Rifkind: UK will not enter 'shooting war' with Russia, but we'll help Ukraine all we can

28 April 2022, 19:05 | Updated: 28 April 2022, 19:34

Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the the United Kingdom is not "going to get involved in a direct shooting war" with Russia
Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the the UK is not "going to get involved in a direct shooting war" with Russia. Picture: LBC

By Megan Hinton

Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the the United Kingdom is not "going to get involved in a direct shooting war" with Russia, despite Putin claiming the war is a proxy conflict with NATO.

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Speaking on Tonight with Andrew Marr, the former Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary said "there is nothing irresponsible" about UK being open about supplying weapons to Ukraine.

When asked by Andrew over whether or not Defence Minister James Heappey was wrong for saying it was fine for British missiles to hit targets inside Russia, Sir Malcolm said: "The fundamental position of the United States and of all the western countries was highlighted very clearly by President Biden when he said we are not, either as NATO or as the United States, and the same applies to the United Kingdom, going to get involved in a direct shooting war, between American's or British or French or Germans, with Russians.

"That is not going to change, it hasn’t changed. Nothing in the rhetoric implies otherwise.

"What is happening is we are, and we are making no secret of it, we are doing all we can to provide the Ukrainians who are defending their country from the savage attack they’ve experienced, they need weapons to defend themselves."

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The former Defence Secretary added: "There is nothing irresponsible about that.

"If you supply weapons to the Ukrainians, it is for the Ukrainians to determine how they use these weapons to protect themselves and their own people.

"If that means the occasional shell landing in Russia, Russia can hardly complain, when she is responsible through Mr Putin for a massive invasion and loss of life of Ukrainians and starting a war which otherwise would not have happened."

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His comments come after James Heappey, the armed forces minister, told LBC on Tuesday that he believed Ukrainian attacks on Russia were fair game in war.

"Of course we would expect that Russia would take all appropriate caution to avoid civilian casualties, but it is very much an act of war to go after one another's supply lines," he told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast."

Just as I have no complaint whatsoever about the fact that the Ukrainians appear to be launching strikes into Russia to go after their logistics lines. It's very much a part of war."

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said he viewed Russia and Nato as being engaged in a proxy war "in essence", accusing the military alliance of "pouring oil on the fire".

The danger of a third world war is "serious, real", Lavrov said, while insisting that - despite recent Moscow's posturing over its nuclear capabilities - Russia wanted to avoid any conflict with atomic weapons.