‘Thank you, Britain!’ Vitali Klitschko hails UK for Ukraine support against Putin

Ukraine: Vitali Klitschko vows to defend country from Russia

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The Mayor of Kiev and top sports personality expressed his gratitude as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned the UK would not rule out support for personal sanctions against Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in the event of a Russian incursion into Ukraine. Mr Klitschko was speaking after Mr Johnson said he was prepared to deploy troops to protect NATO allies in Europe should Russia invade Ukraine, as he warned Mr Putin faced “ferocious” Ukrainian resistance.

Hugo Gye, political editor at the i paper, tweeted: “Words you don’t always hear on the morning media rounds: ‘Thank you very much to the British Government, thank you very much to Boris Johnson.’ (from ex-boxer Vitali Klitschko, now mayor of Kiev)”

The former boxer’s thanks come in stark comparison to the attack Mr Klitschko launched on Germany this week when he accused Germany of “betraying its friends”.

He said: “I lived in Germany for a long time and I still have many friends there.

“That is why it pains me particularly to see how those with knowledge about Putin have seized political control on many issues.”

Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops around Ukraine and the West fears it may invade in an attempt to annex its former Soviet republic.

Moscow has dismissed such speculation as a symptom of Russophobia which it says is gripping the West.

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But Mr Klitschko suggested Mr Putin is using financial and political sway to gain influence.

Suggesting Germany had let Ukraine down, he told German outlet Bild: “This is failure to provide assistance and betrayal of friends in a dramatic situation in which our country is threatened by Russian troops on several borders.”

The news comes as Britain warned it was not ruling out personal sanctions against Mr Putin if Russia invades Ukraine, drawing a warning from the Kremlin that such a move would be destructive.

Asked about possible sanctions on Mr Putin, Ms Truss told Sky: “We’re not ruling anything out.

“We’ll be bringing forward new legislation to make our sanctions regime tougher so we are able to target more companies and individuals in Russia.

“We will be bringing that forward in the next few days. I’m not ruling that out.”

On what these sanctions could look like, she said: “They would target individuals, they would target financial institutions and they would be co-ordinated with all of our allies across Europe, the United States and others.”

Mr Johnson said on Tuesday that Britain was prepared to deploy troops to protect NATO allies in Europe should Russia invade Ukraine, as he warned Mr Putin faced “ferocious” Ukrainian resistance.

The Prime Minister also said the UK and its allies stood ready to impose “heavy economic sanctions” on Russia and voiced fears that any invasion would result in “bloodshed comparable to the first war in Chechnya or Bosnia”.

Mr Johnson told the House of Commons on Tuesday: “If Russia pursues this path, many Russian mothers’ sons will not be coming home.

“The response in the international community would be the same and the pain that would be inflicted on the Russian economy will be the same.”

But Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said such a move would be “destructive” for relations but not at all painful for Mr Putin, who rose to the top job on the last day of 1999 when Boris Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned.

Ms Truss said Britain was supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly said it has no intention of invading Ukraine and that it can deploy troops wherever it wants on its own territory.

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