The United Kingdom defense secretary refuted on Sunday, Oct.23, Russian claims that the United Kingdom and its allies are preparing to assist Ukraine in escalating the conflict.
In a phone call with Ben Wallace, his Russian equivalent, Sergei Shoigu, claimed that Ukraine was “planning actions facilitated by Western countries, including the UK,” to “escalate the conflict in Ukraine.”
However, the defense ministry stated in a brief, simple and direct official statement following the call that “The Defense Secretary refuted these claims.”
The statement claimed that although the call had been conducted in a “professional and respectful manner,” Mr. Wallace had cautioned Mr. Shoigu against using the allegations as “a pretext for further escalation.”
The conversation followed Mr. Shoigu’s second phone call with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in three days.
This comes after Mr. Shoigu and his French counterpart had a similar discussion, also on Oct. 23, during which he warned that the situation in Ukraine was rapidly deteriorating and headed for “uncontrolled escalation.”
Moscow was concerned that Ukraine might use a “dirty bomb” in the conflict, he said, expressing this concern to Sebastien Lecornu, the French defense minister.
Some Russian nationalists have cited Mr. Shoigu as the reason Moscow has suffered downfalls since the invasion on Feb. 24 and, more recently, as the reason for Ukraine’s quick gains in the northeastern Kharkiv region, where thousands of square kilometers of previously occupied Russian territory were quickly reclaimed by Ukraine.
Mr. Wallace also reaffirmed the UK’s and the international community’s support for Ukraine in his call on Sunday, as well as his desire to de-escalate the situation.
“It is for Ukraine and Russia to seek resolution to the war and the UK stands ready to assist,” his statement continued.