Britain said on Tuesday (10 February) it was keeping under review a decision not to arm Ukraine to help it fight Russian-backed separatists, saying it couldn't allow the Ukrainian armed forces to collapse.

"It is a national decision of each country in the Nato alliance to decide whether to supply lethal aid to Ukraine. The UK is not planning to do so but we reserve the right to keep this position under review. Different members of the alliance take nuanced positions on this question and are entitled to do so.

"However, we share a clear understanding that while there is no military solution to this conflict we could not allow the Ukrainian armed forces to collapse," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told Parliament. "The UK is not planning to do so but we reserve the right to keep this position under review."

Hammond also told Parliament that while sanctions against Russia were intended to hurt the aim was not to cause a collapse in the country's economy.

"There are a number of perfectly robust allies who are now beginning to be slightly concerned about the scale of damage that is being inflicted on Russia's economy. We want to hurt the Russians, we want them to pay a price for their aggression in Ukraine but we do not want the Russian economy to collapse and there is now just a concern about the scale of damage being inflicted."

He also said that international support for Ukraine needed to be made conditional on it reducing corruption.

"The Ukraine is going to need massive international support but that cannot be delivered unconditionally. We cannot pour our taxpayers', our international financial institutions' money into the sink of corruption that is frankly the Ukrainian economy at the moment. They have to make progress on sorting out the endemic corruption that exists in the country if we are going to be able to support them to a better economic future."

Hammond added that Britain and Germany are actively discussing maintaining and extending European Union sanctions on Russia in case there is no breakthrough in the Ukrainian peace process soon, saying he favoured rolling over the existing measures until the end of the year.