Senior Tory Robert Jenrick warn Liz Truss’s her ‘unwise’ planned trip to Moscow this week ‘plays into the hands’ of Vladimir Putin and hands him a propaganda victory amid stand-off over Ukraine
- Tory former minister Robert Jenrick criticised the Foreign Secretary last night
- She is expected to meet her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov later this week
- It comes as the Putin regime builds forces on the border with Ukraine
Liz Truss has been warned she could hand a propaganda victory to Vladimir Putin if she goes to Moscow for talks over the Ukraine crisis.
Tory former minister Robert Jenrick criticised the Foreign Secretary, who is expected to meet her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov later this week to discuss the stand-off in Eastern Europe.
It comes as the Putin regime builds forces on the border with Ukraine – once part of the USSR – sparking a rise in Nato forces and warnings of swift reprisals if soldiers cross the border.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour programme, former housing secretary Mr Jenrick said: ‘I’m not sure it is actually wise to go to Moscow.
‘I think that honours Vladimir Putin and plays into his hand… I just question the good sense of going to Moscow and honouring Vladimir Putin at a time when he is so aggressive towards Ukraine. I’m not sure that’s wise.’
The Foreign Secretary is expected to meet her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov later this week to discuss the stand-off in Eastern Europe
Tory former minister Robert Jenrick criticised the meeting, saying it ‘honours Vladimir Putin and plays into his hand’
On Sunday, Ms Truss said ‘the depths’ of Russia’s attempts to threaten to Ukraine were ‘clear’.
‘Russia’s actions show their claims to have no plans to invade are false,’ she wrote in a Twitter post.
‘We and our allies stand united in support for Ukraine and our resolve to raise the cost to Russia if they take further action.’
Ms Truss missed a trip to Ukraine with the Prime Minister last week after testing positive for Covid-19.
The Foreign Secretary’s visit to Russia would be the first to the country since 2017, when Boris Johnson met with Mr Lavrov.
It comes after a former oligarch said the UK providing weapons and training to Ukrainian forces ‘shows to Putin that the war won’t be such an easy ride’.
Exiled Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky said bolstering Ukraine defences was the most important way that London could show solidarity with Kyiv in the face of Russian aggression on the border.
Speaking on Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News, Mr Khodorkovsky was asked whether putting more pressure on the assets of allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the UK would deter Moscow from launching an invasion in Ukraine.
‘The pressure on the assets and the properties of the Russians in Britain has two sides,’ he said.
‘Putin’s clique illegally pressurise the British political system, it’s done in numerous ways.
‘There are legal firms who work for them, sometimes it’s direct influence on British governing bodies. It’s really important to fight this, it’s a dangerous thing for Britain.
‘That’s one part of it – the influence of Putin’s clique.
‘The other thing is an ethical issue, it’s a question for British society whether it’s happy and whether the system is happy to have dirty money on the British territory.
‘As far as Putin is concerned these assets are in enemy territory, he sees this as a betrayal unless these people are influencing the British system.’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine (Peter Nicholls/PA)
But Mr Khodorkovsky added: ‘More important is supplying weapons and training Ukrainians – that shows to Putin that the war won’t be such an easy ride if he’s planning one.’
On Saturday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed the situation with French President Emmanuel Macron.
‘They agreed that finding a diplomatic solution to the current tensions must remain the overriding priority,’ a No 10 spokesman said.
‘The Prime Minister and President Macron stressed that Nato must be united in the face of Russian aggression. They agreed to continue to work together to develop a package of sanctions which would come into force immediately should Russia further invade Ukraine.’
European leaders are also due to travel to both Moscow and Kyiv in a bid to calm tensions on the Ukrainian border.
Mr Macron is set to visit Moscow on Monday and Kyiv on Tuesday, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will travel to Kyiv on February 14 and Moscow on February 15.
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