Support 100 years of independent journalism.

Britain urges Ukraine to withstand pressure to accept Russia’s demands in peace talks

President Zelensky has questioned whether Western allies remain united over how to resolve the crisis.

By Freddie Hayward

We are five weeks into this war and its impact on the UK’s foreign policy is still emerging. Three weeks ago, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss argued that the invasion of Ukraine was a “paradigm shift on the scale of 9/11”. But it remains unclear what UK foreign policy changes the war will trigger. The head of the British Armed Forces, Antony Radakin, urged caution in reassessing Britain’s defence strategy yesterday and said the military’s priority remained implementing last year’s Integrated Review, which set out the government’s security plans.
David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, called for a rethink of the review yesterday, stressing that its plan for a tilt to the Indo-Pacific must not come at the cost of European security. But Radakin argued the move wouldn’t prevent the military from operating in the Euro-Atlantic.

[See also: “We want to be free”: video diary of a Ukrainian refugee] 
Lammy was setting out Labour’s foreign policy in a speech at Tufts University, Massachusetts. He criticised the Tories for not recognising that the UK’s domestic policy, such as energy security, and its foreign policy were intimately linked. But he also had a few choice words for his own side. “For too long parts of the left even some members of my own party falsely divided the world into two camps: America and the West on one side and their victims on the other,” Lammy said. “The world’s wrongs do not all stem from Western actions.” It’s a stark rejection of the Corbyn years and a reaffirmation of Labour’s commitment to traditional security. In a move which may raise some eyebrows given Labour’s steadfast refusal to talk about Brexit, Lammy also called for a “a new UK-EU security pact”.
As for the government, Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, stepped up support for Ukraine yesterday, committing to send armoured vehicles and air defence systems after hosting a donor conference of 35 international partners. The decision reaffirms Britain’s position as one of Ukraine’s most active supporters. But whether Western allies remain united over the crisis is a central question as negotiations between Russia and Ukraine continue. President Zelensky already identified a split among Western nations in an interview earlier this month, and the Times has quoted a source this morning claiming the government is worried its allies will press Ukraine to accept Russian demands in peace talks.
Five weeks into the war, the question hanging over the UK’s foreign policy debate is whether to stick or twist. It will take more than another five weeks for a definite answer to emerge.

[See also: The new Iron Curtain]

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.