Norfolk MP Liz Truss at centre of nuclear alert claims

Newly-appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss leaves Number 10 Downing Street, as Prime Minister Boris

Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street after being appointed Foreign Secretary in September - Credit: PA

Norfolk MP and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has found herself at the centre of the latest developments in the Ukraine conflict amid claims Vladimir Putin put Russia's nuclear forces on high alert after her comments.

The Russian president said he had placed Moscow's nuclear forces on a "special regime of combat duty" in response to "aggressive statements" from members of the Nato defence alliance.

Today, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov went further on Monday to blame the escalation during Moscow's invasion of Ukraine on Ms Truss, who represents South-West Norfolk.

Ms Truss has also drawn criticism after she told the BBC that she would support people in joining the struggle in Ukraine.

"Statements were made by various representatives at various levels on possible altercations or even collisions and clashes between Nato and Russia," he told a press briefing, the Interfax news agency reported.

"We believe that such statements are absolutely unacceptable. I would not call the authors of these statements by name, although it was the British foreign minister."

It was not immediately clear what statements the Kremlin was referring to.

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An ally of Ms Truss told Press Association: "Nothing Liz has said warrants that sort of escalation. It's clearly designed to distract from the situation on the ground in Ukraine."

They said that Ms Truss has always discussed Nato in the context of it being a defensive alliance, that she stands by Article 5 stating an attack against one ally is an attack on all and that "we must do everything we can to help Ukraine short of putting boots on the ground".
"We take it very seriously and want to keep the situation calm," the ally of Ms Truss added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sparked widespread condemnation for sending military forces into Ukraine. - Credit: AP

Downing Street also said the comments from Mr Peskov were an attempt to distract from Russia's difficulties in the Ukraine campaign.

"It remains the case that the rhetoric we are seeing from Putin's regime is designed to distract from the situation on the ground, that is very much our focus," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

British and US officials have played down Mr Putin's nuclear threat as it is unclear how his order changes Russia's nuclear posture.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed the alert as a "distraction" from the struggle Russian troops are facing amid fierce resistance in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in light of Ms Truss' comments, defence secretary Ben Wallace has since said she was suggesting untrained people should travel to Ukraine.

Downing Street said the "best way" the UK could help Ukraine was by ensuring Mr Putin "fails" in his invasion of Ukraine.