The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing a paradigm shift on the scale of 9/11 in how democracy will confront future threats, the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, will predict in Washington on Thursday.
She will call for the west to stand up to authoritarian regimes, saying the west must rise to this moment and pledge that it must never allow such aggression to grow unchecked as it had over the past decade.
In previous remarks, she has qualified her attacks on authoritarian regimes by saying some regimes that do not intend to undermine the west can be treated differently. No 10, pressed on Wednesday on whether it regarded Saudi Arabia as an authoritarian regime, she hedged.
In her speech to the Atlantic Council, Truss will say: “Putin has launched a full-frontal assault not just on the Ukrainian people, but also on the very foundation of our societies and the rules by which we coexist – sovereignty, democracy, the ONE charter.
“He has shattered the architecture of global security. The invasion of Ukraine is a paradigm shift on the scale of 9/11. How we respond today will set the pattern for this new era.
“If we let Putin’s expansionism go unchallenged it would send a dangerous message to would-be aggressors and authoritarians around the world. We can’t allow that to happen.
“We must start with the principle that the only thing aggressors understand is strength… and we must start by working together to stop Putin’s offensive in Ukraine.”
She will insist: “That means acting now. It means being tough – because we know that the costs will only rise if we don’t. The public understands the gravity of this moment. They see the terrible suffering caused by this pre-planned, barbaric and illegal invasion against a European democracy and they recognize that the world has changed.”
She will again call for ending strategic dependence on hostile and authoritarian states, citing the threat posed by Russian energy.
In remarks that are largely directed at countries that are most dependent on Russian energy, such as Italy and Germany, she will say: “We must go further on sanctions to keep tightening the vice – including a full Swift ban, freezing all Russian banking assets , and encouraging more countries to join the effort.”
Germany has been pressing for Russian energy-related banks to be kept within the Swift banking system.
Truss will say: “We want a situation where they can’t access their funds, they can’t clear their payments, their trade can’t flow, their ships can’t dock and their plans can’t land. We must work together to ensure justice is done at the International Criminal Court and Putin is held to account for his actions by him.
“And we must do more to deliver defensive weapons and respond to the growing humanitarian emergency. We will do all of this. And we will shape this new era for global security.”
Truss is also expected to deliver a message to the US Congress that the UK is acting against Russian oligarchs following mounting criticism amongst US politicians and media outlets that the UK has laid out the welcome mat for the oligarchs and is now finding it difficult, mainly for legal reasons, to take the tough action being shown by the EU and the US.
The UK is passing legislation that will allow it to sanction anyone in the UK jurisdiction so long as they have been sanctioned by the US, Canada or the EU, a move that is some distance from the original claim by Brexiters that a distinct UK sanctions regime would make the UK regime more agile.
It instead appears that the Foreign Office fears the UK legislation, due to amendments passed by parliament, provides too many avenues through which Russian oligarchs can appeal sanction designations in the courts.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism