Europe 'may be on the verge of war': Germany's vice chancellor on Ukraine

13 February 2022, 15:07

Mr Habeck said the Ukraine crisis is an extremely dangerous situation, which could result in war in Europe.
Mr Habeck said the Ukraine crisis is an extremely dangerous situation, which could result in war in Europe. Picture: Alamy

By Elizabeth Haigh

Germany's vice chancellor Robert Habeck said today Europe may be on the brink of war due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

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Mr Habeck, who represents the Green Party, told German broadcaster NTL: "We may be on the verge of war in Europe.

"With large armies of tanks facing each other. It is absolutely oppressive and threatening."

His comments come as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz prepares to launch a last ditch attempt to ease tensions between Russia and the West.

Mr Scholz plans to travel to Kyiv on Monday, before arriving in Moscow on Tuesday.

Read more: 'Don't fear Putin': Former Ukraine PM's message to West as Russia invasion 'highly likely'

He will hold talks with Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, on Monday and is likely to offer more German economic aid.

He tweeted that "Germany stands side by side with its allies" when it comes to Russia and the Ukraine.

Sources have predicted Russia could invade Ukraine as early as this Wednesday, but Russia denies any intent to start conflict. Russia has blamed NATO for exaggerating the situation.

Western nations such as the UK and USA have advised all citizens to leave Ukraine as soon as possible, and told them not to travel to the country.

Some airlines are reportedly already diverting or cancelling aircraft due to land in the country.

The UK has indicated it would assist Ukraine with arming and training troops in the event of a Russian invasion.

Ukrainian civilians have been pictured training in anticipation of aggression, holding wooden gun replicas and training in units.

It is estimated some 130,000 Russian troops are readying themselves on the Ukranian border, both in Russia and in Belarus.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today tweeted that he has decided to return home early from a family "long weekend" due to the precarious situation.

He said there is a "whiff of Munich in the air", in an apparent reference to the agreement that allowed German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938 but failed to prevent the Second World War.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she spoke to US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Saturday, and shared her "acute concerns" that Russia could launch further military aggression against Ukraine within days.

She said: "We agree Russia will face massive consequences for any invasion, including severe sanctions."

She reportedly had a very frosty meeting with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov this week, in which the two failed to agree a path forward.

Read more: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace cancels family half term break amid Ukraine crisis

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who served as the Ukraine's PM between 2014 and 2016 told Swarbrick on Sunday: "Strong political will is needed for the free world to defend our values.

"Don’t be scared of Putin. He [Putin] has the gut feeling, those who are scared, are weak.

Mr Yatsenyuk was speaking from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace comments that an invasion from Russia was "highly likely".

According to a readout of an hour-long call between Joe Biden told Mr Putin on Saturday, the US and its allies warned Russia they would "respond decisively and impose swift and severe costs" if an invasion takes place.

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