Boris Johnson to speak to NATO leaders as Downing Street vows to ‘support Ukraine’

Boris Johnson will be on the phone with NATO leaders this afternoon as the alliance plans its next moves in the face of Russia’s advance on Kiev.

Amid reports that Russian troops have marched into the northern suburbs of the Ukrainian capital this morning, Downing Street said the UK will “continue to support Ukraine” in the face of a Russian attack on the country.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said this morning that the Russian army has already lost 450 troops and “failed to complete its main task on the first day.”

“Our assessment this morning is that Russia has not achieved any of its major goals,” Wallace said.

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Asked if Wallace’s assessment of the situation was accurate, the prime minister’s spokesman said the defense minister’s comments were based on “Ukrainians fiercely defending their families and their countries.

In a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this morning, Johnson said the UK would offer support “in the coming days.”

Downing Street declined to elaborate on what further military support the UK would offer Ukraine, but stressed that “nothing is beyond discussion.” The UK has already provided lethal and non-lethal defensive assistance to Ukraine.

Number 10 said there are currently no plans to recall parliament over the weekend after the prime minister called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “bloody aggressor” in the House of Commons last night.

The UN estimates that up to five million people could be displaced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Downing Street has refused to be drawn into the government’s future plans to take in Ukrainian refugees displaced by the crisis. Two weeks ago, the UK sent 350 troops to Poland to help deal with a flood of refugees fleeing to NATO allies bordering Ukraine.

Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister will host a meeting of the leaders of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in London on March 8 to discuss the situation in Ukraine and Britain’s support for security in the region.

A small group of British embassy staff is still stationed in Lvov in western Ukraine to process British citizens trying to flee Ukraine.

Number 10 added that the UK “will continue to work with allies to cut Russia off” from the Swift banking system. Britain and the US were reportedly pushing for the move, but Germany is presumed to be opposed to the proposed plans.

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