Vladimir Putin could 'shatter' NATO will over Ukraine conflict
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The Prime Minister has been trying to convince NATO allies to provide more help to Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded at a NATO-EU-G7 summit in Brussels for “1 percent of all your planes, 1 percent of all your tanks”. Mr Johnson conceded it would be a challenge to give Mr Zelensky the tanks he has demanded to fight against the Russian invaders. The Prime Minister said it would “logistically” be “very difficult” during the NATO summit on Thursday, March 24.
But Mr Johnson said allies would strive to give Mr Zelensky weapons “in the quantity and of the quality” he needs to defend his nation from the Russian invasion.
He pledged more missiles and a new deployment of UK troops to Bulgaria, while doubling personnel in Poland and Estonia to boost Nato on the eastern flanks.
Western allies have previously been hesitant about providing jets out of concerns it could further provoke Russian President Vladimir Putin.
French President Emmanuel Macron categorically rejected the idea of providing Ukraine with more tanks, as hinted at by Mr Johnson, calling it a “red line”.
The French leader said NATO should not become “co-belligerent” by supplying Ukraine with more military supplies.
Mr Johnson accepted Mr Zelensky wanted more from NATO, saying allies felt “agony” about their “inability to do more given the constraints we face”.
NATO leaders agreed on Wednesday that Russia using chemical weapons would mark a “fundamental change” in the Ukrainian conflict that would be met with a “very severe response”.
However, a Western official declined to outline what the response would be saying “we need to keep Putin guessing”.
Later, at a press conference, US President Joe Biden said there would be a “response in kind”, but then added: “We would respond. We would respond if he uses it. The nature of the response would depend on the nature of the use.”
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Mr Johnson warned against allowing the threats over chemical, biological and nuclear weapons to become a “distraction”.
He said: “It’s intended to be a distraction from what is really going on and that is a savage attack with conventional means on innocent people in urban centres in Ukraine, absolutely barbaric use of artillery and mortars and rockets as I’ve described, thermobaric bombs included it now seems, that is what is going on.”
However, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg announced an agreement to provide equipment to protect against biological, chemical and nuclear threats and assistance in the cyber-security sphere.
It came as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said Russian intelligence services had targeted national infrastructure including UK energy companies and the engineering and industrial sectors in a “calculated and dangerous” hacking campaign spanning nearly a decade.
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The UK and western allies have linked Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor agency to the KGB, to “a historic global campaign targeting critical national infrastructure”, the FCDO said on Thursday.
The department said the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was “almost certain” that the FSB’s Centre 16, which it said was also known by its hacker group pseudonyms of Energetic Bear, Berserk Bear and Crouching Yeti, had targeted critical IT systems and national infrastructure in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “Russia’s targeting of critical national infrastructure is calculated and dangerous.
“It shows Putin is prepared to risk lives to sow division and confusion among allies.”
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