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Boris Johnson Condemns Russian Invasion Of Ukraine And Says Britain Will "Respond Decisively"

Boris Johnson will announce details of new sanctions following Russian escalation

4 min read

The Prime Minister is chairing a emergency Cobra meeting to decide the UK's next response to "horrific attacks" by Russia.

The Prime Minister said he was "appalled" by the launch of a full scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning, with Russian forces advancing from Belarus in the north and Crimea in the south.

Johnson will hold an emergency Cobra meeting this morning before providing an update to the nation and then a statement to Parliament later today to set out the UK's response, which is expected to include a wave of tough new sanctions against President Putin and his allies.

Writing in a statement shortly after explosions were heard across Ukraine, including in the capital, Kyiv, Johnson said Putin had chosen "a path of bloodshed and destruction" and vowed the west would "respond decisively".

Johnson also held an early morning phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymry Zelensky in which he said the UK would "not stand by as President Putin waged his campaign against the Ukrainian people".

A Downing Street spokesperson added: "The Prime Minister said he hoped Ukraine could resist and that Ukraine and its people were in the thoughts of everyone in the United Kingdom during this dark time."

In a TV address broadcast shortly before the invasion, Putin warned the west not to "interfere". 

"If you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history. All relevant decisions have been taken. I hope you hear me," he said. 

The Russian action has prompted calls from Labour leader Keir Starmer for a much tougher package of sanctions against the regime, saying there could be "no space for equivocation when faced with the evil that Putin has unleashed".

"There will be dark days ahead. But Putin will learn the same lesson as Europe’s tyrants of the last century: that the resolve of the world is harder than he imagines and the desire for liberty burns stronger than ever. The light will prevail," he said.

"We must now match our rhetoric with action. We must urgently reinforce our NATO allies. The hardest possible sanctions must be taken against all those linked to Putin. The influence of Russian money must be extricated from the UK."

Speaking on Thursday morning, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said the UK would respond with "unprecedented" sanctions against Putin and vowed to "punish this appalling decision" to invade.

"Sadly, President Putin has been really clear in what he's trying to achieve. He is trying to recreate a Russian Empire in his mind, claim back places which he defines as Russia," he said.

"But the international community recognises that these are individual sovereign states.

"Ukraine is not part of Russia and the fantasy that Vladimir Putin is trying to play out in recreating some kind of czarist expansionist Russia absolutely has to be stopped."

Conservative MP and chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat warned the sanctions announced on Monday, which included measures against five Russian banks and three "high-net worth" individuals with close links to Putin did not go far enough to dissuade the Russian leader.

"I'm afraid weak sanctions like the ones that were imposed on Monday just encourage others to believe we are weak because we’re clearly not willing to do anything serious," he told the BBC's Today programme.

"It gave the suggestion or made clear that we weren’t wiling to do anything serious."

He added: "One of the reasons I was were given for leaving the European Union was that we could do independent sanctions. That's what I was told by the then Foreign Secretary [Boris Johnson] in 2018. Well let's see them."

Responding to the Russian attack, US President said the west would respond in a decisive way to the "unprovoked and unjustified attack" by Russian military forces.

"President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a castastrophic loss of life and human suffering," he said.

"The world will hold Russia accountable."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also condemned Putin for "bringing war back to Europe" as she insisted the bloc would later announce details of a "massive" sanctions regime.

"We will weaken Russia's economic base and its capacity to modernise," she said on Thursday.

"These sanctions are designed to take a heavy toll on the Kremlin's interests and on their ability to finance the war."

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