Boris Johnson has said the West must continue to support the Ukrainians as they seek to reclaim territory seized by Russia, saying it would be a “disaster” if President Vladimir Putin could claim victory.
Speaking on his return to the UK after an unannounced visit to Kyiv, the Prime Minister said Ukraine should not be encouraged to accept a “bad peace” which would only be the prelude to a new Russian offensive.
Mr Johnson also defended his decision to pull out of a conference of northern Tories on Friday, so he could meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The timing of the visit led to accusations he was snubbing the North ahead of a crucial by-election in Wakefield in West Yorkshire which the Tories are widely expected to lose.
However, speaking to reporters at RAF Brize Norton on his return, Mr Johnson said it was important to demonstrate UK support at a time when the Ukrainians were ‘suffering terribly’ in the face of the Russian offensive underway in the Donbass.
“I think it’s very important to go to Ukraine at a particularly critical time. What we fear is that a bit of Ukrainian fatigue is starting to set in all over the world,” he said. he declares.
“It is very important to show that we are with them for the long term and that we are giving them the strategic resilience that they need.”
In talks with Mr Zelensky, Mr Johnson said Britain would be ready to train tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops as they continue to fight the Russians.
Mr Johnson said it was important to prevent the Russians from “freezing” the conflict so they could consolidate their gains before launching another attack.
He said the Ukrainians should be supported in their ambition to regain territory occupied by Russian forces since their invasion in February.
However, he refrained from calling for the recovery of all the land Ukraine had lost since 2014 – including Crimea – which Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had previously called for.
“It would be a disaster if Putin won,” Mr Johnson said.
“He would love nothing more than to say ‘Let’s freeze this conflict, let’s have a ceasefire like we did in 2014’.
“For him, it would be a tremendous victory. You would have a situation where Putin would be able to consolidate his gains and then launch another attack.
“We have to make it clear that we support the Ukrainians in their ambitions… to kick out the Russians, kick out Putin’s armies, everything he’s gotten since February 24, and make sure the Ukrainians aren’t encouraged to leave for a bad peace, something that simply wouldn’t last.
Mr Johnson’s visit was warmly welcomed by Ukrainians, with TV footage of Mr Zelensky showing the Prime Minister the wreckage of burnt-out Russian tanks and other vehicles on display in Kyiv’s St Michael’s Square.
Crowds were also shown cheering on the two leaders in a video the Prime Minister shared on Twitter.
The video shows him alongside Mr Zelensky visiting a memorial wall for fallen Ukrainian soldiers, and Mr Johnson hailed their “invincible sacrifice, courage and bravery”.
He said: “Thank you, my friend President Zelensky, for hosting me in Ukraine yesterday.
“It was incredibly moving to once again walk the streets of Kyiv with you, to honor your fallen soldiers whose invincible sacrifice, courage and bravery we will never forget.”
The Prime Minister also shared an image of himself and Mr Zelensky talking around a table and lighting candles at a place of worship.
#Putins #victory #Ukraine #disaster #Johnson
Post expires at 6:58pm on Wednesday June 29th, 2022