Russia will be punished if it acts against Ukraine, No 10 says

Russia will be punished if it acts against Ukraine, No 10 says

Russia will be punished if it acts against Ukraine, No 10 says

The Russian government will be “punished” if it “crosses the line” on Ukraine, Downing Street has warned.


The PM’s deputy official spokesman said “any destabilising action” by Russia would be a strategic mistake with significant consequences.


The warning came as the US and Russia held urgent talks in a bid to avert further conflict on Ukraine’s border.


Russia denies it is planning an invasion but has moved 100,000 troops near to its border with Ukraine.

It has seized Ukrainian territory before – Crimea, in 2014 – and the head of the military alliance Nato has warned there is a real risk of a fresh conflict in Europe.


President Vladimir Putin has made a series of demands to the West, insisting Ukraine should never be allowed to join Nato and that Nato abandons military activity in eastern Europe.


Nato’s 30 members – including the UK, US and several former Soviet Union states which share a border with Russia – agree that an armed attack against one is an attack against them all, and they will come to the aid of one another.


Downing Street said the UK was “working closely with our partners, including the US, to draw up a package of sweeping measures to make sure that the Russian government is punished if it crosses the line”.


“The only way forward is for Russia to deescalate and engage in meaningful discussions,” the spokesman said.


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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks in Geneva earlier, in a bid to defuse tensions.


Speaking afterwards, Mr Lavrov said the discussion – which lasted just over an hour – was open and useful, adding that he hoped emotions would cool after the “frank” talks. He added Russia had never threatened “the Ukrainian people”.


Mr Blinken said the US and its allies were prepared to look at addressing Russia’s security concerns, but only if Russia reciprocated.


He said Russia now faced a choice between diplomacy or conflict. The pair agreed to further discussions in the coming weeks.