Where there are lies, they will be exposed, where there is barbarism, we will call it out. Under my leadership, our support will be resolute
LIZ TRUSS 23 August 2022 • 9:30pm
Thirty one years ago, Ukraine took a decisive step forward on its path as a free democracy. We have stood with them throughout. The UK was one of the first countries to recognise Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, and is now at the forefront in supporting our friends in their battle to stop Putin from turning the clock back through force of arms.
This is the week the Ukrainian people celebrate their independence, but they are having to fight for their country’s future and the unalienable right of all people to self-determination and liberty. What happens in Ukraine matters for us all. As Foreign Secretary, I have helped lead the international response and worked flat out to provide support in unison with our friends and allies. If I become prime minister, I will do everything I can to ensure the flame of freedom in Ukraine continues to burn bright. Putin cannot prevail.
Under my leadership, President Zelensky will have no greater ally at this dark hour than the UK. We are already at the vanguard of international support in providing £2.3 billion in military aid, more than any other nation in Europe. We rallied our G7 partners in targeting Russia with the toughest sanctions ever on a major economy. We have released intelligence to deny Putin any strategic initiative, whether massing his troops on Ukraine’s border ahead of the invasion, or plotting to install a puppet government in Kyiv, or in their efforts to brutalise the areas they have invaded.
Russia’s invasion has been built on lies. The Putin regime said they would not invade Ukraine, and that they would not harm civilians or target infrastructure. Yet they have sought to justify the unjustifiable through a deluge of disinformation. They have presided over the bombardment of homes, schools and hospitals. They have forced thousands of people to flee for their lives. Their actions at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are endangering the region.
Russia is ploughing ahead with plans to hold referenda across parts of Ukraine they have seized. This is a shameless assault on the Ukrainian people’s right to decide their own future. A vote at gunpoint and after mass deportations could never be free.
The grim reality of Putin’s war has made Russia a global pariah. As Foreign Secretary, I have been relentless in calling out the horrors of this conflict, such as the massacre of civilians in towns like Bucha and Russia’s attack on global food security by blockading Ukraine’s ports. I followed up these words with action such as dispatching war crimes experts to gather evidence.
When malign actors are ready to peddle falsehoods, our duty is to ensure the world hears the truth. That is why we set up the Government Information Cell to counter the Kremlin’s false narratives. We will continue to step up our work to counter the efforts of Russia and other authoritarian regimes to use disinformation to sow confusion and undermine global stability, drawing on the skills and tools at our disposal alongside our international partners.
I will go further as prime minister by doing everything possible – including declassifying more intelligence – to expose Putin’s playbook to the world. My government will use intelligence strategically to reveal the Kremlin’s attempts to undermine and destabilise freedom-loving democracies. Where there are lies, they will be exposed, where there is barbarism, we will call it out. I will take the same tough approach to counter malign activity from potentially hostile states and others who threaten global security.
Ukraine has been a sharp shock of reality for the free world, a wake-up call that we have to heed. We have to rethink our approach to security in an increasingly dangerous world, and make sure we do everything in our power to keep Britain and the values we believe in safe.
As prime minister, I will increase defence spending to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030, rethink the way we constrain and deter adversaries, and ensure Britain plays a leading role in the global effort to defend freedom and democracy.
That is why what happens in Ukraine is so important. If the free world falters and Putin succeeds, it will embolden authoritarians everywhere. However long it takes, a Ukrainian victory is in all our interests. We are in for tough times over the next year – especially as winter sets in – but cannot afford to waver in our resolve. We have proven Putin wrong before in the strength of our resolve and can do so again together with our Ukrainian friends.
This is the moment for the free world to have the courage of its convictions by continuing to stand with Ukraine.
I will ensure the UK remains bold in support, galvanising our international coalition in our shared determination to see the Ukrainian people win the battle for their future. Together, we can show autocrats like Putin that they will never snuff out the flame of freedom.