'War with NATO if single Russian toecap' steps into its territory, Sajid Javid warns

14 March 2022, 08:03 | Updated: 14 March 2022, 08:59

Sajid Javid warns of war if a single Russian steps into a NATO country

By Sophie Barnett

Vladimir Putin will be 'at war with NATO if a single Russian toecap' steps into any of the alliance's territory, Sajid Javid has warned.

The Health Secretary told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the UK has been clear with NATO allies there will be a "severe response" if there is an attack on any country in the alliance.

He warned: "Let's be very clear Nick, if a single Russian toecap steps into NATO territory there will be war with NATO."

It comes after Sunday’s missile attack just 15 miles from Ukraine’s border with Poland, which killed over 35 people.

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More than 30 missiles targeted a training facility in Yavoriv, close to the Polish border, injuring 130 people.

Russian invaders have widened their attack in that part of Ukraine, having also struck an airport in Ivano-Frankivsk.

Asked by Nick whether the attacks close to the Polish border "escalate" the situation in Ukraine, the minister said: "Well, we've been very clear from the start with our NATO allies that if there is any kind of attack on NATO territory then it will be war with NATO and there will be a severe response.

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"We don't ever set out in advance how exactly we would respond. Of course, we would work together with our allies."

It comes as people in the UK are set to 'open their homes' to Ukrainian refugees who have been forced out of the country.

It is thought that more than 2.5 million people have fled the warzone since Russia's invasion on February 24.

Mr Javid told Nick that Ukrainians who arrive in the UK will receive the right to remain in the country for three years along with the right to work and access public services.

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He said they will have access to NHS care and mental health support, adding the UK will provide "whatever care is necessary".

He recognised that services in certain areas, including mental health, are "stretched" but said the NHS will do "whatever we need" to support those who have fled Ukraine.

Boris Johnson said the upcoming scheme to allow refugees into their homes will be "generous", ahead of Michael Gove's announcement on Monday.

He added that this would be the "best thing for refugees, because they want a scheme that is safe, that is welcoming and that works".

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The UK airlifted 21 very ill Ukrainian children out of the country over the weekend, with Mr Javid telling LBC they will receive NHS treatment for cancer for "as long as necessary".

Mr Javid said a total of 49 people, including mothers and carers of the ill children, were airlifted over the weekend in what was a "tough operation".

They will be assessed by doctors before being sent to appropriate hospitals following a request for assistance from Poland, a NATO member.

The UK is also donating more than 500 mobile generators to help keep the lights on in Ukraine, as it ramps up its support for the war-torn country.

They will provide much needed energy to essential facilities across Ukraine, including hospitals, shelters and water treatment plants which have lost power during the ongoing Russian invasion.

In its latest intelligence update, the UK Ministry of Defence said: "Russian naval forces have established a distant blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, effectively isolating Ukraine from international maritime trade.

"Russian naval forces are also continuing to conduct missile strikes against targets throughout Ukraine.

"Russia has already conducted one amphibious landing in the Sea of Azov and could look to conduct further such operations in the coming weeks."