Liz Truss warns Putin he must 'desist and step back' to avoid a 'massive strategic mistake' over Ukraine

The Foreign Secretary urged the Russian President that invasion into the Ukraine will 'only lead to a terrible quagmire and loss of life'.

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Vladimir Putin must “desist and step back” from war in Ukraine or risk being dragged into a prolonged conflict like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Liz Truss warned.

In a message to the Russian president, the Foreign Secretary said the UK and its allies “continue to stand with Ukraine”.

She urged Mr Putin to engage in “meaningful discussions” about the crisis following the build-up of Russian forces near the border with Ukraine.

Her comments come after US President Joe Biden said he believes Mr Putin does not want a full-scale war and warned the Russian leader would pay a “dear price” if he launches a military incursion.

Ms Truss predicted that an invasion could lead to Russia being drawn into a prolonged and bloody conflict.

She used a speech in Australia on Friday to call on Mr Putin to “desist and step back from Ukraine before he makes a massive strategic mistake”.

She claimed the “Kremlin has not learned the lessons of history” and that “invasion will only lead to a terrible quagmire and loss of life, as we know from the Soviet-Afghan war and conflict in Chechnya”.

The Soviet war in Afghanistan stretched throughout the 1980s, costing thousands of lives.

The Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace have used their visit to Australia to bolster defence and diplomatic ties with Sydney.

Ms Truss used her speech at the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney to highlight the need for allies such as the UK and Australia to work together to counter the challenge posed by Russia and China on the world stage.

She said that “global aggressors” are “emboldened in a way we haven’t seen since the Cold War”.

“They seek to export dictatorship as a service around the world.

“That is why regimes like Belarus, North Korea and Myanmar find their closest allies in Moscow and Beijing.”

Ms Truss said that threats to “freedom, democracy and the rule of law” are global challenges, not regional issues and so require an international response from the “free world”.

“We need to work with partners like Australia, Israel, India, Japan, Indonesia and more,” she will say.

“By building closer ties with our friends and drawing other countries closer to the orbit of free-market democracies, will ultimately make us all safer and freer in the years to come.

“It is time for the free world to stand its ground.”