Liz Truss announces she will visit Ukraine next week

Liz Truss prepares for her second Maggie Moment: Foreign Secretary says she will visit Ukraine next week despite fears of imminent Russian invasion as she reveals the UK has not ruled out hitting Vladimir Putin with personal economic sanctions

  • Foreign Secretary Liz Truss today announced she will visit Ukraine next week
  • Ms Truss said UK has not ruled out hitting Vladimir Putin with personal sanctions
  • Russia has massed military forces on Ukraine border amid fears of an invasion 

Liz Truss today announced she will visit Ukraine next week despite growing fears of an imminent Russian invasion.

The Foreign Secretary said she will travel to the country ‘to offer more support to the Ukrainians’ in a bold move which will be seen as the UK stepping up its backing for Kiev. 

The trip will inevitably reignite comparisons between Ms Truss and former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher. 

Ms Truss memorably channelled Mrs Thatcher in November last year when she posed for photographs while riding in a tank as she issued an early warning to Vladimir Putin not to launch an incursion into Ukraine. 

The Foreign Secretary today said the UK has not ruled out hitting Mr Putin with personal economic sanctions if he opts to invade. 

She also urged Britain’s allies to do more to supply Ukraine with ‘defensive support’ after the UK sent a selection of high-tech weaponry. 

Liz Truss today announced she will visit Ukraine next week despite growing fears of an imminent Russian invasion

The Foreign Secretary said she will travel to the country ‘to offer more support to the Ukrainians’ in a bold move which will be seen as the UK stepping up its backing for Kiev. Ms Truss is pictured riding in a British tank in Estonia in November last year

Mrs Thatcher, the former Tory premier, was memorably photographed riding in a British tank in West Germany in 1986 as she visited UK troops

The Foreign Secretary today said the UK has not ruled out hitting Vladimir Putin with personal economic sanctions if he opts to invade Ukraine

Russian troops have massed at the border with Ukraine but the Kremlin has repeatedly denied it is planning an invasion. 

NATO nations have warned Mr Putin that Russia will face ‘severe’ economic consequences if he does launch an incursion. 

Ms Truss was told this morning that there are fears in Ukraine that the UK and the US could pull staff out of embassies if Russian forces breach the border. 

Confirming her visit to Ukraine, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Well, we need to make sure that we have the right support in our embassy for any eventuality and that we are fully prepared for any eventuality.

‘Our embassy in Ukraine is fully functioning. I am due to visit Ukraine next week to offer more support to the Ukrainians.

‘In fact the Ukrainian government have been very appreciative of the support the UK has offered, both economic support and the defensive support that we have been offering.’

US President Joe Biden last night said he would consider imposing personal sanctions on Mr Putin as he warned an invasion would have ‘enormous consequences’ for the world.

Asked about Mr Biden’s comments, Ms Truss said: ‘He is absolutely right to say this. We are seeing a threat to a free democracy in Europe from an aggressive regime and of course that would have huge implications for Europe if Vladimir Putin was to stage an invasion.

‘But it would also have huge implications for aggressive regimes around the world which is why it is so important that the UK is working with our allies to make it clear that a severe cost would be imposed in terms of economic sanctions.

‘We are supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine and we are also working to help wean Europe and Ukraine off Russian gas.’

Asked if the UK would support personal sanctions against Mr Putin, Ms Truss said: ‘We have ruled nothing out in terms of sanctions and in fact we will be legislating to toughen up our sanctions regime and make sure we are fully able to hit both individuals and companies and banks in Russia in the event of an incursion.

‘What is important is that all of our allies do the same because it is by collective action, by showing Vladimir Putin we are united, that we will help deter a Russian incursion.’

Ms Truss issued a plea to other NATO allies to do more to back Ukraine in the stand off with Moscow. 

She said: ‘We would like to see our allies do more to help supply defensive support to Ukraine and also put those sanctions in place.

‘We have made huge progress. I hosted a G7 in Liverpool in December and all of the G7 agreed that there would be severe economic costs if Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine.’    

Ms Truss issued a warning on Ukraine to Mr Putin when she attended a NATO summit in Estonia in November. 

She said at the time that it would be a ‘strategic mistake’ for the Russian President to invade Ukraine. 

The Foreign Secretary fuelled Tory leadership speculation during that visit as she recreated images of Mrs Thatcher who was photographed riding in a British tank in West Germany in 1986 when she visited UK troops. 

Boris Johnson said yesterday that the UK is prepared to deploy more troops to the region to protect NATO allies in Europe should Russia invade Ukraine. Ukraine is not a member of NATO. 

The Prime Minister also said the UK and its allies stand ready to impose ‘heavy economic sanctions’ on Russia and voiced fears that any invasion would result in ‘bloodshed comparable to the first war in Chechnya or Bosnia’. 

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