The British Prime Minister promises long-term support to Ukraine

Western support for Kiev will continue “for years”, the British Prime Minister declared, indicating that Ukraine’s Western allies are ready to support the country during the long conflict with Russia.

Rishi Sunak’s comments on Tuesday followed the G7 summit in Japan at the weekend, where he said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was pictured “shoulder-to-shoulder” with G7 leaders, sending a “very strong message”.

At a defense conference in London, Sunak said Russia’s strategy was to “wait and see.” . . for people [in the west] to get tired, to be bored. . . it will not work”.

“We are now having conversations with allies about what longer-term multilateral and bilateral security agreements we can make with Ukraine.”

NATO members are expected to work out the shape of the agreements at the Vilnius summit in July, where Baltic and Eastern European countries such as Poland are expected to push for Ukraine’s admission to the alliance.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the G7 summit © Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP

Such a move is not supported by a majority in NATO, which requires a unanimous vote to approve membership bids. But Western support for Kiev has hardened, and there is more and more talk about the need to provide Western defense guarantees to Ukraine.

Recent military support has included US approval to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine – a long-requested move by Kiev – and a €2.7bn military aid package from Germany.

The United Kingdom, the first country to supply Kiev with modern tanks, also sent long-range cruise missiles to Ukraine, ahead of a long-awaited counterattack.

Meanwhile, Western political support for Ukraine has included unexpectedly soft-spoken remarks from French President Emmanuel Macron, widely regarded as one of the most recalcitrant of Kiev’s Western supporters.

“We must remove all ambiguity,” Macron said on the sidelines of the G7 meeting in Japan on Saturday. “If making peace means turning the war in Ukraine into a frozen conflict, that would be the fault of all of us. The frozen conflict is the war of tomorrow.”

According to Sunak, the Western promises of long-term support were made, on the one hand, to give Ukraine confidence in its ability to defend itself, and on the other hand, to deter Russia from continuing the war.

“The right and only course of action [Russia] all he has to do is withdraw and stop the conflict, Sunak said.

Ukraine’s counterattack “has every chance of success”, he added, and he said that “it is worth remembering that what Ukraine has done in the last year is a [successful] counter attack”.

Turning to China and Beijing’s “era-defining challenge” to the West, Sun said a “robust approach” was needed to protect certain “sensitive” technologies such as semiconductors, dual-use equipment and quantum computing.

But among China hawks in his conservative party, which advocates a harder line, Sunak warned against the G7 countries “sinking into blanket protectionism” against Beijing.

Additional reporting by Ben Hall in London


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