LONDON (Reuters) – British defence minister Ben Wallace is returning from a holiday overseas to deal with what he called the “worsening” crisis in Ukraine as he warned that Russia could invade within days.
Wallace had planned to spend a long weekend abroad with his family after visiting Moscow last week for diplomatic talks. ITV News said the minister announced the change of plans after one of its journalist spotted him at a European resort and the broadcaster sought comment from the Ministry of Defence.
“Having returned from Moscow early on Saturday morning and because we are concerned about the worsening situation in Ukraine I have cancelled a planned long weekend abroad with my family and will be returning,” Wallace said on Twitter.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced calls to sack his then foreign minister, Dominic Raab, and other senior officials after they went on holiday during the summer when the Taliban captured Afghanistan capital Kabul and the British government struggled to evacuate its citizens.
Raab later said he regretted not returning from his holiday. He was demoted to justice minister in a cabinet reshuffle a month later.
Wallace told the Sunday Times that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “highly likely” and the size of its military presence on the Ukraine border meant Moscow could “launch an offensive at any time”.
He also cautioned against pinning too much hope on talks, saying there was “a whiff of Munich in the air from some in the West”, referring to a 1938 pact that failed to halt German expansionism under Adolf Hitler.
“The worrying thing is that, despite the massive amount of increased diplomacy, that military build-up has continued,” he told the newspaper.
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by David Goodman)