PM warns Vladimir Putin against ‘tragic mistake’ as tensions rise with Ukraine

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Boris Johnson warned Vladimir Putin against making a “tragic mistake” as tensions rise on the border between Russia and Ukraine.

The Prime Minister, appearing at the Commons Liaison Committee, was asked about the problems between Belarus and Poland and the situation in Ukraine.

Thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, have been amassing at the Belarus border with Poland for months.

Brussels has accused Belarus’s authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, of deliberately encouraging the migrants to breach its borders in retaliation for sanctions the EU has imposed in response to his repressive rule.

But reports on Wednesday suggested that hundreds had been moved to a nearby warehouse in Belarusian territory.

Downing Street has also voiced concern about the build-up of Russian forces on Russia’s border with Ukraine.

The Kremlin has dismissed claims that it is preparing to invade, after the Ukrainian defence ministry reported that around 90,000 Russian troops were massing in the area.

Watch: Is Putin losing his patience with Belarus?

Mr Johnson said the two cases are “very different” because Poland has a Nato security guarantee, meaning that any action against it could trigger a response from the entire alliance.

Ukraine does not have the same guarantee from Nato, “so what we have got to do is make sure that everybody understands the cost of a miscalculation on the borders of both Ukraine and Poland would be enormous”.

“I think it would be a tragic, tragic mistake for the Kremlin to think there was anything to be gained,” Mr Johnson said.

The Prime Minister also defended the current levels of defence spending.

Defence Select Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood warned that the Government’s Integrated Review of foreign, defence and security policy was already out of date and budgets were falling.

Mr Ellwood called for the defence budget to rise to 3% of gross domestic product, a measure of the size of the economy.

But Mr Johnson said record sums were being spent and “it’s now or never for the UK armed forces” to modernise.

“The old concepts of fighting big tank battles on the European land mass are over,” he said.

He added there are “other, better, things that we should be investing in” such as the future combat air system and cyber capabilities.

“This is how warfare of the future is going to be fought,” he said.

Watch: Russia has 'nothing to do' with Belarus-Poland border crisis: Putin

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting