Western aid to Kyiv will continue “for years”, the UK prime minister has said, in the latest sign that Ukraine’s western allies are ready to support the country through a long war against Russia.
Rishi Sunak’s comments on Tuesday followed g7 section in Japan at the weekend where, he said, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was photographed standing “shoulder to shoulder” with G7 leaders in a picture that “sent a very strong message”.
Speaking at a security conference in London, Sunak said that Russia’s strategy of “waiting . . . to people [in the west] weariness, weariness . . . it won’t work.”
“We are now leading discussions with our allies about a long-term multilateral and bilateral security partnership that we can establish with Ukraine.”
Nato members are expected to speed up the shape of these agreements at a meeting in Vilnius in July, while the Baltic states and Eastern Europe such as Poland are expected to push for Ukraine’s admission to the alliance.
Such a move is not supported by many in Nato, which requires consensus to accept members. But western support for Kyiv has been strong, with more talk of giving assurances to western Ukraine.
Recent military aid has included US approval of F-16 fighter jets exports to Ukraine – something Kyiv has long requested – and a €2.7bn military aid package from Germany.
The UK, the first country to supply Kyiv with modern tanks, also sent them long sea weapons in Ukraine ahead of long-term expectations.
Meanwhile, Western political support for Ukraine has included unexpected comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, who is known as one of Kyiv’s staunchest Western opponents.
“We have to remove any ambiguity,” Macron said Saturday on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan. “If making peace means turning the war in Ukraine into a cold conflict, it would be a mistake for all of us. Cold conflict is tomorrow’s war.
Sunak said the Western promises of long-term support were designed to give Ukraine confidence in its ability to defend itself and deter Russia from continuing the war.
“The right and only way to do it [Russia] The only thing to do is to leave and prevent conflict,” Sunak said.
The Ukrainian opposition had “every chance to win”, he added, saying that “it is worth remembering that what Ukraine has been doing for the last year is [successful] counteroffensive”.
Turning to the “public problem” of China and Beijing in the West, Sunak said that a “stronger approach” is needed to protect some “critical” technologies, such as semiconductors, dual-use devices and quantum computing.
However, in a speech that is likely to raise eyebrows among Chinese extremists in his Conservative Party, who are pushing for a hard line, Sunak warned of an “unsafe descent” by the G7 countries against Beijing.
Additional reporting by Ben Hall in London