Backlash as Sunak says Ukraine war will have to end in ‘negotiation’
RISHI Sunak has indicated Ukraine will eventually have to seek a peace deal with Vladimir Putin.
The Prime Minister suggested negotiations with the Kremlin – which could lead to the portioning of Ukraine – were inevitable.
His remarks saw him accused of giving ‘succour’ to Putin, by suggesting the conflict could end without the outright military defeat of Russian forces.
Addressing reporters ahead of a summit with Emmanuel Macron, Mr Sunak said: ‘Of course, this will end as all conflicts do at the negotiating table, but that is a decision for Ukraine to make.
‘What we need to do is put them in the best possible place to have those talks, at an appropriate moment that makes sense for them.
‘At the moment the priority is giving them the resources, the training and the support they need to push forward and create an advantage on the battlefield.’
Former UK military commanders expressed concern at the statement, which marked a clear departure from his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
The former head of the British Army Lord Dannatt told the Mail: ‘I am afraid the Prime Minister is mistaken. Given Zelensky’s and Putin’s strategic objectives are irreconcilable, the denouement for this war can only come about on the battlefield.
‘For this reason ourselves, Nato and the European Union and everyone in the West must give all possible support to Ukraine this year to ensure their military victory.’
Mr Sunak’s change of tone over Ukraine comes just weeks after Mr Johnson urged Nato to provide president Volodymyr Zelensky with tanks and fighter jets to ‘finish the job’.
Mr Johnson was PM as Brit
ain became the first country in Europe to provide military aid to Ukraine.
Former chief of the UK’s Special Forces, Major General Jonathan Shaw went further, suggesting Mr Sunak’s remarks provide succour for Putin and his henchmen.
He said: ‘If I was Putin hearthe ing these words I would take great heart from the implied gap between his and Zelensky’s statements about how the war ends.
‘Zelensky has absolute goals – liberation of all Ukraine back to the boundaries of 2014. If
West and Ukraine are not united in their objectives, it will hinder their chances of achieving them.
‘The implication of Sunak’s – cliched but false – comments about the inevitability of negotiations is that he sees this ending some way short of total Ukrainian territorial integrity.’
President Zelensky yesterday met with Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in Kyiv, where they laid flowers at a memorial wall for those who have fallen in the conflict.
Ukraine is against peace talks because it believes with Western military assistance it can defeat Russian forces.
Negotiations would likely lead to a partitioning of the country, with Russia holding on to the territory it has gained
in eastern Ukraine, including the Crimean peninsula.
With its weapons stocks dwindling and having lost an estimated 200,000 troops either wounded or killed in battle, Russia is more inclined towards talks with Ukraine.
Former British Army commander in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, said: ‘Conflicts do not always end in negotiations. Any end to this conflict which leaves Russia with the territory it has taken will be a defeat not just for Ukraine but also for Nato.’
Putin is considered unlikely to concede ground occupied by Russia and is banking on the weakening of Western support for President Zelensky.
Chair of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood said: ‘We must unite around the single mission of liberating all of Ukraine and park any discussion of deals or ceasefires – otherwise Russia will claim a form of victory then re-arm and attack again in a few months’ time.’
‘Park discussion of deals’