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Pankaj Mishra

Ukraine Should Beware of Brits Bearing Gifts

Tory leaders looking to bolster their political fortunes could be making a negotiated end to the war harder to reach. 

Johnson with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv.

Johnson with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv.

Photographer: Peter Nicholls/Getty Images

A negotiated settlement increasingly seems like the only way to end the violence and suffering in Ukraine. Yet, almost unnoticed by world, the path to a ceasefire is being complicated by some long-distance belligerents: three top members of the United Kingdom’s government.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Minister Liz Truss and Defense Minister Ben Wallace have all sought in the war in Ukraine a boost to their political fortunes. For Johnson, Vladimir Putin’s assault came at just the right moment. In late February, he faced the worse crisis of his premiership in “partygate.” Fellow Tories were turning against him over revelations of illegal gatherings at No. 10 Downing Street that Johnson attended, breaking laws that his own government had imposed at the height of the pandemic.