Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a press conference later this afternoon with the German chancellor.
He is expected to urge Olaf Scholz to phase out Russian gas imports more quickly due to the war in Ukraine, and offer a helping hand to Berlin due to their heavy reliance on Russian gas and energy exports.
The move could also be seen as an attempt by Western nations relying on Moscow’s energy exports to starve Vladimir Putin’s war machine and the revenue he uses to fund his ongoing invasion. The UK has already pledged to end all imports of Russian coal and oil by the end of 2022, with gas likely to soon follow.
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In a tweet, Mr Johnson said: “Looking forward to welcoming @BundesKanzler Scholz to the UK today. I welcome his principled determination of him to end dependence on Russian energy. How we respond to Russia’s invasion will define the international order for years to come. We cannot let Putin’s crimes go unpunished.”
The meeting will come the day after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met with Nato counterparts in Brussels on Thursday, where she exclaimed she hoped to see “more countries” commit to banning Russian energy imports. The European Union also agreed on Thursday a wave of new sanctions which included an embargo on Russian coal imports.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has increased pressure for foreign leaders to cut their ties with Russia. “As long as the West continues to buy Russian gas and oil it is supporting Ukraine with one hand while supporting the Russian war machine with another hand,” he said in Brussels.
Mr Kuleba seemed to particularly target Germany by urging them to cut red tape and speed up support to Ukraine. “While Berlin has time, Kyiv doesn’t,” Mr Kuleba said. Germany has faced a wave of criticism from Ukraine and other EU member states for appearing to be too slow to act on phasing our Russian energy.
Robert Habeck, the German economy and energy minister, has announced plans to stop importing oil and coal from Russia this year, and gas by mid-2024. A new supply of “heavier” weapons is being sent to Ukraine by the UK and Nato allies in order to acknowledge the war has reached “a new and different phase”.
Mr Kuleba has urged the West to hand over the weapons swiftly or else Ukraine risks losing territory to the invading forces. “Either you help us now, and I’m speaking about days, not weeks, or your help will come too late,” I have warned.
Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Russian president Mr Putin, confirmed Russia had sustained “significant losses of troops” in the war, calling the deaths a “huge tragedy”. Speaking to Sky News, Mr Peskov denied that Russian forced has anything to do with Ukrainian civilian deaths in places like Bucha on the outskirts of Kyiv – he called photo evidence a “bold fake”.
It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) said a “grim milestone” had been reached, saying it had verified more than 100 attacks on health care in Ukraine since the start of the war on February 24. The attacks so far have claimed 73 lives and injured 51, WHO said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that in northern Ukraine Russian forces have “fully withdrawn” to Belarus and Russia. “At least some of these forces will be transferred to East Ukraine to fight in the Donbas,” it said early on Friday morning.
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