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PM warns Putin: Don’t shake foundations of international order




The Prime Minister made the comment to Japan’s premier Fumio Kishida yesterday as doubts grew over Moscow’s claims that it was pulling troops back from the border. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Nato chiefs said they had not seen evidence that Russian forces were returning to their bases as promised by Kremlin leaders. Mr Johnson spoke to his Japanese counterpart by phone in his diplomatic push to ease the crisis.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The leaders discussed the deeply concerning situation on the border of Ukraine, and the Prime Minister thanked Prime Minister Kishida for his offer to divert Japanese energy supplies to Europe.

“Both agreed that the international community needed to stand united against an invasion of an independent country and said they would not tolerate Russia’s aggression.

“An invasion would shake the foundations of international order and have severe consequences, they agreed.”

The first additional British troops being deployed to Estonia left bases yesterday as the UK reinforces Europe’s eastern flank.

The Government has pledged to double the current 850 troops in Estonia. And the first troops from the Royal Welsh battlegroup left their bases in the UK and Sennelager in Germany, along with additional tanks and armoured fighting vehicles, yesterday and are expected to arrive over the coming days.

Four additional UK Typhoon jets have also landed in Cyprus and will shortly begin to patrol the skies with Nato Allies.

Meanwhile, Liz Truss is to head to Ukraine today in the continuing diplomatic effort to face down the Russian threat.

The Foreign Secretary will deliver a keynote speech in Kyiv calling for nations to respect each other’s sovereignty and abide by their international commitments.

In a direct message to Vladimir Putin, she will urge the Kremlin to deliver on its promise to withdraw troops from the Ukraine border and reduce the tensions in the region or risk becoming an international “pariah”.

“We want to live in a world where people are in charge of their own future, free from aggression and coercion,” she is expected to say in her speech. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had said Russia’s claims should be treated with caution: “What we haven’t seen is evidence of withdrawal that has been claimed by the Kremlin. In fact we’ve seen continued build-up of things like field hospitals and strategic weapons systems.”

The Cabinet minister added ahead of meeting other Nato member nations in Brussels yesterday: “Until we see a proper de-escalation, I think we should all be cautious about the direction of travel from the Kremlin.” Mr Wallace said Russian forces massed on Ukraine’s border had not “taken the foot off the gas” in what appeared to be preparations for an invasion.

“There’s over 100 battalion tactical groups of the Russian ground forces – that’s 60 percent of the Russian land combat power on the borders of Ukraine… 130,000-plus troops, both in Belarus and indeed Ukraine.

“But also out at sea there’s effectively a significant flotilla of Russian and amphibious landing ships, and indeed warships and missile ships, and from a Ukrainian point of view they’re fairly surrounded by a very large force of ready troops. That continues – they haven’t taken the foot off the gas.”

He added yesterday: “We’re all here at Nato to try to work together to reduce tensions and try to de-escalate. But it’s a very significant force – it’s a force that would overwhelm Ukraine should it be deployed.

“The Ukrainians would put up a brave resistance. I made it very clear to the Russians the Ukrainians will fight, but those odds are overwhelming and no-one should delude themselves that they’re not.”

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said: “So far we have not seen any de-escalation on the ground – on the contrary, it appears that Russia continues the military build-up. We will continue to convey a very clear message to Russia that we are ready to sit down and discuss with them, but at the same time we are prepared for the worst.

“And if Russia once again invades Ukraine, they will pay a high price.”

Ukraine President Mr Zelensky added: “We react to the reality and we haven’t seen any withdrawal yet, we’ve just heard about it. I think all normal people expect de-escalation. As for the threat, I’ve said many times that we are calm about it because we remember that all this did not start yesterday – it has been happening for many years. We see it.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova mocked the West over intelligence reports suggesting a Russian invasion of Ukraine was due to start yesterday.

She added: “Sorry for being a little late. I was just checking whether we are invading Ukraine or not – spoiler: we are not.” Ms Zakharova said Western media organisations were trying to do “everything in their power to make sure the war breaks out”.



'Have to kick the pedal to the metal' Ex-Ukrainian leader slams Macron tank aide hesitancy




Ex-Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk sat down on LBC Radio to discuss NATO leaders. NATO has been allying themselves with Ukraine, sending help and weaponry and taking fleeing Ukrainian refugees. NATO members held a conference on the Russian invasion earlier this week to discuss more ways to help Ukraine.

Mr Yatsenyuk pushed for Macron to send over military tanks as promised, slamming him for dragging his feet, and claiming that the war in Ukraine affects the security of every European country.

Mr Yatsenyuk said: “That’s what Putin is closely watching, as for now, Putin didn’t expect this kind of unity and consolidated and concerted actions against the Russian federation.

“But you know, the time is running and we don’t have enough time to wait until some EU member states decide to supply more weapons to Ukraine.

“Or to impose tougher and stronger sanctions on the Russian Federation, so the EU has to be decisive and they have to speed up the process of new sanctions.

“And the shipment and delivery of weapons to Ukraine, because it’s not just about Ukraina and they realise it clearly, this is about the free world.

“And this is about the security of every single nation in the European Union, so the French have to kick the pedal to the metal.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky explained this week that he expected “serious steps” from Western-allied countries.

Mr Zelensky repeated the calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine to be imposed by NATO forces and complained that the Western allies had not yet provided Ukraine with sufficient planes, up to date modern anti-missile systems, tanks or anti-ship weapons.

Mr Zelensky added: “At these three summits we will see who is our friend, who is our partner and who sold us out and betrayed us.”

President Zelensky also expressed that he was grateful for the support Ukraine was continuing to receive from individual NATO member countries from around the world.

Mr Zelensky added: “But NATO has yet to show what the alliance can do to save people,” he said. “It feels like we’re in the grey zone between the West and Russia, but we’re protecting all our and your shared values.

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Mr Johnson added: “We’ve got to tighten the economic vice around Putin, sanctioning more people today, as we are, sanctioning the Wagner Group, looking at what we can do to stop Putin using his gold reserves, and also doing more to help the Ukrainians defend themselves.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has been playing an active role in trying to de-escalate the war with Russia by imposing tight sanctions on Russia to try and stop Putin’s warpath of destruction.

Ms Truss has warned that infighting between NATO countries at the moment could be highly detrimental for progress in ending the war.

Mr Truss said: “Russia’s targeting of critical national infrastructure is calculated and dangerous.

“It shows Putin is prepared to risk lives to sow division and confusion among allies.”


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Brexit news: What happens when Article 16 is triggered?




After Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) was confirmed, the two parties have been attempting to renegotiate terms for a special Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. Coined the Northern Ireland protocol it’s been a point of contention that’s led to threats from each side of triggering a mechanism called Article 16. But what is it?

What is Article 16?

The UK and EU agreed to the creation of the Northern Ireland protocol, in October 2019.

By allowing goods to flow freely between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland the deal removed the threat of a hard border.

But the arrangement has also resulted in what’s been labelled as an ‘Irish Sea border’.

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Goods that now arrive into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK are subjected to more stringent checks and controls.

In the scenario that either the UK or EU feel that the protocol is leading to significant issues or hampering their capacity to trade, then they have the option of activating Article 16.

The component sets out the process for taking unilateral “safeguard” measures, which in reality would amount to suspending parts of the deal.

Specifically, Article 16 says safeguard measures can be taken if the protocol is leading to serious “economic, societal or environmental difficulties” that are liable to persist.

He said: “Triggering Article 16 now would severely disrupt the unity of the UK and EU response to the war in Ukraine.

“It is thus perhaps not surprising that key US figures chose this week to restate that any uncertainty around the stability of the Good Friday Agreement would hinder a future UK-US trade deal.”

In recent months talks between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic have stalled, leading to calls from Brexiteers for the UK to act.

However, Professor Menon cautioned that triggering Article 16 won’t “rid” Britain of the protocol.

He added: “I think the British Government if it triggers Article 16 will do something relatively small and contained.

“And then there’s not a massive bust-up. You don’t end up getting rid of the protocol. You end up with months if not years of negotiations, mediation and arbitration.

“So, it’s a way of doing something but it’s not a way of solving anything. In a sense you’re still stuck with the protocol and you’re still negotiating about the future of the protocol.”

In essence, were Article 16 to be triggered it wouldn’t have a huge impact on the ground.

Many of the checks on goods flowing from Britain to Northern Ireland have already been unilaterally suspended.

Triggering the mechanism itself would only start a formal dispute process that requires both sides to go into talks to resolve.


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NATO slammed as former US Army chief exposes ‘two big issues’ in united Russia response




US Army vice chief of staff general Jack Keane, sat down on LBC radio to talk about the NATO conference which took place earlier this week. Mr Keane discussed the possibility that Putin could deploy chemical biological weapons on the battlefield. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already used the highly condemned thermobaric weapons since the war started just over a month ago.

The US Army chief acknowledged there had been no public policy declaration on the consequences Putin would face if he was to take such a barbaric action.

Mr Keane said: “Listen I was very disappointed by the NATO summit.

“I totally applaud the fact that they’re going to increase by 40k troops in Eastern Europe.

“And they’re increasing sanctions and it seems like a sense of unity.

“But on two big issues, it’s got to be disappointing, there’s no NATO public policy declaration.

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Mr Keane added: “At the end of that summit to deal with this particular issue, chemical biological weapons and nuclear weapons which the Russians have been waving in front of our face now for almost 30 days.

“What we need is… Think policy statement, not something that’s left to a reporter to ask a question on.

“And then you get a statement that you just repeated, which leads to more confirmation than anything else.

“A much better statement, using my words… I don’t want to put words into other people’s mouths.

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“But with me, the use of any form of WMB would be unacceptable.

“We will not let it stand, it will result in decisive consequential actions and all options are on the table.

“Words to that effect, in a public policy statement, and we didn’t get it and it’s really unfortunate.

“And what it does it leaves in the minds of Putin and his  leaders just what would the reaction be, ambiguous like that and I think it’s very unfortunate.”

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Fear of the Russian military deploying chemical biological weapons has been heightened.

Ukrainian outlet InformNapalm has warned that: “Our conclusions may sound premature or too apocalyptic, but after the missile attacks and bombing of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, which the Russian army resorted to, we believe that it is necessary to make these data public and try to thwart any such intentions of Russia.”

And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Thursday: “We’ve tried to be very clear about the gravity of the use of any such chemical weapons.

“These are agents that should never be employed and certainly not on the battlefield, as we are concerned Russia might.”


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