Johnson concedes sanctions ‘may not be enough’ to prevent war in Ukraine

The Prime Minister said a Russian invasion of Ukraine would lead to the biggest armed battle since the Second World War.

20 February 2022

The Prime Minister has admitted that hard-hitting financial sanctions may not be enough to prevent Russian president Vladimir Putin from signing off an invasion of Ukraine.

Boris Johnson warned that a Russian incursion across the border into Ukraine “could be the biggest war in Europe since 1945 just in terms of sheer scale”, with casualties on both sides.

The British leader, in comments made while at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, said it appeared Moscow’s plan for an offensive had “already in some senses begun”, pointing to the escalation of violence in Russian-backed separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine.

The UK has pledged support for Kyiv through armed forces training and by sending anti-tank weapons, but Mr Johnson said, given Ukraine is not a Nato member, sanctions would be the main focus in terms of hurting Russia in the event of an invasion.

He admitted that even a joint venture by Britain and the US to prevent Russian state-linked firms from trading in pounds and dollars – a move he predicted would hit the Kremlin “very hard” – may “not be enough on its own”.

He told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “We have to accept at the moment that Vladimir Putin is possibly thinking illogically about this and doesn’t see the disaster ahead.”

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