The world will never be safe if we turn our backs on Ukraine, says Boris Johnson

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President Volodymyr Zelensky greets Boris Johnson in Kyiv (PA Media)
President Volodymyr Zelensky greets Boris Johnson in Kyiv (PA Media)

Boris Johnson has urged western leaders to prepare for a protracted war in Ukraine or risk “the greatest victory for aggression in Europe since the Second World War”.

In an article for the Sunday Times, the Prime Minister urged the UK’s allies to continue to support Ukraine and ensure it has the “strategic endurance to survive and eventually prevail”.

It comes just a day after Mr Johnson visited President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv to reiterate Britain’s support against Russian aggression. Ukrainian forces are continuing to resist a relentless onslaught in the Donbas region after Vladimir Putin’s forces retreated from central and northern regions earlier this year.

After successfully repelling the Russian invasion in the Spring, Ukrainian military officials have warned they are now suffering heavy losses in the Donbas and have urged western leaders to expedite the delivery of key weaponry.

Mr Johnson urged the west to continue its unflinching support for Ukraine, writing: “Time is now the vital factor.

“Everything will depend on whether Ukraine can strengthen its ability to defend its soil faster than Russia can renew its capacity to attack. Our task is to enlist time on Ukraine’s side.”

His intervention follows growing concern over a fracturing of the European alliance after French President Emmanuel Macron suggested recently that Mr Putin must not be “humiliated” in Ukraine.

Mr Johnson claimed that any peace deal that required Kyiv to cede territory to Moscow would have serious ramifications for the rest of Europe, despite the economic harm caused by a drawn-out conflict.

“Imagine for a moment that Vladimir Putin’s visions of glory were to come true. Suppose he was free to keep all the areas of Ukraine now controlled by Russian forces,” he wrote.

“What if no one was willing to lift a finger as he annexed this conquered territory and its fearful people into a greater Russia? Would this bring peace? Would the world be safer? Would you be safer?

“In our hearts we know the answer. Such a travesty would be the greatest victory for aggression in Europe since the Second World War.”

Mr Johnson put forward a four-point plan for the west as the war enters a new phase.

Under the plan, he urged countries to continue to arm Ukraine with weapons, equipment and ammunitions. He claimed he wanted to see soldiers trained “more rapidly than the invader”, with up to 10,000 every four months.

He also urged leaders to commit to greater funding for paying wages and running schools, as well as delivering aid.

Elsewhere, Mr Johnson said that overland transport routes should be constructed to help Ukraine export its grain as Russia continues to blockade its vital Black Sea ports.

The Prime Minister on Saturday defended his decision to pull out of a conference of northern Tories on Friday, so he could meet with Mr Zelensky.

“I think it is very important to go to Ukraine at a particularly critical time. The worry that we have is that a bit of Ukraine-fatigue is starting to set in around the world,” he said.

“It is very important to show that we are with them for the long haul and we are giving them that strategic resilience that they need.”

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