British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace said Russia is “very likely” to launch an attack on Ukraine, despite ongoing diplomatic efforts to avoid the war, so families in Europe I left my vacation early.
Wallace said on Twitter Sunday morning that he would return home with his wife and children from a long scheduled weekend in Europe, “because of concerns that the situation in Ukraine is deteriorating.”
He returned to England from Moscow early on Saturday, so he only started his vacation a day ago.
British officials, including then Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, were severely criticized last August for going on vacation when the Taliban hijacked Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
Raab later said he regretted not returning from his vacation. He was demoted to justice minister in a cabinet reshuffle a month later.
An estimated 130,000 Russian troops are rallying along the Ukrainian border, but Moscow claims it has no intention of invading.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Wallace said Russian President Vladimir Putin “can launch an attack at any time.”
“He just switches off the tank and we may all go home, but there’s Munich air from somewhere in the west,” he added.
The Munich Agreement was a 1938 agreement that allowed Britain and France to annex the Sudetenland region to Nazi Germany. It was an appeasement policy, but in the end it couldn’t prevent World War II.
Ukrainian officials expressed concern as the reference to Munich seemed to be a critique of the ongoing diplomatic promotion to prevent the war.
“It’s not the best time to offend our global partners,” Ukrainian British ambassador Vadym Prystaiko told the BBC.
Prestico also warned that the panic caused by the alarming West could be in Putin’s hands.
“There is a panic not only in people’s hearts, but also in financial markets,” he added, warning that “it is hurting the Ukrainian economy.”
However, Government Minister Brandon Lewis argued that Wallace did not criticize his European allies in Munich’s remarks.
The Defense Minister said he expressed concern about the reality that “Russia continues to move its troops during these diplomatic conversations.”
The Northern Ireland secretary told the BBC, “We must be aware of the reality that they can move very fast.”
PA Media and Reuters contributed to this report.