National & International

Ukraine-Russian conflict: Putin makes UK foreign Secretary Liz Truss responsible for nuclear alert

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Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert after comments by UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and others, the Kremlin has said, according to the BBC.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “unacceptable” remarks were made about possible “clashes” between Nato and Moscow over Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

It is unclear precisely which comments by Ms Truss Russia object to.

On Sunday, she said if Russia was not stopped, other states may be threatened and it could end in conflict with Nato.

A Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office source told the BBC: “I don’t think anything Liz has said warrants that sort of rhetoric or escalation.”

They said the foreign secretary had always spoken about Nato as a “defensive alliance” and that the UK needed to support Ukraine.

Echoing comments by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace earlier, the source insisted the UK wanted to avoid “any sort of miscalculation”.

Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Mr Peskov said: “Statements were made by various representatives at various levels on possible altercations or even collisions and clashes between Nato and Russia.

“We believe that such statements are absolutely unacceptable. I would not call the authors of these statements by name, although it was the British foreign minister.”

Speaking to Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Ms Truss warned that if the Russian president was not stopped in Ukraine, there could be “conflict” between Russia and Nato.

“This long-running conflict is about freedom and democracy in Europe,” she said.

“If we don’t stop Putin in Ukraine, we are going to see others under threat: the Baltics, Poland, Moldova, and it could end up in a conflict with Nato. We do not want to go there.”

Following Russia’s comments on Monday Ms Truss announced further sanctions in the House of Commons, including freezing the assets of three further Russian banks and preventing Russian banks from clearing payments in sterling.

There will also be an export ban on “high-end technological equipment” including marine and navigation equipment which “will blunt Russia’s military-industrial capabilities and act as a drag on Russia’s economy for years to come”.

She said there would be “economic hardship” for the UK and its allies as a result of the sanctions but said it was “nothing compared to those endured by the people of Ukraine”, adding that Putin must not succeed in his invasion.

The UK has already introduced a range of sanctions – including some against Mr Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.  Ms Truss said the government would target a “hit list” of Russian oligarchs “focusing on their houses, their yachts and every aspect of their lives”.

Ms Truss will go to a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Tuesday, where she is expected to say Mr Putin is “violating human rights on an industrial scale”.

The foreign secretary had told the BBC’s Sunday Morning program that she supported people from the UK who might choose to go to Ukraine to help it fight Russia.

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