Liz Truss is the contender the Russians fear the most

The war in Ukraine has shown everyone’s true colours. 

The United Nations, which has failed to take a decisive stance against Russia’s barbaric actions, is repeating the fate of the League of Nations. 

Once a widely respected human rights organisation, Amnesty International, too, released a report on the Ukrainian military’s tactics amplifying Russian propaganda. 

Germany’s Scholz was painfully slow to react, and France’s Macron seemed more worried about humiliating Putin. 

The ‘never again’ message seems to mean something for only a handful of countries and people. 

The UK and Liz Truss are among them.

Indeed, throughout this contest Liz Truss’ comments regarding Russia’s invasion has made voices like mine feel heard.

For instance, Truss has long stressed that settling for a ‘peace deal’ called for by some European politicians (who usually have a big appetite for Russian gas) is not an option. Her commitment to work with the US and Allies to arm Ukraine gives me hope that – despite currently being outgunned on the battlefield, and seen as an ongoing annoyance by many in the West – with friends like Britain, Ukraine will prevail. 

When Boris Johnson resigned, anxiety over the UK’s continued role in the war clouded the hearts and minds of the Ukrainians. I remember my father sending me articles about the UK political soap opera, lamenting the prospect of leadership change. While his support wavered in the UK, Ukrainians love Boris Johnson. This is best illustrated by the  overwhelming number of memes, songs, and accolades about and awarded to him. Russians, by contrast, generously threw insults and jokes at him. Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, linked the resignation to Johnson’s consistent efforts to tackle Russia.

How often Russia speaks about someone says much about who is feared and who is irrelevant. Unlike Rishi Sunak, Truss is mentioned a lot. Truss’ determination to see Russia lose the war against Ukraine gained her a reputation as ‘a bloodthirsty and extremely destructive person’ on a Telegram channel run by the Kremlin mouthpiece Zakharova.

Russia is obsessed with the past, and with an extreme revisionist thirst, it picks up minor events and sayings to ridicule the West. Russians continually bring up Truss’ February 2021 visit to Moscow, during which she fell into a geography trap set by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and called Rostov and Voronezh Ukrainian territories. They said it shows her limited understanding of the historical tensions between Russia and Ukraine. 

These accusations shouldn’t fool Brits – Russians know they can’t win the war against the UK and the West, so all they have left is jumping on minuscule miswordings. And by the way, Truss was right; Rostov is ethnically Ukrainian territory and Voronezh used to have a large Ukrainian community.

As a Ukrainian in the UK, I am coping with the war in Ukraine – where most of my family remains – and the domestic cost of living crisis. I understand that settling for a quick peace deal with Russia might seem like a panacea to many global and national challenges and that Liz Truss’s ideas about inflation probably concern the British public more than her strategy to tackle Russia.  

However, having my world completely shattered in the early morning on 24 February and seeing the people of my country being burnt, tortured, raped, and slaughtered daily, I invite everyone to reflect on the bigger picture and priorities of the prime ministerial contenders. Ukraine should get more weapons, and no one has a right to pressure Ukraine to surrender. Liz Truss understands that, and with her in charge, we won’t need to dig trenches in Calais.

Maria Chaplia is a Ukrainian student in London

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