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British defence minister cancels holiday as Ukraine crisis deepens


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British defence minister Ben Wallace attends a news conference following his talks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in Moscow, Russia, February 11, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

By Andrew MacAskill

LONDON (Reuters) -British defence minister Ben Wallace said on Sunday he was returning from a holiday in Europe after one day to deal with what he called the “worsening” crisis in Ukraine as he warned that Russia could invade any time.

Wallace had planned to spend a long weekend abroad with his family after visiting Moscow last week for diplomatic talks. ITV (LON:ITV) News said the minister announced the change of plans after one of its journalists spotted him at a European resort and the broadcaster sought comment from the Ministry of Defence.

“Having returned from Moscow early on Saturday morning and because we are concerned about the worsening situation in Ukraine I have cancelled a planned long weekend abroad with my family and will be returning,” Wallace said on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR).

A government official, who asked not to be named, said Wallace had been on the trip to the undisclosed location with his wife and children during the half-term school holiday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced calls to sack his then foreign minister, Dominic Raab, and other senior officials after they went on holiday last summer when the Taliban captured the Afghanistan capital Kabul and the British government struggled to evacuate its citizens. Raab was demoted to justice minister in a cabinet reshuffle a month later.

Wallace told the Sunday Times that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “highly likely” and the size of its military presence on the Ukraine border meant Moscow could “launch an offensive at any time”.

He also cautioned against pinning too much hope on talks, saying there was “a whiff of Munich in the air from some in the West”, referring to a 1938 pact that failed to halt German expansionism under Adolf Hitler.

“The worrying thing is that, despite the massive amount of increased diplomacy, that military build-up has continued,” he told the newspaper.

British defence minister cancels holiday as Ukraine crisis deepens

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