The Armed Forces Minister James Heppey has said he fears that “we are closer than we’ve been on this continent” to war “for 70 years”.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “There’s 130,000 Russian troops around the borders of Ukraine, thousands more on amphibious shipping in the Black Sea and the Azov Sea.
“All of the combat enablers are in place and my fear is that if all of this was just about a show to win leverage in diplomacy that doesn’t require the logistics, the fuel, the medical supplies, the bridging assets, the unglamorous stuff that actually makes an invasion force credible, but doesn’t attract headlines. Yet all of that is now in place too.
“That’s why there’s real urgency to the diplomatic negotiations that continue. That is why this is a very serious time for the whole world, really, to come together and to send a message to Russia that this is behavior that will not be accepted and that we stand behind Ukraine, and that the financial sanctions if he were to cross the border would be absolutely profound.”
His comments came as Boris Johnson will join last-ditch diplomatic efforts to bring Russian President Vladimir Putin “back from the brink” of war in Ukraine as the crisis enters a “critical juncture”.
Downing Street conceded Moscow could be planning to invade “at any moment” but the Prime Minister will hold talks with world leaders before a trip to Europe during this week’s “window of opportunity” for de-escalation.
The UK and other Nato allies have urged their citizens to flee Ukraine and some airlines have canceled flights to Kyiv amid growing concerns that the estimated 130,000 Russian troops amassed on the border could be poised to attack.