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UK Defence Secretary warns about Russian forces moving into Ukraine

UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, issued the warning to a meeting of defense ministers from the nations of the Joint Expeditionary Force in Leicestershire, England. 

AP Reported by: AP London Published on: February 22, 2022 16:34 IST
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Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace opens delivers somber comments Tuesday as he opens a conference of defense ministers at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, England in on Feb. 22, 2022. The session of the Joint Expeditionary Force comes amid rising tensions on Ukraine's border with Russia.

Highlights

  • U.K. Defence Secretary has warned of signs that Russia has begun to move forces into Ukraine
  • Wallace issued the warning at a meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force

U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has warned of worrying signs that Russia has begun to move forces into Ukraine as he opened a conference of defence ministers from Baltic and North Atlantic states. Wallace issued the warning to a meeting of defense ministers from the nations of the Joint Expeditionary Force on Tuesday in Leicestershire, England, though he said reports of military equipment moving into Ukraine's Donbas region would need to be verified.

“Many of us were forewarning that President Putin already had an agenda – you heard that agenda in his speech last night,'' Wallace said, referring to Putin's decision to recognize two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. “This is a sovereign state which has now had some of its land effectively annexed from it."

Sann (Yemen): Yemen's Houthi rebels have welcomed Russia's decision to recognise two separatist regions in southeast Ukraine.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the head of the rebels' Supreme Revolutionary Committees, said late Monday that the Iranian-backed Houthis support the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics. He called for restraint to avoid sliding into a war.
The Houthis have been in war against a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, months after the rebels overran Yemen's capital, Sanaa, and ousted the internationally recognised government.

Helsinki: The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have strongly condemned Russia's decision to recognise the separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states.
Estonian President Alar Karis said that “Russia tore the Minsk agreements into pieces,” referring to a 2015 peace deal. He said ”this shows that Moscow's aim is to deepen the conflict, not to solve it."
In Baltic neighbour Latvia, President Egils Levits, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins and the country's Parliament released a joint statement condemning Moscow's actions.
The statement said that “in a gross violation of international law, under a fabricated pretext, and by spreading false information, Russia seeks to induce a change in Ukraine's political leadership and foreign policy course by violent means.”
Lithuania Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte tweeted that Russia President Vladimir “Putin just put Kafka & Orwell to shame: no limits to dictator's imagination, no lows too low, no lies too blatant, no red lines too red to cross.”
She added: “What we witnessed (Monday evening) might seem surreal for democratic world. But the way we respond will define us for the generations to come.” 

Brussels: European Union foreign ministers will meet Tuesday to decide what sanctions to impose over Russia's decision to recognize two separatist regions in southeast Ukraine, the EU's top diplomat said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the meeting in Paris “will take the political decisions vis-à-vis the European response.”
“Clearly, that response will be in the form of sanctions,” Borrell said. He said the aim is not to impose the whole range of sanctions that the EU has prepared should Russian invade Ukraine, but rather to address the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent.
Asked whether Russia's decision to send “peacekeepers” in already amounts to an invasion, Borrell said, “I wouldn't say that's a fully fledged invasion, but Russian troops are on Ukrainian soil.”

London: Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the U.K. will introduce “immediate” economic sanctions against Russia, and warned that President Vladimir Putin is bent on “a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
Johnson said Putin had “completely torn up international law” and British sanctions would target not just the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk but “Russian economic interests as hard as we can.” Johnson is to set out further details of the sanctions in the House of Commons later Tuesday.
He told broadcasters that this would be “just the first barrage of U.K. economic sanctions against Russia because we expect, I'm afraid, that there is more Russian irrational behavior to come.”
“I'm afraid all the evidence is that President Putin is indeed bent on a full-scale invasion of the Ukraine, the overrunning, the subjugation of an independent, sovereign European country and I think, let's be absolutely clear, that would be absolutely catastrophic.”

Paris: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian condemned in forceful terms on Tuesday the move by Russian President Vladimir Putin to recognize breakaway republics in Ukraine as a violation of international law and the Minsk peace agreement with Ukraine.
“Obviously, we will take the initiative to impose sanctions,” he said, adding that EU foreign ministers will meet “to examine together what measures to take.” The 27-nation EU has said it would impose sanctions against Russia in case of an invasion of Ukraine.

Brussels: A top European Union official says Russia's recognition of the Ukrainian separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states and to send troops into the territories is an “act of war.”
Didier Reynders, the European Commissioner for Justice, said the 27-nation bloc is ready to implement sanctions against Russia.
Speaking to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, Reynders said a unanimous accord from EU member countries is needed for new sanctions to be imposed.
He said the anticipated measures would evolve gradually, depending on Russian actions. The first types would be travel bans against individuals and sanctions against economic entities via the seizing of assets in Europe and abroad.
In addition, Reynders said “it will be necessary to ensure that there are no more imports of goods or services from Russia, such as energy, and that Russia's global access to financial services is terminated.”
“Everything is on the table,” he said, adding member states were discussing how gradual the moves would be and the possibility for diplomacy to ease the conflict.

Copenhagen: Nordic leaders condemned Russia's decision to recognize the Ukrainian separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states, saying Tuesday that Moscow had violated Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde called it “a blatant violation of international law.” Denmark Foreign Minister Jepp Kofod called the Russian move “harmful” and said the Scandinavian nation urged Moscow to “stop its breach of international law.” In Finland, President Sauli Niinisto said the country would respond in unison with the European Union, of which it is a member. Non-EU member Norway said the Russian decision “directly contradicts the spirit and the letter of the Minsk agreements.”

Singapore: Singapore said Tuesday it is “gravely concerned” about the escalation of tensions on the border between Ukraine and Russia and the “Russian decision to recognise two breakaway Ukrainian regions.”
“The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It added that the dispute should be settled through talks and diplomacy in “accordance with international law, and avoid action that will further raise tensions in the region.”

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