Joint article by the British and Ukrainian Foreign Ministers
The UK stands with Ukraine on the path to a free European democracy. We have strengthened it through our trilateral partnership with Poland. Now more than ever, we stand together.
President Zelenskyy and Prime Minister Boris Johnson are united in defending Europe’s security and freedom. We have both forged a close friendship as foreign ministers, seeing Russia and many other issues with one eye.
The partnership between our great nations is based on the fundamental principle that peoples must be free to choose their own future. Yet it is anathema to Vladimir Putin. He feels threatened by the prospect of success in neighboring free democracies like Ukraine, as it risks exposing the failures of authoritarianism. So he is now determined to put out the flame of freedom in Ukraine through all-out war.
To achieve peace and protect our way of life, Ukraine and the free world must remain strong and united. We must ignore the defeatist voices insisting that people are getting tired and offering to sell out Ukraine to end the unrelenting horror quickly.
The Ukrainian people do not have the luxury of feeling tired. Neither does the rest of the free world. Evidence of heinous war crimes continues to mount, from the bombing of innocent Ukrainian civilians to rape, torture and kidnapping.
Russian forces weaponize world hunger by stopping Ukrainian grain exports and stealing crops. Russian proxies breached the Geneva Convention in the way they treat prisoners of war, including British citizens serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
It is therefore imperative that the G7 and NATO demonstrate this week that their commitment to Ukraine will never be outdone by Putin’s determination to take it over. This means increasing and accelerating their supply of heavy weapons, continuing to sanction anyone who is complicit in Putin’s war, and completely cutting off Russian energy imports.
Every weapon delivered will help the Ukrainian people repel Russian forces, retake cities currently under fire like Severodonetsk and Russian-controlled ones like Kherson. Every sanction will help starve Putin’s war machine and save more innocent civilians from a new barbarism. The Ukrainian people fight fearlessly for their homeland. They can win this battle, and will win it with the unwavering support of the free world.
That’s why the UK is at the forefront of supplying heavy weapons. British M270 multiple rocket launcher systems are on their way to help Ukraine defend against long-range Russian artillery. The UK has already provided £1.3 billion in military aid, including anti-tank missiles, air defense systems, armored vehicles and training. The people of Ukraine will forever remember what the UK did in its darkest hours.
The UK is increasing its sanctions, with new legislation this week on a series of trade bans, with more to come next month. The free world, collectively, must press harder to cut Russia off from its main sources of foreign income: energy and other exports such as gold.
We cannot be intimidated by Putin trying to light up the world with sinister threats. Every time NATO resisted his bullying, he was forced to back down, not double down. Its aggression only succeeds in encouraging more nations to join the most successful defensive alliance in the world.
There will come a time for peace. But it must be a good and lasting peace. Putin’s path to the negotiating table runs through the battlefields of Ukraine. He will only be serious about negotiations once the Ukrainian people push back their troops.
Ukraine supporters must all play their part to ensure that President Zelensky can negotiate from a position of strength in the face of a weakened Putin. This is essential for peace to last.
There can be no negotiated settlement that replicates the Minsk agreement, which came at the expense of Ukraine’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.
Those who propose sacrificing Ukrainian land are in fact proposing to pay in Ukrainian blood for the illusion of peace. It will only be a mirage if it is not accompanied by the return of Ukrainian territory and the containment of Putin’s imperialism.
Putin has made clear that he will not stop at Ukraine in his ambitions, but will go further by targeting other sovereign nations – especially those he perniciously believes to be part of Russia. That is why no one can feel safe until Russia withdraws from Ukraine and is never in a position to carry out such aggression again.
The Ukrainian people are not only fighting for their future, but also for the future of freedom and democracy in Europe and in the rest of the world. This is everyone’s war, because Ukraine’s victory is in all of our interests, however long it takes.
Together we can secure Ukraine’s future in a Europe whole and free, where peace reigns again.