“Just as to be frank, providing the Russians don’t target civilians – which unfortunately they’ve not taken too much regard for thus far – it is perfectly legitimate for them to be striking targets in western Ukraine to disrupt Ukrainian supply lines,” Mr Heappey told BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme.
His intervention came after Russia’s foreign minister accused Nato of fighting a “proxy war” in Ukraine and warned that the danger of conflict risked escalating into a third world war.
Western governments have been pouring weapons, including heavy artillery and tanks, into Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on Feb 24.
In an interview with Russian media, Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was striving to prevent nuclear war.
“This is our key position on which we base everything. The risks now are considerable,” he said. “I would not want to elevate those risks artificially. Many would like that. The danger is serious, real. And we must not underestimate it.”
His comments came after an attack on a government building in Transnistria, a pro-Russian breakaway region of Moldova, sparked fears of the conflict spreading further into Europe.