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Boris Johnson Warns Europe Faces “Most Dangerous Moment In Decades” As Russian Forces Amass On Ukraine Border

Boris Johnson Warns Europe Faces “Most Dangerous Moment In Decades” As Russian Forces Amass On Ukraine Border

oris Johnson made the warning at a joint press conference with Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels (Alamy)

3 min read

The prime minister has said that the next few days are the “most dangerous moment” in Europe’s biggest security crisis in decades as Russia continues to amass forces on the Ukrainian border.

Asked during a Nato summit in Brussels if Vladimir Putin wants to go to war, Boris Johnson said that it was “possible that something absolutely disastrous could happen very soon indeed”.

Johnson spoke alongside Nato’s general secretary Jens Stoltenberg, who confirmed he has written to Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to offer more talks and “find a diplomatic way forward”.

Stoltenberg said Nato was “prepared to listen to Russia's concerns”, but that the organisation would not "compromise on core principles" that allow each nation to "choose its own path".  

Johnson said Nato countries "must resist and oppose" a situation where "the fates of nations are decided over their heads by a handful of great powers”. 

He said that he "honestly" didn't think Putin had made a decision on what Russia will do next after placing half of all its combat troops on the borders of Ukraine and in Belarus. 

"But that doesn't mean that it's impossible that something absolutely disastrous could happen very soon indeed," Johnson added. 

"Our intelligence, I'm afraid to say, remains grim. We're seeing the massing of huge numbers of tactical battalion groups on the border with Ukraine.

"This is probably the most dangerous moment in the course of the next few days in what is the biggest security crisis Europe has faced for decades."

The UK has sent 1,000 troops to eastern Europe in demonstration to Vladimir Putin that Nato is "not flaky”. 

"We will consider what more we can conceivably offer,” he told the press conference.

“The Ukrainians are well prepared, there are things we've offered that they in fact don't seem to need because they think they have them in enough numbers already.”

Johnson said he did not want to rule out offering enhanced military support to Ukraine, but that "at the moment we think the package is the right one".

He continued: “I want to stress it would be an absolute disaster if it was to come to that and if there was to be serious bloodshed on Ukrainian soil.”

The Prime Minister then flew to Warsaw for talks with Poland's leaders, and will meet British troops stationed there this afternoon.

A Downing Street spokesperson said Johnson and his counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki discussed the importance of “a united front in the face of Russian aggression”, and agreed that “European security was vital for wider global stability. and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions on the Ukrainian border”.

Meanwhile foreign secretary Liz Truss is in Moscow for talks with Russian counterpart Lavrov.

Speaking together after their meeting Truss said: "The aggression by the Russian government and attempts to relitigate the past are seriously undermining Russia's international standing."

She also accused Moscow of "attempting to destabilise Ukrainian democracy" through "hybrid warfare and amassing over 100,000 troops on the border in a threatening manner".

"These acts have actually had the effect of strengthening Nato's resolve and turning the Ukrainian people further away from Russia," she said.

"There are also serious implications for energy supplies at a time of rising gas prices."

Truss also warned a Russian invasion would result in a "prolonged and drawn-out conflict”, and said the "future peace and stability" of Europe was at stake.

"There is still time for Russia to end its aggression towards Ukraine and pursue the path of diplomacy," she said.

"But Nato is very clear that if that path is not chosen there will be severe consequences for Russia, Ukraine and the whole of Europe."

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