Ukraine crisis: Mick Antoniw defends solidarity trip to Kyiv

Welsh Government minister Mick Antoniw has defended his decision to travel to Ukraine despite official UK Government advice warning against travel to the country.

Mr Antoniw is joined in Kyiv by Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price in an effort to show solidarity with workers and minorities as the country continues to be shadowed by the possibility of a Russian invasion.

There are fears that Russia, which currently has over 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine, could invade the country imminently and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office has said that British nationals should leave while commercial options remain.

However, Mr Antoniw, who was born in Ukraine and has family members still living in the country, told ITV Wales his trip is justified.

"I have a particular interest because of my Ukrainian background, because I have family here, this is something that is very much at the heart of me," he said.

"For both Adam [Price] and myself, at the end of the day we felt what is most important is to show that solidarity in a real sense.

"I understand fully the foreign office advice for people leaving and that's right for diplomats and so on, but I think as politicians sometimes you have to stand up and be counted and be seen to be counted.

"That's why we are here. We aren't taking any unnecessary risks, and what is important at this time is engaging with Ukrainian politicians and Ukrainian people saying 'look, we are with you, we are not abandoning you and you have our solidarity'."

Boris Johnson has warned that Russia appears to be planning the "biggest war in Europe since 1945", after Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Vladimir Putin for a meeting to discuss his demands.

The prime minister told world leaders on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would spark a “generation of bloodshed and misery" - while President Putin oversaw nuclear drills alongside Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Mr Antoniw confirmed there are contingency evacuation plans in place if needed and confirmed that he is in the country in a personal capacity and not representing the Welsh Governemnt.

"Foreign affairs are not a devolved matter and I am here in a personal capacity.

"I hope that my position as a Senedd Member and as a politician means people may listen to what I have to say.

"There is a lot of propaganda and misinformation that is being put out there coming from Russian sources.

"This is nothing to do with Nato, it is nothing to do with Russian speakers. In fact, nearly all of the Russian speakers I have been speaking to are coming out now and saying they are ready to defend Ukraine.

"This is purely about Russia's empire-building, trying to create a Greater Russia."