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More than one million Ukrainians ‘evacuated’ to Russia, claims Kremlin

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Sir Alex Younger, the former head of MI6, has said that peace talks would be “very difficult” to achieve in Ukraine if Vladimir Putin succeeds in his military aims in the east of the country.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Alex said: “Putin does not have a reverse gear, he never has. He underestimated the scale of what he was taking on, but he has now modified his approach, arguably now his objectives are more realistic and he is not going to give up.

“I think it’s key for all of us to understand the long-term and intractable nature of the conflict that’s taking place, and that is a tragedy for the Ukrainian people”.

When asked what would happen if Russia start winning in eastern Ukraine, Sir Alex said: “It’s clear that that is the Russian plan. They seek to essentially capture the Donbas, establish a land-bridge to Crimea, before any sincere engagement in a peace conversation. That is obviously the plan.

“It is clearly in our interests to ensure he is not in a position to enter any political discussion from a position of strength, and I think any progress the Ukrainian forces make in slowing him down or ideally stopping him will be positive news for us.

“If he does succeed militarily in the terms he has set out, there will then be a very difficult peace conversation, and I doubt that either the Ukrainian government or Western powers would be able to come to any form of sensible agreement with him”.

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