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The Foreign Secretary William Hague has expressed grave concern about Crimea and recent events in the east of Ukraine.
Speaking after answering questions on Ukraine in the House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary said:
The UK government is gravely concerned about the situation in Crimea and in the east of Ukraine, where armed groups seized government buildings in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lugansk. There can be no justification for this action, which bears all the hallmarks of a Russian strategy to destabilise Ukraine. Russia should be clear that a deliberate and further escalation of the crisis will bring serious political and economic consequences. I commend the Ukrainian Government for their clear and determined response so far.
The European Council has asked the Commission to draw up far reaching sanctions in the event of further escalation by Russia. It is alarming that President Putin has already sought authority to send armed forces into any part of Ukraine. Russia should be clear that the UK will consider any armed Russian presence in eastern Ukraine as a further and deliberate escalation.
We will be assessing events in eastern Ukraine carefully over the coming days. The strength and unity of the EU is vital for upholding a rules-based international system, and the Prime Minister and I have stressed to European partners the need to accelerate measures that will reduce European dependence on Russian gas. We are also convening an urgent meeting of G7 energy Ministers to discuss energy security ahead of the G7 Summit in June.
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