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UK Minister: ‘Whiff of Munich’ in Russia standoff
AFP — British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has compared Western diplomatic efforts to head off a Russian invasion of Ukraine to the appeasement of Nazi Germany ahead of World War II.
Wallace told the Sunday Times that Russian President Vladimir Putin could send his massed troops into Ukraine “at any time” and suggested unnamed Western countries were not being tough enough with Moscow.
“It may be that he (Putin) just switches off his tanks and we all go home but there is a whiff of Munich in the air from some in the West,” Wallace said.
The 1938 Munich Agreement handed Nazi Germany parts of Czechoslovakia in a failed bid to head off major conflict in Europe.
Western leaders have been shuttling back and forth to Moscow in the hopes of persuading Putin to stand his troops down.
“The worrying thing is that despite the massive amount of increased diplomacy, that military build-up has continued. It has not paused, it has continued,” Wallace said.
Ukraine’s ambassador to London warned that mentioning Munich was not necessarily helping the situation.
“It’s not the best time for us to offend our partners in the world, reminding them of this act which actually (had) not brought peace but the opposite, it brought war,” Vadym Prystaiko told BBC radio.
“There’s panic everywhere not just in people’s minds but in financial markets as well,” he added.
Asked about the Munich comparison on Sunday morning television, fellow British Conservative MP Brandon Lewis said the association with the Nazis was “not the point”.
Wallace was making “the comparison between the diplomatic attempts in the run-up to World War Two and the diplomatic attempts we’re all putting in now,” Lewis said on Sky News.
The defence minister Wallace tweeted later Sunday that he was cutting short a family holiday and returning home “because we are concerned about the worsening situation in Ukraine”.