William Hague, the Foreign Secretary who is off to Kiev tomorrow, has issued the following statement:-

‘I am deeply concerned at the escalation of tensions in Ukraine, and the decision of the Russian parliament to authorise military action on Ukrainian soil against the wishes of the Ukrainian Government. This action is a potentially grave threat to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We condemn any act of aggression against Ukraine.

‘I spoke today to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to urge steps to calm this dangerous situation. I told Minister Lavrov that Britain supports the Ukrainian Government’s request for urgent consultations in accordance with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum signed by the UK, US, Russia and Ukraine. In the light of President Putin’s request to the Federation Council, we have now summoned the Russian Ambassador to the Foreign Office to register our deep concerns.

‘I also spoke this afternoon to German Foreign Minister Steinmeier where we agreed on the need for international diplomatic action to address the crisis. The UK supports the proposed emergency meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, and we have already called an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council for this afternoon in New York.

‘Yesterday I spoke to Ukrainian Acting President Turchynov and made clear the UK’s support for Ukraine’s new government. I urged him to ensure that the government takes measures which unify the country, and that it protects the rights of all Ukraine’s citizens, including those from minority groups, in a spirit of inclusiveness. And I assured him of the UK’s commitment to working with other international partners and institutions to ensure that reforms by Ukraine are matched by international willingness to provide economic support.

‘I will visit Ukraine on Sunday to discuss these issues directly with the Ukrainian Government. I will reiterate the UK’s support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. I will also discuss how the UK can support the Ukrainian Government in recovering improperly acquired assets. The EU must agree urgently an asset freezing regime to target those suspected of laundering the proceeds of corruption. On my instructions, the British Embassy in Kiev has told the Ukrainian Government that we stand ready to provide Ukraine with technical advice on asset recovery.’

Tags: Ukraine, William Hague