Russian claims that Britain and its allies plan to help Ukraine escalate the war have been denied by the defense secretary.
During a call with Ben Wallacehis Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu claimed that Ukraine was “planning actions facilitated by Western countries, including the United Kingdom” to “aggravate the conflict by Ukraine“.
But in a short and direct official statement after the call, the Ministry of Defense said: “The Secretary of Defense has refuted these claims.”
He said the two ministers had been ‘professional and respectful’ on the call, but Mr Wallace had ‘warned’ Mr Shoigu against using such allegations as a ‘pretext for further escalation’ “.
The exchange came after a second call in three days between Mr. Shoigu and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
This follows a similar conversation between Mr Shoigu and his French counterpart on Sunday, where the Russian warned that the situation in Ukraine was rapidly deteriorating and trending towards an “uncontrolled escalation”.
He told Sebastien Lecornu, France’s defense minister, that Moscow feared Ukraine was using a “dirty bomb” in the conflict.
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Some Russian nationalists have blamed Mr Shoigu for Moscow’s setbacks since the Feb. 24 invasion and, more recently, Ukraine’s rapid gains in the northeastern Kharkiv region, which has seen several thousand square kilometers of territory recovered after the Russian takeover.
In his appeal on Sunday, Wallace also reiterated the UK and international community’s support for Ukraine and its desire to de-escalate the conflict.
“It is up to Ukraine and Russia to seek a solution to the war and the UK stands ready to help,” the statement added.
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