Russia would “not stop at Ukraine”, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss has warned.
Truss suggested that, should Russia push through an invasion of Ukraine, the conflict produce problems in the wider continent.
She said: “The big risk, of course, is if there is an invasion into Ukraine that will be hugely damaging for Russia and Ukraine. And it will further undermine the stability of Europe.
“This, I fear, would not stop at Ukraine. This is an attack on the neighbouring states of Russia and other east European countries in trying to undermine legitimacy of them being part of NATO.”
‘Very dangerous moment for entire world’
Truss even warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would be a “very dangerous moment” for the entire world, according to Sky News.
And she pointed to Russia’s close partners, Iran and China. She said Britain is currently negotiating with Iran to stop them from buying a nuclear weapon, whilst China has racked up economic coercion of Taiwan.
“We cannot give a message that aggression gets rewards,” Truss noted.
She added: “If we saw an invasion into Ukraine, there would be severe costs in terms of a long-running conflict, we could see the undermining of security more broadly in Europe and could see other aggressors around the world see it as an opportunity to expand their ambitions too.”
Truss’s comments come as UK and the US said earlier this week that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was imminent and could happen as soon as tomorrow (Wednesday).
But Russia’s defence ministry said some troops which have been on Ukraine’s border are pulling back to their bases after finishing drills.
The statement raised hopes that the tensions could de-escalate, but it is unknown how many units are returning to their bases and military rehearsals are continuing, according to the BBC.
And NATO, the military alliance which Russia does not want Ukraine to join, said it has not seen de-escalation yet, but said Moscow is offering some grounds for optimism.
Russia’s demands for Eastern Europe
Russia’s top diplomat said: “It is about withdrawing foreign troops, equipment and weapons, as well as about other steps aimed at restoring the 1997 configuration of those countries who weren’t NATO members at that time and that includes both Bulgaria and Romania.”
The demand is based on the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security, an agreement signed by Moscow and the Western-led alliance in May 1997.
According to the deal, the two sides “do not consider each other as adversaries” – prompting Russia to argue against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic joining NATO in 1999.
Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Estonia followed suit in 2004. In addition, Croatia and Albania joined in 2009, Montenegro in 2017 and North Macedonia in 2020.