UNITED NATIONS (AA) – The UK will continue to stand in lockstep with Ukraine in defiance of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons, Britain’s top diplomat said in an exclusive interview.
”We have seen this escalatory aggressive rhetoric coming from Vladimir Putin. What he should understand, what the world should understand, is that we will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainians because they defend their homeland against his aggression,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told Anadolu Agency in a sit-down interview on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Neither Ukraine nor NATO has been a threat to Russia, he said.
Putin on Wednesday announced a mass mobilization in Russia of 300,000 reservists to support his flagging war effort in Ukraine. In doing so, he issued a dire threat of nuclear force as he and his proxies prepare to hold referendums to annex additional Ukrainian territory.
The decision to call up reserves is yet another sign that the Kremlin’s ”illegal” and ”unprovoked” war on Ukraine is not going according to plan, Cleverly said, urging Moscow to withdraw its troops.
Cleverly slammed Russian-backed plans to hold “sham” referendums in occupied territories of Ukraine, adding any polls ”would not be free, or fair, or legitimate.”
”They would not reflect the true desires, the will of the people in eastern Ukraine,” he said. ”Rather than waste time and energy on these meaningless referenda, they should withdraw their troops, give Ukraine back to the Ukrainians, and allow them to rebuild their country.”