Yorkshire MP meets with Ukrainian officials to discuss threat of Russian invasion
It comes after he visited Ukraine with Labor colleague David Lammy last week to discuss the situation with government officials and offer support.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are tense, with the US suggesting Moscow is preparing for a “false flag operation” to unleash an incursion into neighboring areas.
The Russians have amassed around 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and have been accused of staging a major cyberattack last week that destroyed key government websites in a bid to destabilize Ukraine from a physical invasion.
“The risk now is that Vladimir Putin decides to invade Ukraine again and miscalculates,” Mr Healey told the Yorkshire Post.
“Russian forces are vastly superior, but Ukraine is a very different country from 2014 when he annexed Crimea and Russian proxies invaded part of eastern Ukraine.
“Since then, public support for joining the European Union and NATO has increased enormously, and Putin has been the best recruiting sergeant on the case.
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“Ukraine has a stronger sense of identity, a stronger determination to resist Russia and a stronger military, so any invasion will be bloody on both sides and Russia will be viewed as invasion and occupation, not liberation.”
Mr Healey, who is also the MP for Wentworth and Dearne, added: “They were very encouraged and felt very supported by the strength of international unity, particularly at the NATO-Russia meeting on Thursday when all 30 NATO countries looked forward to it insisted on talking about it and delivering the same message to Russia.
“They said Russia’s demand to veto NATO entry by either Ukraine or Georgia was unacceptable – it was each country’s sovereign right to decide whether or not to join NATO – and Russia’s demand that NATO troops from already existing NATO members is also completely unacceptable.
“Ukrainians have also warmly welcomed UK military support. It was training and defensive – it was support to help the country defend itself.”
Russia has repeatedly called on NATO to halt eastward enlargement, saying it must not allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to become members or send NATO troops to those countries.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace issued a warning in Parliament yesterday, claiming that any Russian aggression against Ukraine would have consequences.
He also revealed that Britain has supplied Ukraine with anti-tank missiles.
He added: “There’s still a long way to go. We still have NATO, we still have our alliance, we still have the international community and its efforts to find a diplomatic solution. We will do that until the very last moment.
“President Putin still hasn’t made a final decision, but I hope that’s enough to hold off the Kremlin — a united front on sanctions that we’re developing so we’re prepared and ready should anything happen.”
He added: “If Russia attacks militarily, the first and most important response, as we have said, will be sanctions and diplomacy.”