Russia: Fiona Hill outlines ‘great concern’

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German political scientist Marcel Dirsus said the UK must not “underestimate” the damaging impact of a Russian invasion of Ukraine as Vladimir Putin continues to flex his military muscle. Mr Dirsus said the “stakes are extremely high” as he warned an all-out war would see “thousands of people killed within the first hour” because Moscow is a “different beast”. He tweeted: “If you seriously think that a war between Russia and Ukraine would have no impact on Britain you severely underestimate how catastrophic it could be.

“Since a lot of people in the West now think of places like Afghanistan when they think of war, they misunderstand what’s at stake here. Russia raining down artillery on Ukraine would be a different beast.

“If the experts are even close to being right, another Russian invasion of Ukraine would be absolutely devastating. Thousands of people could be killed within the first hour. The stakes are extremely high.”

His warning comes as Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned: “We’re not afraid of anyone, even not of the US” as Russia stations tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border and troops in Belarus for joint military drills.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned Mr Putin he must “desist and step back” from war in Ukraine or risk being dragged into a prolonged conflict like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

She called on the “free world” to reduce its economic dependence on Russia as tensions continue over Ukraine.

Ms Truss said: “Russia agreed alongside the UK and US to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“So the claims that are being made by Vladimir Putin are completely wrong about what has happened but it is true and I made this point in my speech, that the free world has not been doing enough since the end of the Cold War, to make sure that we are deterring aggressors.

“If there is an incursion by Russia into Ukraine, it would come at a massive cost.

“We are prepared to put very severe sanctions in place, we are also working to support Ukraine in terms of defensive capability, what I would say as well is that dealing with this immediate situation is of course an absolute priority.

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“But the free world also needs to work together to reduce economic dependence on Russia to put in place the agreements that help countries have alternatives in terms of trade and investment.

“So in the future, it becomes harder for those aggressive regimes to use economic dependence as a way of getting what they want.

“So yes, we are very ready to act in the immediate term. In the longer term, this is why it’s so important that we are investing in developing countries – it’s so important that we are trading widely across the world using strong rules-based agreements like the CPTPP [The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership].

“That’s the West’s way to protect ourselves from aggressors – from a position of economic and defensive strength.”

And Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that Russia faces “disaster” if President Putin makes any sort of incursion into Ukraine.

Speaking during a visit to a diagnostics centre in Taunton, the Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s support for Ukrainian sovereignty.

He said: ”If Russia were to make any kind of incursion into Ukraine on any scale whatever I think that would be a disaster for not just for Russia, it would be a disaster for the world.

“The UK stands squarely behind the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.”

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