Downing Street says ‘nothing is on the table’ to support Ukraine against Russian invasion

Alain Tolhurst

3 minute read

The UK government has said ‘nothing is on the table’ when it comes to backing Ukraine against the Russian invasion as Putin’s troops surround Kiev.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the UK “will continue to stand firmly with Ukraine” and accused Vladimir Putin of “unleashing the might of his military machine against a free and peaceful neighbour”.

They said “nothing was out of order” in terms of offering continued support to Ukraine, but were unable to give specific details due to “operational security concerns”.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said just before 4 a.m. on Friday that “horrific rocket fire” had hit Kiev after fighting reached the outskirts of the capital overnight. Gunshots are now reported in the city center.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would send a “new package of military support to Ukraine”, including “lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons and non-lethal aid”.

This morning, the Prime Minister held a meeting with the leaders of the countries’ Joint Expeditionary Force and will meet this afternoon with other NATO leaders to encourage further actions and sanctions against Moscow.

Number 10 also announced that a meeting of the leaders of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, known as “V4”, will be hosted by Johnson in London on March 8 to discuss the situation in Ukraine and “UK support for security in the region”.

In the short term, the UK will continue its call for the ejection of Russia from the international payments system SWIFT to try to hit its economy harder, the Johnson spokesman confirmed.

On Thursday evening, US President Joe Biden indicated there had been resistance from EU countries to the move, but Downing Street did not confirm which Western allies disagreed.

“We want to make sure we can do it, make sure we send a clear message to Vladimir Putin that his efforts won’t succeed,” they added.

“And to make sure we can deal a severe blow to the Russian economy.”

Earlier this morning Armed Forces Minister James Heappey answered an urgent question on Ukraine in the House of Commons, confirming that the UK will send additional armed forces to Estonia “sooner than planned” to reinforce the NATO ally as a result of Russia’s actions.

“In addition to the Royal Tank Regiment Battle Group which has been in place in Estonia for six months, the Royal Welsh Battle Group will arrive in Estonia ahead of schedule to double our force levels and these doubled force levels will remain indefinitely,” a- he told MPs.

“They will be reinforced by the headquarters of the 12th Mechanized Brigade, which means the UK will have an armored brigade in Estonia, reassuring one of our closest NATO allies.”

But Heappey warned that NATO troops should not enter Ukraine because of the “risk of miscalculation” leading to an “existential” threat.

The minister said the government would “explore everything we can do to support Ukrainians themselves over the next few days.”

“But all of us in this House need to be clear that British and NATO troops should not, should not, play an active role in Ukraine,” he added.

“We all need to be clear about what the risk of miscalculation could be and how existential it could become very quickly if people miscalculate and things get unnecessarily worse.”

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