British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Volodymyr Zelensky have discussed efforts to end Russia’s blockade on grain exports from Ukraine, Downing Street said.
“The leaders also discussed diplomatic negotiations and the efforts to end the damaging Russian blockade of Ukraine’s grain exports,” the prime minister’s official spokesperson said in a statement on Monday June 6, 2022.
He said the two leaders had an “in-depth” discussion about the latest military situation as Russia continued its offensive in the eastern Donbas region.
The call came as the UK confirmed it is joining the U.S. in supplying Ukraine with long-range multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) capable of hitting targets up to 50 miles away.
“They agreed to intensify work with other allies, including G7 leaders, to drive progress on ending Russia’s illegal invasion and supporting Ukraine’s economy,” the spokesperson said.
The Russian naval blockade has imposed an economic stranglehold on Ukraine – one of the world’s biggest grain exporters – and threatened food supplies to some of the world’s poorest countries.
The spokesperson said that while the prime minister was “open to all ideas” to resolve the problem, the use of western military force was not considered to be “feasible” at the current time.
The supply of MLRSs – which can strike the Russian artillery positions bombarding Ukrainian towns and cities – is seen as a potentially decisive intervention in the war in the east.
President Vladimir Putin has threatened to expand the range of Ukrainian targets his forces are hitting in retaliation for the move.
However, Mr Johnson said the systems would help Ukraine “effectively repel the continuing Russian onslaught”.
“We cannot stand by while Russian long-range artillery flattens cities and kills innocent civilians,” he said.
Meanwhile, the UK announced that a specialist legal and police team will be offered to assist the chief prosecutor in investigating alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.