British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said London would be the first country to send long-range missiles to Kiev. Meanwhile, statements from top American and French officials indicate support for Ukraine in Washington and Paris may be weakening.
At the Munich Security Conference, Sunak said Ukraine "must win the war." During his speech, the British leader called on other Western leaders to "double down" on their support for Kiev.
A different message is coming out of the White House. Last week, The Washington Post reported that a senior administration official said, "we will continue to try to impress upon them that we can’t do anything and everything forever." Last month, CIA Director William Burns also told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a secret meeting, "at some point, assistance would be harder to come by."
Officials say the Biden administration believes that after the current Congressional funding for Ukraine is exhausted, it will be harder to rally more political support. In less than a year, Congress has authorized the White House to spend over $100 billion on the Ukrainian war effort.
Still, Sunak says London will press ahead. On Sunday in Munich, he announced "The United Kingdom will be the first country to provide Ukraine with longer-range weapons." He continued, "and it’s why we’re working with our allies to give Ukraine the most advanced air defense systems and build the air force they need to defend their nation."
He pointed to London’s ability to push its NATO partners to send arms to Ukraine during his speech. "We became the first country in the world to provide tanks," he said. On January 14, London said it would send its advanced Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine. However, Poland had previously pledged to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev.
After the British announcement on tanks, Washington and Berlin agreed to send M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks. Germany then agreed to send up to an additional 178 Leopard 1 tanks.
Sunak claimed Putin’s strategy is to split the alliance but sticking together will break Moscow’s resolve. "When Putin started this war, he believed that our resolve would falter. Even now, he is betting that we will lose our nerves." He continued, "we will prove him wrong now."
Sunak went on to say the alliance should extend security guarantees to Kiev to help Ukraine defend itself "again and again."
Providing such assurances to Kiev will cross Russia’s redlines and drive Moscow closer to conflict with the North Atlantic alliance. French President Emmanual Macron said Paris wanted to avoid conflict with Russia in an interview published on Saturday.
“I do not think, as some people do, that we must aim for a total defeat of Russia, attacking Russia on its own soil. Those observers want to, above all else, crush Russia." He added, "that has never been the position of France and it will never be our position.”