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25 March 2022

How frosty relations between France and Britain continue

Boris Johnson attended the G7 and Nato summits yesterday, but, unlike Joe Biden, was pointedly not invited to the EU summit.

By Freddie Hayward

Boris Johnson attended the G7 and Nato summits yesterday as President Zelensky implored Western leaders to send tanks and planes to Ukraine. “Ukraine asks for 1 per cent, 1 per cent of all your tanks. Please give them to us or sell them to us,” the Ukrainian president pleaded in a video call with Nato leaders, avoiding his earlier request for a no-fly zone. But it seems as if Zelensky’s request will go unheeded: Johnson said in a press conference that “logistically at the moment it looks very difficult”.

[See also: European leaders give Boris Johnson the cold shoulder]

Instead of tanks and planes, the government announced yesterday it would send an additional 6,000 missiles, doubling the defensive lethal aid it was provided to Ukraine to more than 10,000 missiles, alongside £25m in financial backing for the Ukrainian military. Meanwhile, Nato has agreed to deploy four additional battlegroups on its eastern flank. But there are tensions in the alliance. Unlike President Biden, the Prime Minister was pointedly not invited to yesterday’s EU summit. The Times reports that President Macron and Johnson disagree over whether to send tanks to Ukraine, with Macron fearing a Nato conflict with Russia.

[See also: Would Vladimir Putin use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine?]

While Biden declared yesterday that Nato had never been more united in the face of Russian aggression, the question now for Zelensky is how to keep the world’s attention on Ukraine. It has been a month since the war began, and the focus has slipped. In the UK at least, the political narrative has shifted from events in Ukraine to the war’s domestic impact, quickly reverting to the issue of energy supply and the cost-of-living crisis. If this war becomes increasingly protracted, as seems probable, the question becomes to what extent can political will be maintained.

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