Daniel Kawczynski has predicted Mr Putin’s defence minister, Sergei Lavrov, will humiliate Mrs Merkel’s representatives on the subject at the first opportunity – just as he did with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell earlier this year. Videos widely circulated on social media have shown large numbers of tanks and other materiel on roads close to Ukraine’s eastern border, as well as other clips showing equipment headed for Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
Mrs Merkel voiced her concerns during a telephone conversation with Mr Putin yesterday.
However, Mr Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, suggested the planned construction of the gas pipeline, running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, inevitably reduced the impact of anything Germany’s Chancellor might have had to say.
Mr Kawczynski, who was born in neighbouring Poland, told Express.co.uk: “Merkel’s warm words are meaningless when Germany under her leadership is prepared to endanger the security of fellow NATO partners by selfishly building this pipeline directly to Russia.
Mr Kawczynski was referring to Mr Borrell’s disastrous meeting with Mr Lavrov in February, when the EU High Representative sat awkwardly as his host described the bloc as an “unreliable partner”.
A statement issued by the German government said: “Among other things, the conversation was about the strengthened Russian military presence in the environs of East Ukraine.
“The Chancellor demanded that this build-up be unwound in order to de-escalate the situation.”
The case of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is currently ill in a Russian penal colony and who is demanding access to independent medical advice, was also raised, the statement added.
Germany is not the only Western power to voice concern about Russia’s build-up of troops.
The United States is increasingly alarmed about what it sees as escalating Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, and is discussing Russian troop movements with its NATO allies, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday.
Referring to the period when Russia annexed Crimea, Mrs Psaki told reporters: “Russia now has more troops on the border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014.”
The United States was discussing its concerns about regional tensions and ceasefire violations with NATO allies, she added.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab discussed the situation with Ukrainian opposite number Dmytro Kuleba last week.
Afterwards, he tweeted: “I reaffirmed UK support for Ukraine’s sovereignty & territorial integrity in my call [email protected] today.
“We are gravely concerned about Russian military activity which threatens Ukraine #CrimeaisUkraine.”