As we detailed earlier, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during Monday statements to the press appeared to openly mock the UK and US for their dramatic announcements of embassy personnel evacuations due to threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. He said there's no need to "dramatize" the situation given there's high hopes that ongoing diplomacy will prevail. Moscow too has continued to condemn what it called "disinformation hysteria" prevailing in the West, which is fueling the crisis further.
But it seems London is content to hype things further, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday citing "gloomy" intelligence from UK intel officials warning that Russia is planning a "lightning war" to take out Ukraine's capital of Kiev. Johnson said in a message directed at Russia that an offensive would be a "disastrous step" and "bloody business".
While confirming that some British diplomatic staff have begun to exit the embassy in Kiev and depart of the country, Johnson affirmed "We do think it prudent to make some changes now."
That's when he said in dramatic fashion...
"The intelligence is very clear that there are 60 Russian battle groups on the borders of Ukraine, the plan for a lightning war that could take out Kyiv is one that everybody can see."
"We need to make it very clear to the Kremlin, to Russia, that that would be a disastrous step."
He added during the comments that "from a Russian perspective, (it) is going to be a painful, violent and bloody business." He concluded with: "I think it’s very important that people in Russia understand that this could be a new Chechnya."
More than just issuing jingoist rhetoric, threats, and claims, the UK has over the past week been flying military plane-loads of weaponry into Kiev, something Russia has condemned as a highly dangerous escalation. This is mostly believed to be anti-take and anti-armor systems, missiles, and munitions.
Allies are sending more ships & jets to enhance #NATO defensive deployments in eastern Europe. A strong sign of allied solidarity.— Oana Lungescu (@NATOpress) January 24, 2022
🇩🇰 F-16 jets to Lithuania
🇫🇷 troops to Romania
🇳🇱 F-35 jets to Bulgaria
🇪🇸 frigate heading to the Black Seahttps://t.co/2GnJKupEA9 pic.twitter.com/UvsRXpkvLT
Over the weekend the Kremlin accused Britain of unnecessarily stoking tensions even as London remained on the sidelines of the direct diplomacy currently taking place, which has involved talks between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. Further Normandy format talks will be held in Paris this week, involving the Russians, Ukrainians, French, and Germans. According to the news wires, Biden will also hold a call with European leaders today:
BIDEN TO HOLD VIDEO CALL W/EUROPEAN LEADERS ON UKRAINE TODAY
The New York Times had observed over the weekend that the UK has pursued a much "more muscular" stance on Russia in recent days. "Britain seized the world’s attention on Saturday by accusing President Vladimir Putin of plotting to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, a dramatic late-night announcement that instantly thrust it on to the front lines of the most dangerous security crisis in Europe in decades," the Times wrote.
Russia has of course, denied both of these latest bombshell accusations, which included the following: "We have information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine," the UK statement published Saturday began. Interestingly, EU countries appear to be moving away from this type of charged rhetoric, also with NATO showing it's not ready to present a unified position of "military options" on the table, given especially Germany has lately broken with its Western allies on the question of arming Ukraine.