British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to pull back from the brink over Ukraine, warning that Russia would face long-term severe consequences if its forces invaded its neighbour.
“Any action by Russia to threaten the sovereignty of Ukraine would not only have severe consequences – they’d have long lasting consequences for Russia,” he said.
“I would just urge him to think again: I don’t think Russia wants those consequences. I don’t want to see a civil war or a war at the edge of Europe.”
The Kremlin denies it plans to invade and says the West is gripped by Russophobia. Moscow says the expansion of NATO threatens Russia and has contravened assurances given to it as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Wallace said that Russian talk of NATO encirclement was nonsense.
“Only 6% of the Russian land border is bordered by NATO countries – that’s hardly being surrounded by NATO,” Wallace said.
“NATO is a defensive alliance – it is in our articles of establishment. It is only there to defend itself and its members if it were to be attacked.”
Wallace said it was up to sovereign states and NATO members if they joined NATO, not Russia.
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