David Rutley, a British politician, diplomat and member of Parliament, remembers how he felt when he heard Russia had begun a full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

“I just remember being absolutely shocked, appalled, incredibly disappointed,” said Rutley, Britain's parliamentary under secretary of state for the Americas, Caribbean and overseas territories.

Saturday marks two years since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, an action that fundamentally shifted the stability of global powers and shocked leaders around the world. In the years since Russia's invasion, the foreign office minister has played a pivotal role in helping shape and coordinate Britain's and the United States' responses to the conflict. This week, he was in Boston to highlight that partnership, which he said felt like a sort of homecoming — he studied at Harvard Business School from 1987 to 1989.

Rutley said that during his visit he has stressed that the U.K. is planning to support Ukraine for the long haul.

“We're there to support Ukraine throughout,” he said. “And ultimately, at some point there will be peace that will be achieved. But it needs to be on Ukraine's terms. And we need to be there to support them in that.”

He called for negotiating with Russia “from a position of strength,” a strategy he said comes from how the U.S. and U.K. have historically dealt with tensions in the region.

“When I studied here all those years ago, '87 to '89, you know, we were at the tail end of the Cold War. But we knew at that point that the way to confront the Soviet Union was from a position of strength,” he said. “Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan united, stood against the Soviet Union, and at that point, won. Here, what we want to do is send that very strong signal to Russia that these actions are completely inexcusable.”

The U.S. is in the middle of a presidential election year in which a leading candidate, former President Donald Trump, has taken a policy of “America First” — which experts, including the former Ukrainian ambassador from the U.S., have said they fear that means that there would be a retraction of U.S. support for Ukraine in the middle of the conflict if Trump were elected again.

Still, Rutley said he hopes the U.S. and U.K. can maintain strong diplomatic ties regardless of who wins the next election.

“Our relationship has been strong through Republican and Democrat presidents and Labour and Conservative prime ministers,” he said. “It will continue to be so, because the great thing about our relationship is it's above party politics. In all the conversations I've had on a bipartisan basis on the Hill, you know, I just see strong support for Ukraine.”

He pointed to other historically difficult moments in the last century.

“We've stood shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. for decades and will continue to do so,” he said. “We did during the First World War, the Second World War, and through so many conflicts that have followed since then. And there may be some politics in the U.S., there always are during election times. But I'm very confident that those values and the appreciation of the important stance that [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy has taken will stand firm.”

The partnership between the U.S. and the U.K. has come into sharp focus amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has a complex and long history, one that the U.K. was at the center of following World War I, when the area was under British control.

“We're working really hard to try and help de-escalate the situation,” Rutley said. “We want to support Israel's right to defend itself, but also to help tackle the humanitarian challenges in Gaza. But, you know, we need to make sure in this tragedy that we can get some aid in there. And that's our overwhelming desire at the moment.”

The U.K., he said, is calling for “an immediate humanitarian pause.”

“That's the most important thing, and that will then provide a pathway to progress to a more sustainable ceasefire,” he said. “It's important to have a sustainable ceasefire. One that's called and then collapses is no help to either side in this conflict.”

That conflict that is also being felt at home in the U.S., particularly in rising tensions on college campuses. Rutley’s alma mater, Harvard, has been at the center of this, with a Republican-led probe into antisemitism on campus.

“I'll let the officials at Harvard deal with those challenges. It's been a long time since I've been there,” Rutley said. “But I think the key thing is we need to have tolerance, we need to have respect, and we need to deescalate these situations and be able to have a conversation about these issues.”

He added that he hopes peace is possible.

“We saw that in Northern Ireland when I was growing up in England, the conflict there, I never thought that was going to end,” he said. “But ultimately, when women — mothers — got involved in the conversation and people-to-people conversations take place, you can achieve a huge amount.”

There's a prevailing notion in diplomacy, one that Rutley has spoken about, of operating above partisan politics. While people are dealing with all of the partisanship surrounding these conflicts taking place across the world, as people are watching tragedy unfold in the Middle East and in Ukraine, it can be hard to hold on to hope.

These are concerning times,” Rutley said. “I've got a younger family, and my children are concerned about this when we have conversations about what's happening. It's perfectly understandable. But we do need to draw confidence. We've been in these situations before and we've got through these situations as well. But you're right, these are difficult times. And right now it's a time to keep close to your friends.”