British Conservative peer and former party leader William Hague of Richmond has warned of the “danger of getting desensitised” to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Amid the Tory leadership contest, the former Foreign Secretary described Russia’s actions as the “main thing happening and the threat to everybody’s security and economic prosperity”.
He told Times Radio: “Imagine if there hadn’t been a Ukraine war, that if suddenly terrorists had taken over one of the biggest nuclear power plants in Europe and were stacking explosives around it and starting to shell people from it that would be the biggest news in the world, it would be what everybody in Europe would be talking about.
“We’re getting so used to “oh, there’s a war going on over there” that when that happens, the Russians are firing from around that plant, to put explosives and mines there, potentially, a potential nuclear catastrophe, in the view of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it’s not such big news any more, is it?”
“I mean, it is on the news, but it’s not dominating things, so this sort of getting desensitised to the war is a dangerous thing because it is the main thing happening and the threat to everybody’s security and economic prosperity, in the end.”
Hague cautioned Europe against appeasement, warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin “will come back for more,” the DPA news agency reported.
He added: “We won’t solve anything in our own domestic situation if we lose the will to support a country that is struggling for its own democracy, fighting for its own territory. There’s a danger here that some people might think (in) Britain or perhaps more so in Italy, Germany, France, that this problem can be bought off.”
“Really, the point is it can’t be bought off because if you buy it off, Putin will come back for more, and we have learnt through history that this can be a terrible error, appeasing a dictator.”
“So we do have to — I’m raising this argument because I think there is a danger of people forgetting the main thing that’s happening and the dangers that it presents over the coming months.”
According to UK Defence Intelligence, Russia’s actions have “likely undermined the security and safety” of operations at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
The Ministry of Defence earlier raised concerns regarding the Zaporizhzhia facility, which was taken over by Russian troops in March shortly after the February 24 invasion of Ukraine. UN Nuclear Chief Rafael Grossi last week said the power plant in the south-eastern Ukrainian city of Enerhodar is “completely out of control”.
In a phone call on Tuesday afternoon, Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed on the importance of not allowing “western war fatigue” to disrupt efforts to support Ukraine.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “On Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Macron both stressed the importance of the international community continuing to support the people of Ukraine in their struggle.
“They agreed that the UK and French efforts to train and equip Ukrainian troops were making a significant difference in the war and that western war fatigue cannot be allowed to set in. President Macron praised the Prime Minister’s leadership in Ukraine.”