By Rishi Sunak For The Mail On Sunday. 18 Feb 2023
The photo on the right was taken on an empty station platform. There is little detail in it, but the caption by the photographer simply reads: ‘Ruslan Mishanin bids farewell to his nine-year-old daughter as the train with his family leaves for Poland, at the train station in Odesa, on Monday, April 4, 2022.’
It was taken 39 days after Vladimir Putin unleashed his full-scale invasion on Ukraine. As a father with daughters of a similar age, I can’t begin to imagine how Ruslan must have felt.
But despite the despair behind that image and all it represents, the courage of the individuals shines through.
The courage of the nine-year-old girl saying goodbye to her father and the courage of Ruslan ready to stay and fight while seeing his loved ones go.
And when we look back on the first year of Ukraine under full-scale attack, its freedom as a sovereign state being challenged, it won’t be defined by Russia’s actions. It will be defined by Ukraine’s courage.
View galleryPrime Minister Rishi Sunak writes: ‘When we look back on the first year of Ukraine under full-scale attack, its freedom as a sovereign state being challenged, it won¿t be defined by Russia¿s actions. It will be defined by Ukraine¿s courage
View galleryUkraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky who Mr Sunak says is being supported ‘from Canberra to Copenhagen’
Putin made his gravest mistake when he decided to release his onslaught on Ukraine. He thought his weapons could defeat the country, wear down its people’s courage and kill their spirit. Every single hour since has proved why he was wrong.
He could have never envisioned the consequences of his miscalculation – the strengthening of Nato on his border, the training of tens of thousands of Ukraine’s troops by the world’s best defence forces, more military equipment than ever flowing into Ukraine. Closer friendships, long-term planning, and soon a stronger Ukraine on Russia’s doorstep.
Putin has become the architect of his own nightmare.
When I spoke to leaders at the Munich Security Conference yesterday, our focus wasn’t on defeating Putin – that’s a given. The focus was, and is, on strengthening Ukraine – for today and future generations.
In the coming weeks, Ukraine will need to dig deep, it’ll need to stretch Russia’s lines, starve supplies and strike deep into Putin’s battle formations. Ukraine will do that with the equipment that we and our allies are supplying. Tanks will arrive next month. Artillery is being sent in every day. Longer-range weapons will help redefine the equation, allowing Ukraine to defend itself pre-emptively.
It will be hard in the short term, but with our continued and unwavering support, it will win.
View galleryRussian President Vladmir Putin has ‘become the architect of his own nightmare’ writes Mr Sunak
From Canberra to Copenhagen, the world is backing Ukraine. It’s a result Putin didn’t bargain for.
And on Friday, we will pay tribute to Ukraine, those defending it and those standing in solidarity with it, with a national moment of reflection at 11am.
Of course, we cannot kid ourselves about the impact of Putin’s actions on each and every one of us. Your energy prices, the cost of grain, the impact on the world’s most vulnerable countries. But that is why we must redouble our efforts, accelerate our lethal aid and bolster our support to help Ukraine secure a lasting peace.
It won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick, but it will be worth it.
Tyranny cannot – and will not – win. We must have courage and we must continue to stand with Ukraine in the name of freedom.
Hopefully Storm Shadow is on the way.
Help for Ukraine, so far, has been massive. But, I must speak the truth about how this massive help came to be. It was not automatic, it was not quick and it was not sufficient. It was a hard fight for Ukraine. Not only on the battlefield front lines, but on the diplomatic front lines too. It should not have come to that. There is no incompetence sitting in (most) NATO defense departments. The West should have known what is needed to help end this war asap. At least, when it was obvious that Ukraine is not willing to lose. When it was obvious that they are learning very fast the use of modern Western material. When it was obvious that their use of such material was very smart.
The West should have studied this war more closely and offered Ukraine certain weapons that, instead, Ukraine was forced to beg for, over and over and over again. And yet, although many had been approved after months of tough negotiating, there still are some types of weapons that are being refused to this very day, after one year of terrible war. Even on the sanctions front lines, the West has shown a lackluster performance, despite its big-mouthed threats to mafia land before it swarmed into Ukraine.
Tyranny has not been fought like it should’ve been … by the West, that is. The West could still get things moving faster, but the black splotch on its historical record of its half-hearted aid performance in the first year of war will remain forever. It’s sad, but true.