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Liz Truss Says UK Did "All We Could In Advance" To Deter Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

Liz Truss Says UK Did 'All We Could In Advance' To Deter Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine
3 min read

Foreign secretary Liz Truss has said that she warned Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, against invading Ukraine on three occasions, and that the UK did "all we could in advance” to prevent the crisis.

“I made it very clear that there will be a united response not just from Britain, but also from the G7,” Truss told a hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) on Monday afternoon. 

The foreign secretary told the FAC she conveyed to Lavrov there would be “severe sanctions” in response to any Russian aggression in Ukraine, and that “the Ukrainians will fight”. 

However, the Russian foreign minister did not take British Foreign Office threats seriously.

Truss believed that Russia had “underestimated the unity of the West” and that Putin possibly hadn’t been delivered messaging properly by his own diplomats.

She also claimed that “post-Cold War the West took its eye off the ball”, including by cutting defence budgets and “entering into trade and economic relationships without understanding the underlying strategic dependency” of them.

“There was a certain amount of turning a blind eye to what happened in Crimea and what happened in the Donbass region,” Truss said.

“We're now at a stage where the failure to act more decisively earlier has meant that we face a greater cost in acting now,” she added. 

Truss said the reason it has taken until now for the government to bring forward a widely accepted Economic Crime Bill that would allow the UK to sanction more oligrachs is because previous attempts at such legislation have been hampered by “amendments which made it harder to get sanctions agreed”.

Due to the “severity of the situation” in Ukraine, however, government is now in a position to legislate so it can “rapidly sanction anybody sanctioned by our allies”. 

Truss confirmed that if the government's new Economic Crime Bill passes in the Commons on Monday evening, when MPs are due to vote on it, hundreds of new individuals will be able to be sanctioned in time for next Tuesday.

In December last year, the Foreign Office tripled the size of its sanctions team to facilitate this aim.

While Truss spoke fervently in support of increasing the pace and quantity of economic and cultural sanctions against Russia, she was firm that British troops will not be deployed to assist with on-the-ground fighting Ukraine. 

"We are doing all we can to support the Ukrainians in their valiant Self Defense of Ukraine," the foreign secretary said.

"There is no prospect, as the defense secretary has been clear, of NATO troops going in," she added.

Truss described the prospect of implementing a no-fly zone over Ukraine as "extremely problematic".

Despite calls from Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy for Western countries to close the skies over Ukraine, Truss said she does not want to see Britain come into direct conflict with Russia as a result of having to shoot down a Russian aircraft that enter a no-fly zone.

When pressed by FAC chair Tom Tugendhat on whether she believes Putin is waging a "war of aggression", Truss refused to answer the question on three occassions.

The foreign secretary described the issue as a matter for the International Criminal Court (ICC).

After being alerted that such decisions are not within the ICC's jurisdiction, Truss agreed that she would "look into" the idea of establishing an international tribunal for assessing wars of aggression. 

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