oris Johnson called for an “international humanitarian coalition” to help defeat Russia as he unveiled a plan to save Ukraine from what he described as Vladimir Putin’s “hideous, barbarous assault”.
It is part of a concerted high-level effort to end the war with the Israeli Prime Minister meeting President Putin in Moscow on Saturday and more peace talks scheduled for Monday.
The moves come amid continuing fighting on the ground and accusations Russia is using local ceasefires to gather its forces for further attacks with thousands of people trapped in besieged cities including Mariupol.
Mr Johnson said “it is not future historians but the people of Ukraine who will be our judge” over how the world reacts to Putin’s “hideous, barbarous assault”.
Ahead of a swathe of meetings in coming days, Mr Johnson said: “Putin must fail and must be seen to fail in this act of aggression.
“It is not enough to express our support for the rules-based international order – we must defend it against a sustained attempt to rewrite the rules by military force.”
Mr Johnson is set to call on his counterparts worldwide to make a “renewed and concerted effort” to tackle Mr Putin.
Writing in the New York Times, he said leaders must mobilise an “international humanitarian coalition” for Ukraine and support the country “in its efforts to provide for its own self-defence”.
He also called for increased economic pressure on the Kremlin and said leaders must resist the “creeping normalisation” of what Russia is doing.
The PM will hammer home his message when he meets with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Rutte at Downing Street on Monday before on Tuesday he hosts leaders of the V4 group of central European nations – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
It comes as President Putin likened the West’s sanctions on Russia, which have crippled its economy and sent the value of its currency tumbling, to “declaring war”.
Ukraine and Russia remain deadlocked on the battlefield and the failure to enforce the temporary cease-fire in Mariupol and the eastern city of Volnovakha showed the fragility of efforts to stop the fighting.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the proposed ceasefire in Mariupol was “likely an attempt to deflect international condemnation while resetting its force for renewed offensive activity”. Ukrainian officials said Russian artillery fire and airstrikes stopped residents from leaving before the agreed-to evacuations got underway but Putin accused Ukraine of sabotaging the effort.
The failure to create humanitarian corridors to allow children, women and the older adults to flee the fighting will top the agenda on Monday when Ukrainian officials meet representatives from the Kremlin for peace talks.
At least 351 civilians have been confirmed killed since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, but the true number is probably much higher, the U.N. human rights office has said.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said 10,000 Russian troops had died in the war and that his forces were “inflicting losses on the occupants they could not see in their worst nightmare”.
Ukraine’s military might is vastly outmatched by Russia’s, but its military and volunteer forces have fought back with tenacity since the invasion and even in cities that have fallen to the Russians there are signs of resistance.
Onlookers in Chernihiv cheered as they watched a Russian military plane fall from the sky and crash, according to video released Saturday by the Ukrainian government. In Kherson, hundreds of people protested the invasion, shouting, “Go home.”