Russia brands UK obsessed and claims Britain wasting billions on Ukraine

Russian ambassador lectures Boris Johnson in swipe at UK democracy

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This comes as the Foreign Secretary announces tougher sanctions against anyone linked to the Russian regime contributing to the political instability in Ukraine. The Prime Minister also visited Poland and Brussels on Thursday to caution the Kremlin that tensions over the Ukraine crisis were at “the most dangerous moment”, with Russian troops still stationed at the Ukrainian border.

Russia continues to deny intentions to invade the former Soviet state.

Addressing the media from Brussels, Mr Johnson said he hoped “patient diplomacy” and “strong deterrence” and “patient diplomacy” would pay off amid “very high” stakes.

Andrey Kelin, Russia’s Ambassador to London, told Russia Today the UK and the EU are wasting funds on the crisis that would be better invested domestically.

Speaking on Wednesday, he said: “I really do not understand why the UK is so much concentrated on Ukraine, on the necessity to support Ukraine.

“Ukraine is consuming money from France, Britain, the European Union, the World Bank…This is billions and billions of dollars which can be spent with much more efficiency, in these days especially.”

This follows a meeting between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, although talks were “disappointing”, Mr Lavrov commented.

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Lavrov said: “It’s like we’re listening but not hearing each other so our very detailed explanation fell on deaf ears.”

He added that Russian-UK relations were at the “lowest point over the past few years”, and they “leave much to be desired” as negotiations over Ukraine fail to produce results.

Ms Truss later told the BBC the UK was investing its “full diplomatic effort” into de-escalating the situation.

Referring to thus-far unsuccessful diplomatic talks, Mr Kelin said he regretted how much relations between the UK and Russia had broken down over Ukraine.

He added: “We need peaceful, normal coexistence… We need real cooperation, real partnership and normal relationship.”

Mr Kelin then attacked the US’s deployment of sanctions against the Kremlin, adding they were substituting diplomacy for arm-twisting.

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The White House gave approval to a Pentagon plan to evacuate US citizens from Ukraine if Russia invades, CNN reported.

US President Joe Biden warned Russian leader Vladimir Putin he has “never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed”.

Mr Kelin said Washington has “forgotten that there is diplomacy,” and instead uses “sanctions, pressure, intimidation, ultimatums” to leverage the Kremlin.

He added: “We of course never will be flexible on sanctions.

“If they will be imposed, we will return them, we will respond on equal basis.”

Talking of Russia’s fear of sanctions, former chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Professor Sergei Guriev, told Express.co.uk that Western sanctions are taking a serious toll on the Russian economy.

He added: “One obvious indicator is the weak ruble – while Russian oil trades at 95 dollars per barrel, the ruble is at 75 rubles/dollar.”

He cited a comparison to pre-Crimea levels when the rate was 33 rubles to the dollar, with the price of oil only marginally higher.

Russia was slapped with sanctions back in 2014 after it annexed the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine to global condemnation.

Professor Guriev warned that Russia would be capable of avoiding economic “collapse” if they were to invade Ukraine, but Russians are likely to be deeply “unhappy” with the consequences of such an incursion.

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