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Ben Wallace said he was cancelling a family holiday today amid fears over the ‘worsening situation’ in Ukraine. 

The Defence Secretary announced on Twitter he was returning to London – after last night warning that Russian forces could strike their neighbour at short notice.

An estimated 130,000 Russian troops and heavy firepower has been amassed along Ukraine’s border by Vladimir Putin in recent weeks.

The potential invasion force prompted the US and the UK, along with other European nations, to warn their citizens to leave the country while they still can.

On Twitter this morning, Mr Wallace, a father of three, 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.’

His comments could also be seen as a way of putting clean air between himself and former foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was criticised last year for remaining on a Mediterranean holiday as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban. 

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.’ 

The Defence Secretary announced on Twitter he was returning to London - after last night warning that Russian forces could strike their neighbour at short notice.

The Defence Secretary announced on Twitter he was returning to London - after last night warning that Russian forces could strike their neighbour at short notice.

The Defence Secretary announced on Twitter he was returning to London – after last night warning that Russian forces could strike their neighbour at short notice.

Mr Raab admitted being ‘caught off-guard’ by the Taliban rampage while staying at a luxury Crete hotel.

He was staying at the five-star Amirandes Hotel before belatedly jetting back into Britain to help deal with what has been described as the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez.

He insisted that he did not spend ‘all day lounging on the beach’ as militants swept through Kabul, saying he took part in a series of meetings from his hotel and only went outside to see his family ‘episodically’. 

At the same time, Foreign Office permanent secretary Sir Philip Barton had enjoyed a two-week break in a chateau in the heart of the Dordogne – one of the most picturesque regions of France.

In December he  told shocked MPs he stayed on holiday for 11 days after the dramatic fall of Kabul – as he admitted there are ‘lessons to be learned’ from the Afghanistan debacle.   

During an extraordinary committee hearing, Sir Philip revealed that he was on leave from August 9 and did not return until August 26, nearly two weeks after the government collapsed and handed the Taliban control. 

He refused to say where he was on holiday, but disclosed that it was partly in the UK and partly abroad – trying to play down the impact on the crisis response by saying he had put cover in place. He refused to confirm whether or not he was still in the UK when the evacuation began.

Mr Raab admitted being ‘caught off-guard’ by the Taliban rampage while staying at a luxury Crete hotel. He was staying at the five-star Amirandes Hotel before belatedly jetting back into Britain to help deal with what has been described as the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez.

Mr Raab admitted being ‘caught off-guard’ by the Taliban rampage while staying at a luxury Crete hotel. He was staying at the five-star Amirandes Hotel before belatedly jetting back into Britain to help deal with what has been described as the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez.

Mr Raab admitted being ‘caught off-guard’ by the Taliban rampage while staying at a luxury Crete hotel. He was staying at the five-star Amirandes Hotel before belatedly jetting back into Britain to help deal with what has been described as the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez.

Sir Philip Barton

Sir Philip Barton

Tory MP Alicia Kearns

Tory MP Alicia Kearns

During an extraordinary committee hearing, Sir Philip Barton (left) revealed that he did not return from a break until August 26, nearly two weeks after the government collapsed and handed the Taliban control. He was slammed by MPs including Tory Alicia Kearns (right)

Speaking in an interview with the Sunday Times today, Mr Wallace added that there is a ‘whiff of Munich in the air’ – an apparent reference to the 1938 agreement that allowed Germany to annex the Sudetenland in the hope that it would prevent the outbreak of war.

Just a year later, the Second World War began when Hitler invaded Poland, with Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s efforts to preserve peace left in tatters

On Friday, the Foreign Office updated its advice to tell UK nationals to ‘leave now while commercial means are still available’ amid mounting concerns they could get caught up in fighting – including a deadly ‘aerial bombardment of Kiev’.

Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Lewis told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme that the West must realise Russia could ‘move very quick’ despite diplomatic efforts to prevent an invasion of Ukraine.

But he also defended diplomatic action so far, saying it had probably already delayed a strike into Ukraine from Moscow forces.

Discussing Mr Wallace’s comparison with appeasement in the late 1930s, Mr Lewis said: ‘If you look back to that period of time there was a lot of diplomatic engagement, there was an optimism at the time actually that there may be a diplomatic way through.

‘That eventually turned out not to be the case. It turned out that wasn’t the intent or aim of Adolf Hitler at the time.

‘What he’s [Mr Wallace] drawing comparison with is we hope that the conversation that he’s had that the Foreign Secretary and others… has a positive outcome and Russia does work through and find a diplomatic peaceful way out of this.

‘But he’s expressing that concern that we’ve got to also understand the reality that while they’re having these diplomatic conversations Russia has continued to move troops, we’ve got about 130,000 troops on the borders, and therefore we’ve got to be cognisant of the reality they could move very quick.’

Speaking later on Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme, Mr Lewis said: ‘We will bring in more sanctions, that is what one of the repercussions will be… we already have some sanctions against Russia already.

‘We have already taken the power in last week or so with the statutory instrument in Parliament to allow the UK to put more sanctions in place.

‘I spent most of last week in the United states… what is very clear is that the United States are absolutely unified in this approach to ensure that we do not see an incursion and that if Russia does take that kind of activity then there will be repercussions.’

Source: Daily Mail

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