War on Ukraine: an assessment of the military and political role of the UK

How has Britain responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and what lessons have been learned?

Members event, Panel
26 May 2022 — 12:00PM TO 1:00PM

The UK has responded emphatically to the war, strongly condemning Russia’s attack and declaring that ‘The UK stands with Ukraine’. From military to supplies to a comprehensive sanctions list, the Johnson government is positioning itself at the forefront of support for Ukraine. Britain had been heavily involved in training Ukraine’s forces before the war began. Ministers assert that post-Brexit Britain has more agility to respond to events on the ground, compared to say the EU, a response Voldomyr Zelenskyy has praised.

But for the positives of its performance since war broke out, Britain has a less impressive past. The steady stream of money that created ‘Londongrad’ and the UK’s role in washing the money of Kremlin officials close to Vladimir Putin has degraded Britain’s moral position. Furthermore, the then-Coalition government’s tame response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea can also be questioned.

Ever since the war began, questions have been asked about the government’s Ukraine strategy, particularly its record on welcoming refugees. As for the future, will Britain’s incessant antagonism towards the EU deprive it of a say in negotiations over an eventual settlement for Ukraine?

This event will discuss Britain’s military and political role in supporting Ukraine since February. Key questions include:

  • To what extent has Prime Minister Boris Johnson spearheaded international efforts to support Ukraine?

  • In what areas could Britain do more?

  • To what extent is the charge of hypocrisy against the UK government, for its previous dealings with Russia, valid?

  • Are we seeing the formation of a Johnson foreign policy doctrine based on the UK’s response to the war?

  • Can the UK’s response to Russia be applied globally in support of allies in other regions, notably in the Indo-Pacific?

This is part of Chatham House’s ongoing work on the UKs role in the world.

As with all Chatham House member events, questions from members drive the conversation.

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