PMQs: Boris Johnson outlines warning issued to Vladimir Putin

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Boris Johnson appeared before MPs at Prime Minister’s Questions where he was asked by Tory backbencher Sir Bernard Jenkins what the UK was doing in its response to Russia and Vladimir Putin’s aggressive posturing. Mr Johnson explained he spoke to President Putin on Monday about the issue on the Ukraine border and the build-up of military exercises in the region before stressing the g7 would take on Russia if it stepped out of line. The Prime Minister explained there would be an “extremely tough package” of sanctions and that NATO forces would build in the “periphery” of Ukraine if needed before saying such a decision would be “catastrophic” for everyone involved.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Sir Bernard was invited to ask his question to the Prime Minister and chose to put a spotlight on Russia’s international actions.

He told the House: “As we see Russian forces massing on the Ukrainian border, can we be reminded that Russia is also continuing cyber attacks, attempted assassinations, using gas as a political weapon, holding illegal territory in Crimea, intimidating the west and interfering in western elections.

“How much does the Government understand that President Putin is conducting a hybrid war against the West and how is the Government responding to it?”

Russia has ramped up its political exercises near Ukraine and in the Black Sea as Western governments grow fearful of Russian military invasion.

In 2014, Crimea was annexed by Russia which led to Russia being excluded from the then g8.

Many world powers refuse to recognise the annexed area of Crimea as part of Russia with NATO and other forces showing their support for the country.

Mr Johnson responded to the developments and said: “I’m afraid he is absolutely right in what he says.

“And he is right to stress the particular urgency… about hybrid warfare and all the other interventions.

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“But there is a particular crisis we face on the border with Ukraine where Russian troops have been amassing for some time.

“As the House knows, I told President Putin on Monday of what I think everybody in the g7 and more widely is agreed that is Russia were so rash and mad to engage in an invasion of the sovereign territory of Ukraine…

“Then there would be an extremely tough package of economic sanctions mounted by our allies, by the UK and friends around the world.

“There will inevitably be a build-up of NATO forces in the periphery regions.

“And as I told President Putin, I believe any such action would be catastrophic not just for Russia and Ukraine but for the world.”

In June this year, HMS Defender was reportedly fired at by Russian forces in a warning after it travelled through Ukrainian waters.

The vessel chose to journey 12-miles off Crimea’s coast, an area occupied by Russia, in what was considered by Russia to be a deliberate provocation.

The move was also seen by some to be the UK signalling its support for Ukraine who was getting extremely worried about the build-up of the Russian military near its border.

The Ministry of Defence said no warning shot had taken place but several Russian jets and boats escorted HMS Defender.

A tweet from the Russian embassy in the UK said at the time: “HMS Defender turns HMS Provocateur and violates Russian border. Not exactly a ‘routine’ transit, is it?”

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