British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that Britain was seeing signs of a Russian diplomatic opening over Ukraine, but that recent intelligence figures were still not encouraging.

After the government’s Crisis Management Team meeting on Ukraine, Johnson assessed that “there are reasons to have talks on Ukraine, with Ukraine – and that’s a good thing. We see Russian openness to talks.” “On the other hand, the intelligence that we see today is still not encouraging,” he added, noting that field hospitals are being built near the Ukrainian border and that more battalions are approaching the border. The British Prime Minister stressed that “it can only be interpreted as a willingness to invade.”

Johnson explained that this was an additional reason for Britain to remain “tough” about imposing economic sanctions on Russian companies and individuals. “We believe they have made tremendous preparations for action at almost every moment,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russia announced the withdrawal of some of its forces from the Ukrainian border, but NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance did not see any signs of de-escalation so far.

As for what Russian President Vladimir Putin should do to reassure Western leaders, the British prime minister said they should see a “de-escalation program” and remove brigade groups from the “theater of potential conflict”. He added that he would like to “feel that things are shrinking and shrinking” and negotiations begin. He stressed that there was still a “path to diplomacy” and that if the positive indicators were correct, they should be built on.

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He said the British embassy in Kiev would remain open as a sign of support for Ukraine. It was reported earlier that since the embassy in Kiev is unable to provide consular services, the UK will open a consular office in Lviv for this purpose.

From London Bartłomiej Niedziński (PAP)

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