WASHINGTON: The United States announced new military aid for Ukraine, which a British envoy said involved Moscow seeking hundreds of ballistic missiles and offering unprecedented military support in return.
Meanwhile, the Russian-installed administration of Ukraine’s Kherson region said on Saturday that it had begun changing locally circulated Ukrainian hryvnia currency into Russian roubles, with hryvnia circulation in Moscow-controlled areas of the region to end on January 1.
In a video published on Telegram by the region’s Moscow-appointed administration, Andrei Peretonkin, head of the Russian central bank’s local branch, said: “For the sake of the convenience of residents and to allow for a smoother integration of the region into the Russian economic space, this week banks in Kherson region began currency exchange operations.” Previously, the Russian-installed administration had said that both the rouble and hryvnia would be accepted in Kherson region.
Russian forces took control of most of Kherson region in the early days of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine, and declared it annexed to Russia in September after a referendum condemned by Ukraine and Western countries.
Less than two months later, Russian forces withdrew from Kherson city under pressure from a Ukrainian counteroffensive, while continuing to hold most of the region’s territory.
British former prime minister Boris Johnson has urged western countries to “look urgently” at what more they can do to support Ukraine in the hopes of ending the war against Russia as soon as next year.
The former prime minister, who was hailed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as a key ally in the country’s fight against Russia, used an article in the Wall Street Journal to argue that ending the war as soon as possible is “in everyone’s interest, including Russia”.
He said that while the significant financial commitment to Ukraine is “painful” during a period of budgetary constraints, “time is money, and the longer this goes on the more we will all end up paying in military support”.
Johnson has remained a vocal supporter of Ukrainian efforts since leaving office in September.
His successor Rishi Sunak, who visited Kyiv last month, has pledged to continue UK backing for Ukraine.
The former prime minister wrote: “There is no land-for-peace deal to be done, even if Putin were offering it and even if he were to be trusted, which he is not.
“Since the war can end only one way, the question is how fast we get to the inevitable conclusion.
“It’s in everyone’s interest, including Russia’s, that the curtain comes down as soon as possible on Putin’s misadventure. Not in 2025, not in 2024, but in 2023.”
Johnson warns that next winter could prove even more difficult than this one, as gas supplies run low for countries once reliant on Russian fuel. “It is time to look urgently at what more the West can do to help the Ukrainians achieve their military objectives. That’s the only plausible basis on which a conversation about the future could begin.”
He also rejected any suggestion that Nato provoked Vladimir Putin into invading Ukraine, as he said the response from western countries to Russia’s war had helped “atone” for years of failing to standup to the Kremlin.
“Decades of western lassitude and irresolution about Ukraine’s status. enticed the bully to make his mistake.
“The West has atoned for this failure with a stunning display of coherence and unity since February. We must be stronger and bolder.” — Agencies