Foreign secretary Liz Truss has told Russia’s ambassador to the UK he should be “ashamed of himself” before kicking him out of the Foreign Office after a heated meeting.
It comes after the cabinet minister summoned the Kremlin’s top diplomat in Britain, Andrei Kelin, for the second time this week to explain the “illegal, unprovoked invasion” of Ukraine and breach of international law.
Despite repeated denials of plans for an invasion, Moscow last night launched a major military offensive in the Eastern European country, with air raid sirens heard ringing out in the capital, Kyiv.
During the meeting with Mr Kelin at the Foreign Office, Ms Truss told the Russian ambassador the Kremlin had “repeatedly lied about having no plans to invade” and warned of severe sanctions.
A source also told The Independent that Ms Truss told Mr Kelin he should be “ashamed of himself”. They added: “Liz delivered her message then kicked him out”.
After the tense exchange, a Foreign Office spokesperson added: “The foreign secretary said the Russian government had repeatedly lied about having no plans to invade Ukraine, and its unprovoked aggression had made it an international pariah.
“She reiterated there would be severe sanctions in retribution for the invasion, which would inflict pain on the Russian economy and those closely associated with the Kremlin.
She added that Russia should expect a long, protracted conflict that would inflict a huge human, economic and political cost on the Russian government. She said allies and partners are united in support for Ukraine, providing economic and defensive support. ”
Earlier, Ms Truss said the UK, along with its allies and partners, will “hold the Russian government to account” for its “reprehensible actions” in Ukraine.
She also reiterated that the government would launch an “unprecedented package” of sanctions against the Kremlin, which will be outlined by Boris Johnson as he addresses Parliament at 5pm.
Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian ambassador to Britain, has also called for a no-fly zone to be put in place over his country. Speaking to journalists in London, Mr Prystaiko said it was “something which only NATO can provide”.
The ambassador also shared a list of “very heavy” sanctions his country wants the UK and NATO allies to impose on Russia.
He said Ukraine wants a ban on pension funds from investing in Russia, a ban on trade in Russian equities, sanctions imposed on the Russian central bank, and an expansion of personal sanctions on oligarchs.
Mr Prystaiko said it was also time to stop Russian payments on the international SWIFT payment system, and disconnect Russia from Visa and Mastercard.
Asked if he thought the British government would act on all the requests, the ambassador said: “As of now, we do not see it… I hope that after our conversations with the UK [government] we will see sanctions updated. ”
Mr Prystaiko also urged the west to supply more arms, saying the Russians have attacked “from all four sides”, killing both Ukrainian civilians and military personnel.
“We are trying to get as many Russian [soldiers] to another world as well. At this moment we do not have enough equipment… All of us hope [Vladimir Putin] can be stopped. The losses are unbearable. For us it is very painful. ”