British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is heading to eastern Europe amid the crisis in Ukraine, Downing Street said Monday, as it backtracked on a claim that the goal of Western sanctions is to topple Russian President Vladimir Putin. Johnson will on Tuesday visit Poland and Estonia, two NATO allies bordering Russia where Britain has been stepping up military support. London’s tough talk was blamed by the Kremlin for provoking Putin into raising the readiness level of Russia’s nuclear forces — a claim dismissed by UK officials as risible. Johnson’s spokesman raised eyebrows when he told a daily briefing that the swingeing set of sanctions imposed by Britain, Europe and the United States was intended “to bring down the Putin regime”. Downing Street said that he had misspoken, and the spokesman had sought to clarify his comments at the briefing: “What we’re talking about here clearly is how we stop Russia seeking to subjugate a democratic country. “That’s been the message throughout.” In his latest call with Ukraine’s President VolodymyrZelensky on Sunday evening, Johnson praised the “heroic” resistance of Ukrainians, according to Downing Street. The prime minister released a further £40 million ($54 million) in humanitarian aid for Ukraine, after giving an emotional address at London’s Ukrainian Catholic cathedral. “Never in all my study, my memory of politics and international affairs, have I seen so clear a distinction between right and wrong, between good and evil, between light and dark,” he told the congregation. “And that is the real reason why Ukraine is our neighbour today,” he said, calling Russia’s invasion a “colossal mistake”. However, the UK government has come under strong pressure from opposition parties for its restrictive stance on refugees from Ukraine, as the European Union debates throwing open its own doors. In a tweet that was later deleted, junior Home Office minister Kevin Foster had suggested that Ukrainians could apply to come to Britain as seasonal workers, to pick fruit and vegetables. In a concession, the government said that immediate family members could now join their Ukrainian relatives in Britain. The opposition Labour party welcomed the concession but said it “should have happened days ago”, and urged the post-Brexit government to work with its former partners in the EU on a Europe-wide approach. While pledging support for the people of Ukraine, Britain has also been turning the financial screw on the Putin regime in concert with its Western allies. The government is set to introduce legislation to crack down on Russian “dirty money” in the UK economy, and said that Moscow would also find it harder to access its foreign reserves. In parallel with the EU and United States, Britain is banning its citizens and companies from carrying out transactions with Russia’s central bank, finance ministry and sovereign wealth fund. On the military front, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Russia’s advance into Ukraine was running into trouble. “There are many reports of Russians either sort of deserting or surrendering,” he told BBC radio.