Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a strong advocate of military support to Ukraine and an "Honorary Citizen of Kyiv,” has been awarded the title "Ukraine's friend" by the Ukrainska Pravda editorial. Speaking with the editor of EuroPravda, he admitted that Russian President Vladimir Putin may well cling on to power following Russia’s eventual defeat, but that the West should focus instead on helping Ukraine to ensure victory.
In the interview, Johnson emphasized that his personal support for Ukraine is backed up by that of Britons everywhere. "All the people of the United Kingdom have passionate feelings of support for Ukraine. It's very noticeable and you can see the Ukrainian flag on buildings everywhere. I think people have been just shocked that an aggressor could attack an independent country like this," Johnson said.
Recalling the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, the former British PM said he wasn't initially optimistic about Ukraine's ability to hold its own.
“I was skeptical,” admits Johnson. “[But] I talked to veterans of the Donbas…they are very brave fighters. They’ve had a long time since 2014 to learn about warfare,” he added.
Thinking back to February 2022, Johnson noted that the British government found itself in a markedly different position to EU countries such as Germany and France. He described how they had become heavily focused on trying to negotiate with the Kremlin leader and seeking a deal.
“If you remember, [French President] Emmanuel Macron at one stage said Putin must not be humiliated. So, we [the British government] started from a very different position. We thought there was only one way [forward]. Ukraine must succeed, and Putin must fail. Everybody is a bit, in my view, superstitious about Putin,” Johnson noted.
However, appearing to acknowledge Putin’s staying power, Johnson admitted that when Russia’s invasion ultimately fails, Putin will inevitably find a way to persuade the Russian population that his special military operation has been a success, “especially given the polls and the way that Putin controls the media.”
Johnson also thinks it likely that Putin will avoid prison and retain his presidential seat. “Even in the event of losing Crimea, Russia is unlikely to dissolve,” said Johnson.
"Putin has much political space to tell the Russian people that he has achieved his objectives in Ukraine,” he added.
Replying to the question of whether the West would support Ukraine in any upcoming battle for Crimea, Johnson suggested Ukraine should at first focus on retaking other currently occupied territories.
“First of all, let's hope Ukraine [regains] Melitopol, Mariupol, Berdiansk, and all the land bridges. That needs to happen first. I think, frankly once that happens, the geostrategic position will be very different. Ukraine will be in an immeasurably stronger position. The Kremlin and Putin will be very, very much weakened,” Johnson said.
He added that Western nations should stop focusing on the Kremlin leader and provide more weapons to Ukraine to enable the country to better defend itself.
Johnson, who resigned in July 2022 after a series of domestic scandals, was, and continues to be, one of Ukraine's closest allies.
“They [Ukraine] are going to win. We need to help them to win as fast as possible,” Johnson said.
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