Liz Truss on Thursday night described herself as a “freedom fighter” on Ukraine, telling Conservative Party members they could trust her to do all she can to ensure Vladimir Putin is defeated.
The Foreign Secretary said she would make Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, the first foreign leader she calls if she is chosen as the next prime minister, pledging to follow in Boris Johnson’s footsteps and be Kyiv’s “greatest friend”.
Ms Truss said she would urge G7 nations to provide more lethal and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and “commit completely to ensuring Putin fails and suffers a strategic defeat, and that Russia is constrained in the future”.
She also pledged to rewrite the integrated defence and security review to focus on threats from Russia and an “increasingly assertive” China, which will include a promise to spend three per cent of GDP on defence by 2030.
Writing for The Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary said: “Fundamentally, I am a freedom fighter. My instinct is always to defend freedom whenever it is under threat.
“The British people can trust me to do what is right and necessary on Ukraine, and to defend our freedom at home and abroad. My first and last priority will always be Britain’s safety and security.”
The integrated review, published in March last year, was completed before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Nato’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. It sets out the Government’s vision for Britain's role in the world over the next decade.
Ms Truss said she would be “completely committed” to a Ukrainian victory over Russia.
She promised to commit the UK to playing a lead role in a “new Marshall Plan” for Ukraine – working with allies to provide technical and financial assistance towards reconstruction – pledging immediate assistance and long-term commitments to work alongside the Ukrainians.
As prime minister, she would host the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Britain next year, bringing Kyiv and its allies to London, and answer Mr Zelensky’s call for Britain to lead reconstruction efforts.
The UK would join a supervisory board to coordinate the recovery process between Kyiv and Ukraine’s allies, which will include the establishment of an office in London.
She wrote: “What transpires in Ukraine matters to us all. This isn’t just a battle for territory or a conflict between two nations, but a great struggle between those who believe in sovereignty and self-determination, and authoritarians who want to crush freedom and true democracy.
“As prime minister I will be Ukraine’s greatest friend – following in the footsteps of Boris Johnson – and commit completely to ensuring Putin fails in Ukrane and suffers a strategic defeat, and that Russia is constrained in the future.
“This conflict is in the balance, and now is not the time for soundings off about concessions and compromises to an appalling dictator.
“Working with our partners in the West, we need to carry on providing weapons, aid, and diplomatic support under the terms of Article 51 of the UN Charter. I am the candidate the British people can trust on Ukraine, and that they can trust to defend our freedom at home and abroad.”