Russian tanks during an exercise near border with Ukraine, last month (Picture: Russian MOD).
Russia

'Very significant' risk of Russia invading Ukraine

Dominic Raab also said the world needs to "be very clear with President Putin that it would not do this cost-free".

Russian tanks during an exercise near border with Ukraine, last month (Picture: Russian MOD).

There is a "very significant" risk that Russia will mount an invasion of Ukraine, according to Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.

Asked if he thought Russia would invade Ukraine, Mr Raab told the BBC's Sunday Morning programme: "The world needs to keep its eye on this and be very clear with President Putin that it would not do this cost-free, that there would be a price.

"A price in terms of the strenuous defence that we would expect the Ukrainians to put up, but also the economic cost through sanctions, which are of course more effective if the international community speaks as one or at least with a broad consensus," he said.

Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine's ambassador to the UK, said a Russian invasion is "very likely" but also told Times Radio that "there is still room for diplomatic resolution".

Mr Prystaiko said Ukraine is "prepared to fight" but said the country is not well-equipped for a prolonged fight.

Watch: Which UK anti-tank missile is Ukraine getting as Russia tension rises?

He told Sky's Trevor Phillips On Sunday that Ukraine would "absolutely" like to join the European Union and NATO.

"That's what we made clear eight years ago, and that's why Russians came, and it didn't change our resolve even an inch."

Asked what he thinks the scale of the conflict could be, he said he still hopes this is just threats for now, but added that the country is preparing itself.

It comes as Britain accused President Vladimir Putin of plotting to install a pro-Moscow leader as head of the government in Russia's neighbouring country.

The Foreign Office took the unusual step of naming former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev as a potential Kremlin candidate to take over in Kyiv as well as naming four other Ukrainian politicians who, it said, maintained links with the Russian intelligence services.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia accused the UK Foreign Office of circulating "disinformation" and urged the Foreign Office to "cease these provocative activities" and "stop spreading nonsense".