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“If we do not stand up to Putin, he will be back for more.” – UK Foreign Secretary at the UN General Assembly

Independent media quashed. Russia poses as a friend of those who feel cut out by the international system, The truth is we – myself included – spent years trying to build a new relationship with Moscow after the end of the Cold War. And that leads to the other great lie. No. The principle of self-determination. Crimea in particular now far more dependent on Moscow for budgetary support than it ever was to Kyiv. Now, having tried and failed to conquer all of Ukraine, the lesson of this history is clear. If the Ukrainian state was such a threat to Russian-speaking residents, why did every region of Ukraine vote for independence, Crimea and the Donbas included? As has just been said, mutilated bodies of civilians with hands bound, shot at close range. Citizens forced to vote in sham referendums and now, outrageously, Russian Presidential elections held on Ukrainian territory. But let’s go back a little further. Putin could easily apply his distortions of history elsewhere, such as Moldova or the Baltic States. First, the history. And its actions in Ukraine are so brazen so as to threaten the system itself. And its actions in Ukraine are so brazen so as to threaten the system itself. Yet here is the tragedy of it all. Thank you, Mr President. Putin tries to claim that Russia is fighting not against Ukraine, but against the whole of the West. This is not a man seeking compromise.  A children’s centre turned into a torture chamber. Ukrainians forced to accept Russian passports, or drafted to fight for Putin. If we do not stand up to Putin, he will be back for more. Sinister ‘re-education centres’.  Not just for Europe. What starts in Ukraine would not end there. Did it in 1994, when signing the Budapest Memorandum? I said then that if we did not stand up to Putin, he would be back for more. An unjust peace now merely invites a return to fighting in Ukraine when it suits him. Forcible deportations, with children torn from their parents to be raised as ‘Russians’. And others will be emboldened to turn to fighting when it suits them. And this leads to my final point, why we must stay strong. Moreover, since the invasion, Russia has suffered its first attempted coup in over three decades, and its first debt default for over a century. But ultimately we must stay strong not only for the sake of Ukraine. The rape of teenage girls. Thank you. And turning to the consequences of all this. The sanctity of nations. In 2008, I visited Tbilisi in Georgia shortly after Russian forces invaded South Ossetia. And in his recent interview, he studiously avoided confirming he was satisfied with the land seized from Ukraine at present. No Russian soldier had died fighting Ukraine before 2014 – now they have suffered over 300,000 casualties. Did Russia object to the formation of the Ukrainian state in 1991? A claim which runs contrary to the principle of self-determination, one of the foundations of the United Nations. It is a tragedy that Putin prefers to hark back to the ninth century to justify aggression, rather than taking up this offer of a different path. Take Bucha. The scenes in territories liberated from Russia defy belief. Invasion has brought these regions neither peace nor prosperity. Compared to 2008 and 2014, I do believe the world has started properly to wake up to Putin’s menace. It does virtually nothing to support the key funds to back the poorest of our world such as GAVI or the Global Fund or the IDA under the World Bank. This has had consequences, especially for the world’s poorest. But for the world and a simple principle. Ukraine’s fight is our fight. That is the central lie of this war. The rights of minorities, such as the Crimean Tartars, denied. Cut through ludicrous accusations of Nazism against a state with a Jewish President, and what are you left with? If Putin were to eke out some kind of win, the rest of the world would suffer too. So yes, we should stand by Ukraine. There is a sense of fatigue, there are other problems, a compromise might seem attractive. No country with a large, aggressive neighbour would be safe. Business gone. But this is wrong. Yes, Ukraine has been wronged. Rather, this is a neo-imperialist bully who believes might is right. Prior to 2014, did Ukraine pose a threat to Russia? No. But crucially, we also know that this matters to all of us. Nothing but the ahistorical claim that Ukraine’s very existence is “anti-Russian”. Rising energy and food costs have fuelled inflation. The security of borders. We did that because we profoundly believe that a secure, stable Russia, at peace with its neighbours, is in our interests and the world’s. And nor has Putin’s gambit benefited Russians. But not just for Ukraine. He claims we are somehow out to dismember Russia. Two years on, I recognise some want to rethink.  but it has shown no interest in changes to make it fairer, such as Security Council reform.  Nor has the rest of the world been spared the consequences of this war. Or consider places still held by Russia. I said again that if we did not stand up to Putin, he would be back for more. The world’s fight. Today, I want to cover three points. In 2014, I was Prime Minister as his ‘little green men’ seized control of Crimea. We must recognise the cost of giving up. Yes, we admire their decision to pursue a democratic path, and fight for their right to do so. No – in fact Russia pledged never to use force against Ukraine. And the world must stay strong. Putin has said there will be no peace until Russia’s goals are achieved.


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