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23 May 2023

"We're not going away" Rishi Sunak warns Putin at King's conference

The Prime Minister has warned Russia that the UK and other allies are “not going away” at the London Defence Conference hosted by King’s School of Security Studies.

Rishi Sunak at Defence Conference

Rishi Sunak spoke days after his appearance at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, where Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, stood shoulder to shoulder with the leaders of the G7. Sunak said the image “sent a pretty strong message.”

The London Defence Conference, now in its second year, drew hundreds of academics, policymakers, security experts and King’s students to Bush House on Tuesday 23rd May for the first day of the event.

Rishi Sunak spoke about the ongoing challenges Ukraine and their allies face as the war continues. 

What Ukraine has been doing for the past year is a counter-offensive […] Many people thought that would not be possible. We should take a moment to pay tribute to that. Ukraine have held their ground through a hard winter and are rebuilding.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, speaking at the London Defence Conference at King's College London

Support from the UK, including battle tanks, longer range weapons and air defence, were part of a longer-term strategy to deter Putin. He said Putin’s strategy of waiting it out would not work. “The right and only course of action is to withdraw,” Sunak said.

The Prime Minister also spoke about the challenges China poses, saying the UK must engage with them on areas such as health and climate change but be confident in standing up for the UK’s own interests.

He said: “I believe China is an epoch defining challenge to us,” but this was not an excuse for a “blanket descent into protectionism”.

Rishi and Shitij Kupar President & Principal of King’s, Professor Shitij Kapur, opened the event praising the work of the School of Security Studies.

He added: “Understanding the geopolitical trends behind these events and emerging future challenges for defence and security policy has never been more important and it is our intention that the London Defence Conference will provide an annual forum for a range of topical defence and security questions to be discussed.”

The conference continues on May 23rd and 24th with speakers across industry, government, the opposition party and King’s College London academics.

Read the highlights from day one here.

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Shitij Kapur

Vice-Chancellor & President of King's College London

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