Liz Truss to deliver speech in Ukrainian capital warning Putin of ‘pariah status’

Foreign Minister Liz Truss will travel to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv this week to deliver a speech warning Russia of international “pariah status” if President Vladimir Putin decides on an invasion.

The Foreign Office said Ms Truss will visit Ukraine, Poland and Germany as Western diplomatic efforts continue in a bid to deter Russian “aggression” and prevent war in the region.

In her next speech in Kyiv, the Foreign Minister is expected to say: “I urge Russia to take the path of diplomacy. We are ready to talk.

Ms Truss will add: “But we are very clear – if they decide to continue on the path of aggression, there will be massive consequences that will lead to serious economic costs and pariah status for Russia.”

In a message to Mr Putin, the Foreign Secretary will also say that the UK wants Russia to “respect the sovereignty of others and honor their commitments”.

During the trip, Ms. Truss will meet her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in a show of unified support for Ukrainian sovereignty.

She will then attend the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, where the Foreign Office said it would strengthen security ties with some of the UK’s key strategic allies.

The visit comes after Mr Putin said Russia was ready for further talks, but stressed the need for the West to heed its key demands.

A Ukrainian servicewoman marches under a large Ukrainian flag carried by people marking a day of unity in Sievierodonetsk

(AP)

The Russian leader said the United States had rejected Moscow’s request to keep Ukraine and other ex-Soviet countries out of NATO.

The Russian Defense Ministry said troops were returning to base after the end of military exercises near the border, with units leaving Crimea on Wednesday.

But NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “we have not seen any withdrawal of Russian forces”. He said the alliance could prove Russia’s failure to withdraw its troops with satellite images.

Mr Stoltenberg announced that NATO military commanders would draw up plans for new combat units which diplomats said could be deployed in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace – who met his fellow NATO defense ministers on Wednesday – warned that Russia still had “a very large force” on the border “which would overwhelm Ukraine if it was deployed.”

Mr Wallace reiterated the Foreign Office’s advice to UK nationals to ‘seek to leave or avoid travel to Ukraine’.

The prime minister previously suggested there were still “mixed signals” from Russia over the prospect of an invasion of Ukraine, describing the situation as “not encouraging”.

Ukrainian border guards patrol the Ukraine-Russia border not far from the city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine.

(APE)

Christi C. Elwood