Liz Truss has joined Boris Johnson in urging Rishi Sunak to provide Ukraine with fighter jets in her first Commons speech since leaving Downing Street.
The former prime minister – ousted by her own party after only six weeks at No 10 – said she wanted her successor to provide Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky with the aircraft he asked for on his recent visit to the UK.
“I can’t wait to see the tanks and I can’t wait to see the fighter jets in Ukraine to help those brave Ukrainians,” Ms Truss told MPs on Monday.
She added: “We need to do all we can as fast as we can. My view is that does include fighter jets … Let’s work with our allies to get [Ukraine] an option to be able to use, because otherwise they won’t prevail.”
Mr Johnson also repeated his call for Britain and its allies to provide fighter jets now – saying the Sunak government should “cut to the chase and give them the planes”.
He added: “The Ukrainians are not just fighting for their freedom, but for the cause of freedom around the world. We should give them what they need, not next month, not next year, but now.”
However, defence secretary Ben Wallace has said it could be years before the UK gives any fighter jets to Ukraine, suggesting Mr Zelensky’s may even have to wait until the war with Russia was over before British aircraft was supplied.
On Monday US president Joe Biden made a surprise visit to Ukraine – his first since the start of Russia’s invasion. It came as US secretary of state Antony Blinken warned that China is considering supplying weapons and ammunition to Russia.
In his own speech in the Commons, Mr Johnson warned that it was “becoming ever clearer that China is preparing to arm the Russians”.
The ex-Tory leader said Putin’s forces were “running pitifully low” on advanced weaponry, but he warned that it remains “all too possible that Putin can still achieve something that he can call a victory”.
Mr Johnson added: “All that he needs to do is to hang on to some piece of land that he has conquered and the signal will go around world that aggression can pay and that borders can be changed by force.”
Ms Truss defended her own support for Ukraine as foreign secretary during the invasion last February. But she criticised previous British governments and western allies for failing to see the danger from Vladimir Putin – saying Ukraine should have been made a Nato member.
“Let’s all be honest – we should have done more earlier,” she said. “The reason Putin took the action he took is because he didn’t believe we would follow through.”
Ms Truss added: “We should have provided more weapons to Ukraine. And I believe we should have allowed Ukraine to join Nato. Can we imagine this situation if Ukraine had been a Nato member? This would simply not have happened.”
Meanwhile, foreign secretary James Cleverly said the UK would provide “more advanced capabilities across land, across sea, and across air” to Ukraine. He also said he is travelling to New York this week to speak about Ukraine at the UN Security Council.
“I will tell the truth about Putin’s brutality and Ukraine’s heroism but we must also increase our efforts with partners to tackle the steady drip of poisonous Russian propaganda and lies. And we will work together to help Ukrainian grain reach world markets,” said Mr Cleverly.
King Charles has praised Ukraine’s “amazing” raw recruits, who are being taught the basics of combat in just five weeks by the UK and international forces.
He watched as they were put through their paces learning trench warfare – famously used by First World War troops – which has become a factor of the conflict in Ukraine. “You are amazing, I don’t know how you do it. I am full of admiration,” said the King.