Vladimir Putin a 'desperate rogue operator', Liz Truss says

While the rhetoric ramps up internationally, it's Ukraine's people who continue to suffer - as Rebecca Barry reports

Vladimir Putin is a “desperate rogue operator” with no interest in international norms, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said.

In a keynote foreign policy speech, Ms Truss called on Western allies to make sure Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gets the heavy weaponry his country needs in its fightback against Moscow's invasion.

Meanwhile, Russia's president warned of a "lightning fast" response to anything he regards as outside interference.

In her speech, Ms Truss also said the UK needed to strengthen its military while building alliances with free nations around the world, using their economic power to deter aggressors who “do not play by the rules”.

She said the G7 group of leading industrialised nations should act as an “economic Nato” defending collective prosperity, while the Western military alliance must be prepared to open its doors to countries such as Finland and Sweden.

Speaking at the Mansion House in the City of London, Ms Truss singled out China, which has refused to condemn the invasion of Ukraine, while increasing imports from Russia and commenting on “who should or shouldn’t be a Nato member”.

Liz Truss wants to West to send Ukraine more weapons to help it defeat its invading neighbour. Credit: AP

“China is not impervious. They will not continue to rise if they do not play by the rules,” she said.

“China needs trade with the G7. We represent around half of the global economy. And we have choices.

Ms Truss said the international architecture intended to guarantee peace and prosperity had failed Ukraine in the face of an attack by a “desperate rogue operator”, in the shape of Vladimir Putin, with no interest in international norms.

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“Russia is able to block any effective action in the UN Security Council. Putin sees his veto as a green light to barbarism,” she said.

President Vladimir Putin gave a speech of his own on Wednesday, in which he vowed to his nation's parliament that the goals of the country’s "military operation" in Ukraine will be achieved.

He said: “I want to emphasise again that all the tasks of the special military operation we are conducting in the Donbas and Ukraine, launched on February 24, will be unconditionally fulfilled.”

That, he said, will “guarantee the security of the residents” of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, as well as Crimea - which Russia annexed in 2014 - “and our entire country in the historical perspective”.

Also on Wednesday, Polish and Bulgarian leaders accused Moscow of using natural gas to blackmail their countries after Russia’s state-controlled energy company stopped supplying them with gas.

European Union leaders echoed those comments and were holding an emergency meeting on the Russian move.

Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki told Poland’s parliament that he thinks the suspension was revenge for new sanctions against Russia that Warsaw imposed over the war in Ukraine.