Russian-Ukrainian conflict: Britain warns that Vladimir Putin is putting himself in a ‘tragic course of events’

Speaking in Westminster on Monday, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace urged Russia to “rejoin the diplomatic process” “for the sake of its people” as he warned that “we are on the cusp of invading a democratic nation in Europe.” .

Putin has held an emergency meeting with his security council and is considering a request by the leaders of two Eastern European regions held by Russian-backed separatists to be recognized as independent. The Kremlin will formally renounce the 2015 peace accords recognizing Ukraine’s sovereignty over the territories.

According to unconfirmed reports on Monday evening, Ukrainian officials said a civilian had been killed in shelling in eastern Ukraine. Pro-Russian separatist authorities have said at least four civilians have been killed and several more injured in Ukrainian shelling in the past 24 hours.

Protesters hold banners during a rally outside the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in Kiev over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin dashed hopes of a potential meeting between US President Joe Biden and Putin, brokered by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Mr. Wallace said he saw “the Russian scheme being implemented in a way that gives us good reason to be concerned that President Putin is still committed to the invasion.”

“This should be of concern to all of us,” he said.

Mr Wallace said the UK government should be able to threaten sanctions, but should not do so without coordinated support from the US and the European Union. The EU on Monday finalized its package of sanctions to apply if Russia orders an invasion.

The Minister of Defense said: “I think we can take a lot of measures, we are planning serious sanctions. And I think the reality of this question to President Putin is: “Do you really care about what will happen to your people, because they are the ones who will suffer the most?”

Mr Wallace said the government learned from its inaction in 2014 when Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

He said: “We have to oppose this because we did not come forward in 2014 as an international community. The prime minister has made it very clear that one inch across the border will result in sanctions: one shoe, one tank, one car. We won’t take it for anything but an invasion.”

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See also: How the West is trying to be one step ahead of the Putin scheme

He said the conflict would also affect countries such as Yemen, which receives 20% of its grain from Ukraine.

Mr. Wallace pointed to the television career of former First Minister and leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, now leader of Alba, who hosts a political talk show on the Russian state television channel Russia Today.

He said, “I think the new leader of Alba might be thinking about his celebrity status on some of these channels.”

Mr Wallace said the UK government has a responsibility to ensure that Ukrainians, like the rest of the world, have access to a free press and accurate information to expose fake news.

He added: “We could ask the Alba leader on his next Russia Today programs to do an in-depth analysis of just some of these false claims and air it. I’m sure it’s open to the highest bidder.”

French leader Mr Macron said Sunday he had arranged a meeting between Mr Biden and Mr Putin. However, the Kremlin dismissed the offer as “premature,” causing international financial markets, which had surged on the news, to retreat.

Mr Macron’s office said the two leaders “accepted the principle of such a summit” followed by a broader meeting that would bring together other “relevant stakeholders to discuss issues of security and strategic stability in Europe.”

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are set to lay the groundwork for a possible summit when they meet on Thursday.

The meeting came after the US administration sent a letter to the UN human rights chief alleging that Moscow had drawn up a list of Ukrainians to be killed or sent to detention camps after the invasion. The list is expected to include representatives of the LGBTQ+ community and religious minorities, as well as journalists and people who oppose Russia’s actions.

Shelling has intensified since Thursday on the tense contact line that separates Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels in the industrial heartland of Donbass in eastern Ukraine. More than 14,000 people have been killed since conflict erupted there in 2014, shortly after Moscow annexed the Ukrainian Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine and separatist rebels have exchanged accusations of massive ceasefire violations, with hundreds of explosions recorded daily. Images of damage to schools and kindergartens in the region have surfaced.

Mr. Putin said he would decide on the regions’ request for recognition as independent territories by the end of the day, and the decision would come after televised appeals from separatist leaders who begged Mr. Putin to sign friendship treaties providing for military assistance to protect them from what they called the ongoing Ukrainian military offensive.

Russia and its ally Belarus announced on Sunday that they are continuing large-scale military exercises in Belarus, which many believe could become a springboard for an attack on the Ukrainian capital Kiev, less than 50 miles south of the border.

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