Boris Johnson has told Emmanuel Macron that a peace deal with Russia would cause “enduring instability” and give Vladimir Putin licence to manipulate the world.
The two leaders met at the G7 summit in Germany on Sunday, after days of criticism of the French president and his perceived desire to bring an early end to the conflict in Ukraine.
A Downing Street spokesman said that the two leaders had agreed that more support for Ukraine was needed from Western leaders, but that Mr Johnson had warned Mr Macron away from a negotiated settlement.
Mr Johnson and Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, believe that any deal struck now would involve Ukraine ceding territory to Mr Putin.
“President Macron praised the Prime Minister’s ongoing military support to Ukraine and the leaders agreed to step up this work,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
“The Prime Minister stressed any attempt to settle the conflict now will only cause enduring instability and give Putin licence to manipulate both sovereign countries and international markets in perpetuity.
“The leaders agreed to continue and enhance the close work between the UK and France on areas including defence and security.”
Mr Macron has been accused of offering too little support to Ukraine and criticised for maintaining an open dialogue with Mr Putin during the conflict.
The French president has boasted of spending 100 hours on the phone to the Russian president. The Elysée has denied that France is hoping to scale down support for Ukraine or negotiate a deal with Russia.
Speaking before the meeting, Mr Johnson heaped praise on Germany but failed to mention France, as he warned of “fatigue in populations and politicians”.
Asked what he thought of the French and German responses to the war in recent weeks, Mr Johnson offered effusive support to Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor.
“I never believed in my lifetime that I would see a German chancellor stepping up in the way that Olaf Scholz has and sending weaponry to help the Ukrainians to protect themselves,” he said.
“He’s made huge, huge strides. We have 4 per cent of our gas comes from Russia, in Germany, it’s 40 per cent.
“They’re facing real, real pressures, they’re having to source energy from elsewhere. But they’re doing it. They’re making the effort. They’re making the sacrifice.”
However, he said nothing about the French response to the conflict, in what will be interpreted as a coded rebuke to Mr Macron.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday morning, Mr Johnson said: “Realistically there is going to be fatigue in populations and politicians. I think the pressure is there and the anxiety is there, we’ve got to be honest about that.
“But the most incredible thing about the way the West has responded to the invasion of Ukraine by Putin has been the unity.
“Nato has been solid, the G7 has been solid and we continue to be solid.
“But in order to protect that unity, in order to make it work, we’ve got to have really, really honest discussions about the implications of what’s going on, the pressures that individual friends and partners are feeling, that populations are feeling – whether it’s on the costs of their energy or food or whatever.”
Meeting on the fringes of the summit ahead of their meeting, Mr Johnson asked Mr Macron how he was.
“I’m fine,” he replied, adding that Mr Johnson was “looking well”.
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