No peace deal should be let sideline Ukraine, Liz Truss says

Britain urges retention of sanctions as leverage over Putin in event of any ceasefire

Ukraine must not be sold out in any future peace deal and sanctions must be available to snap back immediately if Russia does not comply with its terms, British foreign secretary Liz Truss has told MPs. She said Britain had set up a negotiations unit to support Kyiv in peace talks as Ukraine seeks to restore its territorial integrity.

“We need to ensure that any future talks don’t end up selling Ukraine out, or repeating the mistakes of the past,” she said.

"We remember the uneasy settlement of 2014 which failed to give Ukraine lasting security. Putin just came back for more. That is why we cannot allow him to win from this appalling aggression and why this government are determined that Putin's regime should be held to account at the International Criminal Court. "

Ms Truss said on Sunday that sanctions should only be lifted after Russian president Vladimir Putin withdraws Russian forces from Ukraine. She told MPs on Monday that the sanctions should remain available as a lever after any ceasefire to ensure Russian compliance.


‘Freedom and democracy’

“Strength is the only thing Putin understands. Our sanctions are pushing back the Russian economy by years and we owe it to the brave Ukrainians to keep up our tough approach to get peace,” she said.

“We owe it ourselves to stand with them for the cause of freedom and democracy in Europe and across the world. It is vital we step up this pressure, we cannot wait for more appalling atrocities to be committed in Ukraine.”

Britain has granted visas to just 21,600 Ukrainian refugees but Ms Truss defended the country’s humanitarian efforts and promised to help fund Ukraine’s reconstruction after the end of the war.

"The Ukrainian people know that everybody in the United Kingdom stands firm with them. We were the first European country to recognise Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union. Thirty years on, we are the first to strengthen its defences against Putin's invasion, and lead the way in our support," she said.

‘Economic pressure’

In a call with Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on Monday, prime minister Boris Johnson promised that Britain would "maintain and strengthen economic pressure on Putin's regime". Mr Johnson also spoke with Polish president Andrzej Duda, agreeing to continue to isolate the Russian government.

“The leaders lauded Ukraine’s impressive resistance against Russian troops, and the prime minister said that he believed President Putin would never succeed in his ambitions to subjugate the people of Ukraine,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

"Both leaders agreed on the need to continue to isolate the Kremlin over its illegal invasion and to maintain the pressure on economic sanctions. The prime minister also set out his ambition to accelerate and deepen the UK's co-operation with Poland, and the pair agreed to meet again soon to discuss how the two countries could work even more closely together."

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times