BORIS Johnson has pledged British troops will be sent to protect Nato allies in Europe while promising “heavier than ever” sanctions on Russia, should it invade Ukraine. 

The Prime Minister told the Commons on Tuesday he had coordinated a package of sanctions with Nato leaders, including the French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

At a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Prime Minister updated ministers on a call with allies on Monday.

Some 100,000 Russian troops have been sent to the country’s border with Ukraine. 

Johnson said: "Last night I held a virtual meeting with President Biden, President Macron, Chancellor Scholz, President Duda, Prime Minister Draghi, General-Secretary Stoltenberg, President Michel and President von der Leyen.

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“We agreed that we would respond in unison to any Russian attack on Ukraine, in unison by imposing co-ordinated and severe economic sanctions heavier than anything we have done before against Russia."

In response to a call from Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the Defence Select Committee, to send Nato troops to Ukraine to deter a Russian invasion, Johnson replied defensive weapons and training had been given to Ukrainian troops but it was economic sanctions that would “hurt” Russia. 

Ellwood, a former soldier, called on Nato troops being sent to Ukraine itself but the Prime Minister said this would be unlikely as it is not a Nato member. 

Ellwood said: "The threat of sanctions will not deter a Russian aggression, and a total or even partial invasion will have severe economic and security consequences felt right across Europe and beyond.

"It is not to late to mobilise a sizeable Nato presence in Ukraine, utilising the superior hard power the alliance possesses to make Putin think twice about invading another European democracy.”

Johnson replied: "I have to tell him that I don’t believe that to be a likely prospect in the near term. Ukraine is not a member of Nato. But what we can do, and what we are doing is sending troops to support Ukraine.”

He faced a number of calls to crack down on “dirty Russian money” being laundered in Britain.

But the Prime Minister would not commit to introducing new measures, pointing to those already in place such as unexplained wealth orders. 

SNP MP Alison Thewliss said the Government was “happy” with the low level of unexplained wealth orders handed out because Russian money “ended up in the coffers” of the Tory party. Johnson denied the party took foreign donations. 

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss earlier on Tuesday failed to rule out British troops being sent to Ukraine, only telling MPs such a scenario is “unlikely”. 

Conservative MP James Gray asked in the Commons: “Are there any circumstances under which she could see British troops being deployed in a combat role defending Ukraine?”

Truss replied: “As the Defence Secretary has already said, it is unlikely that that would be the circumstance.

“But what we are doing is working very hard to make sure that Ukraine has the defensive weapons it needs, that it has the training it needs – we’ve trained 20,000 Ukrainian personnel – and also that it has the support of the international community; we’re pushing our allies very hard to make sure they are offering similar defensive support.”

Truss has pledged a “very severe package of sanctions” against Russia should it invade Ukraine. 

She said: “We will be making sure that we have the wherewithal to have a very severe package of sanctions in the case of any Russian incursion into Ukraine.

“And we’ve been working with allies like the United States, like France and Germany, to put that together, that’s why we brought people together at the G7 in Liverpool where we said there would be severe economic consequences of an incursion into Ukraine.

“It’s important at this moment that we see all of our partners around the world step up. We are leading by example but we want to see others follow that example.”

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There has been speculation Russian President Vladimir Putin could avoid invading Ukraine because of concerns about his popularity. 

The former head of the British Army, General Richard Dannatt, said Putin may avoid military action if it results in losses for the Russian Army, damaging his domestic approval. 

Dannatt believes “the Ukrainians will fight and fight hard”, and that would mean Russian fatalities and casualties.

He told Times Radio: “He is very powerful but he does not have universal popularity. There is quite an opposition movement to him.

“If Russian television screens get filled with body bags and casualties coming back from a bloody incursion in Ukraine, that will damage his popularity and damage his standing as opposed to boosting his position – so he has got a calculation to make.”