Paul Bristow is a British Member of Parliament and Private Secretary to Cabinet Minister Nadine Dorries. He talks to the Kyiv Post about Russian aggression and what needs to be done to ensure Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defeat in Ukraine.
KP: Paul, what is your overall understanding of this war?
PB: It’s a war of blatant aggression by Putin and by Russia. They’ve decided to inflict on the Ukrainian people the might of their war machine. But they completely underestimated the will of Ukrainians, their self-determination and ability to resist.
They’re not only losing this war but showing they are anything but the great military power that they claim to be. What we see is Putin’s total disregard for the lives of his own young men. He’s sending thousands upon thousands to Ukraine to fight and die, many of whom don’t even want to go.
The Ukrainian people are fighting like lions.
KP: Do you think Boris Johnson has done enough to support Ukraine?
PB: The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was unequivocal in his support for the people of Ukraine. He led the international response to Putin’s aggression, where other countries were slow to act, or in one or two cases were keener on placating Putin.
Boris Johnson understood that Ukraine wasn’t going to negotiate over its territory, that it needed support and arms to resist, and that if we were able to give Ukraine those arms and the means to resist, then that’s exactly what we would do.
KP: The war is fading away from the front pages in the U.K. Some British journalists even claim to have ‘Ukraine fatigue’, yet haven’t tired from reporting, for the past year or so, about Boris Johnson eating birthday cake and Keir Starmer drinking a bottle of beer during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Do British journalists have their priorities right?
PB: No, they haven’t. There are elements of the media in this country that have never reconciled themselves to several things: i) Boris being Prime Minister; ii) a realignment in politics, where the Conservatives are representing working people; and iii) that the people of the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, believing that Britain can be a great force for good in the world. That is clearly something that, through the crisis in Ukraine, we’re now demonstrating.
Britain is a significant country. It is a country of great economic power, and a country that is willing to use that power to aid an ally. That’s what we’re doing for Ukraine. The ongoing war in Ukraine may leave the front pages and the television news bulletins for a while, but the fate of Ukrainians certainly won’t leave the minds and hearts of the British people.
I’ve got a big Ukrainian community in my constituency of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and I fully stand with them.
KP: How are ordinary citizens in your constituency helping Ukraine?
PB: The Ukrainian church in Woodston here in Peterborough has been extraordinary. The way they have brought people from across the city together to support the efforts in Ukraine has been considerable.
We’ve also seen countless companies and individuals use their spare time, money and resources to send supplies and equipment to Ukraine. They’ve also brought Ukrainian refugees to Peterborough and people are giving up their homes to Ukrainians to give them the support they need.
KP: What further help, militarily and financially, is the British government planning to provide Ukraine?
PB: The lesson is that if you put the arms and equipment into the hands of the Ukrainian army, they will prevail. And that’s what we need to do. We need to stop any sort of pretense that a compromise can be reached with Russia while they occupy Ukrainian territory.
What Britain needs to do first and foremost is to lead the international effort to make our allies such as Germany and other NATO members understand that we can’t negotiate with Putin. There can’t be a situation where a portion of Ukrainian territory is permanently annexed by Russia. That just won’t stand.
So that’s one of the most useful things that Britain can do, to actually stiffen the resolve of fellow NATO members who might be growing tired of Russian isolationism because they’re dependent on Russian gas.
We need to continue providing international aid, weapons, and all the assistance we can. One of the most important things that must be done is to stiffen the resolve of NATO to never come to an ‘agreement’ with Russia.
KP: Would things be different if Boris Johnson wasn’t the Prime Minister and if the main opposition Labour Party were in charge?
PB: “Let’s not forget that all of the Labour front bench, especially its current leader, Keir Starmer, campaigned for Jeremy Corbyn to become Prime Minister.
Jeremy Corbyn is an apologist for Putin, an apologist for Russian aggression, and a significant player in the campaign that accused NATO, not Russia, of being the aggressor in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. It is an extraordinary and ridiculous claim.
If Jeremy Corbyn was Prime Minister right now, we certainly wouldn’t be allied with Ukraine, and we’d be very much on the periphery of this conflict. We may even be looking at trying to form some kind of agreement with Putin.
That’s not what the people of Ukraine want and that’s not in the interests of the west. When there’s an aggressor, a bully like Putin, the last thing the west needs to do is retreat.
You always need to stand up to bullies, and like I say, Ukraine is standing up to Russian bullies and fighting like lions.”
KP: Finally, a lot of people read the Kyiv Post. What message would you like to give to our Ukrainian readers and to the people of Ukraine in general?
PB: The United Kingdom is with you. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you. This is not just your war; this is our war too.
Our respect for your country and your people has grown enormously, and we will not abandon you in your time of need.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter