UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he is not bolstered by the latest intelligence on Russia’s military buildup around Ukraine and is receiving “mixed signals,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are seeing Russian openness to conversations. On the other hand, the intelligence that we’re seeing today is still not encouraging,” he said.
“We’ve got Russian field hospitals being constructed near the border with Ukraine, in Belarus for [what] only can be construed as a preparation for an invasion. You’ve got more battalion tactical groups actually being brought closer to the border with Ukraine, according to the intelligence that we’re seeing,” he added.
“So mixed signals, I think at the moment, and all the more reason therefore for us to remain very tough and very united in particular on the economic sanctions,” he said, adding that an invasion could still happen “virtually at any time.”
Russia announced Tuesday that some troops would be returning to bases after completing military drills.
To reassure the UK and other Western leaders, Johnson said they would have to see a “program of de-escalation” from Russia.
“That means withdrawing the battalion tactical groups away from a potential theater of conflict, not constructing field hospitals on the border with Belarus and between Belarus and Ukraine; a sense that things are being scaled back, scaled down, that the threat is over and the conversation and negotiation is beginning,” he said.
“We think there is an avenue for diplomacy,” Johnson added.