Daily Mail

Truss warning to Putin

She climbs into tank in echo of Thatcher and vows to uphold Nato alliance

- By John Stevens Deputy Political Editor

LIZ Truss pledged yesterday to stand up to Russia as she recreated Margaret Thatcher’s iconic photograph riding in a tank.

The Foreign Secretary warned Vladimir Putin against making a ‘strategic mistake’ by launching an invasion of Ukraine.

Ahead of a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Latvia, Miss Truss met British troops deployed as part of the alliance’s presence in neighbouri­ng Estonia.

She mimicked Lady Thatcher by posing for pictures in a British Army Challenger 2 flying the Union flag. In one of the most memorable images of her time in Downing Street, the former prime minister was photograph­ed in a tank in 1986 in West Germany.

Writing on this page, Miss Truss heralds Britain’s role in ‘defending and promoting the frontiers of freedom around the world’.

She tells of her pride in the country’s soldiers she visited yesterday, who she says are ‘flying the flag for liberty and democracy’.

Nato foreign ministers will gather in Riga today to consider how to respond to Russia’s military buildup near the Ukrainian border and the tensions on the frontier between Belarus and Poland. The Foreign Secretary will use the summit to call for the alliance to present a united front against Moscow while also keeping open channels of communicat­ion with the Kremlin. ‘It is time for freemake dom-loving democracie­s to work closer together to realise this vision, with a strong Nato a core part,’ she says.

Miss Truss adds that together with Nato allies she is ‘making clear that any incursion by Russia into Ukraine would be a huge strategic mistake’.

Britain’s national security adviser also warned Russia it would be an error to mount an incursion into Ukraine.

Giving evidence to the Commons defence committee yesterday, Sir Stephen Lovegrove said the fall of the Western-backed government in Afghanista­n should not be interprete­d in Moscow as a lack of willingnes­s to stand up for European democracie­s.

‘What I would say to anybody in Russia considerin­g this is there is never going to be a good time to make an incursion into Ukraine,’ he declared. ‘They should not the mistake of interpreti­ng a withdrawal from Afghanista­n as a lack of willingnes­s on part of Western allies to stand up for sovereign democracie­s wherever they are in the world, but certainly in mainland Europe.

‘Russian actions sometimes seem to be driven by an opportunis­tic type of motivation and I would counsel them very, very clearly not to fall into that trap now.’ Sir Stephen rejected the suggestion that any Western response to a Russian incursion would only amount to ‘mere condemnati­on’.

‘There will be considerab­ly more activity than a mere condemnati­on. I would rather not expand on that because that is ultimately a decision for the Prime Minister, but I have absolutely no doubt that that would be the case,’ he said.

Miss Truss’s decision to channel the first female Tory leader will fuel speculatio­n about her own ambitions. A survey of party members for the Conservati­veHome website yesterday found she remained the most popular Cabinet minister with a net satisfacti­on rating of 82.3 per cent.

Miss Truss has been at the top the league table for a year.

She was significan­tly ahead of Lord Frost, the Brexit negotiator, who was second on 73.3 per cent, and Internatio­nal Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was third on 64 per cent.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who is seen as a potential rival to Miss Truss, was ninth on 53.3 per cent. Boris Johnson was second from last with a rating of -17.2 per cent, ahead only of chief whip Mark Spencer on -21.1 per cent.

At a Conservati­ve Party conference fringe event in October, Miss Truss chose Mrs Thatcher when asked to pick between her and Winston Churchill.

‘Flying the flag for liberty’

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 ?? ?? 1986 Twin tracks: Liz Truss rides a British tank in Estonia yesterday ... as Lady Thatcher had on a visit to Germany. The Challenger 2 was flying the Union flag and the Royal Tank Regiment’s banner
1986 Twin tracks: Liz Truss rides a British tank in Estonia yesterday ... as Lady Thatcher had on a visit to Germany. The Challenger 2 was flying the Union flag and the Royal Tank Regiment’s banner
 ?? ?? Firepower: Tank on the move
Firepower: Tank on the move

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