Boris Johnson has demanded Russia return Crimea to Ukraine and end its illegal occupation of the peninsula.
The Foreign Secretary made his intervention on a high profile visit to Kiev amid continued unrest in the east of Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russian-backed dissidents.
The visit, which also included Polish minsters, is likely to infuriate the Kremlin which has insisted Europe should stay out of Ukrainian affairs.
Britain has frequently called on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea, which began in 2014 in defiance of international law. A raft of international sanctions were imposed on Russia in retaliation.
A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn refused three times to clearly back Mr Johnson’s demand today, instead insisting there was a need for wider de-escalation between Russia and Nato.
Boris Johnson, pictured in Kiev today, has demanded Russia return Crimea to Ukraine and end its illegal occupation of the peninsula
Mr Johnson gave a press conference alongside Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin during his visit today, pictured
In a joint visit with his Polish counterpart to mark 25 years of close ties between the countries, Mr Johnson pledged ‘unwavering support’ in the face of continued Russian aggression.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Poland is a close UK partner and we work closely on a range of foreign policy issues, including Ukraine.
‘The UK will continue to play a full part on European security questions as we prepare to leave the EU.
‘This visit reinforces our unwavering support for Ukraine. The UK remains committed to defending Ukraine’s sovereignty.
‘We are adamant that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is illegal and we urge Russia to return it.
‘I welcome the progress made on implementing reforms and tackling corruption.’
Asked if Mr Corbyn supported Mr Johnson’s demand, a spokesman for the leader said: ‘I think Jeremy has already made clear that there have been actions taken both by the Russian government and by Nato which have escalated tensions.
‘We want to see those tensions de-escalated and wound down.’
Mr Johnson’s visit to Ukraine, alongside his Polish counterpart, is likely to cause irritation in the Kremlin which is opposed to European interference in Ukraine
Asked again, they said: ‘We have already stated there have been clear violations by the Russian government, both on human rights and abuses on other issues in international law.
‘We want to see the tensions on the Nato-Russian border reduced.’
Asked a third time about handing back Crimea, they said: ‘What we have said is there needs to be a negotiated settlement of the tension between Russia and Nato.’
Mr Johnson and Polish foreign minister Witold Waszczykowski are holding meetings with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.
A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn (pictured at today’s PMQs) refused three times to clearly back Mr Johnson’s demand today, instead insisting there was a need for wider de-escalation between Russia and Nato
Britain and Poland are two of the largest contributors to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s special monitoring mission to Ukraine, which reviews the ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine.
Mr Waszczykowski said: ‘Poland and the UK since the beginning of Revolution of Dignity have supported Ukraine on its pro-European path.
‘I’m extremely happy that together with minister Boris Johnson we will be able to reiterate our commitment to Ukraine’s European choice, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
‘Poland was the first country to recognise Ukraine’s independence. Since then we consider Ukraine as our strategic partner. We will continue to support Ukrainian reform process.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk