Boris Johnson has warned that evidence suggests Vladimir Putin’s plan to invade Ukraine has “in some senses already begun”, with aggression in the Donbass region potentially a “prelude to greater action”.
Citing intelligence passed to Western leaders by US President Joe Biden, the plan, the prime minister continued, involves an invasion of neighboring Ukraine that will encircle the country’s capital, kyiv. US intelligence services further warn that a full-scale invasion will take place this week.
Talk to BBC OneOn Sunday Morning, the prime minister said he wanted people to “understand the cost in lives” an incursion into Ukraine would entail.
However, Mr Johnson and other world leaders are still hopeful that it will still be possible to avoid war. The Prime Minister told the BBC: ‘People need to understand the cost in human life this could entail. He added: “I’m afraid to say that the plan we see is for something that could really be the biggest war in Europe since 1945 just in terms of scale.”
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Mr Johnson said he was ready to hold talks on the presence of NATO forces in countries neighboring Russia. He said, “NATO is a peaceful and defensive alliance and we are willing to work with President Putin to demonstrate that.”
The comments came after Mr Johnson’s speech at the annual Munich Security Summit, where he met NATO allies amid growing fears a Russian invasion is underway. Estimates suggest Vladimir Putin now has between 169,000 and 190,000 troops massed on Ukraine’s borders.
In his speech, Mr Johnson said: ‘At this time of extreme danger to the world, it has rarely been more vital to preserve our unity and our resolve, and that was the theme of my discussion last night with other leaders, including President Biden, President Macron, Chancellor Scholz and Prime Minister Draghi, as well as NATO and EU leaders.”
“If Ukraine is invaded and if Ukraine is overwhelmed, we will see the destruction of a democratic state, a country that has been free for a generation, with a proud history of elections.”
After crisis talks with Mr Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, NATO and the EU, Mr Johnson added: “We must not underestimate the gravity of this moment”.
Reports of violence in Donetsk have highlighted fears that Russia is justifying an invasion of Ukraine with false flag attacks. According to Russian reports, an explosive device was planted in the car of the police chief of the Russian-backed breakaway republic, Denis Sinenkov. He caused no casualties. And, on Thursday, Moscow alleged that Ukraine was “exterminating the civilian population of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics” over an extended period and that the increase in civilian casualties amounted to “genocide of the Russian-speaking population of Donbass”.
Putin accused Ukraine of “systematic” human rights abuses and insisted that large-scale military exercises near the Ukrainian border were “purely defensive”. The Russian president was yesterday with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko to observe nuclear exercises from his situation center in Moscow.
Fueling fears of false flag attacks, hundreds of artillery shells exploded in the morning along the line of contact between Ukrainian soldiers and Russian-backed separatists, according to the Associated Press.