Why Ukrainians Have Real Doubts About Liz Truss
Britain's new prime minister has not hidden the fact that she is focused on the domestic economic crisis gripping her country. That could sway her from the hardline anti-Russia stance of outgoing prime minister, Boris Johnson. Also, Truss has flip-flopped before.
KYIV — Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, then Foreign Minister Liz Truss took the same strict line as her former boss Boris Johnson. The words "push Russia out of the whole of Ukraine" belong to her.
Now that Truss is British Prime Minister, will her actions be as decisive as her words? A great advantage for Ukraine is that Truss has been keeping her finger on the pulse of international politics for a year in her role as head of the UK foreign ministry. This can, for example, significantly simplify and speed up all subsequent decisions on increasing military aid.
In July, she also said that the UK "will do everything possible to ensure Ukraine wins the war and recovers. We need to be in this for the long haul."
And yet ...
Unlike Johnson, Truss is expected to be focused on taking quick and effective actions in domestic politics. The country is experiencing one of the biggest economic crises in its history: Inflation has reached an unprecedented level of 10%, and the GDP has shrunk for the third month in a row.
Last week, Britain faced large-scale strikes, and the protest movement is not going to die down anytime soon. Truss has already promised a "bold plan" to support the economy. It is true that the British domestic crisis is directly connected with international events, particularly Russia's war against Ukraine. So we know for sure that Liz Truss will have a double responsibility.
Protesters from ''Don't Pay UK'' (DPUK) initiative hold banners outside 10, Downing Street
Soaring energy prices
Today, each British family pays an average of one thousand pounds per year for energy (light and heating). According to forecasts, this figure is likely to double this year, and could eventually reach 3,000 pounds. Some say that if the state does not take any measures, energy bills could wind up totaling up to 5,000 pounds a year.
Why such a massive rise? Two-thirds of British homes are heated by gas. The country produces half of the blue fuel for its own needs in the North Sea, imports half from Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and until recently 4% from Russia.
The prime minister is expected to freeze prices.
Yes, Britain's dependence on Moscow in this regard is small. But its dependence on global gas prices on the international market — particularly the European Union, to which it is connected by a gas pipeline — is extraordinary. Prices have increased by 400% in a year, and by 30% in the last week alone, immediately after Gazprom's statement on the termination of supplies from the Nord Stream pipeline.
It is clear why Truss' attention will, for the moment, be directed squarely at internal problems. Against the background of such a large-scale crisis, the prime minister is expected to freeze prices, and for British conservatives, this is a rather atypical step. Yes, first test for Truss will be within the UK.
National security first
The security of Britain itself is also a priority for Truss. At the last major NATO summit in Madrid this summer, as foreign minister, she called on member states to increase their contributions to 2% of GDP and expressed support for Finland and Sweden in their bid to join the Atlantic alliance, which she says "deters aggressors" in an increasingly tense world.
A biography of 'variability.'
Still, there is another reason for doubt in Ukraine, and it comes from the biography of Truss, which is characterized by some ... variability. Until 2016, she was one of the most pro-European politicians in the kingdom, calling Brexit a "triple tragedy" for the country. After the British voted to leave the EU, she turned into an ardent Euroskeptic, which helped her make a career in the ranks of the Conservative Party, ultimately reaching the most important seat.
It remains to be seen if the new leader of Britain will demonstrate greater consistency when it comes to the question of Russian aggression.
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