Russia could prolong Ukraine crisis for months, Truss warns

Russia could prolong the Ukraine crisis for weeks – even months – in a bid to undermine Western unity, Foreign Minister Liz Truss has warned.

Ms Truss said it was essential not to be “lulled into a false sense of security” by claims from Moscow that it was starting to withdraw its forces from its southern neighbour’s borders.

His warning came after Britain’s military intelligence chief said that contrary to Kremlin claims, Russia was in fact continuing to move forces into the border area.

Lieutenant General Sir Jim Hockenhull, head of defense intelligence, said there had been sightings of additional armored vehicles, helicopters and a field hospital in the area.

In a statement released late Wednesday, he said: “Contrary to their claims, Russia continues to build up its military capabilities near Ukraine.

“This includes sightings of additional armored vehicles, helicopters and a field hospital moving towards Ukraine’s borders. Russia has the military mass in place to lead an invasion of Ukraine.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Ms Truss, who will travel to Ukraine and Poland this week in yet another show of support for allies, said there was no evidence Moscow was ready to pull out.

“We must not be lulled into a false sense of security by Russia that claims some troops are returning to their barracks, when in fact the buildup of the Russian military shows no signs of slowing down,” he said. she declared.

“We should be under no illusions that Russia could drag this out for much longer in a brazen ploy to spend weeks, if not months, more overthrowing Ukraine and challenging Western unity. It is a test of our courage.

(PA graphics)

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyanskiy, again dismissed the claims as “fantasies” of Western politicians.

“It’s a very ridiculous situation, there’s been hysteria, even hype, stoked for several weeks by our western colleagues,” he told ITV’s Peston show.

“They convinced each other and convinced the whole world that Russia was about to invade, they even named concrete dates. So it happened in their mind, in their head.

In a speech in Kiev, the foreign minister will say that the “path of diplomacy” remains open if Moscow really wants a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Ukraine-Russia tensions
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the threat from Moscow is ‘the new normal’ (Daniel Leal/PA)

Following her visits to Ukraine and Poland, Ms. Truss will travel to the Munich Security Conference with other NATO Foreign and Defense Ministers.

On Wednesday, alliance defense ministers meeting in Brussels agreed to start drawing up plans for a series of new battlegroups in central, eastern and southeastern Europe.

General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said this was to counter the threat from Moscow, which he described as “the new normal”.

The warning came after the Russian Defense Ministry released video footage it said showed armored vehicles crossing a bridge away from Crimea, the peninsula Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

While the Western allies have made it clear that they will not intervene militarily in Ukraine – which is not a NATO member – they are looking to bolster their defenses elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

Britain has already said it is doubling the number of troops in Estonia, with around 850 members of the Royal Welsh battlegroup coming from Sennelager in Germany and bases in Europe for the Baltic state, while 350 commandos from the Royal Marine are sent to Poland.

Four more RAF Typhoon jets are heading to Cyprus to join NATO patrols over Eastern Europe while offshore patrol vessel HMS Trent will soon be joined in the eastern Mediterranean by destroyer HMS Diamond type 45.

Boris Johnson discussed the crisis during a call with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in which they agreed an invasion of Ukraine would have “far-reaching and catastrophic consequences”.

“They agreed to continue to work closely together to seek an urgent diplomatic resolution and avoid a disastrous military escalation and humanitarian crisis,” a No10 spokesperson said.

They also agreed on the importance of implementing the Minsk Accords which were meant to end fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country, but which remain deeply unpopular in Ukraine.

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