Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron Urges Support For Ukraine, Says Putin Has ‘Already Lost’
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should serve as a “giant wake-up call” to the West, former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said April 1 at an MSC Wiley Lecture Series talk at Texas A&M University’s Rudder Auditorium.
“Ask yourselves, ‘Why do unarmed civilians stand in front of the Russian tanks?'” he said. Behind the determination shown by the Ukrainian people over the last several weeks, Cameron said, is their desire for things people in the United Kingdom and United States take for granted: self-determination, the rule of law, free markets, freedom of speech, freedom of choice and the dignity that comes with those values.
He said the issue spreads far wider than Ukraine, as more leaders around the world ignore the international rules-based system the U.S. and U.K. helped build, Cameron said. While the Cold War had its roots in communism versus the free market, he characterized the source of current tensions as “democracy against autocracy.”
Cameron, who served as prime minister from 2010 to 2016, spoke about this “new Cold War era” in a speech followed by a discussion with Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for NPR and a contributor to FOX News Channel.
Two weeks ago, Cameron packed a truck with food, clothes, medicine and other donated supplies and drove 2,000 miles from his home in Oxfordshire to Eastern Poland near the Ukrainian border. “One minute, I’m talking to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, and the next I’m handing out food parcels to his victims,” he said. Cameron stressed the situation is not complicated or hard to understand.
NATO did not provoke the invasion, and Ukraine is “not in any sense” part of Russia, he said. Simply put, Russia invaded a sovereign, independent country. Cameron compared Putin’s tactics to those of “the evil villains of history” like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
“This belongs in another century, and Vladimir Putin belongs in a war crimes trial,” he said.
Putin will not achieve his goals of taking control of large amounts of territory in Ukraine and establishing a puppet state, Cameron said. In some ways “he’s already lost” after clearly miscalculating the strength of both Russia and Ukraine’s armed forces, as well as the Ukrainian national identity.
Cameron underscored the importance of Western leaders finding more ways to help Ukraine. “What we mustn’t do is try and get ahead of what Ukraine wants or undermine what they want,” he said.
The U.S. and U.K. have so far had a good start in demonstrating unity with Ukraine by providing weapons and monetary aid, Cameron said. The difficulty now lies in how to help secure an outcome that leaves the country intact.
Liasson pointed out the ongoing conversation around actions the West will not take, such as direct confrontation with Russia or establishing a no-fly zone. She asked how the West should respond if Putin uses chemical or nuclear weapons, and what more can be done to support Ukraine.
“Of course, in your heart, you sort of would love us to do even more,” Cameron said.” We’ve got to think with our heads… the line we shouldn’t cross is putting NATO forces in direct conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine. But supplying it with weaponry, that is acceptable.”
President Joe Biden, current Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders need to meet with their national security teams daily to discuss how to apply more pressure to Russia, whether it be through sanctions to disrupt the Russian economy or other measures.
Additionally, Cameron suggested that just as Russia was removed from the G8 in 2014 after its annexation of Crimea, it’s now time to “kick them out” of the G22.
Cameron said he met Putin several times and got to know the Russian president relatively well while he was in office. He described Putin as someone who “lies the entire time.”
“He has no compunction about lying, he has no morality, he doesn’t care how many people he kills, how many cities he reduces to rubble,” Cameron said. While he hopes Putin is either removed from office or sees how many Russian soldiers have died and chooses to move toward peace, Cameron said the plan must be to give Ukraine as many resources as possible to help bring the war to an end.
In his discussion with Liasson, Cameron also spoke about Europe’s reliance on Russian oil, the West’s relationship with China, Brexit and other reflections from his time in office.