PM urges ‘firm’ stance with Russia


Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Europe must make clear to Russia that it faces economic and financial consequences for “many years to come” if it does not stop destabilising Ukraine, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

Mr Cameron’s comments came as fierce fighting continued to rage in the east of Ukraine, despite a ceasefire which came into effect on Sunday.

Russian-backed rebels were continuing an onslaught on the key railway junction of Debaltseve, launching five military strikes overnight, according to Ukrainian military officials.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said his country’s army has now pulled most of its troops out of Debaltseve, and denied rebel claims that the Ukrainians were encircled.

Rebel spokesman Eduard Basurin said hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers had surrendered in Debaltseve, which is a key transport hub linking the separatist enclaves of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Speaking during a visit to West Sussex, Mr Cameron made clear that Mr Poroshenko’s agreement of a ceasefire deal with Russian president Vladimir Putin last week should not be the trigger to wind down EU sanctions against Russia.

Mr Cameron said: “Of course there’s a temptation for every European country just to say ‘Let’s go on trading exactly as we have done with Russia, let’s leave responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine to someone else and let’s turn away’.

“I am afraid that would be a terrible mistake and Britain has been leading the argument in Europe saying Russia’s behaviour in Ukraine has been completely unacceptable and consequences must follow that in terms of sanctions.

“We have put in place progressively a series of measures, whether it’s a ban on certain individuals from travelling or freezing assets.”

Mr Cameron said Europe could not “turn a blind eye” to events in Ukraine, where he said “effectively one country is challenging the territorial integrity of another country”.

“Those Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, they are using Russian rocket launchers, Russian tanks, Russian artillery, you can’t buy this equipment on eBay, it hasn’t come from somewhere else, it’s come from Russia and we know that,” he said.

“So we have to be very firm and strong about the sanctions and say to Vladimir Putin: ‘What you are doing is unacceptable and it will have economic and financial consequences for many years to come if you do not desist with your behaviour.”

Published: Wednesday 18th February 2015 by The News Editor

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