Western leaders have agreed to respond with one voice to a possible “attack” on Ukraine by Russia, by imposing sanctions on Moscow of unprecedented severity, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.
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“We have agreed to respond to any attack from Ukraine in unison by imposing coordinated and tough economic sanctions, tougher than we have ever decided before against Russia,” Johnson said, briefing MPs British following a videoconference Monday evening between the United States and its European allies.
Russia has deployed tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine’s borders in recent months, raising fears of an invasion. While Moscow denies any such plans, the Kremlin insists on written guarantees for its security, including the promise that Kiev will not join NATO.
“I think all of Russia’s fears can be allayed, and we could find a path to mutual security through patient, principled diplomacy, as long as President Putin avoids the trap of launching a terrible war.” , said Boris Johnson.
“But if President Putin were to choose the path of bloodshed and destruction, he must realize that it will be both tragic and unnecessary,” he continued, warning that “the resistance would be fierce” even if it seized smaller portions of Ukrainian territory.
“We cannot turn our backs on the vision of a Europe whole and free” erected at the end of the Cold War in 1989 “because Russia put a gun to the head of Ukraine”, he said. he added, excluding however “in the short term” the sending of NATO combat troops to the country.
Russians and Westerners have continued in recent weeks to accuse each other of fueling the crisis, at the risk of provoking a major conflict. Diplomatic efforts continue, however, even if the results are lacking.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told parliament that a new Russian military incursion would be “a massive strategic mistake” that would come with a “severe cost to the Russian economy, including coordinated sanctions”.
She said she planned to visit Ukraine next week.