Vladimir Putin “does not give a s**t” about sanctions and will react with strength if he is pushed, a Russian diplomat said.
Viktor Tatarintsev, Russia’s ambassador to Sweden, issued the warning in an interview with the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.
It comes after more than a dozen countries told their citizens to leave Ukraine as the risk of war with Russia rises.
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A staggering 130,000 Russian troops are massed on Ukraine’s border, fuelling fears of an imminent invasion.
Western countries have warned of crippling sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine, however, Mr Tatarintsev dismissed these threats.
He said: “Excuse my language, but we don’t give a s**t about all their sanctions. We have already had so many sanctions and in that sense, they’ve had a positive effect on our economy and agriculture.
“We are more self-sufficient and have been able to increase our exports. We have no Italian or Swiss cheeses, but we’ve learned to make just as good Russian cheeses using Italian and Swiss recipes.”
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Today Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis said a Russian invasion could be “imminent”.
Speaking on Sunday: “We have to be realistic about Russia having 100,000 troops now roughly on the border that an imminent incursion by Russia is entirely possible.”
His comments echo Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s warning from last night.
He said during an interview that Putin could “strike at any time”.
Mr Wallace said there is a “whiff of Munich in the air”, in an apparent reference to the agreement that allowed German annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938 but failed to prevent the Second World War.
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The Cabinet minister, who this week flew to Moscow as part of the frantic spell of diplomacy, shared his concerns as US President Joe Biden warned his Russian counterpart an attack would cause “widespread human suffering”.
During an hour-long phone call, Mr Biden told the Russian president an attack would “diminish Russia’s standing” as heightened fears of an attack caused western nations including Britain to urge citizens to flee Ukraine.
During the interview, Mr Wallace said that Moscow could “launch an offensive at any time”, with an estimated 130,000 Russian troops and heavy firepower amassed along Ukraine’s border.
“It may be that he (Putin) just switches off his tanks and we all go home but there is a whiff of Munich in the air from some in the West,” he added.
A source explained that Mr Wallace’s concerns that if Mr Putin strikes “come what may, then all the diplomacy would have been a straw man”.
US officials have discussed receiving intelligence that Russia is considering Wednesday as a target date to strike, but it was unclear how definitive the intelligence was.
Today, Mr Wallace revealed on Twitter on Sunday afternoon that he would end a planned half-term break with his wife and three children.
He said: “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.”
Mr Wallace only arrived in the undisclosed country on Saturday, having travelled there following diplomatic talks in Moscow.
It is understood Mr Wallace had accepted he would be leaving the trip early before heading there, rather than the decision coming in light of new information.
A senior defence source said: “As events worsen, the Secretary of State has cut short a planned long weekend with his children for half-term.”
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