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UK says Russia needs to withdraw from Ukraine for any talks

UK says Russia needs to withdraw from Ukraine for any talks

Ukrainian service members look for unexploded shells after fighting with a Russian raiding group in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv in the morning of Feb 26, 2022, according to Ukrainian service personnel at the scene. (Photo: AFP/Sergei Supinsky)

LONDON: British foreign minister Liz Truss said on Sunday (Feb 27) there could be no talks with Russia over Ukraine while Moscow has troops in its neighbour.

Truss also said she had drawn up a "hit list" of Russian oligarchs and every few weeks the government would target their private jets, their properties and other possessions. The conflict could be protracted, she said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, under pressure over a series of parties at his Downing Street office and residence when Britain was under a strict COVID-19 lockdown, has wanted to take a lead in the West's response to the Ukraine crisis.

"Now if the Russians are serious about negotiations they need to remove their troops from Ukraine. They cannot negotiate with a gun to the head of the Ukrainians ... So frankly, I don't trust these so-called efforts of negotiation," she told Sky News.

"I've compiled a hit list of oligarchs ... We are working through putting the cases together and every few weeks we will sanction new oligarchs. There will be a rolling programme of sanctions ... There will be nowhere to hide," she said.

But she said that sanctions would take time to degrade not only the Russian economy but also its "war machine".

She also warned that the Russia-Ukraine conflict could last a "number of years" and the world needs to be prepared for Moscow "to seek to use even worse weapons". 

"I fear this will be a long haul, this could be a number of years," Truss told Sky News.

"This could be a number of years because what we do know is Russia have strong forces and we know that the Ukrainians are brave and they are determined to stand up for their sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The minister said that intelligence showed that Ukrainian forces were "continuing to resist Russian advances" and that there had not been "significant changes" overnight.

But she warned Russian President Vladimir Putin could deploy more deadly weapons.

"This could well be the beginning (of) the end for Putin and I fear that he is determined to use the most unsavoury means in this war.

"I fear this conflict could be very, very bloody. We do need to be prepared for Russia to seek to use even worse weapons," she added.

However, Putin "should be aware the International Criminal Court is already looking at what is happening in Ukraine and there will be serious consequences for him personally," she told Sky News.

Western allies on Saturday agreed on a new volley of financial sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, including the exclusion of a number of Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank system.

The allies also agreed to impose restrictive measures to prevent the Russian central bank from "using international financial transactions to prop up the ruble", a senior US official said. 

Source: Agencies/yb

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