Rishi Sunak warned President Putin today that the West is not going away anytime soon, and that Western allies would be supporting Ukraine for years to come. 

The Prime Minister, who was speaking at the London Defence Conference, said that the UK is leading discussions with allies about longer term multilateral and bilateral agreements to put in place with Ukraine on several fronts. In the strongest message possible to Putin, Sunak said: “The waiting it out strategy is not going to work. The only action is for them – the Russians – to withdraw.”

“Part of Russia’s strategy is to wait it out, people might tire, Western democracies might get bored and move on. We want to make it clear to Russia that support for Ukraine will continue for years to come.”  

In a question and answer session with Iain Martin, director of the LDC, at the two-day conference co-hosted with King’s College London, Sunak said: “It’s a great miscalculation Putin has made. Far from fragmenting allies, it has strengthened them.” 

Rather than splits within the Western alliance, Sunak said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a catalyst to change the security architecture of the world. “Just look at the support from Germany and Japan, and the changes to NATO with Sweden and Finland joining. European countries are now spending more on defence, which is also a good thing.” 

Referring to the recent G7 summit held in Hiroshima, the Prime Minister said: “Ukraine has shown that security is indivisible between the Euro-Atlantic theatre and the Pacific theatre. We are all fighting for a rules-based order, and values that are universal which we all believe are worth fighting for.”

Tribute should be paid to Ukraine, he added, for having shown such resilience and strength in fighting the Russians – a fight that many observers predicted would be over in three weeks. “While everybody is talking about the upcoming counter-offensive, the reality is that what Ukraine has done for the past year is a counter offensive.”

“They have captured a large chunk of territory initially seized from them. They have held all ground this winter, they’ve also managed to rebuild their energy grid and prepare for the upcoming counter-offensive. Just to get to this point is incredible… and that they have every chance of success.”

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