Boris Johnson has pledged to send more defensive equipment to Ukraine and accused Russian invaders of carrying out “barbaric attacks” on civilians in violation of ceasefires.
During a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Sunday afternoon, the prime minister said support for those resisting the invasion was growing “day by day”.
The couple discussed the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine, with Johnson directly accusing Russia of violating ceasefires meant to allow aid to travel through safe corridors to people stranded without water or food for days.
In a new indication that he believed Russian soldiers were committing war crimes, Johnson said they posed a growing threat to civilians – with residential towers targeted by missiles.
Zelenskiy said he briefed Johnson on the latest response efforts and they both condemned ‘Russian war crimes’ and ‘nuclear terrorism’ – a reference to the Russian military surrounding the biggest power plant of Ukraine, in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia. .
Downing Street said it discussed the “urgent needs” of the Ukrainian military and that Johnson was “committed to working with partners to provide more defensive equipment”.
It came after Dominic Raab, the deputy prime minister and justice secretary, admitted it could take months or years for Putin to be defeated in his conquest of Ukraine.
He said people who thought the crisis could be resolved in days were “dreaming” that NATO should “show some strategic toughness” in its efforts to force the Russian military to beat retired.
As the war in Eastern Europe reached its 11th day, Raab said Russian President Vladimir Putin was resorting to “increasingly brutal tactics in an attempt to regain the initiative” as the military campaign conducted from Moscow had “stuttered”.
“I think at the end of the day none of the major cities have fallen yet,” Raab, who is also Justice Secretary, told BBC One’s Sunday Morning programme.
“But I think we should have no doubt that our mission with our allies is to ensure Putin’s failure in Ukraine, and that will take time.
“We’re talking months, maybe years, so we’ll have to have strategic endurance because it’s not going to be over in days.”
Raab rejected Ukrainian calls for a no-fly zone. He said it would cause a “more direct military conflict” between the Western defensive alliance and Russia, marking a “massive escalation” of tensions.
“It feeds into Putin’s narrative,” Raab said. “Putin means that he is actually in a struggle with the West. He is not. It is an illegal invasion of a neighbor whose self-determination, democratic and territorial integrity must be protected. We don’t want to feed Putin’s narrative.
Labor leader Keir Starmer has chastised ministers for failing to heed warnings contained in the House Intelligence and Security Committee’s 2020 ‘Russia Report’.
He said Labor MPs would support passage of the Economic Crime Bill in the House of Commons, which starts on Monday, but was frustrated that the government was ‘going slow and they haven’t looked that months ago.”
Stressing the importance of unity, Starmer said: “These sanctions could actually be in place now if the government had a little foresight about it. I don’t want to divide, except to push the government further and faster on this.
He added: “There are echoes of Afghanistan, that is, the government is only really starting to pull itself together and react in the heat of the moment rather than preparing for it. ‘advance.”