Downing Street Says “Nothing Is Off The Table” To Support Ukraine Against Russian Invasion
The UK government has said “nothing is off the table” when it comes to supporting Ukraine against the Russian invasion as Putin's troops surround Kyiv.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said the UK will “continue to stand squarely behind Ukraine” and accused Vladimir Putin of “hurling the might of his military machine against a free and peaceful neighbour”.
They said that “nothing is off the table” in terms of offering continued support to Ukraine, but were unable to outline specific details as a result of “operational security issues”.
The Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said just before 4am on Friday "horrific rocket strikes" had hit Kyiv after fighting reached the outskirts of the capital overnight. Gunfire now being reported in the city centre.
On Wednesday Boris Johnson announced the UK will send a “further package of military support to Ukraine”, including "lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons and non-lethal aid".
This morning the Prime Minister held a meeting with the leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force of countries, and will speak to fellow NATO leaders this afternoon to encourage further action and sanctions against Moscow.
Number 10 also announced a meeting of the leaders of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, known as the ‘V4’, will be hosted by Johnson in London on 8 March to discuss the situation in Ukraine and "the UK’s support for security in the region".
In the short-term the UK will continue its call for Russia to be ejected from the SWIFT international payment system to try and hit their economy harder, Johnson's spokesperson confirmed.
On Thursday evening, US president Joe Biden indicated that there had been resistance from EU countries to the move, but Downing Street did not confirm which western allies were not in agreement.
“We want to ensure that the we can do this, to ensure that we send a clear message to Vladimir Putin that his efforts will not succeed,” they added.
“And to ensure that we can deal a severe blow to the Russian economy."
Earlier this morning, armed forces minister James Heappey answered an urgent question on Ukraine in the Commons, confirming the UK will send further armed forces to Estonia "earlier than planned" to reinforce the Nato ally in the wake of Russia's actions.
"In addition to the Royal Tank Regiment battle group that has been in place in Estonia for the last six months, the Royal Welsh battlegroup will be arriving in Estonia earlier than planned to double up our force levels and those doubled-up force levels remain indefinitely,” he told MPs.
"They will be augmented by the headquarters of 12 Mechanised Brigade, meaning that the United Kingdom will have an armoured brigade in Estonia reassuring one of our closest Nato allies."
But Heappey warned that Nato troops must not enter Ukraine because of the "risk of miscalculation" leading to an "existential" threat.
The minister said the government would "explore all that we can do to support the Ukrainians themselves over the next few days".
"But we must all in this House be clear that British and Nato troops should not, must not, play an active role in Ukraine,” he added.
"We must all be clear what the risk of miscalculation could be and how existential that could very quickly become if people miscalculate and things escalate unnecessarily."
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