James Cleverly, UK's Foreign Minister, in online news & world news

UK Says Awaiting ‘All Available Facts’ on Ukraine Dam

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By Adam Plowright

Britain is unwilling to apportion blame at this stage for the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine and is awaiting “all available facts”, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told AFP on Wednesday. online news

“We’re not going to say anything until we are completely armed with all the available facts. So we’re going to err on the side of caution on this one,” Cleverly said in an interview on the sidelines of a meeting at the OECD in Paris.

He said that Russia bore ultimate responsiblity for all events and destruction in the war, however, having initiated the conflict with its invasion in February last year.

“It’s clear that this event is a direct repercussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and there’s nothing that Russia can do to hide that fact,” he said.

Asked about more Western arms deliveries to Kyiv, including US-made F-16 fighter jets, Cleverly dismissed warnings from the Kremlin about the risk of an escalation in the conflict.

“We made a conscious decision that we cannot allow escalatory rhetoric or sabre-rattling from Vladimir Putin or from the Kremlin to deter us from doing the right thing,” Cleverly said.

“As the Ukrainians move closer towards success and closer towards victory, there will be more regular and more shrill noises coming out of the Kremlin. That would always be an inevitable reaction to Russia’s lack of success on the battlefield.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said recently that the West was “playing with fire” by agreeing to provide Ukraine with F-16s.

Self defense

Britain has been in the vanguard of Ukraine’s allies, making early decisions to provide the country with anti-tank missiles, modern tanks and most latterly longer-range Storm Shadow missiles.

Discussing claims of Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory including in the Belgorod border region, Cleverly insisted that Ukraine “has a right to self-defence”.

“We are helping. We are donating equipment and of course, as their friends on the international stage, we speak to them about the views we have about the best way of delivering that self-defence,” he said.

“But ultimately, it is their troops that are in a conflict.”

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Cleverly was in Paris to chair a ministerial meeting at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a multilateral economic body that brings together democratic countries.

One of his priorities is preparing the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London on June 21-22, when Ukraine’s allies will discuss reconstruction and ways of encouraging the private sector to take part.

“This is about making sure that we identify the kind of needs that Ukraine will have,” he said.

Nord Stream plot

The 53-year-old conservative refused to comment on US media reports that a European spy agency had informed the CIA last year that a Ukraine special operations team planned to blow up Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipeline to Europe.

The tip-off came three months before explosions damaged the undersea system in September, The Washington Post and CNN reported.

“These are speculative reports. I don’t think it’s useful or indeed appropriate for me to comment on speculative reporting,” he Cleverly.

“Investigations about what happened are ongoing. I’m not going to run ahead of the outcome of any of those investigations.”

The Washington Post cited US intelligence allegedly leaked earlier this year by a low-level US Air National Guard computer technician who had access to large amounts of highly classified materials.


© Agence France-Presse. All rights are reserved.

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