British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has ordered a report to assess developments in the war in Ukraine to weigh London’s military contributions, with senior officials fearing he could take a more cautious approach than his predecessor Boris Johnson. the BBC reports, according to News.ro.
Rishi Sunak and Jeremy HuntPhoto: Simon Walker / Avalon / Profimedia Images
Downing Street insists Rishi Sunak is firmly behind Ukraine, but the Prime Minister’s request has raised alarm among some Whitehall officials, as military commanders say arms deliveries to Ukraine could prove decisive in the winter months that will follow.
A Whitehall source compared the exercise to examine the war and how British military equipment is being used to a “Goldman Sachs-style blackboard”.
“Wars are not won at the table. Wars are won by instinct. In the beginning, it was Boris (Johnson) who sat down and said: ‘Let’s get into it’. So Rishi has to channel his inner Boris on foreign policy,” the BBC source said.
According to her, the audit, which is called a “data-driven analysis”, is designed to assess the progress of the war and the significance of the UK’s military contributions to Ukraine.
“It is not about a declaration of intent. It is about analyzing what we have invested and what we have obtained”, said the source.
Zelenski is trying to cheer up the British Prime Minister
According to the BBC, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is aware of the debate that has arisen in Britain regarding the support given to Ukraine and is encouraging Rishi Sunak to maintain strong military support for his country.
“President Zelenski felt what was happening. So he spoke to Rishi. He tries to inspire him, telling him that the British are the great liberators, great fighters. We need you. Live up to expectations!”, said the source quoted by the BBC.
Rishi Sunak’s first trip abroad after becoming prime minister on October 25 was to Ukraine, the BBC reminds. In a tweet, Rishi Sunak said at the time that the UK would stand by Ukraine “to the end”.
Britain has been one of the biggest providers of military aid to Kyiv since forces sent by Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in February.
But the UK is now facing strikes and industrial action unprecedented in decades due to the cost of living crisis and the Tory government’s refusal to raise wages to meet rising inflation.
The British military wants continued strong support for Ukraine
Rishi Sunak’s request for a war assessment comes at a crucial time in the conflict.
High-ranking Whitehall officials believe that Ukraine and Russia have reached an impasse. The only way, they say, for one side to gain an advantage is to substantially increase the supply of weapons.
Russia has effectively run out of supplies, and Ukraine can only restore its weapons arsenal with the help of the US and the main military powers in Europe, led by Great Britain.
Whitehall sources say Admiral Tony Radakin, the Chief of the Defense Staff, conveyed the message in diplomatic terms in a lecture this week. He said that “the Russian military cupboard is empty” and appeared to call for mobilization for continued support for Ukraine.
“Extraordinary times call for an extraordinary response. This explains why Russia is losing. And the free world wins… Provided we maintain our cohesion and determination, the real victory that lies within our reach is much more significant,” he said in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
Ukraine also requested more weaponry this week.
General Valeri Zalujni, head of the Ukrainian armed forces, told “The Economist”: “I know I can defeat this enemy. But I need resources. I need 300 tanks, 600-700 infantry fighting vehicles, 500 howitzers.”
Worries that Rishi Sunak will take a cautious line towards the war
The US Congress gave the Pentagon approval in principle earlier this month to buy substantial armaments for Ukraine. But “The Economist” reported that these weapons may not arrive in time for a spring offensive next year.
Some Whitehall sources see in this approach a sign of US President Joe Biden’s innate caution towards Ukraine, who is more concerned not to cause a wider, global conflict.
There are some fears in Whitehall that Rishi Sunak could end up encouraging the American president’s caution, according to the BBC. The BBC source revealed that so far London has put friendly pressure on the US to increase its support for Ukraine.
“We don’t want Rishi to come and confirm Biden’s caution. We want him to remove her, the way Boris did,” the BBC source said.