In a resounding display of solidarity, Foreign Secretary David Cameron embarked on his first diplomatic foray abroad to Ukraine, underscoring Britain’s unwavering commitment for the nation at war.
David Cameron was holding prime-ministerial office when the war in Ukraine broke out in 2014, so he is not new to this challenge. However, he returns to government in a vastly transformed geopolitical landscape, fraught with complexities far beyond those he faced when he left office in 2016.
Once an advocate for optimism in the Putin-West relationship, Camron’s past hope has now been unequivocally shattered. As the newly appointed foreign secretary, it is imperative for him to clarify his stance on the evolving dynamics between Russia and the West.
Despite the arising geopolitical challenges in the Middle East reverberating through domestic politics, the UK has maintained its commitment to aiding Ukraine, pledging £2.3 billion in 2024 – echoing the financial support provided in the preceding year. Looking ahead, the focal point of UK-Ukraine relations in the coming year will be the expansion of private-public partnerships in the military-industrial complex, potentially paving the way for joint ventures with British defence companies.
The UK’s pivotal role in the Rammstein format – a US-led Ukraine Defence Contact Group encompassing over 50 nations – positions Britain at the forefront of international efforts to support Ukraine. Notably, the UK spearheads the Maritime Capability Coalition within this framework, contributing to Ukraine’s success in revitalising its maritime trade despite challenges such as Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea Grains Initiative earlier this year.
In 2023, Ukraine demonstrated resilience in the maritime sector, ensuring the security of grain and other cargoes departing from Blac Sea ports to African nations. Over 100 ships have successfully navigated from Ukrainian ports, showcasing the effectiveness of the country’s independent efforts.
Looking forward to 2024, the UK’s role in shaping the global response to war on Ukraine remains crucial. Key expectations include garnering support for Ukraine’s NATO membership during the Washington NATO summit, facilitating the training of Ukrainian soldiers both in the UK and potentially on the ground in Ukraine, and negotiating bilateral security guarantees ahead of membership in NATO.
Navigating the complex geopolitics of our era, the Foreign Secretary faces nuanced challenges, particularly in shaping the UK’s stance on China, which has previously sparked questions. Despite these intricacies, the steadfast dedication to Ukraine serves as a poignant illustration of the United Kingdom’s significant impact on the global stage.
Aliona Hlivco is the Managing Director at the Henry Jackson Society, for press queries please contact [email protected].