The government is preparing to impose sanctions on key Russian figures and businesses after President Putin recognized two self-proclaimed regions of eastern Ukraine as independent states.
At the 06:30 Cobra committee meeting, the prime minister will be briefed on the latest intelligence after Putin ordered his troops to carry out “peacekeeping” duties in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
The meeting with Cobra followed an emergency session of the UN Security Council in which British Ambassador Dame Barbara Woodward said Russia had “put us on edge” by warning that the country’s actions “will have serious and far-reaching consequences.”
She said the invasion would unleash “the forces of war, death and destruction” on the people of Ukraine.
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“The humanitarian impact will be dire for civilians fleeing the fighting. We know that women and children will suffer the most.”
She said the Security Council must be united, calling on Russia to “immediately de-escalate” as well as “condemning aggression against a sovereign state and defending the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
“Russia has put us on the brink,” she said. “We call on Russia to back off.”
Cabinet Minister Sajid Javid said: “We are waking up to a very dark day in Europe, and from what we have already seen and learned today, it is clear that the Russians, President Putin, have decided to attack the sovereignty of Ukraine and its territorial integrity. “.
The health minister told Sky News: “We have seen him recognize these breakaway eastern regions of Ukraine, and from the reports we can already tell that he has sent tanks and troops.
“From this we can conclude that the invasion of Ukraine has begun.”
The Kremlin has said Russian forces will “keep the peace” in eastern Ukraine.
Johnson called Putin’s decision to recognize Donetsk and Lugansk a “bad omen” and a flagrant violation of international law.
The Cobra meeting will coordinate the UK’s response and agree on a “significant package of sanctions that must be implemented immediately,” No. 10 said.
Following the meeting, the prime minister will hold a series of calls with other world leaders and brief MPs on the sanctions package at around 12:30 p.m.
The Latvian Foreign Minister said that the sanctions are in place in the long term in response to Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
Edgars Rinkevics said on BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “In the short term, yes, of course, sanctions cannot stop Russia from invading Ukraine or what it has done, but in the long term, these sanctions are especially related to technology transfer. , the financial sector, they would actually slow down the pressure of development, and this would actually repeat some of the experience of the Soviet Union.
“That at a certain historical moment the Soviet Union simply collapsed.”
He called on the UK, the EU and the US to sanction oligarchs and Putin’s key contacts, increase NATO’s presence on Russia’s borders from the Baltics to Romania, support civil society in Russia, and support Ukraine financially and with military equipment.