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Archbishop of Canterbury: We must not force peace on Ukraine

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (Richard Heathcote/PA)
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (Richard Heathcote/PA)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said there must be “no way we force peace” in Ukraine as he warned the West has not “taken on board” that the conflict could drag on for years.

Justin Welby said Russia’s “evil” invasion must not succeed.

During a three-day visit to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the Archbishop had to take cover in a bomb shelter when air raid warnings were sounded after Russian bombers were reported to have taken off.

Asked what he learned from his visit to the war-torn country, he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “First of all, the need for solidarity and support for Ukraine.

“And secondly, that there must be no way in which we force peace on Ukraine or they’re put under pressure. Third, that the need for support is going to be very long term.”

Pressed on whether he meant, in some cases, war is the right course, he said: “Peace is always better than war. But there are times when justice demands that there is the defeat of what we call, the Archbishop of York and I called when it started, an evil invasion. And I don’t regret saying that.

He added that Ukraine is the “victim” and urged the West to show “real resilience” and resist anything similar to the carving up of Czechoslovakia to appease Hitler in 1938.

The Archbishop also said: “I don’t think that the West in general has taken on board… that this could go on for a very long time.

“We don’t want it to – we hope and pray it doesn’t, but that’s not within our gift. And this is hugely important, that this takeover does not succeed…

“The West needs, the people of the West need to realise that the cost of this war, in inflation, in all kinds of difficulties – and there’s much suffering in our own country, in the UK, through that – the costs of this are not short term, we need to be really tough about this.”

During his Advent trip to Kyiv, the Archbishop met Ukrainian church leaders, refugees and internally displaced people.

He praised the Ukrainian people for showing “extraordinary courage” in the face of Moscow’s invasion.

Millions across the country have been left without heat, power or water amid plummeting temperatures, after the nation’s energy facilities and infrastructure have been pounded by Russian missiles.