U.K. and France reiterate that Russia's invasion of Ukraine must end in failure as U.S. aid falters

Britain and France are reiterating their determination that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must end in failure

Published - December 20, 2023 01:02 am IST - PARIS

Britain and France reiterated their determination on Tuesday that Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine ends in failure, with the U.K. Foreign Minister saying that Ukraine's allies must better leverage their economic might to vastly outmatch Moscow's war machine.

The renewed insistence from U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron and French counterpart Catherine Colonna that Russia can't be rewarded for its aggression comes as wartime aid from Ukraine's biggest single military backer — the U.S. — is faltering.

Mr. Cameron, speaking after talks with Ms. Colonna in Paris, said that if the economies of Ukraine's Western partners are calculated together, “we outmatch the Russian economy by 25 to one or more.”

“What we have to do is make that economic strength and that commitment pay,” he said. “If we can, I have no doubt that we can make sure that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin loses and it's essential that he does lose.”

Neither Mr. Cameron nor Ms. Colonna announced new aid for Ukraine in their comments to reporters. They took no questions.

“Hand in hand since the beginning, our two countries are working together to ensure that the Russian aggression is not rewarded, is a failure," Ms. Colonna said.

In the U.S., assistance for Ukraine has become entangled in domestic politics. U.S. President Joe Biden's push for billions of dollars of replenished wartime aid is being held up in Congress. The European Union and its 27 member states have sent $91 billion in wartime financial, military, humanitarian and refugee assistance. But they also are wrangling about their next planned lump-sum amount.

.Mr. Cameron said that support for Ukraine from the U.K. — no longer an EU member — and France will continue “for as long as it takes.”

Likening the war to “a play that comes in different acts,” he said Ukraine's allies must determine its next phase.

“The first act," he said, "was the stunning failure of Russia to achieve its objectives” — when Russian invasion forces first thrust for the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, in February and March of 2022 and were beaten back.

The second act was Ukraine's counteroffensive in the summer of 2022, he said, "the brilliance that the Ukrainians showed in driving back the Russians, taking back half the territory that had been lost, pushing them back across the Black Sea."

"The third act has been more difficult on land,” he said, a seeming reference to Ukraine’s disappointing counteroffensive this summer.

“But the fourth act is yet to be written and we must make sure we write it in the correct way, with our friends and partners in the Western world.”

Mr. Cameron and Ms. Colonna also discussed the Israel-Hamas war. France has repeatedly called for a humanitarian pause in the fighting, followed by progress toward a lasting cease-fire.

Mr. Cameron said the U.K. wants “a cease-fire as soon as possible but it must be a sustainable cease-fire. It must be a cease-fire in which Israel is no longer threatened by Hamas and its rockets and its murderous activities.”

Ms. Colonna condemned violence committed by extremist Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, calling it unacceptable. She asked that Israel act against them and said that France is working to pull together European sanctions against them. The United States has already said it would impose travel bans on extremist Jewish settlers implicated in a rash of recent attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank.

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