Boris Johnson will use G7 and Nato summits to urge France and Germany to provide more military support to Ukraine and warn them against any attempt to push president Volodymyr Zelensky into a “bad” peace deal.
This week’s conferences in Germany and Spain offer the beleaguered prime minister – battling to stave off a new leadership challenge at home – the chance to talk about strong British backing for Kyiv.
Mr Johnson said he is not worried about rebel Tory MPs plotting to oust him while he is out of the country until Thursday – rejecting calls to come home and reassert his authority following disastrous by-election defeats.
The prime minister will instead travel to the Bavarian Alps for the G7 on Sunday, where he will warn fellow leaders against “fatigue” when it comes to Ukraine’s fight against Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia.
“Too many countries are saying this is a European war that is unnecessary … and so the pressure will grow to encourage – coerce, maybe – the Ukrainians to a bad peace,” Mr Johnson told broadcasters in Rwanda before leaving for the G7.
The PM added: “My message to colleagues at the G7 and at Nato in particular is … now is not the time to settle and encourage the Ukrainians to settle for a bad peace, for a peace for which they are invited to give up chunks of their territory in return for a ceasefire.”
No 10 announced that the UK government was ready to provide another £429m in loans to Ukraine to address fears it could run out of funding by the autumn.
Mr Johnson’s official spokesperson said the PM would challenge fellow leaders to “empower president Zelensky and Ukraine to achieve the outcome they want.
“That’s what the prime minister will be asking at the G7 and Nato summit as he encourages fellow leaders to increase their economic, military and political support for Ukraine.”
French president Emmanuel Macron was criticised for negotiating with Putin at the start of the invasion and saying Russia must not be “humiliated”, raising fears Ukraine could be pushed into a “s****y” compromise deal.
“There is a big fight on to give Zelensky the space and reassurance that if he wants to hold on and not settle for a s****y peace that he will have enough support,” a senior UK government source told The Telegraph.
German chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted this week that Ukraine and Russia were still “far, far away” from peace talks “because Putin still believes in the possibility of a dictatorial peace”.
However, Germany has been slow to deliver a significant amount of weaponry to Ukraine, despite the promise of “comprehensive” assistance. “Deliveries from Germany are still less than they could be,” Mr Zelensky said last week.
EU leaders at the European Council summit agreed this week to make Ukraine a candidate to join the bloc, much to the delight of Mr Zelensky, who insisted: “Ukraine’s future is in the EU.”
But the EU’s heads of state have said little about the need for the arms, ammunition and equipment to help the country, with Ukraine pushing for more heavy weapons and air defence system supplies.
Britain has committed around £1.3bn worth of military and economic support to Ukraine since the invasion in February, and will lead a new three-week training programme of Ukrainian troops.
Mr Johnson and fellow G7 leaders are also set to discuss ways to “drain the grain” from Ukraine, after Russia’s blockade of Black Sea ports has prevented the country from exporting much of the more than 20 million tonnes of grain stored in its silos.
Turkey, a member of Nato, is trying to broker talks between the UN, Ukraine and Russia to create a safe sea corridor in the Black Sea, but Moscow wants some western sanctions lifted first to facilitate grain and fertiliser exports.
“We are working with the Turks and other European friends and allies to see what we can do,” the prime minister said before flying out to Germany for talks.
He then travels to Madrid for the start of the Nato summit on Tuesday, where the military alliance will discuss whether to allow Finland and Sweden to join.
Mr Johnson rejected a call from senior Tory MP Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown who said the prime minister should “come home” and outline how to “resolve the really serious situation the country is in”.