Boris Johnson warns Russia over making ‘tragic miscalculation’ with Ukraine

Boris Johnson insisted in a phone call to Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that Ukraine has a right to join Nato, prompting an angry response from the Kremlin.

The call came as Joe Biden ordered 3,000 US troops to eastern Europe in the biggest allied deployment since the start of the crisis.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister underscored that, under Nato’s open door policy, all European democracies have a right to aspire to Nato membership. This right fully applies to Ukraine.”

Mr Johnson also accused Mr Putin of “hostile activity” and warned him against making a “tragic miscalculation”.

In response, the Kremlin said the call was a “fairly detailed exchange of views” and “Nato’s unwillingness to adequately respond to well-founded Russian concerns was noted”.

Mr Putin accused Nato of “hiding behind” its open door policy which “contradicts the fundamental principle of the indivisibility of security”.

Moscow has amassed more than 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, and Mr Putin has threatened “military-technical measures” if Nato does not pull back from Eastern Europe and bar Kyiv from ever joining.

In response to the crisis, the US yesterday announced troop deployments that will see a force of 1,700 move from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Poland. Another several hundred will go to Germany.

A further 1,000 US troops from a Stryker squadron already stationed in Germany will be repositioned to Romania.

The Pentagon said the moves, which were not permanent, would happen in the coming days.

The White House added it would no longer describe an invasion of Ukraine as “imminent”, which it has done repeatedly.

Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “We still don’t know that he [Mr Putin] has made a decision.”

The US said it would no longer describe an invasion of Ukraine as The US said it would no longer describe an invasion of Ukraine as “imminent” Credit: Anna Moneymaker/GETTY

Troops going to Poland include members of the US Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division.

‘We stand ready to defend against any aggression’

It raised the possibility they could be used in an evacuation operation from Ukraine. The 82nd Airborne was involved in the evacuation from Kabul last year.

Press secretary John Kirby said: “Our troops are multi-mission capable and they will be prepared for a range of contingencies.”

He added: “These troops are not going to fight in Ukraine. They are going to secure the robust defence of our Nato allies. It sends an unmistakable signal to the world that we stand ready to defend against any aggression. We do not believe conflict is inevitable.”

There “may soon be additional movements” and “this is not the sum total of deterrence action we will take,” he said.

Before Mr Johnson’s phone call with Mr Putin, the Kremlin indicated its unwillingness to compromise by issuing scathing comments about the Prime Minister.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was accused of Russian President Vladimir Putin was accused of “hostile activity” by Boris Johnson Credit: EPA

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said: “It makes sense to speak to anybody. Russia and President Putin are open to communicating with everyone. Even to someone who is utterly confused, he is prepared to provide exhaustive explanations.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused British politicians of “stupidity and ignorance”.

And Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, called British diplomacy “absolutely worthless”.

Meanwhile, Andrey Kelin, the Russian ambassador to the UK, last night told the Daily Telegraph that Anglo-Russian relations are currently “close to zero”.

He said the US troop deployment was “nearly” or “already a violation” of the 1997 Nato-Russia Founding Act governing combat forces.

Mr Kelin said he was concerned Britain would follow with its own fresh military deployment, adding: “It does no good at all.”

UK government sources said “nothing beyond” the Prime Minister’s previous offer to Nato has been established.

Russia-Ukraine crisis over the years

In that offer, Mr Johnson stated that British troops would be sent to help protect countries in eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine.

In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed that the US was willing to talk to Russia about missile deployments in Europe.

El Pais, the Spanish newspaper, published a confidential recent reply from the US to Russia.

In it the US referred to a “transparency mechanism to confirm the absences of Tomahawk cruise missiles at Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland”.

Aegis Ashore is a system for defending against short or intermediate-range missiles.

That would happen if Russia “offers reciprocal transparency measures on two ground-launched missile bases of our choosing in Russia,” the document said.

Confirming the offer Mr Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said: “We have laid out a very serious set of proposals diplomatically to Russia. This document certainly makes clear there is a path forward.”

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