27 September 2022

Liz Truss must carry on where Boris left off – with a steadfast commitment to Ukraine

By Oleksii Goncharenko

Boris Johnson was Ukraine’s strongest and most unwavering supporter in the face of Putin’s invasion.

President Zelenksyy was right to decribe him as a ‘hero’ who offered us ‘special’ levels of support. It was Johnson who used the UK’s leading role in Nato and the international community to support Ukraine in the face of Russia’s unjustified and reckless invasion.

His championing of our cause is responsible for much of our success. Without Boris pushing for UK military supplies – giving us arms like the NLAW, M270 rocket launchers – and endlessly promoting our cause to Nato allies, we may have ended up with Putin butchering his way through the whole of our country. Instead, we have Putin on the back foot. Ukraine is still independent and still fighting for our future. Indeed, we are now pushing back the Russian forces and have reclaimed swathes of our country from the invaders.

The UK has been one of our most important supporters, has imposed meaningful sanctions on Russia and has ensured vital military, economic and humanitarian supplies have been provided to Ukraine. No other foreign leader has done as much for Ukraine as Boris Johnson. Liz Truss has large boots to fill when it comes to supporting our independence.

She will need to keep up the pressure and international condemnation of our generation’s Hitler. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and genocide of our people must be brought up at every single opportunity. She must remind the world that over 1.5 million of our citizens have been forcibly relocated by Russian soldiers as part of Putin’s campaign to destroy our nation.

Sanctions against Russia as well as Putin and his oligarch cabal must continue and be ramped up where necessary. Their ill-gotten gains must be seized wherever they try to hide it and London must no longer be their playground. However, as national leaders have started to realise, the most important economic area to target is Russia’s reliance on oil and gas profits. Once again, it’s the UK that has led the way on cutting their use of Russian energy supplies. Liz Truss must recognise that any short-term pain from cutting out Russia will be more than covered by developing a reliable national energy network, even leaving aside the moral obligation to fight back against Putin.

She must also continue to send military supplies and humanitarian aid. Without Western weaponry like the NLAW we would not have been able to hold back the Russian invasion. Without the M270 systems (or the HIMARS from the US) we would not be able to force the Russians off our land. Heavy artillery is what we need to win this war and we can only be grateful for Nato’s support in this crucial area.

Of course, we would also welcome air support or a Nato-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine, but it seems that this level of support is not quite possible yet. Perhaps, with a new British PM pushing this forward, it might yet happen. We will see.

We are once again on the offensive – but be in no doubt that we need continued, substantial Western support to ensure that Russia is not able to push us back. Despite our successes we cannot afford to be complacent, and neither our armed forces nor our allies can take their foot off the pedal. This war is not over until Russia and Putin surrender, and we have total control over our nation.

I have great hope for Liz Truss to continue in her predecessor’s trailblazing path. She has been very vocal in her support for Ukraine and she wholeheartedly backed Boris in his sanction efforts against Russia when she was Foreign Secretary. I have no doubt that the UK will continue to be our most consistent supporter and one of our most important allies. We will prevail – and be in no doubt, we will not forget the British people’s support for our cause.

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Oleksii Goncharenko is a Member of the Parliament of Ukraine and Vice-president of Committee on Migration and refugees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.