The war in Ukraine will be longer if the UK continues to supply President Zelenskyy’s forces with weapons, the Russian ambassador to London has told Sky News.
Andrei Kelin told Sky’s Dermot Murnaghan that UK-supplied weapons are now being used to shell civilians in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
He said: “The conflict will end and… may end pretty soon because… the UK will understand that there is no possibility to win over Russia.
“The conflict will be prolonged if the UK will continue to supply arms, which are now being used also for shelling cities and civilian people in Donbas and in other areas.
“And the more the UK will send weapons, the longer Ukrainian… authorities [will] continue the conflict.”
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In June, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain had bought and was refurbishing more than 20 long-range 155mm calibre guns from a Belgian arms firm to send to Ukraine, but it is not known if they have been delivered or are being used.
He and other defence ministers have also confirmed multiple rocket launchers and short-range missile systems would also be sent and Ukrainian soldiers have received training in the UK on a range of weapons.
But Sky News has had no independent confirmation that any of the weapons supplied have resulted in civilian deaths.
Mr Kelin added the new UK government, when it is formed after the election of a new Conservative leader, should be realistic in its policy regarding Ukraine as “the conflict will not continue forever”.
He denied lying when he told Sky News in January that Russia has no intention to invade Ukraine, insisting that he said only what he knew “at that moment”.
He described UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s steadfast support for the Ukrainian government’s attempt to fend off the Russian invasion as “totally wrong”.
He said: “This is a miscalculation, a strategic miscalculation, of what is happening over there, because… Russia is winning and winning pretty quickly.
“UK is trying to supply weapons to Ukraine, but the longer it will supply weapons to Ukraine, the more suffering of Ukraine it will be.
“It is clear by now that Ukraine is losing ground and [we are] gaining ground in Donbas… For me, it is interesting what will be the exit strategy of UK government if it will continue to repeat that Ukraine should prevail? It is simply unrealistic.”
When asked about the war crimes that some of the Conservative leadership candidates have in the past accused Russia of having committed, he said it was Ukraine that had been committing war crimes.
He continued: “First and foremost, we have a record of crimes that has been committed during eight years when Ukrainians were bombing Donbas, shelling innocent people over there, killing peaceful citizens.
“And they continue to do the same now… in Donbas specifically. It continues for eight years. We have this record and we will apply to that.
“We have a long record of Ukrainian crimes committed during, after [the] coup d’etat over there and during the civil war.“
Despite this, on Thursday, more than 40 US and European judicial authorities agreed to coordinate investigations into suspected Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
On the issue of ships being unable to reach Black Sea ports due to the Russian blockade, he said it was Ukraine’s responsibility to remove the mines that were preventing the shipments getting through.
His comments came as Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations worked on a deal aimed at resuming Ukraine’s grain exports.
Mr Kelin said he was confident a deal would be done to allow grain ships to get through.
He said: “The merchant ships will be escorted, I do think, and this now on the negotiation table, but probably [the] Turks will take part in it. We are establishing a control centre in Turkey right now for this.”
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Asked about whether Russia will weaponise gas supplies to Europe in the autumn, Mr Kelin said it was the EU’s decision to reduce its reliance on Russian gas, not the Kremlin’s.
There are growing fears that ongoing gas shortages could tip Europe into a deep recession – the signs of which are already emerging.
He said: “This is European Union who said by the year 2030, I think, they will totally minimize consumption of gas, oil and energy from Russia and by this year they will terminate it.
“So they are gradually reducing consumption of our energy sources.
“Now, of course, we would like to fulfil all our contracts… We have a reputation [as a] reliable supplier and we will continue to supply it. But on the other hand, we should also take measures to find some alternatives, because by the time they are reducing it, we need to find other markets for this.”
The full interview will be on Sky News Tonight with Dermot Murnaghan at 8.30pm tonight.