Boris rings alarm bells over Russia with Putin planning 'biggest war in Europe since 1945'


The British Prime Minister said that all signs seemed to indicate that the invasion plan “has already in some senses begun”. He added that current intelligence suggested the Russians intended to encircle Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, in any forthcoming attack. US officials estimate that up to 200,000 Russian troops are gathered on Ukraine’s borders to the north, south and east.

In recent days evidence has emerged that these forces have started to adopt combat positions in readiness for an attack.

Despite strenuous Russian denials about any planned invasion, US President Joe Biden said on Saturday he was “convinced” that Vladimir Putin had decided to green light an attack on Ukraine.

Mr Johnson told the BBC: “The fact is that all the signs are that the plan has already in some senses begun.

“I’m afraid to say that the plan we are seeing is for something that could be really the biggest war in Europe since 1945 just in terms of sheer scale.”

Officials believe that the invasion will most likely proceed on two fronts – from Belarus in the north and from the east.

Fighting has been raging in the eastern part of Ukraine ever since 2014, when Mr Putin annexed Crimea and instigated a Moscow-backed armed uprising in the Donbas region.

The war in the east has claimed at least 14,000 lives and many more can be expected in the event of a full frontal attack by the Russians.

The Prime Minister said: “I think a lot of people need to understand the sheer cost in human life that that could entail, not just for Ukrainians but for Russians.”

Mr Johnson was speaking from Munich, where he attended the security conference on Saturday.

In a speech to assembled members, he warned that a Russian victory in Ukraine could have disastrous consequences for the postwar order.

The Prime Minister said that it was in “our collective interest that Russia should ultimately fail and be seen to fail.”

He added: “I believe that in preparing to invade Ukraine, a proud country whose armed forces now exceed 200,000 personnel, considerably more expert in combat today than in 2014, President Putin and his circle are gravely miscalculating.”

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Western leaders have said they are willing to impose swingeing economic sanctions on Russia in a bid to persuade Mr Putin to step back from the brink of war.

Economic measures being considered are expected to target both Russian businesses and individuals in a range of sectors including chemical, defence, extractives, ICT and financial services industries.

Mr Johnson indicated that the UK could impose even more far-reaching sanctions against Russia than have been suggested before.

He said the UK and the US would stop Russian companies “trading in pounds and dollars” – a move that he said would “hit very very hard” with its impact.

However, how effective sanctions will be in restraining the Russian aggressor is up for debate.

Moscow has worked hard to shore up its vulnerability to Western sanctions ever since its annexation of Crimea in 2014, when economic restrictions were first imposed.

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Russia experts Michael Kofman and Andrea Kendall-Taylor noted in an article for Foreign Affairs that Moscow had successfully created budget surpluses and a growing war chest in the ensuing years.

They pointed to the size of Russia’s National Wealth Fund, which as of August 2021 contained $185billion.

Additionally, Mr Putin has at his disposal a massive $615billion in foreign reserves.

The confrontation over Crimea also spurred the Kremlin to reorientate trade away from the West and towards China.

Today, China is Russia’s most important commercial partner, with trade between the two states expected to exceed $200billion by 2024, double what it was in 2013.


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