Truss opens fire on Putin with direct threat – Russia warned appalling death toll looms

Russia: Ukraine invasion 'more likely than not' says Cotton

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The Foreign Secretary visited Moscow last Thursday to meet with her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss the situation in the region. In a letter to MPs, Ms Truss said that she had told Mr Lavrov that the UK “stands fully behind Ukraine and its right to self-determination”. Her visit came days after Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the threat of a potential nuclear war if Ukraine is allowed to join Nato during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Ms Truss said she did “not accept the zero-sum argument that improving the security of one country harms the security of another, as Russia is claiming”.

During four hours of diplomatic talks held at the Kremlin, the Foreign Secretary said she warned Moscow it would face harsh sanctions if it were to attack Ukraine.

The letter, seen by The Mail on Sunday, said: “I urged Russia to desist from its brazen aggression towards Ukraine, withdraw its troops massing on the Ukrainian border and engage in meaningful talks based on the proposals put forward by Nato. Russia is self-evidently not under a security threat.”

The Foreign Secretary’s warning came after the Government told British citizens to leave Ukraine as soon as possible.

British, American and other European citizens were urged to get out of the country over the weekend because there will be no military evacuation after a Russian attack.

Melinda Simmons, the British Ambassador to Ukraine, will remain in the British embassy in the capital Kiev.

Ms Truss’s words were echoed by US President Joe Biden on Saturday night when he warned President Putin in a phone call that the US and its allies “will respond decisively and with swift and severe costs” if Russia invades Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the White House said the President was “clear with President Putin that while the US remains prepared to engage in diplomacy, in full coordination with our allies and partners, we are equally prepared for other scenarios”.

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Washington to share any intelligence which suggests Russia is planning to invade Ukraine.

He told the US: “If you have 100 per cent-certain information about a Russian invasion of Ukraine, please share it with us.”

Russia has dismissed claims of an imminent invasion as an “alarmist”.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Saturday: “The White House’s hysteria is more revealing than ever.

“The Anglo-Saxons need a war. At all cost. The provocations, disinformation and threats are their favourite method for resolving their own problems.”

Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Defence Select Committee, warned this weekend that an invasion was looming and called for Nato troops to be stationed in the country.

He said: “An invasion is imminent. Once that happens, because of the grain the comes out of Ukraine for the world, that will affect food prices.

“Oil and gas prices will be affected, and European security will then be threatened further, so we have to ask, what should we do instead?

“What are the calculations, and yes, there is this looking Putin in the eye wondering what would happen. This is our Cuban missile crisis moment.”

Ms Truss’s visit to Moscow was part of a string of last-minute diplomatic efforts by the West to diffuse tensions in the region and halt a Russian invasion.

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Ms Truss also spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday to emphasise the need for a “united” response to Russia from Britain and its allies.

The Foreign Secretary’s visit to Moscow was met with criticism in Russia, with Foreign Minister Lavrov describing talks as like a conversation of “the mute with the deaf”. He accused Ms Truss of ignoring his explanations while repeating statements and demands made by Britain before.

Mr Lavrov said they found little common ground during the talks, which contained “nothing secret, no trust. Just slogans shouted from the tribunes.”

However, a source close to the Foreign Office said talks “were robust, but Liz delivered her messages and didn’t pull any punches”, the Daily Mail reported.

They added: “She left Lavrov in no doubt of Britain’s position.”

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