Daily Telegraph article: The West must show Putin its collective strength

This article was originally printed in the Daily Telegraph 

The war in Ukraine is not the one Vladimir Putin planned. He has badly over-reached and is now suffering the consequences. But this is not the time for complacency. Russia is not retreating, but regrouping. Putin has changed his tactics, not his strategy. His forces are leaving the area around Kyiv only to push harder in the East and the South.

The world has now seen the appalling atrocities his forces have committed in Irpin and Bucha. Innocent civilians have been targeted – there is evidence of butchery, rape and torture. We must do all we can to ensure Putin fails. That is why the United Kingdom is stepping up under the Prime Minister’s six-point plan of action.

We are delivering on his plan by strengthening Ukraine’s defence with next-generation anti-tank weapons, Javelin missiles and Starstreak anti-aircraft systems. We have joined forces with our friends to mobilise an international humanitarian coalition for Ukraine, to apply huge economic pressure on Putin’s regime with sanctions and to isolate Russia on the world stage.

We are working to ensure Ukraine is in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table when Putin is serious about diplomacy. We are also strengthening security and resilience across the Euro-Atlantic area.

In the last few days, I have stood alongside my Ukrainian and Polish counterparts in making clear our determination to help Ukraine in every way we can. Today, I am joining my NATO Allies and G7 partners in Brussels, where we will unite in taking further action to ensure Putin fails.

After he invaded Georgia and Crimea, the free world did not do enough to respond. This emboldened him and we must learn the lessons.

Now is the time to be strong to ensure we see off Putin’s aggression for good. We need to double down in supporting Ukraine so that it prevails over Putin and restores its sovereignty. When a European democracy is standing up to tyranny, we will not hesitate to help it defend itself.

But we must go further to cripple Putin’s war machine through sanctions. I am working with our G7 partners to crack down on more Russian banks and agree a clear timetable to eliminate our imports of Russian oil, gas and coal. I am also encouraging them to join the UK in banning Russian ships from our ports and putting Russian gold beyond Putin’s reach.

We must strengthen NATO’s own defence by reinforcing our presence in the East and ensuring that we have the agility to strike aggressors where they are least expecting it.

We must also adapt for the future by raising our collective spending and investing in modern capabilities to face the threats of tomorrow, whether they be on NATO’s frontiers or in space and cyber.

The UK is proud to be the largest defence spender in Europe. I applaud those nations – from Germany and Italy to Sweden and Poland – who have stepped up to boost their defence budgets.

We need to redouble our efforts to support other countries whose territory Putin covets. We cannot allow sovereign democracies like Georgia and Bosnia to be subject to malign interference and must be ready to strengthen their defences. We need to also be vigilant about Russia’s damaging actions beyond Europe by taking on Moscow’s meddling in places like the Levant and the Sahel.

We need to rebuild our international security architecture. We can no longer labour under outdated agreements with Russia that they blatantly disregard and undermine. The days of the NATO-Russia Founding Act are over. If and when we do engage, it will be on our terms. Our starting point will be our resilience, defence and deterrence, and that Russia faces justice for its heinous crimes. This approach should also recognise newer threats such as an increasingly assertive China.

Finally, we need to rally our friends around the world to further isolate the Putin regime. As the evidence piles up of war crimes in Ukraine, Russia’s continued membership of the UN Human Rights Council is unconscionable.

Of course, the world won’t simply follow the West, so we must show them that our free democracies offer a better alternative as honest and reliable partners – from trade and investment to technology and defence.

For NATO to remain at the vanguard of global security, it must be bold. As President Eisenhower, the Alliance’s first Supreme Commander, said: “History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”

In that spirit, we must show our collective readiness to rise to the challenge. Putin is not just imperilling Ukraine but also the security of Europe and the wider world. We need to be decisive, determined and dogged to end his brutal war.

At this defining moment, we must continue to be tough to achieve lasting security. Together, we will ensure that Ukraine prevails. Ultimately, this is how we will secure a safer, more peaceful world.

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