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British PM Warns Kremlin Invading Ukraine Would Be 'Strategic Mistake'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a conference in January 2020.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that any "destabilizing action" by Moscow against Ukraine would be a "strategic mistake" with "significant consequences," a spokesman said.

Johnson "emphasized" to Putin in a December 13 phone call that Britain is committed to "Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," the spokesman said, adding that the prime minister "expressed the United Kingdom's deep concern over the build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine's border, and reiterated the importance of working through diplomatic channels to deescalate tensions and identify durable solutions."

Johnson's remarks echoed concerns expressed by foreign ministers from the Group of Seven leading economies about Russia's buildup of military forces on its border with Ukraine. The G7 ministers urged a diplomatic solution to the standoff.

Russian media quoted the Kremlin on December 13 as saying that Putin and Johnson agreed to continue talks through different channels.

The phone call came amid high tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Officials in Kyiv say they fear a possible Russian invasion.

Russia, which seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backs pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, denies it has any such plan.

Mutual recriminations between Russia and Ukraine have been rising for weeks.

Washington says it believes Russia may be planning to use alleged "provocations" by Ukraine to justify military aggression.

Ukraine on November 26 accused Russia of being behind an alleged coup plot against President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which the Kremlin denied.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Reuters, AP, AFP, RIA Novosti, and TASS