Boris Johnson warns 'illogical' Vladimir Putin is 'heading for disaster' & faces 'bloody' war if he invades Ukraine
BORIS Johnson has warned "illogical" Vladimir Putin is "heading for disaster" and faces a "bloody" war if he invades Ukraine.
The world is waiting with bated breath to see what Russia will do next – after signs show that plans to invade Ukraine have "already begun."
Mr Johnson has threatened to impose economic sanctions on Russia should it invade Ukraine – but said it "may not be enough" because of warnings that Russians with links to President Putin are integrated in to the UK business and social scene
"We are making sure that we open up the Russian doll of property ownership, of company ownership, in London and see who's behind everything," he told BBC One's Sunday Morning Programme.
"And we've got to do it and we've got to hit very hard."
He acknowledged "that may not be enough on its own", adding "it will be very damaging and very difficult", but "it may not be enough to deter an irrational actor".
The PM said: "We have to accept at the moment that Vladimir Putin is possibly thinking illogically about this and doesn't see the disaster ahead.
"I think it's vital for us all now to get over what a catastrophe it would be for Russia. I believe it will be a bloody conflict."
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The PM urged Putin to "engage in serious diplomatic conversation" now to avoid the "biggest war in Europe since 1945".
Western nations have warned that Russia could invade Ukraine at any moment — with more than 190,000 of its troops, plus around 10,000 from puppet state Belarus, massed near the border.
🔵 Read our Russia Ukraine live blog for the latest updates
Putin has been accused of trying to stage a fake crisis in a pro-Russian breakaway eastern region of Ukraine to give a bogus excuse to attack.
It comes as Russian tanks, trucks and armoured vehicles have been spotted all daubed with the letter "Z" within six miles of Ukraine.
It is suspected they have been allocated a specific role – for now unclear – in a possibly imminent invasion of the former Soviet state.
Videos taken from near the border show the markings on Russian tanks, self-propelled guns, fuel trucks and supply vehicles.
The military equipment painted with the white "Z" ‘was seen between six and 25 miles from the border.
Independent Russian Telegram channel Hunter’s Notes which closely monitors military movements showed off a selection of the footage they had gathered from the region.
"All equipment [marked with 'Z'] was seen near Kursk and in the Shebekino region of Belgorod region," the admins said.
"Perhaps we are dealing with a certain group of troops that has its own tasks and plans for the near future."
Meanwhile, the PM has warned Putin he will face decades of “bloodshed and misery” if his troops invade Ukraine.
Mr Johnson said a full-scale attack by Russia would “echo around the world” — with catastrophic consequences.
He predicted it would leave the Kremlin boss bogged down with crippling sanctions while fighting a “long and hideous” war.
It comes as:
- Boris Johnson warns the Russian invasion of Ukraine would "biggest war since 1945"
- Videos continue to show Russian armour moving – with a new clip showing 200 tanks on the march near Ukraine
- Putin could drop his 44 ton Father of All Bombs weapon in a blitz of Ukraine
- It was warned the UK is fighting with "one hand tied" against a resurgent Russia and China
- Britain has moved its embassy in Kyiv some 336 miles away as the tensions rage
- Pro-Russian rebels ordered an evacuation from the Donbas – accusing Ukraine of planning an attack
Mr Johnson hammered home the stark message as President Putin personally oversaw missile drills close to the Ukraine border.
In a powerful speech to western leaders, the PM warned Russia’s military build-up had created “extreme danger for the world”.
He told a security conference in Munich the “omens are grim” on the possibility of an invasion in the next few days. And he rallied western partners to remain united against the threat because the stakes could not be higher.
The shockwaves of an invasion would lead other tyrants to conclude that “aggression pays”, he added. Mr Johnson said: “If Ukraine is overwhelmed, we will witness the destruction of a democratic state, a country that has been free for a generation, with a proud history of elections.
“Every time that western ministers have visited Kyiv, we’ve assured the people of Ukraine and their leaders that we stand four-square behind their sovereignty and independence.
“How hollow, how meaningless, how insulting those words would seem if — at the very moment when their sovereignty and independence is imperilled — we simply look away.”
Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads ever since Kyiv began to grow closer to the West – leading Russia to annexing Crimea in 2014 and stoking separatists to take up arms in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.
And all eyes are now are now on the relatively small region, which is currently under the control of two pro-Russian rebel groups, the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR).
Shelling has been reported across the region as Ukraine, Russia and the separatists point fingers at each other over the clashes.
There have been reports of artillery shells falling within Russia's borders, at least two of Ukrainian soldiers being killed, and loud explosions heard throughout the Donbas.
Both separatist groups ordered mass evacuations on Friday as they accused Ukraine of planning a wide scale attack – including alleging Kyiv was going to blow up a chemical plant.
And now both have also declared the "full mobilisation" of their military forces.
It is feared that Putin could use the rising chaos in the Donbas as pretext to move in his troops.
Western intelligence officials have repeatedly suggested that Vlad could use a "false flag" – a staged attack or threat to give them an excuse to invade.
Russia has also been stoking accusations of "genocide", with Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claiming that life in the Donbas is “hell” for ethnic Russians.
In a new suspected stunt, the pro-Moscow rebel authority in Donetsk claimed to have detained a Ukrainian spy who was said to be confessing to Kyiv’s aims to overrun the Donbas.
Named Anton Matsanyuk, he “confirmed that Kyiv intends to use all its strike power in the forcible seizure of the Donbas," said a report.
The alleged saboteur conveniently confirmed a plan touted in recent days by Russia of a Ukrainian plan to invade Donetsk and Luhansk.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson has warned that Russia is planning the "biggest war in Europe since 1945" as Putin intends to "invade and encircle Kyiv."
Asked if he believes a Russian invasion is imminent, Mr Johnson told the BBC: "I'm afraid that that is what the evidence points to, there's no burnishing it.
"The fact is that all the signs are that the plan has already, in some senses, begun."
And NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said: "Every indication indicates that Russia is planning a full-fledged attack against Ukraine.
"We all agree that the risk of an attack is very high."
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