PM warns ‘we need to prepare for long war’ in Ukraine

The prime minister warned the British that “we need to prepare for a long war” in Ukraine upon his return from the country’s capital.

After a visit to Kyiv, Boris Johnson said that Vladimir Putin’s invasion was “entering a new phase” and that if Russia’s advance was successful, he “would not stop at dismembering Ukraine.”

Writing for The Times, Mr Johnson also laid out a four-point plan for how the UK and its allies can best support Ukraine.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to servicemen aboard a C17 at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire the day after his visit to Kyiv (Joe Giddens/PA).

He wrote: “I fear we need to prepare for a long war as Putin resorts to a campaign of attrition in an attempt to erase Ukraine through sheer brutality.

“The UK and our friends must respond by providing Ukraine with the strategic resilience to survive and ultimately triumph.”

“Everything will depend on whether Ukraine can strengthen its ability to defend its territory faster than Russia can resume its ability to attack,” he added.

“Our task is to enlist the support of Ukraine.”

Speaking of the invasion, he warned that if Russia succeeded in securing territory in Ukraine, “no nation will be safe anywhere” because “every dictator will dare to pursue his ambitions by force.”

To prevent this from happening, the first step of the Prime Minister’s plan is for Ukraine to “get weapons, equipment, ammunition and training faster than the occupier.”

He said the UK is committed to working with allies to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days to support Ukraine.

Mr. Johnson describes the second step as providing “permanent funding and technical assistance” to the beleaguered country so that it can maintain its infrastructure and institutions.

The third step is the development of alternative land routes to overcome the Russian blockade of ports, including the southern city of Odessa.

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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky (right) during a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Press Service of the President of Ukraine/PA).

Mr. Johnson said that 25 million tons of corn and wheat are held “hostage” by Russia, and the fourth step of the plan is to release these stocks.

According to the Prime Minister, this can be achieved by supporting the efforts of the UN to negotiate an export corridor through the sea.

Johnson met with President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Friday in an unannounced meeting.

Speaking to reporters at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire upon his return, he stressed the need to show support for Ukraine when its people are “suffering terribly”, especially in the Donbas.

In his talks with Zelenskiy, Johnson said the UK would be ready to train tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire (Joe Giddens/PA).

He said it was important to prevent the Russians from “freezing” the conflict so that they could consolidate their gains before launching another attack, and that the Ukrainians needed to be supported to regain territories lost this year.

However, he did not call for the return of all the lands that Ukraine has lost since 2014, including Crimea, which Foreign Minister Liz Truss had previously called for.

Mr. Johnson’s visit was warmly received by Ukrainians, with TV footage showing Mr. Zelensky showing the prime minister the wreckage of burned-out Russian tanks and other vehicles displayed on Mykhailivska Square in Kyiv.

He visited Kyiv on the day he was scheduled to speak at the Northern Tory conference, and the timing has led to accusations that he is snubbering the region ahead of a crucial by-election in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

The visit also took place the day after a joint trip to the Ukrainian capital by French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.