'You'll be met with force not flowers': Ukrainian diplomat's stark warning to Russia

14 February 2022, 09:23 | Updated: 14 February 2022, 09:27

By Daisy Stephens

A Ukrainian diplomat has told LBC that a Russian invasion would be "insane" and would be met with "strong resistance, not flowers".

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Vasyl Filipchuk told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast with Tom Swarbrick that a Russian invasion would be 'stupid and irresponsible', but that Ukraine is "well prepared" for it should Putin decide to go ahead.

"If Russia would [invade], it would be the most stupid, the most irresponsible action from Russian side, and you can consider Russians in any way, but they're not idiots," said Mr Filipchuk.

"They would be really welcomed here, not with flowers but with strong resistance... [Ukraine] has more than 400,000 people who participated in conflict in the past, so the country is well-prepared for any kind of invasion so why Putin would now do it, what it would bring him, it's a question which no one [can] answer."

Read more: Russia could mount a 'full-scale invasion of Ukraine with no notice', minister tells LBC

Read more: Eleventh hour peace bid: PM To hold crisis talks as Russia on 'brink of war with Ukraine'

He also added that Ukraine has been "in war since 2014".

"We bought weapons in 2014. Myself, all my neighbours, we all bought weapons in 2014," he said.

"If you may just base calculation of benefits and losses, which Russians would face in case of fully-fledged invasion, it leads every one of us to the conclusion - it's insane.

"It's insane, it's impossible."

Mr Filipchuk also said fears of an invasion were being inflated, and in reality whilst there was a sense of "nervousness" there was not a feeling of an immediate threat.

"You feel certain nervousness in Kiev if you talk to people but in reality if you compare how the situation is described in Western media and how you feel inside of Kiev capital, it's like two parallel worlds," he said.

"You don't really see any real panic, there is nervousness and people talk about it, but no one is running out of Kiev, I returned yesterday to Kiev from Brussels and the plane was full of people coming to Kiev, so you have a feeling that there is something terrible happening in newspapers... but not in life."

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

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

Speaking to LBC earlier, Armed Forces minister James Heappey warned Russia has the capacity to mount a "full-scale invasion" of Ukraine with "no notice".

He urged British citizens to leave Ukraine now, as the Government may not be able to give them any notice if Russia does launch an invasion.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to hold talks with world leaders this week, in a final attempt to bring Russia "back from the brink" of war with Ukraine.

He is said to be working with allies to provide further support to Kiev, with an announcement expected in the coming days.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is also set to head to Brussels for a meeting of Nato defence ministers this week to discuss their response to the crisis.

Chair of the Defence Select Committee and Tory MP Tobias Ellwood criticised the Government's handling of the crisis, saying the weapons being provided to Ukraine were insufficient and that any sanctions could actually make matters worse.

"We're saying we're supporting Ukraine with military support, we're giving them light anti-tank weapons which are 'line of sight', 600 yards," he told LBC's Tom Swarbrick.

"By [the] time you get to use these things the battlefield would have been obliterated by the heavy artillery that Russia actually has."

He said there would be "retaliatory sanctions" for anything imposed by the UK, but also that sanctions played into Putin's hands.

"Putin is aligning Russia towards China, so any sanctions that we threaten absolutely plays into his own strategy," he said.

"Putin actually craves the international spotlight, so we're actually running around him and he's enjoying this."

Read more: Leave Ukraine while you can, minister warns amid fears Russia could invade within days

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

The MP also said the UK was 'hiding behind' the fact that Ukraine is not a member of Nato.

"Libya isn't a member of Nato and we stepped in there to avoid a bloodbath in Benghazi. Bosnia wasn't a member of Nato, Kosovo's not a member of Nato," he said.

"This idea that... there's no treaty for us to lean on, surely we have a commitment to freedom? To supporting European democracy?"

He added: "Putin smells weakness, and he's exploiting it."

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