Liz Truss: UK should have ‘done more earlier’ to counter Vladimir Putin



LONDON — Former British Prime Minister Liz Truss argued the U.K. should have “done more earlier” to counter Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric before he invaded Ukraine, and said the West depended on Russian oil for too long.

Truss — the U.K.’s shortest-serving prime minister who resigned amid market turmoil last year — was speaking in a House of Commons debate about Ukraine, her first contribution in the chamber as a backbencher since 2012. She has been increasingly vocal on foreign policy since leaving office.

The former prime minister, who as served foreign secretary for Boris Johnson before succeeding him in the top job, recalled receiving a phone call at 3.30 a.m. on the morning of the invasion, and told MPs: “This was devastating news. But as well as being devastating, it was not unexpected.”

Truss praised the “sheer bravery” of Ukrainians defending their country, as well as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his Cabinet for not fleeing the country in the aftermath. “I remember being on a video conference that evening with the defense secretary and our counterparts, who weren’t in Poland, who weren’t in the United States,” she said of Ukraine’s top team. “They were in Kyiv and they were defending their country,” she added.

But while Truss argued Western sanctions had imposed an economic toll on Putin’s Russia, said urged reflection. “The reason that Putin took the action he took is because he didn’t believe we would follow through,” she argued, and said the West should “hold ourselves to high standards.”

Ukraine, she said, should have been allowed to join NATO.

“We were complacent about freedom and democracy after the Cold War,” she said. “We were told it was the end of history and that freedom and democracy were guaranteed and that we could carry on living our lives not worrying about what else could happen.”

Truss urged the U.K. to do all it could to help Ukraine win the war as soon as possible, including sending fighter jets, an ongoing matter of debate in Western capitals despite Ukrainian pleas.

And the former U.K. prime minister said the West should “never again” be “complacent in the face of Russian money, Russian oil and gas,” tying any future lifting of sanctions “to reform in Russia.”

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( With inputs from : )

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