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NATO, UK will 'support' Ukraine if invaded by Russia

January 30, 2022

Positions have seemingly hardened over Ukraine, even as NATO said it would not send troops should Russia invade. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian media that the Kremlin intends to protect its interests.

A Ukrainian soldiers stands next to an armored transport
As Russia and Ukraine amass troops, Western leaders are discussing ways to bolster support for KyivImage: Vadim Ghirda/dpa/AP/picture alliance

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated on Sunday that NATO would not send troops to Ukraine should Russia invade.

"We are focusing on providing support," he said. "There is a difference between being a NATO member and being a strong and highly valued partner [such] as Ukraine. There's no doubt about that," he said in an interview with BBC.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News that her country will seek to tighten sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin so there is no place for his oligarchs to hide.

She said the short-term profits came at a real cost of longer term threats to democracy and freedom in the United Kingdom and other Western allies.

Ukraine: Life on the front line

'Londongrad' under the microscope

London and its City financial hub have come under renewed attention as a primary destination for politically sensitive Russian businessmen and their funds, earning the British capital the nickname "Londongrad."

Last week, the United States warned that the UK's acceptance of what it called Russian "dirty money" threatened the effectiveness of any sanctions regime Washington will seek to impose to deter and potentially punish Russia.

Washington has been coordinating with allies should Moscow follow through on its military buildup on Ukraine's borders and invade and occupy parts of that country beyond Crimea and the eastern region known as the Donbass.

Truss, however, said it was "very unlikely" British troops would be involved should there be a fight for Ukraine.

"This is about making sure that the Ukrainian forces have all the support we can give them," she said.

CNN has reported that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Russian leader Putin are set to speak this week. On Sunday, Johnson said the potential for Russian military action in Ukraine is "increasingly concerning." 

Russia's security concerns are defensive, unlike NATO

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also reiterated his position that NATO cannot claim to be defensive with foreign interventions such as the ones that occurred in Afghanistan, Libya and the former Yugoslavia under its belt.

Lavrov told the program "Sunday Time" on Russia's Channel One that the Kremlin intends to protect its interests, according to state-run news agency Tass.

"When the Cold War was going on and the Berlin Wall existed, it was clear what territory to defend," he said.

He added that an "official request" had been sent to NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, "urging them to explain how they intend to implement [their] commitment not to strengthen their security at the expense of the security of others." The request was a follow-up to ultimatums against NATO expansion and force posture in NATO member states previously issued by the Kremlin.

Russia has sent over 100,000 troops to Ukraine's borders and in recent days moved blood supplies closer to what could evolve into a front line in a potential conflict.

Nonetheless, Russia's national security adviser Nikolai Patrushev has said talk of war with Ukraine consisted of "self-serving fabrications" of the West.

"We don't want war, we don't need it at all," said Patrushev, according to Russian state-run news agency Interfax.

What has the US offered to quell tensions?

The US and NATO have rejected Russia's demands, but US Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan has said the US has offered to reduce military exercises and missile numbers in Europe. Lavrov previously derided both the US and NATO's responses, but conceded that the US proposals offered "grains of rationality" on secondary issues.

Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, wrote on Twitter, "For the Russian Foreign Minster (with whom I interacted with for five years back in the day), that's as (complimentary) as he gets!" 

ar/aw (AFP, Reuters)

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