What should Ukraine expect from UK’s PM Truss? | Russia-Ukraine war

Kyiv, Ukraine – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is one of the first foreign leaders Prime Minister Liz Truss has spoken to since seizing the UK’s top office.

“Ukraine can depend on the UK for support in the long term,” she speak on Twitter following their phone conversation on Tuesday.

And the first foreign leader Zelenskyy called when Russia invaded Ukraine in February was Truss’ predecessor, Boris Johnson.

The partnership between Kyiv and London became one of the most memorable signs of the war, and Johnson was greeted in Ukraine as a national hero.

“The UK stands with Ukraine” was a pinned post on Johnson’s Twitter account during his three-year term as prime minister, and sunflowers representing Ukraine were displayed on the windows of the palace. his Downing Street mansion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meet in Kyiv.
Zelenskyy and Johnson meet in Kyiv [File: Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters]

Johnson was one of the first political heavyweights to visit Ukraine after the war began, and Ukrainians appreciated this by naming a street and a cake after him.

They barely notice Scandal it leads to collapseand Zelenskyy mourned the end of his term.

“We were all very sad when we heard this news. Not only me, but the whole Ukrainian society, who sympathize with you very much. We have no doubt that the support of the UK will be maintained, but your leadership and personal charisma have made it special,” said the Ukrainian leader. speak in July.

So what should Ukraine expect from Johnson’s successor?

Kyiv-based analyst Aleksey Kushch told Al Jazeera: “Continue the policy of strategic partnership and increase military and financial support.

The UK has no commitments to the European Union and is less dependent on Russian hydrocarbon exports than mainland Europe.

Under Johnson, London has thrown its political weight behind the nascent anti-Russian bloc of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania – and that’s what Truss is expected to continue.

“The UK will play a stabilizing role in the Baltic-Black Sea axis,” said Kushch.

Other experts agree.

A serving member of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic fired a Giatsint-B howitzer towards Avdiivka [File: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters]

“The UK is trying to build its sphere of influence in continental Europe, through Poland, Ukraine and beyond into the Black Sea basin,” said Ihar Tyshkevich of the Institute for the Future of Ukraine, a think-tank based in Kyiv, told Al Jazeera.

“Because these interests remain, one would not expect the new British prime minister to change GB policies so abruptly,” he said.

Other analysts are even more optimistic about her.

“It’s Johnson that has doubled,” wrote analyst Oleksander Kraev in an article published by the UNIAN news agency on Tuesday. “She promised to be Ukraine’s greatest friend.”

Predictably, Moscow does not anticipate any political thaw in relations with London.

“There is no chance to say that Liz Truss will somehow improve Russian-British relations,” Russian lawmaker Dmitry Novikov reported speak.

Much more important to Ukraine’s immediate needs is the military aid that London has provided – and will continue to provide.

Workers collect debris from mental hospital
Workers collect debris from a mental hospital after it was hit by a rocket in Kramatorsk [File: Juan Barreto/AFP]

Often acting more quickly than other pro-Western countries, Britain has supplied the M270 multi-role launcher, Mastiff armored vehicle, Javelin anti-tank missile and countervailing radar system.

Hundreds of British-made target-detection micro-drones improve precision strikes, and London-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missile systems have sunk several Russian ships in the Black Sea.

Mine-hunting systems help detect Russian mines in seawater while British trawlers help Ukrainian cargo ships carry grain through the Bosporus.

Hundreds of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles “logged around” also damaged Russian servicemen and equipment.

London’s military aid package amounted to £2.3 billion ($2.8 billion) while the country pledged to train 10,000 Ukrainian servicemen every three months at a military base in southeastern England. The location has not been made public.

“Everyone has seen [the assistance] from the point of view of initiative, support and personal example” of Johnson, Lieutenant General Ihor Romanenko, former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, told Al Jazeera.

“We really hope that leadership and initiatives in the provision of weapons and staff training will continue,” he said.

Truss, who was Johnson’s secretary of state, was instrumental in securing supplies.

“My message to our G7 and NATO allies today is simple,” she said on Twitter in early April.

“The only thing Putin understands is power. Together with our allies, we are increasing the pressure with various sanctions, weapons and an end to Russian energy imports,” she said.

However, she was faced with a humiliating derision regarding Ukraine.

Liz Truss waves as she leaves Conservative Party Headquarters after being announced as the party's next leader and becoming UK prime minister
Truss served as secretary of state under Johnson [File: Phil Noble/Reuters]

During a visit to Moscow in early February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov teased her by asking if the UK would recognize Moscow’s rule over Voronezh and Rostov – two regions in western Russia. are not.

Confusing them with Donetsk and Luhansk, two Ukrainian provinces partially controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014, she replied that London would “never recognize Russian sovereignty over these areas.” , the Kommersant daily reported.

Lavrov mocked Truss during their press conference, saying their conversation was like “a dumb person talking to a deaf person”, and Russian media also mocked her.

Hours later, Truss had to give an explanation.

“During the meeting, it seemed to me that Minister Lavrov was talking about a part of Ukraine. I made it clear that these areas are part of sovereign Russia,” she said.

But regardless of her knowledge of Russia’s geography, Ukraine is still at the top of her agenda.

She talked about the fight with US President Joe Biden in their first phone conversation.

They “discussed the importance of continuing to work closely on global challenges, including supporting Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression,” the White House said in a statement. An announcement.

The average Ukrainian is not familiar with Truss, who became Britain’s fourth prime minister in six years. But some think she could raise her political profile by helping Kyiv.

“We’ll see what she can do for us,” retired librarian Oksana Lipnitskaya told Al Jazeera. “Britain has always been against Russia, and helping Ukraine is in fashion today.”

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