Vladimir Putins threat over putting Russia at the cemetery: They should think!

British expat in Ukraine reveals evacuation plan

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Boris Johnson warned Vladimir Putin yesterday that any invasion of Ukraine would be a “tragic miscalculation”. The two leaders finally spoke on Wednesday about the ongoing tensions in Eastern Europe. A Downing Street spokeswoman said of the call: “The Prime Minister expressed his deep concern about Russia’s current hostile activity on the Ukrainian border.

“He emphasised the need to find a way forward which respects both Ukraine’s territorial integrity and right to self-defence.

“The Prime Minister stressed that any further Russian incursion into Ukrainian territory would be a tragic miscalculation.”

The Kremlin, meanwhile, said Mr Putin had noted “NATO’s unwillingness to adequately respond to well-founded Russian concerns”.

The news comes as US President Joe Biden agreed to send extra troops to Europe.

Some 2,000 will be sent from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Poland and Germany. A further 1,000 already situated in Germany will be deployed to Romania.

Moscow has maintained throughout that it is not planning to invade Ukraine, but an estimated 100,000 troops are placed near the country’s borders.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko labelled the US deployment as a “destructive” step, which will only heighten tensions and reduce the chances of a political solution.

While Mr Putin maintains he does not wish for a conflict in Ukraine, he has previously issued threats to anyone who threatens Russian authority.

In a 2008 interview with CNN, he said: “During my eight years as president, I often heard the same question: What place does Russia reserve for itself in the world, how does it see itself, what is its place?

“We are a peace-loving star and we want to cooperate with all of our neighbours and with all of our partners.

“But if anyone thinks that they can come and kill us, that our place is at the cemetery, they should think what consequences such a policy will have for them.”

Mr Putin has boasted Russia’s military power on numerous occasions, having drastically upgraded Russian forces during his time in charge.

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In 2014, then-Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko claimed he had threatened to invade five NATO capitals in the space of 48 hours.

Mr Poroshenko claimed Mr Putin had said: “If I wanted, Russian troops could not only be in Kyiv in two days but in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw or Bucharest, too.”

All five are former USSR or Soviet-bloc cities and are all now NATO or EU members besides Ukraine.

Ukraine has deep social and cultural ties with Russia, and Russian is widely spoken across parts of Ukraine. However, it also shares borders with the EU, and Russia has long expressed concerns about Ukrainian movements towards European institutions, particularly NATO.

Ukraine has had a partnership with NATO since 1992, and formal membership would significantly increase the country’s international military backing.

Membership would also draw Ukraine much closer towards Europe, making any chance of joining the EU much more likely.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov insisted said last week: “For us, it’s absolutely mandatory to ensure Ukraine never, ever becomes a member of NATO.”

Moscow, in reality, wants NATO to return to its pre-1997 borders. Since then former Warsaw Pact countries Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia have all joined the international alliance.

Mr Putin and his government are demanding no more eastward expansion. He believes the West promised NATO would not expand “an inch to the east” in 1990 but did so anyway. However, this pact was made prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Mr Gorbachev later admitted the “topic of NATO expansion was never discussed” at the time.

It remains to be seen just how far NATO will go to defend Ukraine militarily, but a number of sanctions against Russia have been threatened if it invades Ukraine.

The US and NATO are believed to be willing to talk to Russia in a bid to find compromises where both security interests could be met.

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