Truss tells allies ‘be tough, get peace – let that be our rallying call’

Foreign Secretary says Russia has now become a ‘global pariah’, with president Vladimir Putin ‘shunned and isolated’.

10 March 2022

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has issued a “rallying call” to allies to “be tough, get peace”, with the world’s eyes on Ukraine.

In a speech in the US on Thursday, the Cabinet minister said the West’s prior “illusions” that “the spread of peace and stability was inevitable” had been “shattered” by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s aggression towards his neighbour.

Giving the Makins Lecture at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, Ms Truss said the Western world was now “paying the price” for “years of complacency”, as Russia “built its capabilities in plain sight”.

“We knew what Putin was doing. We had the intelligence… but actually we didn’t need it, because Putin announced his designs on Ukraine in public,” she said.

“He set his plans down in black and white and put them up on the Kremlin’s website. But still we didn’t want to believe it.

Russia Ukraine War
A women covers herself with a blanket near a damaged fire truck after shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

“Well, we believe it now. The world has woken up. The era of complacency is over. We must rise to this moment.”

She said Russia had become a “global pariah”, with its only allies – aside from Eritrea – now “a vassal state, a rogue state, and a war criminal”.

“In the UN General Assembly 141 countries voted to condemn Russia’s actions,” she said.

“Putin’s only supporters were Syria, Eritrea, Belarus and North Korea. Never did we think the great nation of Russia would be reduced to this – aside from Eritrea, its only allies are now a vassal state, a rogue state, and a war criminal.

“Putin is shunned and isolated. He has made his country a global pariah.”

Making comparisons between the scale of the Ukraine crisis and the World Trade Centre terror attack in 2001, Ms Truss said: “How we respond today will set the pattern for this new era.”

While she said there had been a “phenomenal, united effort” to impose sanctions on the Kremlin, she insisted “we are not doing enough”, calling for allies to ramp up the pressure on Mr Putin’s regime.

She went on to urge the international community to change its approach to dealing with antagonistic world leaders, saying it is time to end “strategic dependence” on hostile and authoritarian states, including a departure from using Russian energy.

It comes after the UK and the US on Tuesday announced they will phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year as part of increased sanctions on Moscow.


She said countries should also be “exploring other possible areas of dependence”.

“Whether it’s minerals or rare earth metals, we should work to prevent future problems before they emerge,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Truss called on allies to strengthen deterrence, pointing out that many countries still do not meet the target of spending 2% of GDP on defence.

And she said leaders must show support to non-Nato countries that “could be the next target of Putin’s aggression”, such as “our friends in the Caucuses and the Western Balkans”.

“We also need to ensure that the global security architecture is fit for this new era,” she added.


“China looms large over this debate,” she said, with Beijing “increasing its assertiveness and expanding its armed forces at breakneck speed”.

“They claim a policy of non-interference. They claim to respect sovereignty and have refused to support Russia’s aggression in the UN. We want to see them follow through on those claims,” she said.

Ms Truss also called for “stronger alliances” to be formed around the world.

“We should be drawing more countries into the orbit of those who are prepared to stand up for sovereignty,” she said.

The Foreign Secretary admitted that “in the past we have sometimes neglected the strategic importance of some countries”, including partners in the Indo-Pacific, Africa and the Gulf.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called for ‘stronger alliances’ to be formed around the world (Rob Pinney/PA)

“They want alternatives to working with authoritarian regimes who load their balance sheets with debt. So we must provide that alternative,” she said.

Ms Truss concluded by saying the West will “not rest” until the Russian president fails in Ukraine and the country’s sovereignty is restored.

“Putin must lose, because the consequences if he doesn’t would be huge,” she said.

“So we will keep strengthening our response… replacing doubt with determination… complacency with conviction. We will never let our guard down again.

“We will be tough… not because we want conflict, but because we want to prevent it.

“Be tough, get peace. In this new era for global security, let that be our rallying call.”

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