UK PM to urge Putin to ‘step back’ to avoid bloodshed

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Intl desk, Jan 29: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, urging him to step back from escalating tensions over Ukraine, Downing Street said Friday.

Johnson “will reiterate the need for Russia to step back and engage diplomatically when he speaks to President Putin this week,” a Downing Street spokeswoman said, stressing the prime minister’s determination to “avoid bloodshed in Europe”.

The UK prime minister is “determined to accelerate diplomatic efforts and ramp up deterrence to avoid bloodshed in Europe”, Downing Street said.

Johnson is to visit the region in the coming days.

Ties between Russia and the West are at their worst phase since the Cold War after the former fielded tens of thousands of troops on the Ukraine border.

The UK’s foreign ministry is likely to announce toughening its sanctions regime on Russia in parliament on Monday, in order to target financial and strategic interests.

This comes as a senior Conservative lawmaker warned on Friday that dirty money from Russia flooding into London poses threats to national security.

“The money hidden in accounts and properties is used to undermine the security of the UK and the British people,” Tom Tugendhat, who chairs parliament’s influential Foreign Affairs Select Committee, wrote in a newspaper.

The British Prime Minister warned earlier this week that Russia faces Western sanctions “heavier than anything” seen before if it invades Ukraine.

Johnson said that Russia risked triggering a prolonged conflict that would be a “new Chechnya”.

He participated in crisis talks with US President Joe Biden and other European leaders on Monday.

The United Nations Security Council, which includes the UK, is scheduled to hold a public meeting on the Ukraine issue on Monday.