Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has disclosed that the UK has begun discussions with its international allies about sending modern weaponry to Moldova to protect it from Russia.
She said that she wants to see the country, which is to the south-west of Ukraine, “equipped to Nato standard.”
Moldova is not currently a Nato member and there are concerns that it could be a future target for Vladimir Putin after the Ukraine conflict.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Truss said: “I would want to see Moldova equipped to Nato standard. This is a discussion we’re having with our allies.
“Putin has been absolutely clear about his ambitions to create a greater Russia – and just because his attempts to take Kyiv weren’t successful it doesn’t mean he’s abandoned those ambitions.”
The UK, US, France and Germany have held talks about whether to sign a form of security guarantee for Ukraine to continue providing weaponry and support in the long term.
Truss added: “What we’re working on at the moment is a joint commission with Ukraine and Poland on upgrading Ukrainian defences to Nato standard. So we will scope out what that looks like, what the Ukrainians need. The question then is how do you maintain that over time?
“How do we ensure … that Ukraine is permanently able to defend itself and how do we guarantee that happens? That’s what we are working on at the moment.
“And that also applies to other vulnerable states such as Moldova. Because again, the threat is broader from Russia, we also need to make sure that they are equipped to Nato standards.”
Truss has been criticised in some quarters after announcing earlier this week that the government was planning to table legislation that would nullify parts of the Northern Ireland protocol by exempting some goods moving between Great Britain and Ireland from EU customs checks.
The US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, warned on Thursday that unilateral UK legislation affecting the protocol could endanger British prospects for a free trade deal with the US.
Pelosi said she viewed the protocol as essential to maintaining the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement which minimised border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Meanwhile, João Vale de Almeida, the EU ambassador to the UK, rejected the demand that the agreement be rewritten and argued that little had changed in the past 18 months since the government was threatening to pass the internal markets bill.
However, Truss defended her stance, telling the Telegraph: “What we know is the situation in Northern Ireland is worsening. So the time has come where we have to be resolute, we have to be clear that we are moving ahead to legislate for these solutions.”