Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine Has Already Begun, Minister Warns

Vladimir Putin's decision to recognise two regions in eastern Ukraine as independent will be met with sanctions, Sajid Javid says.
Health secretary Sajid Javid
Health secretary Sajid Javid
Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already begun and the UK will prepare fresh sanctions in response, health secretary Sajid Javid has said.

Javid spoke as the prime minister chaired an emergency Cobra meeting on the deteriorating situation this morning.

The UK is ramping up its response following president Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognise two regions in eastern Ukraine as independent, in what is being seen as a further provocation of war.

Last night Downing Street said the Cobra meeting, which was scheduled for 6.30am, will be used to “coordinate the UK response”, including agreeing a “significant package of sanctions to be introduced immediately”.

The prime minister will set out the details of the package in a statement to MPs in the Commons later today.

The Kremlin said Putin was ordering Russian forces to “maintain peace” in Donetsk and Luhansk, where fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces has intensified in recent days.

At a press conference on Monday night, Boris Johnson said Putin’s decision to recognise the two regions as independent republics was a “very dark sign” that is “plainly in breach of international law”.

Asked whether Putin’s actions meant there had been a de-facto invasion, Javid told Sky News “We are waking up to a very dark day in Europe.

“It’s clear from what we have already seen and found out today that the Russians, President Putin, has decided to attack the sovereignty of Ukraine and its territorial integrity.

“We have seen that he has recognised these breakaway eastern regions in Ukraine and from the reports we can already tell that he has sent in tanks and troops.

“From that you can conclude that the invasion of Ukraine has begun.”

Javid said Johnson has spoken to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky to offer his support.

“We have been very clear right from the start of this crisis that we wouldn’t hesitate to take action,” he said.

“I understand the prime minister spoke to president Zelensky of Ukraine last night, assured him of our support, but also that we will be introducing sanctions as we said we always will.”

Putin used a rambling speech on Monday to recognise the two rebel-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine, which breaches the 2015 protocol that ended the conflict in Donbas.

The move comes amid mounting Western fears that Russia, which has massed an estimated 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, is poised to invade.

At a Downing Street press conference on Monday, Johnson said: “This is plainly in breach of international law, it’s a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.

“It is a repudiation of the Minsk process and the Minsk Agreements.

“I think it’s a very ill omen and a very dark sign.”

The prime minister had previously said sanctions would be triggered if Russia invaded Ukraine.

But he said: “Plainly what has happened is extremely bad news and we will be urgently talking to our friends and allies around the world, all of whom are jointly signed up with us in this package of sanctions.”

Johnson said it was “becoming clear that we are going to need to start applying as much pressure as we possibly can”.

“It is hard to see how this situation improves.”


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