Daily Mirror

Show of solidarity

PM in Ukraine as Putin’s troops amass Invasion alert to other ex-bloc states

- BY BEN GLAZE Deputy Political Editor ben.glaze@mirror.co.uk

VLADIMIR Putin’s forces will face “very fierce and bloody resistance” if they dare to invade Ukraine, Boris Johnson warned last night.

The Prime Minister was speaking after an hour of emergency talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, after 100,000 Russian troops amassed at the border.

He said the Kremlin forces were a “clear and present danger” and could also threaten neighbouri­ng former Communist bloc countries including Moldova and Georgia, which fought a 12-day war with Russia in 2008.

But even after flying 1,325 miles from London, the Tory leader could not escape questions about Partygate.

Mr Johnson was forced to insist: “My focus is entirely on delivering on the priorities of the British people, and I think they include ensuring that we are secure in our relations with our friends and allies, and our friends and allies are secure.”

The PM is due to speak to President Putin today after he had to postpone

a phone call on Monday to face angry MPs in the Commons over Downing Street parties. He will urge Mr Putin to “step back from the brink”.

Mr Johnson said yesterday that any conflict would come at a high cost.

“The Ukrainian army will put up a very, very fierce and bloody resistance and I think parents, mothers in Russia should reflect on that fact,” said the PM.

He denied the UK and US were “exaggerati­ng” the threat posed by Moscow and claimed the military build-up of troops was possibly the greatest act of

hostility “towards the Ukraine in our lifetimes”. He said: “We see large numbers of troops, we see preparatio­ns for all kinds of operations consistent with an imminent military campaign.”

He accused Mr Putin of “holding a gun to the head of Ukraine”, trying to “redraw the security map of Europe”.

He said: “It wouldn’t just be Ukraine that was drawn back into the Russian sphere of influence, you’ve got to think about Georgia, you’ve got to think about Moldova, other countries.”

Mr Zelensky warned conflict would

“not be a war of Ukraine and Russia, this is going to be a European war, a fullfledge­d war”. However, the UK has signalled forces will not fight for Ukraine, which is not in NATO.

Mr Johnson said new sanctions against Kremlin figures and those linked to them would be triggered “the moment the first Russian toecap crosses further into Ukrainian territory”.

Before jetting to Kyiv, the PM told the Cabinet the “situation was deeply concerning”, his spokesman said.

Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin warned ministers of “the potential impact on the UK and action being taken to encourage Russia to pursue a diplomatic resolution”.

After the talks, Mr Johnson was briefed on Operation Orbital – the UK’s training mission in Ukraine.

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokeswoma­n Layla Moran said: “Boris Johnson has been missing in action while war looms in Europe. While he might be playing catch up now, it’s too little, too late.”

Mr Johnson has been missing in action as a war looms in Europe


 ?? ?? FLIGHT RELIEF PM with smiling Volodymyr Zelensky during talks
FLIGHT RELIEF PM with smiling Volodymyr Zelensky during talks
Ukraine lawmakers hold flags of states
SUPPORTERS Ukraine lawmakers hold flags of states
 ?? ?? PARADE Johnson walks past armed guards in Kyiv
PARADE Johnson walks past armed guards in Kyiv

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