Russian invasion of Ukraine could mean 'millions of refugees on EU soil', warns Defence Secretary

Digi Ukraine Biden Putin 21 feb 6am
Max Parry

By Max Parry

Published: 21/02/2022

- 15:57

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:34

Putin's 'commitment' to invading Ukraine will lead to a 'humanitarian crisis', warns the Defence Secretary

Russia continues to be ready to attack Ukraine and has increased troop numbers in the region, the Defence Secretary has said.

Ben Wallace told MPs: "In the last 48 hours, contrary to Kremlin assurances we have see a continued increase in troop numbers and a change in… position including from holding areas and potential launch locations.

"All the indicators point to increasing numbers and readiness of Russia forces and, not surprising to many of us, the pledge to withdraw Russian troops from Belarus at the end of their joint military drills on February 20, were not carried out and the exercise has now been extended until further notice."

President Vladimir Putin’s "commitment" to invade Ukraine will lead to a "humanitarian crisis, Mr Wallace warned.

"If a million refugees appear in Hungary, or Romania, or Poland... I would urge the EU to step up and think about what they're going to do about millions of refugees on their soil, rather than think about afterwards."

Mr Wallace said: “I believe he [Putin] is in danger of setting himself on a tragic course of events leading to a humanitarian crisis, instability and widespread suffering, not just of Ukrainians but also of the Russian people.”

The Defence Secretary also warned of continued “false flag” operations orchestrated by the Kremlin, which he described as of “strong cause for concern that President Putin is still committed to an invasion”.

He said if Britain "can’t trust" Russia’s word "then I’m afraid it’s a very dangerous place to be in Europe."

Conservative chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee Dr Julian Lewis asked: “What lessons have our Government drawn from the consequences for Ukraine of its decision in 1994 unilaterally to give up all the nuclear weapons it had inherited from the Soviet Union in return for assurances on a piece of paper?”

Mr Wallace replied: “Well I think it shows that what we have to do is make sure that the Budapest Memorandum which was the signature between Russia and Ukraine in 1994 is stuck to, that Russia should honour all the treaties that (it) signed and its statements to make sure that mutual recognition of each others security is upheld.

“If they don’t do that then I think as he rightly says it opens up all sorts of questions about how much of Russia’s word can we trust and if we can’t trust their word then I’m afraid it’s a very dangerous place to be in Europe.”

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