West must brace for ‘long war’ – UK PM

Britain seeks to radically boost efforts to train Ukrainian soldiers, Boris Johnson says

Ukraine’s allies must brace for a prolonged conflict and do all they can to help Kiev prevail over Moscow, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

“I am afraid that we need to steel ourselves for a long war, as [Russian President Vladimir] Putin resorts to a campaign of attrition, trying to grind down Ukraine by sheer brutality,” Johnson wrote in an op-ed published by the Sunday Times.

“The UK and our friends must respond by ensuring that Ukraine has the strategic endurance to survive and eventually prevail.”

We must strengthen the hand of our Ukrainian friends to finish this war on the terms that President [Volodymyr] Zelensky has laid out. That should be the definition of success. The Ukrainian people have been clear they will not be forced into accepting less than that.

Johnson urged the EU and other countries to continue supplying Kiev with weapons and money. The PM said British instructors had trained more than 22,000 Ukrainian troops over the course of seven years and London is planning to work with allies to train up to 10,000 soldiers every 120 days.

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Speaking to a group of Danish journalists this week, Zelensky reiterated that Ukraine relies heavily on the steady supply of arms and sanctions on Russia. “If everyone continues to be strengthened and united, we will surely win this war,” he said.

Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba struck a similar tone in an op-ed published by Foreign Affairs magazine on Friday, arguing that Ukraine can defeat Russia on the battlefield with enough Western artillery and other weapons.

Russia sent troops into the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.