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UK foreign secretary calls on Russia to withdraw troops from Ukrainian border

Liz Truss also mentioned the need for strengthening NATO amid the current state of affairs

MOSCOW, February 10. /TASS/. UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss has urged Russia to withdraw troops from the border with Ukraine.

"We need to see the troops and the equipment that is stationed on the Ukrainian border moved elsewhere. Because at present, it is in a very threatening posture," the UK foreign secretary said following talks with Russian top diplomat Sergey Lavrov. "Minister Lavrov has said to me today that Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine, but we need to see those words followed up by actions," Truss noted.

The UK foreign secretary stated that Russia needed to move troops away from Ukraine’s border in order to prove its commitment to diplomacy. "If Russia is serious about diplomacy, they need to move those troops and desist from the threats. If we are able to follow a path of diplomacy <...> then there are hopes of a better future," according to the UK foreign secretary.

In turn, Lavrov confirmed that "this was exactly what the UK foreign secretary was talking about for two hours" behind closed doors. "The demand to remove Russian troops from its own territory remained unchanged, despite all our arguments, which is regrettable," the Russian top diplomat stated.

Truss also said progress "can’t come at the expense of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and it can’t come at the expense of NATO’s open-door policy." "The point I was making is that if there were to be an incursion into Ukraine, then that would not be a rapid resolution. What we would see is a prolonged conflict, which I think would be very damaging for obviously the people of Ukraine but also the people of Russia and for European security. So at all costs, we must make sure that we avoid that whilst but obviously maintaining the fact that Ukraine is a sovereign country that makes its own decisions about whether it joins NATO or not, and that also maintains its territorial integrity," the UK foreign secretary pointed out.

Strengthening NATO

Truss also mentioned the need for strengthening NATO amid the current state of affairs. "In response to Russia's actions and the threatening behavior of Russia on the Ukrainian border, the United Kingdom is working with our NATO allies to make sure we are strengthening defense. This is purely defensive. NATO is a defensive alliance. And that is absolutely the right approach to take but it would be better if Russia were to de-escalate and these responses weren't necessary," she said.

Concerns over Moscow's alleged preparations for an invasion of Ukraine have been increasingly expressed in the West and in Kiev recently. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov castigated these statements as an empty and groundless escalation of tension, emphasizing that Russia posed no threat to anyone. At the same time, the Kremlin press secretary did not exclude some possible provocations to justify such claims and warned that the attempts to resolve the Ukrainian conflict by force would carry extremely serious consequences.