PM warns against forcing Ukraine to accept ‘bad peace deal’

Boris Johnson has warned NATO allies it would be a “disaster” to pressure Ukraine into agreeing to a “bad peace” deal that would see swaths of territory ceded to Vladimir Putin. The prime minister said there was little hope of sending the navy to save grain from the Russian president’s blockade as he considered talks with Turkey to prevent starvation from being a consequence of the invasion.

There are fears in Kyiv that Germany and France could push President Volodymyr Zelensky to agree to a ceasefire deal that would see him hand over land to Moscow.

Mr Johnson, who is attending a Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Rwanda ahead of talks with G7 and NATO allies in Europe in the coming days, warned there is ‘no doubt that there is a lot of Ukrainian fatigue in the world”.

“But I think they will win. I know they will win. This is their country. They are desperately fighting for this,” he told reporters traveling with him in Kigali.

“But they need to be properly supported. So my message to colleagues in the G7 and in NATO in particular is going to be that now is not the time to be satisfied and to encourage the Ukrainians to be satisfied with a bad peace, a peace by which they are asked to give up parts of their territory in exchange for a ceasefire.

“I think it would be a disaster. It would be a trigger for further escalation by Putin whenever he wants. It would cause much more economic damage to the world.

Children dance near a building destroyed in Russian attacks in Borodyanka, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine

One of the key elements of the NATO talks in Madrid will be freeing Ukraine’s more than 20 tonnes of grain before it rots, a crisis that takes on added importance as farmers harvest their 2022 crops with a lack of storage space. Foreign Minister Liz Truss will use talks in Turkey on Thursday to raise the possibility of safe passage of ships to save grain.

Mr Johnson said there is a ‘strong moral case’ for getting the grain out of Odessa and across the Black Sea, a perilous task thanks to Russian ships and mines. He was focused on Turkish talks to find a way to get the grain safely through, but conceded “we are a long way” from sending British boats on a recovery mission.

“A lot of countries that we are going to see depend on this type of grain. Some of the poorest countries in the world are absolutely dependent on Ukrainian grain,” the prime minister said.

“What is happening now in Ukraine is not solely responsible for soaring food prices around the world. It would be a gross exaggeration to think so. But it is a factor. We have to do everything we can to get him out.

“Under the Montreux Convention we cannot, no navy can now enter the Black Sea, the Turks will not allow that to happen. But we certainly have to find a way to get the grain out that is not not subject to Putin’s control.

“It takes a lot of care and thought, and we are working with the Turks and other European partners to see what we can do. But we are far from trying to send the navy across the Bosphorus and into the Black Sea. But I see why you think like that.

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