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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Russian army ‘to bomb Odessa’ as Mariupol attempts another evacuation

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Russian Army ‘preparing to bomb Odessa’

The Russian Army is preparing to shell the Ukrainian port city of Odessa, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed.

In a video message, Mr Zelenskyy said Vladimir Putin’s forces “are preparing” to bomb the city and that it would be “a war crime”.

He said: “They have always felt only warmth in Odessa. Only sincerity. And now what? Bombs against Odessa? Artillery against Odessa? Missiles against Odessa?”

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PM: Ukraine ‘had no serious prospect of Nato membership’

Boris Johnson has penned an op-ed in the New York Times, claiming that Ukraine “had no serious prospect of Nato membership in the near future”.

He wrote: “We have no hostility towards the Russian people and we have no desire to impugn a great nation, a world power and a founding member of the United Nations.

“We despair of the decision to send young innocent Russians into a bloody and futile war.”

The PM said: “We were ready to respond to Russia’s stated security concerns through negotiation. I and many other Western leaders have spoken to President Putin to understand his perspective.”

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Putin ‘won’t agree to no-fly zone’

Dominic Raab has said he does not think Russian President Vladimir Putin would agree to a humanitarian no-fly zone over Ukraine.

Speaking on Times Radio, the Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister said: “I think it’s interesting, I just can’t see why Russia would agree to that and what we’ve been clear on is we’re not going to get into direct military conflict between the UK or Nato and Russia.”

He added: “We’ve had ongoing discussions with all of our allies and, indeed, with the Russians, and if we thought that there was an easier or credible route to provide that humanitarian support, of course, we’d want to look at it more seriously.”

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Shadow defence sec: We must match rhetoric with action

On Boris Johnson’s six-point plan in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the shadow defence secretary said the Prime Minister must match his rhetoric with action.

John Healey told Times Radio: “It’s exactly what the alliance of not just western states but increasingly international opinion is actually doing.

“In many ways, some of our allies could reasonably turn around and say ‘well it’s all very well for you, Boris Johnson, but you’ve got to now match some of your tough rhetoric with your own action, particularly on humanitarian assistance, on diplomacy and on sanctions’.”

Mr Healey said it was right of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to set aside calls for the Prime Minister’s resignation in the wake of the partygate scandal.

“Those hard, underlying questions that ultimately Boris Johnson will have to return to answer about his law-breaking, about the parties in Downing Street, the police investigations will come back.”

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Raab: Support would be undermined for Ukraine if the UK let refugees in without visas

Dominic Raab has suggested support would be undermined for Ukraine if the UK let refugees in without visas.

The Justice Secretary was asked on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme about reports that 150 Ukrainian refugees had been turned away at Calais because they did not have a valid visa.

He said: “Look, if we just open the door not only will we not benefit the people that we need to, the genuine refugees, but I think we undermine the popular support for this very thing, so I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. We need to make sure that we’re acting for those that need our support.”

Mr Raab said he expected up to 200,000 Ukrainians could come to the UK through the family dependents route and that “the humanitarian route, that is uncapped”.

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Raab ‘sceptical’ of any promises made by Kremlin

Dominic Raab said he was “very sceptical” over any promises made by the Kremlin.

The Justice Secretary was asked whether he thought a temporary ceasefire announced for Mariupol would hold and he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “I’m very sceptical about any assurances or commitments that President Putin makes.

“Of course, we want to do everything we can. We should exhaust all opportunities to try and provide humanitarian relief.

“But I think you only have to look at his track record in Syria to see that we need to be very careful to test any assurances Vladimir Putin gives.”

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Defence chief urges Britons not to go to Ukraine to fight

The Chief of the Defence Staff has urged Britons not to head to Ukraine to fight.

“We’ve been very clear that it’s unlawful as well as unhelpful for UK military and for the UK population to start going towards Ukraine in that sense,” Admiral Sir Tony Radakin told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme.

“Support from the UK, support in whatever way you can. But this isn’t really something that you want to rush to in terms of the sound of gunfire. This is about sensible support based in the UK.”

Asked if Foreign Secretary Liz Truss should therefore not have said she would support anyone who wanted to fight, he added: “I think she was reflecting (that) she could and that we can all understand that sentiment, and that sentiment needs to be channelled into support for Ukraine.

“But we’re saying as professional military people, that actually that is not necessarily the sensible thing to be doing.”

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Starmer says govt should review defence policy and spending

Sir Keir Starmer has said there needs to be a review of defence policy and spending.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Sir Keir said: “I think there does need to be a step back and review of defence policy because this has, I think, blown away some of the assumptions the Government was working on.”

Sir Keir said the Labour Party has been critical of the Government for cutting back the army by another 10,000 soldiers, noting “as we have said, we wouldn’t have done that”.

He went on: “I think on the Government benches, there’s a growing sense that there’s got to be a review by the Government of its defence policy and strategy, and its funding, and I think that’s true.”

When asked how much more on defence he would spend, Sir Keir said: “Well, we’ve said we wouldn’t be making the cuts that the Government is currently making.

“But I think in the middle of a conflict, we have to focus on the job in hand, which is supporting Ukraine and ensuring that Putin is defeated.”

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