Biden says Putin will pay ‘dear price’ if he invades Ukraine
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German media outlet Der Spiegel reported that Mr Scholz turned down an invitation last week to fly to Washington to meet the US President amid mounting tensions between Russia and Ukraine. But both the White House and a spokesman for the German Chancellor denied the claim.
Former Downing Street chief of staff Nick Timothy took to Twitter to compare the UK and the EU’s response to mounting war fears on Ukraine’s border where Russia has amassed an estimated 100,000 troops.
Mr Timothy said: “I can remember when Brexit Britain was a tool of Russian foreign policy and the EU was a tower of international strength.”
It comes after the British national anthem trended on Twitter in Ukraine in response to the UK sending weapons to defend the eastern European country.
The New Statesman’s international editor Jeremy Cliffe tweeted: “‘God Save The Queen’ is trending on Twitter in Ukraine – a reference to the flow of British arms deliveries.”
Anton Spisak of the Tony Blair Institute added: “It is now clear that Ukraine will be an opportunity for Britain to set the parameters of its post-Brexit foreign policy and a demonstration to the EU that, despite all its rhetoric, it needs close ties with Britain as much as Britain needs the EU.”
GB News presenter Darren Grimes also said on Twitter: “God Save the Queen is trending in Ukraine in thanks for our support. Be proud to be British.”
Meanwhile, Germany is reportedly blocking NATO ally Estonia from giving military support to Ukraine by refusing to issue permits for German-origin weapons to be exported to Kiev as it braces for a potential Russian invasion.
It comes as the Russian defence minister accepted an invitation to meet Defence Secretary Ben Wallace amid escalating tensions with Ukraine.
Mr Wallace invited his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu to London earlier this week.
Mr Shoigu has offered to meet in Moscow instead, as the last bilateral defence talks between the countries took place in London.
A senior defence source said: “The Defence Secretary is glad that Russia has accepted the invitation to talk with his counterpart.
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“Given the last defence bilateral between our two countries took place in London in 2013, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu has offered to meet in Moscow instead.
“The Secretary of State has been clear that he will explore all avenues to achieve stability and a resolution to the Ukraine crisis. We are in communication with the Russian government.”
It comes after Downing Street warned Russia would be “punished” if the country pushes ahead with any “destabilising action” in Ukraine, which Moscow has denied.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Russian diplomats in Switzerland on Friday in a bid to avert a conflict.
Number 10 said if Russian President Vladimir Putin launches an offensive, there will be a “package of sweeping measures” by the UK and its allies against the Kremlin.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also 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.
Speaking at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, she said: “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.”
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