Liz Truss warns G7 will not tolerate Russian invasion of Ukraine
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The Foreign Secretary warned Vladimir Putin that a Russian invasion of the former Soviet state would result in a comparable loss of life to when the USSR took over Afghanistan during the 1980s. Speaking on Friday from Sydney, Ms Truss accused Mr Putin of trying to glue back together the collapsed Soviet Union.
It comes ahead of urgent talks between Russia and the US in Geneva as fears over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine continue to grow.
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is due to meet Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday in renewed efforts to de-escalate tensions.
Mr Blinken echoed the statements of Ms Truss on Thursday as he predicted grave consequences for the Kremlin should they move into Ukraine.
Russia has around 100,000 troops stationed at the border of the ex-Soviet state, but denies any intention to invade.
Mr Putin has said the move is defensive, and has called for a series of conditions to be met by the West in order to simmer down tensions.
Russia has insisted that NATO does not admit Ukraine as a member, nor should they expand further eastwards in Europe.
Ms Truss, addressing a G7 congregation, told delegates that the UK and its allies were ready to respond to a Russian invasion with harsh sanctions.
She said: “We are very clear, together with our allies in the G7, with our allies in Nato, that if there is an incursion by Russia into Ukraine, it would come at a massive cost.
“We are prepared to put very severe sanctions in place.”
Britain has already committed to supporting Ukraine through additional soldiers for training up its forces.
Britain has retained a number of troops in Ukraine since the Russian annexation of Crimea for the same purpose.
Ms Truss called any possible invasion “a massive strategic mistake” and warned the Kremlin to learn “the lessons of history”.
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The Foreign Secretary harked back to previous Russian takeovers to warn that an invasion could “only lead to a terrible quagmire and loss of life, as we know from the Soviet-Afghan war and conflict in Chechnya”.
In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Chechnya broke away from the influence of the Kremlin and declared itself independent – a move that prompted a Russian invasion in 1994.
It is estimated that within the nearly two years of warfare that followed, up to 100,000 were killed, many of them civilians.
The Second Chechen War, which rumbled on for years from 1999, was marked by terrorism, abductions and the razing of the capital city of Grozny.
Chechnya is now a southern Russian republic firmly under the control of the Russian government.
Ms Truss said of the Russian leadership: “They dream of recreating the Soviet Union, or a kind of greater Russia, carving up territory based on ethnicity and language.
“They claim they want stability while they work to threaten and destabilise others.”
Whilst at once urging President Putin to “desist and step back from Ukraine”, she reiterated the importance of UK ties with NATO and countries like Australia.
She continued: “We need everyone to step up.
“Together with our allies, we will continue to stand with Ukraine and urge Russia to de-escalate.
“What happens in Eastern Europe matters for the world.”
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