UK will send troops if Russia invades Ukraine: Boris Johnson

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UK will send troops if Russia invades Ukraine: Boris Johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday that the United Kingdom will be willing to “contribute” to necessary NATO deployments if Russia invades Ukraine, saying Moscow has put a “gun” to the head of its western neighbor. 

In an address to the House of Commons, Johnson outlined his government’s response to the growing tensions, including working with US President Biden and other European allies to impose sanctions on Russia that are “heavier than anything we have done before.” 

Johnson spoke one day after the US and NATO prepared to amp up their military presence in Eastern Europe and the prime minister signaled willingness to join that effort.

“The British Army leads the NATO Battlegroup in Estonia and if Russia invades Ukraine, we would look to contribute to any new NATO deployments to protect our allies in Europe,” he said. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament the UK would contribute NATO troops if Russia invades Ukraine.
PARLIAMENT TV
Boris Johnson
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says Russia has put a gun to its neighbor Ukraine’s head. The UK and US have begun evacuating families of diplomats from their embassies in Kiev.
PARLIAMENT TV

“In every contact with Russia, the UK and our allies have stressed our unity and our adherence to vital points of principle,” Johnson added. “We cannot bargain away the vision of a Europe whole and free that emerged in those amazing years from 1989 to 1991, healing the division of our continent by the Iron Curtain.”

While Ukraine has said there is “no need to panic” about an imminent invasion, the UK and US have begun to evacuate families of diplomats and non-essential staff from their respective embassies in Kiev. Johnson emphasized that despite the departures, the British Embassy would remain open. 

In recent months, Russia has massed roughly 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border and was recently seen moving military weapons, equipment and troops into Belarus — stoking fears of an invasion from the north. 

“If the worst happens and the destructive firepower of the Russian army were to engulf Ukraine’s towns and cities, I shudder to contemplate the tragedy that would ensue,” the prime minister said. 

“Ukrainians have every moral and legal right to defend their country,” Johnson told the House, “and I believe their resistance would be dogged and tenacious, and the bloodshed comparable to the first war in Chechnya, or Bosnia … or any other conflict that Europe has endured since 1945. No one would gain from such a catastrophe.”

Johnson predicted that Russia would create “a wasteland in a country which, as she constantly reminds us, is composed of fellow Slavs; and Russia would never be able to call it peace.”

Last week, the UK announced it would also be supplying Ukraine with military weapons, including short-range anti-tank missiles and additional British troops. 

Russian tanks
The US says it has intelligence that Russia is planning “false flag” attacks in Ukraine that will be used as a pretext for invasion.
AP

In announcing the move, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace cited “legitimate and real cause for concern” over Russia’s growing forces along the border.

Johnson spoke hours after Ukraine’s SBU security service revealed it had neutralized a Russian-backed criminal group — which included one Russian citizen — that was planning to destabilize two Ukrainian border regions. 

Earlier this month, the Biden administration warned it had received intelligence that Russian operatives were being deployed to conduct a “false flag” operation against Moscow’s proxies in eastern Ukraine that would serve as a signal for an invasion to begin. 

In an op-ed published by the Sun, UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey warned of the attacks. 

“Where we see Russian plans we will expose them, such as their ‘false flag’ attacks and plots for puppet regimes,” he wrote. “As I write, we are becoming aware of a significant number of individuals that are assessed to be associated with Russian military advance-force operations and currently located in Ukraine.”

On Monday, the US announced it was putting up to 8,500 troops on “heightened alert” to be deployed as part of a 40,000-strong NATO Response Force.

Aid to Ukraine
The UK has also given Ukraine anti-tank missiles and other military weapons.
AFP via Getty Images

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