UK will not hesitate to toughen sanctions on Russia

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Those politicians include Mykola Azarov, a former prime minister under Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president ousted in a 2014 uprising, and Yanukovych’s former chief of staff, Andriy Kluyev…reports Asian Lite News

Britain will not hesitate to toughen sanctions on Moscow and will look to contribute to any NATO deployment if Russia invaded Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.

NATO said on Monday it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, in what Russia denounced as Western “hysteria” in response to its build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Credit No 10)

“We in the UK will not hesitate to toughen our national sanctions against Russia in response to whatever President (Vladimir) Putin may do and the House (of Commons) will soon hear more on this,” Johnson told parliament.

Johnson said Britain would look to contribute to any new NATO deployments to protect its allies in Europe if Russia invaded Ukraine. If Putin’s goal was to keep NATO forces away from Russia’s borders, then “invading Ukraine could scarcely be more counterproductive”, he said.

“We cannot bargain away the vision of a Europe whole and free that emerged in those amazing years from 1989 to 1991,” Johnson said, referring to the fall of the Berlin wall, the end of Communist rule in eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Healing the division of our continent by the Iron Curtain, we will not reopen that divide by agreeing to overturn the European security order because Russia has placed a gun to Ukraine’s head.”

On Sunday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday rejected a British claim that Russia was seeking to replace Ukraine’s government with a pro-Moscow administration, and that former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevheniy Murayev was being considered as a potential candidate.

Britain’s Foreign Office on Saturday also named several other Ukrainian politicians it said had links with Russian intelligence services, along with Murayev, who is the leader of a small party that has no seats in the parliament.

Those politicians include Mykola Azarov, a former prime minister under Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president ousted in a 2014 uprising, and Yanukovych’s former chief of staff, Andriy Kluyev.

“Some of these have contact with Russian intelligence officers currently involved in the planning for an attack on Ukraine.” the Foreign Office said.

Murayev’s Nashi party — whose name echoes the former extensive Russian youth movement that supported President Vladimir Putin — is regarded as sympathetic to Russia, but Murayev on Sunday pushed back characterizing it as pro-Russia.

“The time of pro-Western and pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine is gone forever,” he said in a Facebook post. Shortly before the British statement was made public, he posted his face superimposed on a James Bond movie poster and the comment “Details tomorrow.”

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