Nato allies set to meet following ‘cynical and brutal invasion’ of Ukraine

Boris Johnson said the Russian invasion of Ukraine marked ‘a dark day in the history of our continent’.

25 February 2022

Western leaders are set to convene a summit to hammer out how next to push back against the “cynical and brutal invasion” in Ukraine.

Leaders of the 30 Nato allied nations will meet on Friday, US President Joe Biden confirmed, as they come under pressure to go even further than sanctions already announced to hit the Kremlin after what Boris Johnson described as a “dark day in the history of our continent”.

Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion in the early hours of Thursday, thought to be Moscow’s most aggressive action since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

By the end of the day, the Ukrainian government said 137 civilians and military personnel had been killed.

Airstrikes and shelling were reported across the country, and CNN reported a further strike was expected on the capital Kyiv overnight.

Meanwhile, the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered a full military mobilisation lasting 90 days.

Mr Johnson told his Cabinet on Thursday night that the UK could be proud of its role in supporting Ukraine, after the Prime Minister announced the “largest and most severe” package of sanctions Russia has ever faced to punish “blood-stained aggressor” Vladimir Putin.

“He said the UK could be proud of the actions it has taken so far, playing a leading role in Nato, developing a tough economic sanctions package together with our allies, and providing lethal defensive weaponry to the Ukrainian government,” a No 10 spokesperson said.

“He told Cabinet that the Ukrainian military was fighting back in defiance of Putin’s attempts to subjugate Ukraine. And he pointed to protests within Russia which demonstrated that Putin’s actions would also face resistance from within his own country.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace spoke to their Ukrainian counterparts on Thursday night.

Ms Truss tweeted: “We continue to support Ukraine politically, economically and defensively in the face of Russia’s abhorrent invasion.”

Earlier, Mr Johnson unveiled his second barrage of sanctions to “hobble the Russian economy”.

Among the new UK sanctions introduced were measures to hit five further oligarchs, including the Russian president’s former son-in-law, and to target more than 100 businesses and individuals.

Mr Johnson said he was sanctioning “all the major manufacturers that support Putin’s war machine”, will ban Aeroflot from touching down planes in the UK and will freeze the assets of all major Russian banks, including immediately against VTB.

But he resisted calls from some MPs and Ukraine’s ambassador to London to support Nato introducing a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Mr Johnson is understood to have pushed G7 leaders to cut Russia out of the Swift system, a type of international bank sort code.

Russian invasion of Ukraine
Prime Minister Boris Johnson updating MPs in the House of Commons on the latest situation regarding Ukraine. (House of Commons/PA)

In a White House briefing, US President Joe Biden said the move was “always an option but right now that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take”.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was reported to have said that certain measures should be “for a situation where it is necessary to do other things as well” when asked about Swift, while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was a “sensitive” issue “because it would also have an enormous impact on ourselves”.

But Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted those who opposed Russia being blocked from the Swift payment system would have “the blood of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children… on their hands”.

However Mr Johnson said what he had announced amounted to “the largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has ever seen”.

In the US, Mr Biden also announced extra sanctions to target Russian banks, oligarchs and high-tech sectors, with more troops deployed to Germany to bolster Nato.

“Putin is the aggressor,” Mr Biden said. “Putin chose this war, and now he and his country will bear the consequences.”

He said: “Tomorrow, Nato will convene a summit – we’ll be there – to bring together the leaders of 30 allied nations and close partners to affirm our solidarity and to map out the next steps we will take to further strengthen all aspects of our Nato alliance.”

Ukraine’s President described as heroes those who had died in the conflict.

In a video address he said Russia’s claim it was only attacking military targets as false and civilian sites also had been struck.

He said: “They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It’s foul and will never be forgiven.”

Mr Zelensky said all border guards on the Zmiinyi island in the Odesa region were killed on Thursday, while Ukraine also lost control of the Chernobyl nuclear site.

However local media reported troops had regained the Hostomel airport from Russian control.

Mr Johnson said the UK could be proud of its role in the fightback, including for providing lethal defensive weaponry to the Ukrainian government.

He told ministers that “Putin must fail”.

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