Russia has invaded Ukraine with tanks spotted ‘rolling in’, says Boris Johnson
Russia has invaded Ukraine, Boris Johnson said on Tuesday after tanks were spotted rolling into the east of the country
The Prime Minister tore into Russian president Vladimir Putin’s speech on Monday night in which he claimed eastern Ukraine was ancient Russian land.
In a statement to MPs, the Prime Minister said: “In a single inflammatory speech, he denied that Ukraine had any tradition of genuine statehood, claimed that it posed a direct threat to the security of Russia and hurled numerous other false accusations and aspersions.”
Soon afterwards the Kremlin announced that Russian troops would enter breakaway regions in Ukraine, he added, stressing this was “under the guise of peacekeepers”.
Mr Johnson told Parliament: “Russian tanks and armoured personnel carriers have since been spotted.
“The House should be in no doubt that the deployment of these forces in sovereign Ukrainian territory amounts to a renewed invasion of that country.”
Russia also annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
After footage emerged on Tuesday of suspected Russian tanks and other military vehicles in the east of Ukraine, Mr Johnson added: “I think honourable members will struggle to understand or to contemplate how in the year 2022 a national leader might calmly and deliberately plot the destruction of a peaceful neighbour.
“Yet the evidence of his own words suggest that is exactly what President Putin is doing.”
He stressed that nearly 200,000 Russian military personnel were now massed around Ukraine’s borders, with thousands “at peak readiness to attack”.
The PM added: “We must now brace ourselves for the next possible stages of Putin’s plan.
“If the worst happens then a European nation of 44 million men, women and children would become the target of a full-scale war of aggression waged without a shred of justification for the absurd and even mystical reasons that Putin described last night.”
Downing Street said the military incursion into the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk amounted to a “renewed invasion of the country”.
Mr Putin has ordered his Defence Ministry to despatch Russian forces to “perform peacekeeping functions” in the two breakaway regions, which have been the setting for a grinding war between Ukraine and Kremlin backed rebels since 2014.
Responding to the move, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There is no doubt the deployment of these forces we have seen reported in sovereign Ukrainian territory amounts to renewed invasion of the country.
“President Putin has sent his troops in, he has broken international law, he has repudiated the Minsk agreement. We believe Russia’s actions overnight could well be a precursor to a full scale invasion.”
The Prime Minister earlier vowed to unleash a “barrage of sanctions” as part of the West’s attempts to avert at the 11th-hour a bloody war in Ukraine.
In other key developments:
- Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed Ukraine does not have a right to sovereignty, acording to the IFAX news agency, further fuelling fears of an invasion.
- Moscow was reportedly urgently seeking medics to go to work in makeshift hospitals in Rostov, close to Ukraine. One doctor said: “Today we have been offered to go work at a temporary hospital in Rostov.
- This is how they said it: ‘The salary will be high, your patients will be the wounded’.”
- Mr Johnson claimed the Russian president had “completely torn up international law”, would have “gravely miscalculated” if Russia invades Ukraine, but is seemingly intent on capturing the capital Kiev.
- He added: “I’m afraid all the evidence is that President Putin is indeed bent on a full-scale invasion of the Ukraine, the overrunning, the subjugation of an independent, sovereign European country and I think, let’s be absolutely clear, that will be absolutely catastrophic.”
- Tens of thousands of Russian troops have moved within about 30 miles of the border with many of them now poised for an invasion, according to western officials, on multiple routes from Belarus in the north, Russia to the east, and annexed Crimea to the south.
- Britain and other Nato allies will be at war with Russia if it attacks any of the 30 nations in the military alliance, Health Secretary Mr Javid warned, telling ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “If a single Russian soldier’s foot enters a Nato territory then it will be war with all of Nato.”
- The crisis sent the price of oil soaring towards $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea.