Europe must 'provide weapons to Ukraine' for defence against Russia, Rory Stewart warns

21 January 2022, 14:33 | Updated: 29 January 2022, 12:45

Rory Stewart has called on Europe to provide Ukraine with weapons
Rory Stewart has called on Europe to provide Ukraine with weapons . Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Rory Stewart has called on Europe to provide Ukraine with weapons amid growing concerns an invasion is planned with over 100,000 Russian troops stationed at the border.

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The former Secretary of State for International Development told LBC's James O'Brien that Ukraine has "every right to defend themselves", warning Putin has to power to "invade tomorrow".

Explaining the cause of tension, Mr Stewart said: "Putin is running a very gangster-driven closed economy and the biggest threat to him is Ukraine being an economic success and part of the European Union and that is what triggered a lot of this."

When asked by James O'Brien what Europe should be doing to help, he replied: "Well firstly a lot of this sadly is too late we have had 10 years of isolation and chaos and I think brutally, we have to provide weapons to Ukraine so that Ukrainians can defend themselves.

"I don't think it is likely that European soldiers will be fighting in Ukraine.

"But I think Ukrainians have every right to defend themselves, and I think Ukrainians need to make it clear to Russia that, were Russia to invade, Ukrainians would resist and they have the resources to do that."

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On Friday, US secretary of state Antony Blinken met with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva in a high-stakes talks that it's hoped will ease tensions.

At a press conference after the crucial negotiations, Mr Lavrov reiterated Moscow's position that it has "never threatened the Ukrainian people", adding they have no plans to attack Ukraine.

It comes after US President Joe Biden said the US is preparing for Russia to take action that falls outside the parameters of conventional warfare.

When asked how likely it was that Russia would invade Ukraine, Mr Stewart told LBC that with more than 100,000 Russian troops currently on the border, Putin "could invade tomorrow" but added the Russian President wants to takeover Ukraine "ideally peacefully" as he uses this chance to "intimidate" the West.

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No10 said if Russian President Vladimir Putin launches an offensive, there will be a "package of sweeping measures" launched by the UK and its allies against the Kremlin.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned Mr Putin he must "desist and step back" from war in Ukraine or risk being dragged into a prolonged conflict like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Speaking at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Ms Truss said: "If there is an incursion by Russia into Ukraine, it would come at a massive cost.

"We are prepared to put very severe sanctions in place, we are also working to support Ukraine in terms of defensive capability."

A spokesman for Boris Johnson said: "I think the Prime Minister has been clear that any destabilising action by Russia in Ukraine would be a strategic mistake and would have significant consequences.

"I've talked about the fact that we're working closely with our partners, including the US, to draw up a package of sweeping measures to make sure that the Russian government is punished if it crosses the line."

Earlier, former British ambassador to the US Lord Kim Darroch said Mr Putin wants to "recreate the Soviet Union".