Putin will face

Ukraine: West must prepare for a 'long cold war' says Shirreff

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Liz Truss and allies from the G7 also promised to hold the Kremlin accountable for war crimes against the embattled country.

The group, which met for emergency talks, hit out after a wave of missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian cities. At least 19 people were killed and scores more injured, as Russian missiles hit regions across Ukraine, including central Kyiv.

Strikes continued into Tuesday, with civilians advised to stay in air raid shelters. The Russian President said the attacks were in retaliation for a strike on a key bridge linking Russia with occupied Crimea, for which he blamed Ukraine.

“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support and will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the G7 said in a statement. The bloc also condemned Putin’s recent attempts to annex four regions of Ukraine with self-styled referendums.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed leaders from the G7 – the US, the UK, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union – at the virtual meeting yesterday. They assured him they remain “undeterred and steadfast” in their support for his nation.

“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support and will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” they said.

The G7 also said any “just peace” should include respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and could also include reparation funding from Russia.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the military bloc would also continue to stand by Ukraine.

In a press conference, Mr Stoltenberg suggested that Nato needed to produce more weapons, as supplies have run low due to the war. Nato is in discussions with member nations and defence companies, he said.

Following indirect threats from Mr Putin, Mr Stoltenberg said the alliance was closely monitoring Russia’s nuclear forces, but had not seen any changes in their posture.

He added that any attack on infrastructure critical to Nato would trigger a “united and determined response”. It comes two weeks after a series of attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, which many Western leaders indirectly suggested may have been caused by Russia.

The shift in the Kremlin’s strategy to attacks on civilian areas and infrastructure followed Ukraine’s strike against the strategically and symbolically important Kerch Bridge linking Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula.

The head of the GCHQ intelligence agency said Mr Putin’s regime was becoming increasingly desperate as it ran short of weapons, allies and troops.

Sir Jeremy Fleming said Moscow still had a “very capable military machine” despite the shortcomings, although it was being stretched by the conflict.

Mr Putin has warned about the potential use of nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory – a definition which he could extend to the occupied regions of Ukraine.

Sir Jeremy said he hoped the UK would see “indicators” from Russia before any deployment of nuclear weapons, which would be a “catastrophe”.

In the Commons, defence minister Alec Shelbrooke was pressed to say what the UK response would be to use of nuclear weapons.

“President Putin should be clear that for the UK and our allies, any use at all of nuclear weapons would break a taboo on nuclear use that has held since 1945 and would lead to severe consequences for Russia,” Mr Shelbrooke said.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis had his first meeting in the role with International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan KC.

Mr Lewis said the pair discussed “the atrocities in Ukraine, including this week’s bombing of civilian targets” and ongoing co-operation between the UK and the ICC.

Mr Zelenskyy called on the G7 leaders to give Ukraine enough air defence capabilities to stop Russia.

“I am asking you to strengthen the overall effort to help financially with the creation of an air shield for Ukraine. Millions of people will be grateful to the Group of Seven for such assistance,” he said in a video address, while warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin “still has room for further escalation”.

The Kremlin had earlier in the day dismissed the G7 meeting, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying Moscow expects “confrontation” with the West.

“The mood ahead of the summit is well understood, it is easily predictable. The confrontation will continue,” Peskov told reporters, adding that Russia will “achieve its set goals” in Ukraine.

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