Home Europe We won’t force Ukraine to accept peace, says UK defense chief

We won’t force Ukraine to accept peace, says UK defense chief

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LONDON — Britain will not row back on supporting Ukraine in its war against Russia, U.K. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps vowed Tuesday.

Speaking as the U.K. announced plans to build six new naval ships, Shapps insisted his government would never force the country to sign a peace arrangement.

It comes after a weekend report by the Sunday Times that Shapps’ Cabinet colleague David Cameron had broached the idea of a deal between Russia and Ukraine during a meeting with Donald Trump earlier this year.

“There is just no sense at all in which Britain would try to persuade, strong-arm or otherwise, Ukraine into accepting giving up some of their territory. That’s a decision entirely for Ukraine,” Shapps told Times Radio Tuesday when pressed on the report.

“I don’t think it’s plausible at all for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to win this war. And it’s important he doesn’t.”

His comments mark the latest attempt to tamp down speculation over Cameron’s April meeting with Trump, which was aimed at persuading the U.S. Republican to back further military help for Ukraine amid opposition in his own ranks.

Citing a “senior source,” the Sunday Times reported that Cameron had told Trump: “What are the best conditions in which you as president can make a deal in January? It’s both sides holding their lines and paying a price for that.”

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak distanced himself from the report when asked Monday. “I haven’t seen this Sunday Times article, so forgive me for that,” he said. “But what I can tell you is that you we have led when it comes to Ukraine.”

That was echoed by Shapps Tuesday. “It’s right that we provide both the military assistance and the moral clarity that it is always unacceptable for an autocrat to walk into a neighboring democratic country,” the defense secretary told the BBC. “We should stand behind them fully in order to eject Russia from all of their territory.”

Britain’s opposition Labour party has also stressed its continued support for Ukraine, with Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy and Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey visiting the country’s capital Kyiv to express what they called their  “iron-clad commitment.”

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