The UK foreign secretary will on Wednesday warn of “misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe” if Russia succeeds in Ukraine, after Moscow accused Britain of escalating the war and threatened retaliation.
In a keynote foreign policy speech at London’s Mansion House, Liz Truss will argue that the existing global security architecture “designed to guarantee peace and prosperity” had failed Ukraine.
As a result, the free world would need to “reboot, recast and remodel” its approach to “deterring aggressors”. She will add: “Ukraine has to be a catalyst for wider change.”
Moscow on Tuesday threatened retaliation against Kyiv in response to comments by James Heappey, a UK defence minister, that it was legitimate for Ukraine to attack targets in Russia using British military equipment.
“We would like to underline that London’s direct provocation of the Kyiv regime into such actions, if such actions are carried out, will immediately lead to our proportional response,” the Russian defence ministry said.
It added that Russia was ready to “deliver retaliatory strikes against decision-making centres in Kyiv using high-accuracy weaponry”, regardless of whether western advisers were in those locations.
In her speech Truss will urge nations to “double down” on their support for Ukraine, through the supply of military support and humanitarian aid, and will warn that Kyiv’s victory is a “strategic imperative for us all”.
“If Putin succeeds there will be untold further misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe,” she will say. “We would never feel safe again. So we must be prepared for the long haul.”
Boris Johnson, the prime minister, on Tuesday rejected the notion that the Ukraine conflict was a “sort of stand-off between Russia and the west”. He said in an interview on Talk TV: “They want to present this as a confrontation between Russia and the west, and Russia and Nato — that is not what is going on.
“We do not want the crisis to escalate beyond Ukraine’s borders but the Ukrainians plainly — as [armed forces minister] James Heappey has said — they have a right to defend themselves,” Johnson added.
The Financial Times has reported that the Kremlin is preparing for a protracted conflict as part of a proxy war with western countries, as it struggles to make territorial gains within Ukraine.
Truss is expected to praise the response of many countries to Russian aggression. However, she will advocate a new approach based on three areas: “military strength, economic security and deeper global alliances”. This will mean free nations will become more “assertive and confident” while “aggressors” such as Russia will be “contained and moving towards a better path”.
“I want to live in a world where . . . freedom and democracy are strengthened through a network of economic and security partnerships,” she will say. “This is the long-term prize: a new era of peace, security and prosperity.”
In her speech, Truss is set to call for a bolstering of Nato’s defence capabilities. She will criticise a “generation of under-investment” in defence spending, arguing that the commitment of members to spend at least 2 per cent of gross domestic product on defence should be a “floor, not a ceiling”.
The government has said the UK has met the 2 per cent target every year since it was introduced in 2006.
The foreign secretary will urge Nato to implement a more “global” outlook and increase collaboration with countries in the Pacific region.
She will also urge Nato to continue its open-door policy, which states that membership is open to “any other European state in a position to further the principles of this treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area”.