TORY Health Secretary Sajid Javid has defended his colleague Priti Patel after she claimed it would be “naive” not to suspect that some of the women and children fleeing Ukraine were Russian agents plotting “to strike at our very way of life”.

The Home Secretary has previously been accused of echoing the rhetoric of Donald Trump after she claimed that the UK could not waive visa requirements for Ukrainians as Russian troops could be “infiltrating” their numbers.

The Scottish Refugee Council previously said it was "unacceptable to be casting suspicion on these people ... who are only trying to reach safety".

READ MORE: Priti Patel 'deliberately' echoing Donald Trump in refusal to waive Ukraine visas

The UN’s refugee agency believes more than 3.3 million people have fled Ukraine since the Russian invasion on February 24, 90% of them women or children.

However, Patel has since doubled down on the rhetoric, telling the Conservatives’ “Spring Forum” over the weekend it would be “naive and misguided” not to think Vladimir Putin would try to use women and children to infiltrate the UK.

She said “a very small number of people can wreak utter havoc” and “Russia has a history of covert, hostile activity”.

“There are those who would come to this country who mean us harm, and who plot to strike at our very way of life.

“The processes that we have put in place closely follow the advice of our intelligence and security services. They mean we can help Ukrainians in need, without making our country less safe.”

The National: File photo dated 08/02/22 of Health Secretary Sajid Javid who has pledged to recruit 15,000 new health workers by the end of March as the Government warned the NHS waiting list in England will not start to fall for another two years and could even double

Asked about the comments, Javid (above) defended Patel, saying: “We know the Russians have done that.” He pointed to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

He said: “They did it in 2018, when I had her job, and we saw in our country Russian agents came here with a deadly nerve agent, a chemical weapon, and they used it in Salisbury. We know it killed people and Russia was directly responsible for that.

“They infiltrated our country with agents, with a chemical weapon, and used it and so it is right there are some level of security checks. We also know that extremists and extremist organisations operate in that region.”

Javid was told the Russian agents in the Salisbury attack travelled on a Russian passport and a tourist visa. He was therefore asked how the checks on Ukrainian refugees made sense.

“It wouldn’t make sense to get into detail about how our checks work precisely, but I think most people would understand that we do what we can to protect our homeland,” he said.

“Of course, the level of security checks has to be proportionate to the issues that we’re dealing with.”

British prosecutors have announced charges against three suspects in the 2018 Salisbury poisonings, Denis Sergeev (who used the alias Sergey Fedotov), Alexander Mishkin (alias: Alexander Petrov), and Anatoliy Chepiga (alias: Ruslan Boshirov).

Patel previously told Parliament that should any of these three ever travel outwith Russia then the UK and its international allies would “take every possible step to detain and extradite them to face justice”.

Asked if there could be any element of danger involved in letting Ukrainian refugees enter the UK without a visa, SNP MP Anne McLaughlin previously told The National: “There’s always a risk, there’s a risk whatever we do.

"But I think the far greater risk is to the whole of humanity if we just turn our backs on these people.”