Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has warned against an “uneasy peace” in Ukraine that would involve the country giving up any lands it has lost to Russia since 2014.
The Foreign Secretary’s comments came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to join other Nato leaders in Madrid for a summit at which they were expected to agree the biggest overhaul of the Western military alliance since the end of the Cold War.
In an interview with Die Welt, La Repubblica and El Pais, Ms Truss called for the West to provide “all the equipment”, training and “all the support we can” to Kyiv.
“The consequences of Ukraine not prevailing are very severe for the rest of Europe,” she said.
“What we cannot have is some uneasy peace, where Russia is still present in Ukraine; that is not going to work.
“We know what happened in 2014 with the Minsk agreements, ultimately, Russia regrouped and came back for more afterwards, so we cannot allow that situation to happen again”.
Ms Truss repeated her call for the recovery of all the lands Ukraine had lost since 2014, including Crimea, something Mr Johnson recently stopped short of when he indicated borders should return to their state before the Russian invasion in February.
“Ultimately, I believe that all parts of Ukraine have been illegally occupied,” the Foreign Secretary said.
“This is about what the Ukrainians want, and Volodymyr Zelensky has been very clear that they want to rightly know it is Ukrainian territory.
“So we need to support them in that, and not be trying to seek an early peace settlement that involves them giving up territory.”
She said as well as helping Ukrainians regain the lands, it was also important to hold Moscow to account for war crimes and “making sure that Russia is not in a position in the future to show that aggression to its neighbours”.
Asked if she was ready to accept that the West might be supporting Ukraine’s fight against the Russian invaders for 10 years, she said: “We have been very clear, we are in this for the long haul.
“But of course, the more we do now, the sooner we are likely to see Ukraine prevail.”
Asked about a possible direct confrontation with Russia in eastern Europe, she said: “All forces always need to be prepared for all eventualities.”
Ms Truss said it was “vitally important” to strengthen defence in the region, though she refused to put a number on the permanent presence needed there.
“What we have seen through the appalling Russian invasion into Ukraine is permanently worse security in Europe.
“And the response of Nato has to be increasing its presence, but also making its presence more permanent in the region”.
Ms Truss echoed the Prime Minister in warning against “any signs of fatigue or tiredness” as she praised the “absolute unity” of the G7 in supporting Ukraine.
On the impact of Russia sanctions on western countries’ economies, with energy prices rising, she said: “The point we have to make to all of our populations and this is true in Britain, the United States, Germany, the cost to us long term of not supporting Ukraine, and not ensuring that Ukraine wins is much, much bigger”.