Rishi Sunak says Ukraine war 'will end at a negotiating table'

Rishi Sunak says Ukraine war ‘will end as all conflicts do, at a negotiating table’ but insists Kyiv must first be given the aid to beat Russia

  • The PM said Kyiv must be given support to reach ‘decisive battlefield advantage’
  • Sunak and Emmanuel Macron said their marines would train Ukrainian troops 

Rishi Sunak has declared that Russia’s war in Ukraine will be brought to an end with diplomacy, but said Kyiv must first be given all the support it needs to enjoy a ‘decisive battlefield advantage’ ahead of negotiations.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, Sunak told reporters: ‘Now is not the time for negotiations, and I think everyone at the moment is united in providing Ukraine with the additional support that they need in order to have a decisive battlefield advantage.’

He added: ‘Of course, this will end as all conflicts do at negotiating table, but that is a decision for Ukraine to make.

‘What we need to do is put them in the best possible place to have those talks at an appropriate moment that makes sense for them.’

Following talks in the French capital with his counterpart, Sunak later announced that Britain and France will train Ukrainian marines to combat Vladimir Putin’s invading forces.

Ukrainian soldiers fire a self-propelled howitzer towards Russian positions near Bakhmut, the site of the heaviest battles, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Sunak is pictured shaking hands with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky outside Downing St. in February

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak embrace at a joint news conference in Paris. The pair today announced marines from both countries would deliver training to Ukrainian armed forces

He said: ‘We’ve agreed to train Ukrainian marines, helping to give Ukraine a decisive advantage on the battlefield and for Ukraine to win this war.’

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The Prime Minister’s comments came as European Union officials said the bloc is soon to settle on yet another increase in funds used for purchasing weapons for Kyiv to beat back Russian advances in eastern Ukraine.

A senior EU official said the next top-up could amount to as much as 3.5 billion euros (£3.1 billion).

Under a plan drawn up by foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, EU states would get financial incentives worth 1 billion euros to send more of their artillery rounds to Kyiv while another 1 billion euros would fund joint procurement of new shells.

‘If there is a deal on this 2 billion euros package, resources under the EPF will be exhausted,’ the senior EU official said, referring to the European Peace Facility (EPF) used to fund arms for Kyiv.

‘It’s up to the member states to decide if and when they want to operationalise this new possible 3.5 billion euros top-up,’ he added.

Meanwhile, Switzerland’s government said on Friday it will not change its long-standing policy banning the transfer of Swiss-made arms to a third country despite growing pressure from the EU to export them to Ukraine.

The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak talks to the travelling media on the Eurostar train to Paris

Ukrainian service members fire a mortar towards Russian troops outside the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine March 6, 2023

Ukrainian soldiers come back from Bakhmut in two BTR-80 vehicles in Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on March 7, 2023. Chasiv Yar is a city at the gates of Bakhmut where Russian forces are close

Calls for the non-EU state to break with centuries of tradition as a neutral state have been growing both internally and externally since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago. 

In January, two parliamentary committees recommended that the rules be eased, but the cabinet rejected the call following a meeting.

‘The Federal Council is committed to the values of Swiss neutrality and will continue to work to ensure the benefits of neutrality are realised,’ it said in a statement.

However, it said it would continue to monitor the debates and make a further statement ‘if necessary’.

Since the war began, Switzerland has received requests from Germany, Denmark and Spain for the re-export of Swiss war material to Ukraine but those requests were all denied. 

It has however adopted the European Union’s sanctions and has repeatedly called for a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

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