refugees to use the new route will make their way to the UK by the end of the week.

More than 3,000 visas had been issued to Ukrainians seeking refuge in the UK under the existing family reunification scheme, with “tens of thousands” potentially set to benefit from the new humanitarian route.

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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