British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says his country is ready to consider hosting US cruise missiles in an alleged bid to counter “worrying signs” from Russia’s military plans.
"We would look at the case. We work extremely closely with the Americans. That would be a decision that we would make together if that proposition was on the table. We would look at all the pros and the cons and come to a conclusion," said Hammond during an interview with state-funded BBC on Sunday.
"I think it is right to be concerned about the way the Russians are developing what they call asymmetric warfare doctrine … There have been some worrying signs of stepping up levels of activity both by Russian forces and by Russian-controlled separatist forces,” the British official stated in reference to the pro-Russians in eastern Ukraine.
Hammond once again accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of heightening the tensions in eastern Ukraine, threatening to slap further sanctions against Moscow.
“As we go into the G7 meeting and then to the European Council later this month renewing sanctions, we have got to send very clear signals to the Russians that we will not tolerate any breach of their obligations under Minsk," he said, referring to the fragile ceasefire deal aimed at ending the deadly conflict between Kiev and pro-Russia forces.
Hammond, however, stressed that the anti-Russian moves are supposed to act as warnings, saying Britain and its allies do not aim to “provoke” Moscow.
“We have got to send a clear signal to Russia that we will not allow them to transgress our red lines… At the same time, we have to recognize that the Russians do have a sense of being surrounded and under attack and we don't want to make unnecessary provocations.” the British diplomat pointed out.
On Wednesday, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth reiterated earlier allegations about Moscow’s role in the Ukrainian conflict, vowing to “maintain pressure on Russia to respect territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
Hammond’s remarks came a day after Putin lashed out at certain countries for propagating anti-Russian sentiments in the world, saying Moscow has no plan to wage war against NATO member states.
“I think that only an insane person and only in a dream can imagine that Russia would suddenly attack NATO. I think some countries are simply taking advantage of people’s fears with regard to Russia,” Putin stated in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, adding that "there is no need to fear Russia.”
The conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine after people in Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for reunification with Russia in March 2014. The situation exacerbated after Kiev dispatched troops to the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in April 2014 in an attempt to quell pro-Russia protests there.