British foreign minister: Putin - withdraw your troops from Ukraine

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in Tallinn on May 30, 2023.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in Tallinn on May 30, 2023. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Russian President Vladimir Putin should withdraw his forces from Ukraine and "restore peace to the European continent", UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told ERR during a visit to Tallinn on Tuesday. Allies must also continue to support Ukraine

We saw a drone attack on Moscow last night, if they were Ukrainian drones do you really think it's a good idea to try to attack Moscow?

I think it is important that we don't start running ahead of what we know. So we don't know any details about this, other than the stuff that has been put in the public domain.

I'm conscious that that information, those claims, have only been put in the public domain by Russia. So, I am not going to speculate as to what has happened and I am not going to speculate about the repercussions of something, which, at the moment, is unconfirmed.

But do you think the Ukrainians are able to attack Moscow like that?

Well, as I say, I understand the huge amount of interest in this, it is completely expected, but I am not comfortable speculating either about this particular incident or about Ukraine's military capabilities.

We are all waiting for the huge Ukrainian counter-offensive, what happens if it fails? Will it mean that Western countries will no longer support Ukraine?

What I think we have to understand is that this whole attempted invasion by Russia has been a failure.

We know that Putin expected that Ukraine would fall within a matter of days, perhaps weeks. We are now over a year into this conflict and we know that Ukraine is still defending itself.

Russia's winter offensive has made no meaningful advances so Ukraine is already — already — incredibly successful.

We know that Ukraine is planning to push back hard against Russia sometime this spring and the UK has made it clear that we will continue to support Ukraine until they are successful in defending themselves against Russia.

We call upon is that all of the countries that are currently supporting Ukraine to have the endurance to work with Ukraine for as long as it takes for them to regain their country.

That is the commitment that we have made and that's what we hope to achieve.

Standing here in Tallinn, what is your message to Vladimir Putin?

Well, what he should understand is that NATO allies stand strongly with each other.

I am proud to be here in Estonia, an important and strong NATO ally, hosting the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), which is being led by British troops but is an international defensive military unit and that NATO stands strong and we become stronger still because of Putin's foolish attempted invasion of Ukraine.

So, the message to Putin is clear: Your attempt to invade Ukraine has failed. Tou should withdraw your troops. You should restore peace to the European continent.

Are British soldiers serving here in Estonia ready to die for Estonia?

The whole point of an alliance is that we stand together and we support each other.

The British troops that I've spoken to here are proud of the fact that they are standing here shoulder to shoulder with their NATO Allies from across the Alliance and also their Estonian friends.

Our collective defense relies on our willingness to fight alongside each other if needs be, that is what Article 5 [collective defense] is for, and the British soldiers here are absolutely committed to Article 5 and defending all — all — NATO Allies

Are you still happy with Brexit?

We are very, very happy that we abided by the democratic will of the British people.

What we have shown, today I met troops from the French Armed Forces as well as our friends in Estonia, and what we know is that we are still a strong European ally, a strong friend to our European neighbors and that has not changed just because we left the institution of the European Union.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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