Russia begins moving troops, equipment and fighter jets into Ukraine’s neighbouring country Belarus for military exercises
The announcement comes as prime minister Boris Johnson warned Vladmir Putin that an invasion of Ukraine would be “disastrous” and a “painful, violent and bloody business”.
The UK has started to move embassy staff and their families out of Ukraine as fears mount about the invasion.
On Sunday, the US state department ordered the family members of its embassy staff in Ukraine to leave the country, citing the “increased threats of significant Russian military action”.
American diplomats are also allowed to leave the country if they want to, although they are not yet being ordered to do so.
The UK has also begun to withdraw some embassy staff and family members from Kiev in “response to growing threat from Russia”.
A short update, posted to the Foreign Office website on Monday, said that some staff are leaving the embassy, although it will remain open and operational.
EU foreign ministers call on Russia to de-escalate and engage in dialogue
EU foreign ministers have issued a joint statement condemning Russia’s “continued aggressive actions” against Ukraine and calling on Moscow to “de-escalate” and “abide by international law”.
Following a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, the EU called on Russia to “engage constructively in dialogue through the established international mechanisms.” They warned that any further military aggression by Russia towards Ukraine would result in “massive consequences and “severe costs”.
They reminded Moscow of the core principles of European security, which include the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States, and the “inviolability of frontiers”.
The statement warned that these principles were non-negotiable and that Russia’s recent actions have threatened the peace of the European continent.
UK PM has ‘no plans’ to send British troops to the region
Boris Johnson’s government has “no plans to send UK combat troops” to the Ukraine-Russia border.
The PM’s official spokesman said that sanctions were on the table if Russia proceeded to invade Ukraine.
The spokesman added: “We don’t speculate on things like sanctions, but certainly there will be significant economic measures put in place.”
He also said that around 30 British diplomats, including the ambassador Melinda Simmons, remained in Ukraine.
It follows the UK foreign office’s announcement that almost half of embassy staff, and their families, will be withdrawn from Ukraine.
ICYMI: Nato sending more fighter jets and ships to eastern Europe amid growing tensions
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the additional resources from the defence treaty and insisted that it will take “all necessary measures” to protect and defend allies.
“We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defence,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
Read the full story from Thomas Kingsley here:
It comes as the US and UK have began moving personnel from their Kiev embassies
EU to support Ukraine with €1.2bn financial aid package
The European Union will help mitigate the effects of a Ukrainian conflict with Russia by giving Kiev a €1.2bn financial aid package, EU commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday.
Ms von de Leyen told reporters in Brussels: “The Commission proposes a new emergency macro-financial assistance package of 1.2 billion euros.
“This package will help Ukraine now to address its rapid escalation in financing needs due to the conflict.”
ICYMI: Boris Johnson warns Russia invasion of Ukraine would be ‘painful, violent, bloody business’
The prime minister said the intelligence around the situation was “gloomy” but war was not inevitable – urging Russia to pull back from a “disastrous step”.
Read the full story by Adam Forrest here:
PM warns Kremlin of ‘new Chechnya’
Boris Johnson: Ukraine situation is ‘gloomy’ but invasion ‘not inevitable’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK was “leading on creating a package of economic sanctions” against Russia and he would be speaking to international allies later on Monday.
“We also need to get a message that invading Ukraine, from a Russian perspective, is going to be a painful, violent and bloody business,” he said.
“I think it’s very important that people in Russia understand that this could be a new Chechnya.”
Mr Johnson said he had visited Ukraine and knew the people of the country, adding: “My judgment is that they will fight.”
Asked if he believed an invasion was imminent, the Prime Minister, on a visit to Milton Keynes, said: “I’ve got to tell you that I think the intelligence is pretty gloomy at this point.
“There is certainly a very, very large array of Russian forces and we have to take the necessary steps.
“I don’t think it’s by any means inevitable now, I think that sense can still prevail.”
Press Association contributed to this report.
Breaking: Boris Johnson warns Vladmir Putin against invading Ukraine
Prime minister Boris Johnson has warned Vladimir Putin that invading Ukraine would be a “disastrous step” and a “painful, violent and bloody business”.
Speaking to reporters in a hospital in Milton Keynes, Mr Johnson said the intelligence around the situation was “gloomy” but war was not inevitable.
He added: “We do think it prudent to make some changes now. The intelligence is very clear that there are 60 Russian battle groups on the borders of Ukraine, the plan for a lighting war that could take out Kiev is one that everybody can see.
“We need to make it very clear to the Kremlin, to Russia, that that would be a disastrous strep.”
‘We don’t want a new Cold War’, Hungarian foreign minister says
Hungary’s foreign minister warned on Monday against a “new Cold War” amid growing tensions between the Nato alliance and Russia.
Peter Szijjarto said that Hungary supported all diplomatic efforts to resolve the stand-off, adding: “We don’t want a new Cold War. The Cold War period had tragic consequences in Central Eastern Europe, we wasted several decades.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
Around half of the staff at UK’s Kiev embassy are expected to leave, BBC reports
Following the UK foreign office’s announcement that some embassy staff will be withdrawn from Ukraine, it has been reported that almost half the staff working at the embassy are expected to leave with their families.
Latvia calls for more Nato forces on eastern border with Russia
Latvia’s foreign minister has called for more Nato forces to be sent to Europe’s eastern flank amid rising tensions between Russia and the military alliance.
Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are all members of the Nato alliance and share borders with Russia or its ally Belarus.
Latvia’s foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics wrote on Facebook on Monday: “We are reaching the point where a continuous Russian and Belarusian military buildup in Europe needs to be addressed by appropriate Nato countermeasures.
“It is time to increase allied forces’ presence on the alliance’s eastern flank both as measures of defence and deterrence.”