Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who also serves as chair of the House of Commons Defence Committee, took to Twitter to condemn the move after defence secretary Ben Wallace said it would be highly unlikely the UK sends troops to defend Ukraine from invasion. In an interview with The Spectator, Wallace said Ukraine “is not a member of Nato so it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to send troops into Ukraine to challenge Russia”.
He added: “We can all help with capacity building but to some extent Ukraine is not in Nato and that is why we are doing the best diplomatically to say to Putin don’t do this.”
Mr Ellwood, reacting to the news, posted on social media that this policy was likely to encourage the Russian president to act with lessened fears of consequences from the UK.
He posted on Twitter: “Watch this space: We’ve just given the green light to RUSSIA…”
Mr Wallace’s comments against UK intervention in Ukraine came just after the defence secretary issued a joint statement with the Ukrainian defence minister, Oleksii Yuriyovych Reznikov.
The two defence chiefs said they were “concerned” by Russian forces amassing at the Ukrainian border.
Estimates by US intelligence forces put up to 70,000 Russian soldiers on the edge of Ukrainian territory.
Mr Wallace had said previously that “the United Kingdom stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine and will continue its long-standing determination to support them”.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a warning to Vladimir Putin, in which he told the Russian leader there would be “serious consequences” if Russia invaded Ukraine.
READ MORE: EU gets tough on Putin after UK pressure
Speaking via telephone with Mr Putin, Mr Johnson reiterated UK support for Ukraine and the possibility of “significant consequences” should Russia invade the territory.
He stressed the UK’s “deep concern over the buildup of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border”, telling Mr Putin “that any destabilising action would be a strategic mistake that would have significant consequences”.
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