Western sanctions against Russia can be lifted if Russia withdraws its invading forces from Ukraine and promises not to commit any “further aggression,” UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Truss said the sanctions can only be lifted with “a full ceasefire and withdrawal” and “commitments that there will be no further aggression.”
“Snapback sanctions” will be quickly re-imposed if Russia commits “further aggression” in future, she said.
Her remarks fit with those of her U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has said the travel bans and asset freezes are “not designed to be permanent,” and the sanctions could “go away” in the event of an “in effect, irreversible” withdrawal of Russian troops.
With Russian troops reportedly struggling on the battlefield, these comments from top Western diplomats could be seen as a possible incentive for President Vladimir Putin to cut his losses and broker a deal with Ukraine.
In her interview, Truss said she does not believe the Russians are serious about negotiations at present, and the West still needs to “double down” on sanctions on Russia and military aid to Ukraine.
But she said she has set up a specialist negotiations unit to provide support to Ukraine “when the Russians are serious about negotiations.”
“When there does come a time for negotiations, I want the UK to be a key part of making sure we support Ukraine to get a deal that works,” she said.
In any future deal, Truss said, there must be a “genuine ceasefire,” a “genuine withdrawal of troops from Ukraine,” and “real levers on Russia in the future to stop any future aggression.”
The foreign secretary emphasised that, despite their differences over the Northern Ireland Protocol in the post-Brexit trade deal, the UK and the European Union are working “very, very closely” on the Western response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
She applauded the EU’s contribution, including its efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, partly by purchasing liquefied natural gas from the United States.
Though Britain has “differences” with the EU in some areas, Truss said, “fundamentally we are all democratic nations, we all believe in freedom and the right of people to select their own governments, and we are very much united in the fight.”
PA Media contributed to this report.