Prime Minister said decision to negotiate had to be made by Ukrainians, after reports United States is putting pressure on for ceasefire
By James Crisp, EUROPE EDITOR
14 November 2022 • 8:07pm
Britain wants to put Ukraine in the “strongest possible position” for peace talks with Moscow, Rishi Sunak said on Monday.
The Prime Minister said London wanted to help Kyiv defeat Moscow to strengthen Ukraine’s hand before any negotiations, which Volodymyr Zelensky has ruled out while Russia occupies Ukrainian territory.
Mr Sunak said the decision to hold negotiations had to be made by Ukrainians alone after reports the United States is putting Ukraine under pressure to consider a ceasefire.
He said, “Our job is to continue to help the Ukrainians defend themselves, and put themselves in the strongest possible position at a time of their choosing, to bring a negotiated settlement.”
He admitted the war in Ukraine was causing economic turmoil in Britain and around the world.
But the Prime Minister warned Vladimir Putin had shown no interest in peace and it was “right” the UK was standing up to Russian aggression by sending weapons and aid.
“It’s a bit unfair to say to the Ukrainians, look you should be negotiating when your country and your civilian infrastructure is being relentlessly bombed,” he said, ahead of Tuesday’s G20 summit in Indonesia.
“Most wars end at some stage around the negotiating table but what happens around the table is fundamentally linked to the situation on the battlefield. So what we should do is to support Ukraine to strengthen their hand,” Jens Stoltenberg, the Nato Secretary General, said in the Netherlands on Monday.
“Russia can end this war tomorrow,” he said and added the decision to hold peace talks would be made in Kyiv and not “any Nato capital”, which includes Washington.
“Russia must withdraw troops from the Ukrainian territory within internationally recognised borders. This will pave the wave for the peace process,” said Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister.
‘A new 1938 moment’
“This is a new 1938 moment for Europe and certainly not a time to seek ‘peace for our time’,” he said, as he warned a meeting of EU foreign ministers not to go down in history as “appeasers”.
“It’s important that Europe sends a very clear message that we will support Ukraine and the peace will be settled by them,” said Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania’s foreign minister, who branded speculation about US pressure “unhelpful”.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, said in Brussels that the liberation of Kherson proved the West was right to send weapons to Kyiv and that it should continue doing so.
The West had not done enough to support Ukraine, said Urmas Reinsalu, Estonia’s foreign minister. “Ukrainians need long range missiles to deter Russians,” he said.